Today, the Canadian government is launching a $100 million program dedicated to increasing its procurements from startups.
The Innovative Solutions Canada program was first announced in the government’s budget 2017 released in March, when it said that $50 million would be set aside for this purpose. The program is modelled off the US Small Business Innovation Research Program, which sees federal agencies allocate 3.2 percent of their R&D budgets to supporting small businesses with their R&D.
“Our government’s new Innovative Solutions Canada program is a big winner on several fronts,” said Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. “We’re being proactive and transforming our challenges into opportunities; opportunities for innovation, economic growth and small business success that will result in a vibrant innovation economy and more middle-class jobs for Canadians.”
In Canada, 20 departments and agencies will participate in the program, and will set aside one percent of its research and development expenditures for this initiative.
“Our members believe the time for a modernized government procurement process in Canada is long overdue. The current procurement process favours large, foreign incumbents and doesn’t foster an ecosystem where new entrants can become part of the procurement system,” said Ben Bergen, executive director of Council of Canadian Innovators. “Canadian innovators are hopeful the new program will level the playing field for small and medium-sized domestic firms and will help more businesses scale-up here in Canada and abroad while helping our government solve its own IT challenges.”
The federal departments and agencies will ask small businesses to propose solutions for their challenges, and the government will work with the winning business and act as its first customer to support them in getting to market.
“We believe innovative Canadians small businesses are well-positioned to help the government solve some of its more persistent challenges,” said Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism. “Through Innovative Solutions Canada, we are asking entrepreneurs to develop new products and services that will help to solve these challenges, while also enabling these entrepreneurs as they work to expand to new markets, and sell to new customers around the world. The benefits from this program are clear: the Government of Canada will be able to acquire new products and service that will improve our work, while hardworking small businesses owners will be able to grow their businesses and create more well-paying, middle-class jobs.”