Earlier today, BetaKit broke the news that the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) made significant layoffs in light of the recent Ontario provincial funding cuts to the organization. BetaKit has now confirmed with the OCE a list of 21 programs that have been cancelled or will be phased out.
In addition to its own programs, the OCE administers a variety of publicly funded programming on behalf of the Ontario provincial government. BetaKit has broken down each program that has been cut by type of cancellation.
Intake for the following programs closed early. Applicants for the programs were advised that OCE would not be proceeding with applications that have been submitted or were under review.
The Health Technologies Fund (HTF) supported the development of made-in-Ontario health technologies, seeking to accelerate evaluation, procurement, adoption, and diffusion in the Ontario health system. The fund was introduced in 2016 at $20 million delivered by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care through the OCE.
A source familiar with the OCE’s programming and operations told BetaKit that the HTF was one of the bigger programs and to cut the fund means “one of the places where some of the best innovation taking place in Canada is going to be lost.”
TalentEdge, OCE’s most popular program, offered Ontario students and recent graduates with practical industry experience. It represented a $17-million investment and key component of Ontario’s Youth Jobs Strategy. As part of the recent budget, the Ford government increased funding to one TalentEdge stream, Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network Talent Development. According to OCE’s website, TalentEdge stream still running include Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network, ENCQOR 5G, and Next Generation Network Program.
“It got funded and fully executed within a few months,” the source indicated. “This was a clear sign that the program was successful and very necessary and relevant and needed. To lose that is to lose a very popular opportunity for early-stage companies.”
The Small Business Innovation Challenge (SBIC) was created to help small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) launch their technology from the idea stage, in order to become globally competitive products and services. One of the winners of the SBIC was Nuco, which proposed a blockchain-enabled application to give users complete control over what they reveal and streamlining updates to their information across all agency databases.
The Ontario-China Research and Innovation Fund (OCRIF), the Ontario-Israel Research and Development Program (OIP), and the Ontario-Jiangsu Industrial Research and Development Program (OJIRDP), all represent international programs for the province.
OCRIF aimed to help science and tech projects between China and Ontario, and was offered through the provincial Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. The OIP promoted bilateral collaboration between Ontario and Israel to develop and demonstrate technological solutions, and the OJIRDP supported joint industrial R&D projects between Ontario and the Chinese province of Jiangsu.
“There was a lot of effort put into building these important international relationships, so to cut them at this point showcases that we’re not necessarily reliable if we try to start this up again,” the source argued.
Wound-down due to provincial budget cuts
For the following programs, provincial funding was not renewed, and they will receive no additional intake going forward. Essentially, these programs will expire or be terminated automatically.
The Resources for Evaluating, Adopting and Capitalizing on Innovative Healthcare Technology (REACH) program was created to support Ontario health care companies to use innovative procurement methods within the province. Procurement in healthtech has been called one of the top barriers to innovation in Canada.
The Alberta-Ontario Innovation Program (AOIP) seeks to bring in academia to tackle industry challenges faced by Ontario and Alberta. The goal of the program was to create economic benefits for both provinces through job retention and creation, competitiveness, and industry revenue growth. Companies were able to use the results of the research. The program was managed by Alberta Innovates and OCE.
On-Campus Entrepreneurship Activities (OCEA) looks to support the initiation and expansion of entrepreneurship activities at Ontario universities and colleges. Past recipients of OCEA funding include George Brown College, which includes education and training, mentorship and work experience with SMEs, Humber College, which created 25 entrepreneurship courses in 2014, and Seneca, which launched the Health Entrepreneurship and Lifestyle Innovation Xchange.
The Medical Sciences Proof-of-Principle (MSc PoP) program looks to help commercialize life sciences and medical technology IP developed at one of Ontario’s publicly-funded academic research institutions.
The AdvancingEducation Program was formed to connect Ontario’s public school system with companies to show innovative products and technologies in an educational setting.
Some of the projects funded by the program include a partnership between the York Region District School Board and InkSmith to bring 3D printing to high school students, and a partnership between the Thames Valley District School Board and Knowledgehook, an instructional guidance system for math teachers.
This program was created to bolster innovation in the province’s healthcare sector by connecting various healthcare needs with new technologies, through partnerships between public organizations, private companies, and academic institutions. The ultimate goal of the program was to advance healthcare innovation through investments in collaborative projects that can make a strong case for adoption.
The Campus-Linked Accelerator (CLAs) program provides funding to accelerators associated with universities to foster entrepreneurship among students in their respective regions.
Young Entrepreneurs, Make Your Pitch
The Young Entrepreneurs, Make Your Pitch competition invited high school students in Ontario to pitch their business ideas in a two-minute video. Twenty finalists would be awarded a trip to Toronto to pitch their ideas live at OCE’s Discovery conference. Judges would then select six winners who are presented with reserved entry into the Summer Company program.
The Cybersecurity Fintech Innovation Pilot Program (CFIPP) is a year-long, $7.8-million initiative, which was delivered in collaboration with Toronto Finance International. The program was created to fast-track the growth of cybersecurity startups and scaleups companies in Ontario by partnering with financial institutions seeking solutions to cybersecurity challenges. A source told BetaKit this program was relatively new and took a great deal of time to put together.
“To cut it right now, when it’s finally at a point to be delivered, means that you’ve not only lost all this opportunity that’s been built up for companies, who are very dependent on this type of funding, but it also means that you’ve wasted a lot of valuable time and talent building up a program that’s going to be lost when there’s no follow on,” the source said.
The Automotive Supplier Competitiveness Improvement Program (ASCIP) seeks to help Ontario’s auto parts sector in adopting new software and hardware. It also provides training and mentorship to improve processes and increase competitiveness for these companies. Through this program, small and medium-sized automotive suppliers, or large companies partnering with them, could apply for up to $100,000 in project funding.
The $20 million Colleges Applied Research & Development Fund (CARDF) was designed to drive increased industry/post-secondary collaborations while creating an efficient marketplace for industry to access innovation.
The program was divided into three streams: a college strategic sector, cluster, technology platform program; a college voucher for technology adoption; and a college voucher for innovation and productivity.
Closures due to Cap and Trade cancellation
The following programs were cancelled last year, not as a result of the recent government cuts but because the Ontario government cancelled the Cap and Trade program. A source told BetaKit the programming that ended with the Cap and Trade cancellation caused a great deal of turmoil for some of the OCE’s relationships with companies it had signed contracts with.
“People were really putting things into place and relying on the funding…It was a disaster, and people were angry for months,” the source stated.
The GreenON Small and Medium Business program offered Ontario-based SMEs free-of-charge thermal and electrical energy assessments. Employers could obtain a report to uncover where inefficiencies existed, and then utilize funding based on the type of projects completed. The project was terminated on June 20, 2018.
In August 2017, GreenON’s Installations program allowed residents of Ontario to sign up for a free smart thermostat, complete with installation. Once installed, the technician would also provide residents with information on how to reduce their carbon footprint and maximize their savings.
GreenON Industries was a cleantech grant awarded to industrial greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters that were reducing their environmental footprint through large technology projects. It was exclusively provided to manufacturers with more than 500 employees and offered grants worth up to 50 percent of project costs to a maximum of $5-20 million per project.
This program was intended to help agriculture, food, and transportation businesses reduce emissions and remain competitive by producing and using RNG as a transportation fuel. The program is a pilot and aims to help support sector development.
Through the $12 million TargetGHG Collaborative R&D Program, OCE partnered with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to support collaborative research and development projects between industry and post-secondary institutions.
Image courtesy Emissions Reduction Alberta