Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Western Canada should take note that the $100-million Western Innovation (WINN) Initiative is planning to hold its next intake round in the fall.
Launched last October, WINN is five-year fund administered by Western Economic Diversification Canada which helps SMEs in Western Canada bring innovative new technologies to market.
The Initiative is open to SMEs seeking funding to support commercialization-related activities, including:
- Introduction of a new product, process or service to new or existing markets,
- Improvement of products, processes or services,
- Technology development/acceleration,
- Product certifications, including Controlled Goods Registration,
- Pilot projects (first user) and technology demonstration projects,
- Validation of market potential and end-user acceptance, and
- Support for marketing, productivity, and process or quality improvement directly related to the commercialization of new opportunities.
The fund supports applicants from a wide range of sectors, including health and life sciences, cleantech, energy, aerospace and defence, nanotechnology, and information and communications technology (ICT). Applicant companies must have less than 500 full-time employees and have been in operation for more than one year to be eligible. All successful projects must be completed within a three-year period.
In addition, applicants must secure at least 50% of the proposed project costs through private sources of funding.
Funding under the program is provided in the form of repayable contributions of up to $3.5 million per project. Companies may submit more than one project application during any intake period, but they cannot receive more than a total of $7.5 million in funding from the program.
Successful applicants have a one-year grace period after completion of the funded project, and subsequent repayment of the funds takes place over a five-year period.
Western Economic Diversification Canada accepts applications through calls for proposals. The first intake period for applications began on Nov. 9 and closed on Dec. 8, 2013. This will be the fund’s second round. Once the call for proposals has been announced, businesses will have 30 days to prepare their applications.
The Funding Portal has identified 12 successful projects under the first round, for a total disbursement of $8.5 million. Individual awards ranged between $90,000 and $1.6 million.
Applications will be evaluated based on their strength and their fit with the program’s objectives. These include supporting the commercialization of innovative technology-based products, processes and services, stimulating private sector investment, increasing the number of jobs in Western Canada, and supporting industry growth. Applicant eligibility is also assessed based on the company’s current business plan, recent financial statements, and confirmation of other funding sources.
Although the program will provide up to $100 million over the next five years, it is expected to become an evergreen fund over time.