MaRS Library Research and development (R&D) in Ontario overview
The Ontario government maintains an impressive research and development (R&D) infrastructure, including: collaborative networks that bring together public- and private-sector research; and publicly funded research organizations, university labs and prototyping facilities. The support for R&D in Ontario helps innovative companies meet the challenges and leverage the opportunities of global markets. This page focuses on resources available to Ontario entrepreneurs, but also lists some federally available R&D assets.
On this page, you will find the following sections:
Invest Ontario: Invest Ontario is a program offered by the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade, and Employment with a mandate to connect businesses with organizations, people and ideas that will support economic development in Ontario. For a primer on the R&D landscape in Ontario, check out Invest Ontario’s page An Environment of Innovation. This page includes links to top research facilities, R&D tax incentives, and academic institutions. Invest Ontario also has a robust resource library that contains reports on research strategies, trends and investment information.
I. Government and Publicly Funded Research Organizations
Ontario has a wide array of publicly funded and not-for-profit research organizations, along with many research universities and hospitals, that conduct R&D that startups can leverage. Many of these organizations look to collaborate with private-sector firms to commercialize their research. Startups can form strategic partnerships with many of these organizations as a means of taking advantage of Ontario’s existing R&D infrastructure.
CANARIE: CANARIE provides a digital infrastructure for Canadian entrepreneurial, research and education communities to network, develop and test new digital products while maintaining low development costs. Its mandate is to provide a digital R&D environment that supports entrepreneurs in designing, prototyping, validating and demonstrating new technology applications, products and services. Entrepreneurs, researchers and educators who are involved with digital technologies can apply to use CANARIE Network, which include access to middleware technologies, network, legacy programs and research content.
The Canadian International Innovation Program (CIIP): CIIP helps to develop and support collaborative industrial research and development projects with high potential for commercialization between Canada and partner countries. CIIP additionally helps create new partnerships and accelerate the commercialization of research and development by encouraging bilateral science and technology networking and matchmaking activities.
National Research Council of Canada (NRC): NRC provides support, strategic research, and scientific and technical services, enabling their clients to leverage their expertise, networks, equipment and infrastructure. The Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) is one of its key services for entrepreneurs (for more details, see the listing for IRAP in the Funding Programs for Research and Development (R&D) Startup Library page). NRC is a valuable resource if you are seeking partnerships, testing and certification, calibration, prototyping, demonstrations, scale-up and consulting. A list of available prototyping facilities is available below in the General Industry Research Labs and Prototyping Facilities section of this page.
Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada (NCE): The goal of the NCE is to bring together public- and private-sector research through a variety of collaborative programs, including:
- The Knowledge Mobilization Initiative – supports national and international networks between knowledge users and producers to benefit social, health and economic development.
- The Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence Initiative – supports collaboration between researchers and organizations based in Canada and India, facilitating knowledge transfer, training and business opportunities.
- The Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research – program connects research expertise with business communities, allowing them to share knowledge and resources. Check this list for currently funded centres.
- Business-led Networks of Centres of Excellence – brings together the academic community and Canadian companies to help solve industry challenges.
Cleantech Research Organizations
The following are some examples of prominent research organizations that can assist cleantech entrepreneurs with their R&D activities. For more links to cleantech research organizations, please visit our Startup Library Cleantech general page.
Environment Canada – Environmental Science Centres: Environment Canada houses many science centres in Ontario; these centres conduct research that informs environmental and R&D policy.
Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA): As a Crown agency of the Province of Ontario, OCWA’s mandate is to ensure that Ontario’s water and wastewater systems are handled responsibly by operating, maintaining and managing water and wastewater facilities. OCWA has played an important role in bringing many water technologies to market.
WaterTap: WaterTap is a technology acceleration project aligned with Ontario Centres of Excellence. A top focus of WaterTap is to bridge the gap between R&D and commercialization in order to bring new water technology to market.
Health and Life Sciences Research Organizations
The following are some examples of prominent research organizations that can assist healthcare and life sciences entrepreneurs with their R&D activities. For more links to health and life sciences research organizations, please visit our Startup Library Life sciences general and
Healthcare general pages.
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR): The CIHR provides companies with affiliations to eligible Canadian institutions or organizations with access to funding to be used for research in the biomedical, clinical, health systems services, and environmental and population health fields.
Clinical Trials Ontario: Clinical Trials Ontario is an organization that helps the life sciences industry conduct efficient clinical trials; it uses a streamlined multi-centre infrastructure, and works to maintain ethical standards for patient safety. Established through the Ministry of
Research and Innovation, Clinical Trials Ontario achieves its goals by using efficient administrative and research ethics approval processes to leverage strategic partnerships (with industry, investigators and government) to gain access to global decision makers and attract investment, as well as educating patients on the benefits of clinical trials.
