The government of Canada’s $20 million Business Innovation Access Program (BIAP) officially launched yesterday after Minister of State (Science and Technology) Greg Rickford announced that select small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) could access up to $50,000 in hassle-free vouchers.
The BIAP is a Government of Canada pilot program that was announced in the 2013 Budget, meant to help SMEs access business services or technical assistance at Canada’s learning institutions and publicly-funded research organizations. It’s delivered by the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP).
But before the program could begin, a panel called the Research and Development Review Expert Panel, otherwise known as the “Jenkins panel”, had to conduct a review of Canadian innovation.
“The Panel found that Canadian SME entrepreneurs lack awareness of the range of services and facilities available to them at public institutions, particularly those related to commercialization. What’s more, it discovered that the few businesses that were aware of these services found them too complex and too time-consuming to be worthwhile,” said Rickford. “To address this challenge head on, one of the recommendations made by the Jenkins panel was to create a national ‘commercialization vouchers’ pilot program.”
The new pilot program will encourage Canadian entrepreneurs to partner with Canadian universities, colleges and research institutions, providing entrepreneurs the opportunity to tap into the research excellence found in Canadian universities. It will ideally move ideas, products and services to the marketplace faster.
The hassle-free vouchers are valued up to $50,000 per project, to help access business and technical services carried out by Canadian researchers and students. While entrepreneurs will find commercialization and innovation business solutions, post-secondary researchers will be able to offer their students real-world business problems to tackle, preparing them for the actual business world.