Ontario manufacturing Supercluster investing $50 million to support COVID-19 solutions

Ontario’s Next Generation Manufacturing (NGen) Supercluster is set to invest $50 million of its Supercluster initiative funding to support companies that are offering and developing solutions for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The capital commitment comes as the federal government asked the Innovation Superclusters to tap into their networks to help companies commercialize products more quickly. The Government of Canada, as well as provincial governments, have been calling on businesses to help support with the development of medical equipment, software, and services amid increasing demand due to COVID-19.

At the federal level, Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand noted that the government is both working with existing providers and is looking to develop new supply chains. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced eight deals with Canadian companies to help manufacture medical equipment, noting that 3,000 companies had reached out offering help. Trudeau specifically pointed to the work being done by the Ontario manufacturing Supercluster in his daily briefing.

In a separate afternoon briefing Minister of Industry Navdeep Bains, who was key in developing the Supercluster initiative, noted that with 48 hours of NGen putting out its call on March 25, the organization was able to review and approve three projects that will be producing ventilators, testing kits, and face shields.

The Ontario Supercluster is helping to source potential suppliers for the federal government, noting that all production, certification, and approval should be confirmed with appropriate government authorities. Projects will be selected for funding according to critical needs identified by the Government of Canada and the ability of manufacturers to produce products that are safe for both patients and health care workers.

NGen will invest $50 million to support companies that are able to supply essential equipment, products, and therapeutics. NGen’s program will focus on funding projects that involve the rapid production of products in short supply, including virus screening test kits, gloves, gowns, masks, personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and, peripherals, as well as cleaning and sterilization chemicals and equipment.

NGen will fund projects that can have an immediate impact in the next four to 12 weeks, essentially between April and the end of June 2020. Funding will be available for companies across Canada, not just Ontario.

Chosen companies may have up to 100 percent of their projects funded by NGen. The superclster noted that it does not expect individual projects to exceed funding $5 million. Eligible recipients include for-profit companies as well as not-for-profit organizations that facilitate and fund research and development, and whose funding is received primarily from private-sector organizations. More information on funding and eligibility can be found here.

“NGen recognizes that the rapid launch of safe medical products is no easy task. It will require expeditious product validation, secure supply of materials and components, regulatory approvals, and the scale-up of new manufacturing systems before full-scale production can be brought on line,” said the Supercluster. “It will take a highly synchronized approach, requiring the active collaboration of manufacturers, as well as engineering and healthcare specialists, standards bodies, government regulators, and procurement officials. NGen is coordinating a community response to ensure that manufacturers can get their products to the front line in this crisis.”

While the federal government noted that the entire Supercluster initiative is to focus on funding companies with the potential to fight COVID-19, NGen and Britsh Columbia’s Digital Technology Supercluster have been the two groups to put out calls for submissions.

The Digital Technology Supercluster will invest up to $60 million in projects that will support health and safety, deliver solutions to issues created by the COVID-19 outbreak, and build expertise and capacity relevant to future health crises.

The program is focused on scaling digital technologies in five areas of focus: the health system, community health, safe living, diagnostics, and therapeutics. More information on availability and eligibility can be found here.

Meagan Simpson

Meagan Simpson

Meagan is the Associate Editor for BetaKit. A tech writer that is super proud to showcase the Canadian tech scene. Background in almost every type of journalism from sports to politics. Podcast and Harry Potter nerd, photographer and crazy cat lady.