Commercialization programs and funding

There are a variety of commercialization programs and funding opportunities in place to promote academic commercialization activities within Ontario and across Canada. Information about these programs and funding opportunities would be useful for both academic entrepreneurs and technology transfer and commercialization officers who are engaged in taking research-based technologies and inventions to market.
This resource consists of the following sections:

I. Government Commercialization Programs and Funding Agencies

II. University Commercialization-Funding Programs

III. Commercialization-Focused Industry Funds

IV. Technology and Innovation Exchange Platforms and Tools


Visit the following Startup Library pages for more information on industry-specific funding sources:

I. Government Commercialization Programs and Funding Agencies

Government commercialization programs and agencies are set up and funded through government to provide support for bridging the gap between innovation and commercialization.

Government Commercialization Programs

The following section focuses on government programs that advance research and facilitate commercialization within specific sectors.

Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR): The CECR program is funded by the federal government to promote commercialization activities in Canada. Each centre has a distinct operational model (investor, incubator, accelerator, service provider); revenue model (fee-for service, membership fees, product sales, royalties and equity in a startup); and sector expertise (cleantech, natural resources and energy, health and life sciences, and information and communications technology); these are combined in the way that will best meet the commercialization needs of each centre’s clients.

The following is a list of select CECR programs in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia:

  • Advanced Applied Physics Solutions Inc. (AAPS), Vancouver, BC: AAPS focuses on commercializing advanced physics technologies that will drive products and services in the following key areas: health and life sciences technology, natural resources and energy, environmental science and information and communications technology (ICT).
  • Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN), Waterloo, ON: The mission of the CDMN is to use digital media tools, technology and applications to advance multiple industries, including health care, education and advanced manufacturing.
  • Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM), Toronto, ON: CCRM supports the commercialization of technology within the field of regenerative medicine (RM).
  • Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), Vancouver, BC: The CDRD is Canada’s fully-integrated national drug development and commercialization centre, providing expertise and infrastructure to enable researchers from leading health research institutions to advance promising early-stage drug candidates.
  • Centre for Imaging Technology Commercialization (CIMTEC), London, ON: CIMTEC is focused specifically on Canadian medical imaging companies. It provides support to universities and research centres that are facing unique challenges within this industry, such as limited access to medical imaging equipment, that prevent rapid commercialization.
  • Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization (CPDC), Hamilton, ON: CPDC focuses on all areas related to the development of molecular imaging probes, which are chemical compounds that provide non-invasive means of diagnosing diseases at their earliest stages.
  • GreenCentre Canada (GCC), Kingston, ON: GreenCentre supports the commercialization process of green technologies developed in academia and the entrepreneurial communities. GreenCentre’s services include concept development, proof of concept and market analysis, product process development, and product/process launch.
  • MaRS Innovation (MI), Toronto, ON: MI is the official commercialization agent for its 16 member institutions, comprised of four universities, nine teaching hospitals, two research institutions and MaRS Discovery District. MI works with a variety of technologies, including therapeutics, medical devices and diagnostic imaging, ICT and advanced manufacturing and clean technologies.
  • MiQro Innovation Collaborative Centre (C2MI), Bromont, QC:C2MI supports its members as they work to foster the growth of the microelectronics industry in Quebec and across Canada, which in turn generates wealth and employment in the knowledge sector.
  • The Prostate Centre’s Translational Research Initiative for Accelerated Discovery and Development (PC-TRIADD), Vancouver, BC:PC-TRIADD supports research to discover molecular mechanisms of cancer progression and therapeutic resistance, and works to develop new services and products that reduce the suffering of and improve survival rates for patients with cancer. It also promotes the growth of biotechnology in the Vancouver region.
  • Wavefront, Vancouver, BC: Wavefront provides SMEs with access to ICT resources. It also connects researchers from Canadian academic institutions who have commercially viable innovations with suitable industry partners.

Ontario Brain Institute (OBI): OBI is a provincially‐funded, not‐for‐profit research centre seeking to maximize the impact of neuroscience and establish Ontario as a world leader in brain research, commercialization and care. OBI runs a number of commercialization initiatives that engage and support industry to help increase access to capital and develop Ontario’s neurotechnology cluster. These include:

Government Commercialization-Funding Agencies and Respective Funding Programs

Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF): The AIF assists entrepreneurs based in Atlantic Canada with bringing their innovative technologies, products and services to market readiness.

Collaborative Health Research Projects (CHRP): CHRP is a joint initiative between the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). CHRP grants are intended to support highly focused, collaborative research projects. The projects are interdisciplinary, involving any field of the natural sciences or engineering and any field of the health sciences; they are also innovative, with a strong focus on knowledge translation. Ultimately, the projects proposed should lead to health benefits for Canadians.

