Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne stopped by the DMZ today to announce a $22.75 million investment in IBM’s Innovation Incubator.
The funding, which is coming from Ontario’s Jobs and Prosperity Fund, will be dedicated to IBM’s I3 Project. The government is partnering with the Ontario Centres of Excellence to help launch the I3 Project, which will help up to 500 small and medium-sized businesses fast-track the launch of new technologies and global expansion. IBM will contribute $24.75 million towards the I3 Project.
“Ontario’s economic strength depends on how well we leverage the expertise and technologies of anchor firms like IBM,” said Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure. “The I3 Project will give our small and medium-sized businesses exposure to larger firms and the tools and skills they need to rapidly scale up to meet global demand.”
.@Kathleen_Wynne announces 22.75M investment in i3, a partnership with @oceinnovation & @IBMCanada #ONpoli pic.twitter.com/pFTSDod8iM
— The DMZ (@RyersonDMZ) February 24, 2016
According to a recent CIBC report, meeting global demand is a major problem for Canadian SMBs — currently, only 10 percent of Canadian SMBs are involved in exporting, a number that hasn’t changed in 15 years.
Besides working out of a physical space, businesses participating in the I3 Project will have access to IBM technical resources like cognitive business technologies and a cloud-based development platform. Businesses will also have access to IBM’s network of customers, with the goal of reducing costs associated with development to expedite growth.
The funding is part of Ontario’s four-part plan to drive innovation in Ontario, called the Ontario Business Growth Initiative. As part of the initiative, the government is seeking opportunities to invest in talent, invest in public infrastructure, create a supportive environment for startups, and build a more secure retirement savings plan.
“Our government is proud to support this unique and cutting edge collaboration, which will reduce barriers for SMBs to leverage IBM’s expertise and information technology,” said Reza Moridi, Minister of Research and Innovation. “Combining this access with OCE’s experience in efficient program delivery will make the I3 Project a great example of how to help our businesses spur innovation, increase productivity, and connect to new markets around the world.”