FedDev Ontario Applied Research and Commercialization Initiative: This initiative provides support to SMEs and post-secondary institutions in Southern Ontario that are looking to commercialize their offerings by encouraging partnerships between academia with applied research expertise and SMEs with pre-market needs. Check the website regularly, as the window for eligible applications is not regularly scheduled.

Genomics Applications Partnership Program (GAPP): This program aims to address key sector challenges or opportunities facing users by applying genomics-derived solutions. The program also focuses on promoting the commercialization of genomics technologies by fostering opportunities for technology adoption between Academia and User networks. Projects will be provided between $300,000 and $6 million in funding over a 1 to 3 year period, with the funding split between the following groups: one third of an investment by Genome Canada, one third provided by a User partner (cash or in-kind) and one third provided by another co-funder. Projects should be in the small-scale proof-of-concept phases or be pilot projects for large-scale projects.

Intellectual Property Development and Commercialization (IPDC) Fund: The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research IPDC Fund has been designed to support early stage development projects arising from Ontario’s oncology research base, bridging the funding gap between traditional public granting agencies and private investors.

National Research Council of Canada–Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP): NRC-IRAP mainly provides support to SMEs in Canada in the development and commercialization of new technologies.

NSERC Idea to Innovation Grant (I2I): The I2I program accelerates the development of promising technologies that have originated in academia and promotes their transfer to a new or established Canadian company. The grant provides funding to college and university faculty members to support R&D projects with recognized technology transfer potential. The funding is delivered in phases, focusing on the early stages of technology validation and market connection. For Phase I projects, funding is available for up to 12 months, to a maximum of $125,000. The grants are non-renewable, and NSERC assumes 75% to 100% of costs, depending on pre-set criteria.

Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Collaborative Commercialization Programs: OCE offers a variety of programs that assist SMEs as they prepare innovative technologies for market. These programs include:

Ontario Genomics Institute – Pre-commercialization Business Development Fund (PDBF): Entrepreneurs who are based in Ontario and involved in genomics, proteomics or associated technologies within the validation phase of research are eligible to receive funding from the PDBF. The fund provides up to $100,000 per project. Areas of consideration for the fund include: biofuels, diagnostics, crop or livestock trait improvements, and laboratory and medical devices.

Ontario Tax Exemption for Commercialization: Startups may be eligible for an Ontario tax exemption provided that they: are involved in the commercialization of intellectual property developed at a Canadian academic institution; operate within the health, cleantech or ICT sectors; were not formed by way of an amalgamation or merger; and were incorporated between March 25, 2008, and March 24, 2012.

Quebec Consortium for Drug Discovery (CQDM) Quebec/Ontario Competition: This R&D competition has been deployed across the Ontario-Quebec life sciences corridor by CQDM in collaboration with OCE. The goal of the competition is to encourage the development of drug discovery technologies. The competition will reward three or four projects developed by industry and academic institutions within Quebec and Ontario, focusing on innovation in drug discovery tools that lead to safer, more effective compounds. CQDM and OCE will each provide between $125,000 and $150,000 to fund the project; in addition, industry partners must provide cash and in-kind matching at a two-to-one ratio.

Western Innovation (WINN) Initiative: WINN is a five-year federal funding initiative worth $100 million; it provides contributions to SMEs based in Western Canada (that is, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) that are ready to commercialize innovative technologies in the later stages of research and development.

Canada Business Network—Find government grants, loans and financing: Use this search tool to find available government commercialization funds, targeted to specific geographic regions and industry sectors.

The Funding Portal: Use The Funding Portal to identify the best funding opportunities for academic institutions, research hospitals and research institutes. You can search either by funding agency or by jurisdiction.

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II. University Commercialization-Funding Programs

Universities and academic research institutions sponsor the following commercialization-funding programs. They mainly provide funding support for their internal academic commercialization and technology transfer activities.

AC JumpStart (U of Waterloo): Assists recent graduates commercialize and science and/or engineering innovation through providing $60,000 seed capital, mentorship, and market-readiness tools.

Connaught Fund, University of Toronto (U of T): The Connaught Fund is the largest internal university research funding program in Canada. Since 1972, it has awarded more than $124 million to U of T scholars. Today, the Connaught Fund is worth more $77 million.

In addition to U of T’s own team of commercialization and entrepreneurship managers, at the Innovations & Partnerships Office (IPO), U of T has partnered with MaRS Innovation (MI), which serves as the commercialization agent for U of T and its partner hospitals, as well as several other institutions in the Toronto area.

Entrepreneurship@UBC Seed Accelerator Fund, University of British Columbia: The entrepreneurship@UBC (e@UBC) Seed Accelerator Fund is a partnership between the British Columbia Innovation Council (BCIC), the University of British Columbia (UBC) and UBC alumni. This venture fund is owned and operated by UBC; it provides investment funds to support the next generation of entrepreneurs. The Seed Accelerator seeks out business opportunities founded by students or recent alumni (who have graduated within the last three years) and supports them in the very earliest stages of their development.

For other Ryerson funding opportunities, please go to Research and Innovation Funding Opportunities

Western Innovation Fund (WIF) Competition, University of Western Ontario: The WIF Competition was designed to fund one-time projects based on existing research initiatives that will advance innovative research results toward application and commercialization. Projects are expected to be between six and 12 months long. Up to $100,000 in funding is available; funds are repayable only if there is a positive commercial outcome.

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III. Commercialization-Focused Industry Funds

In addition to funding support from government, there are also partnership funds that are jointly established by government and industries to provide early stage capital to promising technologies/companies.

Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) Innovation Fund: CDRD works with industry players to develop funding partnerships that will advance and commercialize a selection of promising discoveries. Thus far, CDRD has established four such Innovation Funds. These partnerships are structured in such a way that they provide not only financial resources, but also access to world-class industry expertise to help CDRD and principal investigators develop project plans.

The funds under the partnership agreement are:

  1. GlaxoSmithKline(GSK)–CDRD Innovation Fund: This collaborative fund supports the development and commercialization of health research conducted in Canadian research institutions with project-based financial resources and leading drug-development expertise. The fund supports selected early-stage projects that are conducted by CDRD and carried out in collaboration with academic investigators at CDRD’s affiliated institutions and hospital-based research centres. Project applications are reviewed and selected by a joint innovation committee comprised of GSK and CDRD representatives as well as external reviewers.
  2. Genome BC–CDRD Development Fund: This fund was created to promote the development of commercially promising projects that are related to advances and discoveries originating from genome sciences and genetics. Genome BC has earmarked $1 million for the fund, to be allocated on a project-by-project basis. CDRD will contribute up to $1 million in expertise, facilities and equipment time.
  3. Pfizer–CDRD Innovation Fund: Pfizer Canada provided several million dollars to CDRD to assist them in establishing this fund, which is aimed at accelerating the commercialization of some of Canada’s most promising academic research projects into high-value medicines. These developments may form the basis for new companies or licensing opportunities. This fund receives additional support from the NCE Centres of Excellence in Commercialization and Research Program; it is administered by CDRD.
  4. Western Canada Innovation Fund: Western Canada Innovation Fund is a partnership between CDRD and Johnson & Johnson Innovation Centres. The fund also includes investments from the Provinces of British Columbia and Alberta and is mainly designated to enable early-stage innovative discoveries within the health sciences to advance to the stage of commercialization. Representatives from Alberta, British Columbia/CDRD and Johnson & Johnson Innovation Centres jointly assess opportunities for the collaboration, funding, management, and commercialization of these health research projects from British Columbia and Alberta.

MaRS Innovation (MI) Industrial Partnership Program: MaRS Innovation (MI) has launched a unique funding program to match researchers with industry partners while advancing early stage technologies. This program provides a simple mechanism to connect researchers within MI networks to MI’s industry partners. The process and application form are intentionally brief, which saves researchers time and allows MI’s partners to review a wide range of remarkable technologies within the Toronto academic community in a short period of time.

IV. Technology and Innovation Exchange Platforms and Tools

The following technology and innovation exchange platforms allow academic researchers to share information about advances in their research fields and to pursue further development opportunities. This collaborative atmosphere may lead to funding support for research and commercialization of market-ready technologies.

Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) Global Technology Portal: The AUTM Global Technology Portal provides information about technologies that are available for licensing, as well as information about participating institutions’ core capabilities.

There are also private technology transaction platforms, discussed frequently in academic communities, including:

FlintBox: Flintbox provides tools for universities, corporations and regional industry clusters to facilitate the discovery of new commercialization opportunities.

iBridge: The iBridgeNetwork collates information about early-stage technologies and inventions, creating a public, centralized source for people looking for information about current research and innovations.

IdeaConnection: IdeaConnection provides solutions for its clients’ internal challenges, as well as and technology scouting services.

WBT Innovation Marketplace: The annual WBT Innovation Marketplace is an American event that showcases a variety of companies and technologies that have grown from American and international universities, labs, research institutions and private-sector interests.

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