II. Research Labs and Prototyping Facilities
Ontario has a high concentration of research labs and prototyping facilities dedicated to many disciplines. Startups can utilize these facilities to conduct R&D, build working prototypes or test existing products that are close to being market-ready.
General Industry Research Labs and Prototyping Facilities
National Research Council Canada (NRC): The NRC assists companies by providing knowledge, expertise, facilities and equipment, as well as access to applied research and commercialization services.
The NRC provides a number of facilities that startups may access in order to perform R&D. This is a small sample:
- Advanced, non-linear optical imaging and microscopy
- Canadian Centre for Housing Technology
- Civil Infrastructure and related structures testing facilities
- Indoor environment testing facilities
- Material emissions testing facilities
- Medical device facilities
- Wind tunnel testing facilities
NORCAT Innovation Mill: The NORCAT Innovation Mill in Sudbury, ON, is a business incubator that offers tenancy, working spaces, lab and shop facilities, and meeting rooms. Entrepreneurs can access NORCAT facilities that offer:
- Product technical design, engineering and development
- Custom mechanical, electrical, and control system fabrication and assembly
- 3-D printing, CNC machining and rapid prototyping
- Product-testing services for harsh and extreme environments
- NORCAT Underground Technology Testing Centre, for testing technologies in an operating mine environment
Wavefront Wireless Zone offers mobile device rentals (from $10 per day), and is open to entrepreneurs who wish to test their applications on a variety of mobile devices.
There are many commercial prototyping centres and services available in Ontario. Try a quick Google search to find local prototyping businesses that can provide 3D printing services, specialized models and rapid prototyping services.
Ontario has a high concentration of research universities and colleges that maintain high-end labs and research facilities. A startup that is affiliated with an academic institution can get involved with university and college research through the institution’s tech transfer offices, research offices or by approaching individual projects, research labs or programs that align with the startup’s interests. For example, check out the University of Toronto Research and Innovation office for partnership opportunities.
Cleantech Research Labs and Prototyping Facilities
The Archetype Sustainable House: The Archetype Sustainable House (part of the Kortright Centre for Conservation) showcases new practices for viable green housing and communities. Its model homes are built with the latest in sustainable technologies and materials, and are used as a learning facility for tradespeople, builders, students and homeowners.
Earth Rangers: Earth Rangers is Canada’s largest non-profit organization focused on communicating to children the importance of protecting biodiversity. Its long-term goal is to partner with children to protect enough natural habitats to ensure the lasting survival of all species in Canada. The Earth Rangers facility has state-of-the-art energy monitoring and water treatment technologies.
Walkerton Clean Water Centre: Created in 2004, the Walkerton Clean Water Centre is an operational service agency of the Province of Ontario. Its goal is to provide training and education about drinking water quality to owners and operators of Ontario’s drinking water systems, especially in small and remote communities.
Southern Ontario Water Consortium (SOWC): Under development in 2013, the SOWC project was launched with the goal of building an integrated platform for water-related research. The facility will focus on developing, testing and demonstrating water and wastewater technologies and services for Canadian and international markets.
Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park: This research park is a joint initiative of Western University, the city of Sarnia and the county of Lambton. It provides research labs and facilities for cleantech technologies focused on biomass and other alternative energy solutions, primarily interested in startups at the R&D and commercialization stage.
University Prototyping Facilities for the Cleantech Industry
Many universities in Ontario have prototyping facilities. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a good starting point to explore available facilities within Ontario. These facilities include:
- Automotive Centre of Excellence (University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, ON)
- Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel (Western University, Faculty of Engineering, London, ON)
- Centre for Advanced Coating Technologies (University of Toronto, Toronto, ON)
Health and Life Sciences Research Labs and Prototyping Facilities
All Toronto hospitals are willing to partner with industry via industry-sponsored research agreements. Most hospital websites contain research sections for those looking into available facilities, labs and research initiatives. Below is a list of Toronto-area hospitals with active research programs:
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
- Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital (Industry partnerships/tech transfer office administered by MaRS Innovation)
- Mount Sinai Hospital
- St. Michael’s Hospital (Industry partnership/tech transfer office administered by MaRS Innovation)
- Sunnybrook Research Institute
- University health network
Research Infosource publishes an annual list of the Top 40 research hospitals in Canada, ranked according to research income.
III. R&D News, Statistics and Reporting
Ontario Innovation: This Facebook page aggregates news and links related to innovation, technology, research and entrepreneurship within Ontario.
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) R&D Statistics – Canada: This page provides datasets for R&D expenditures, personnel, business types, industry sector and field of science for Canada and other OECD countries.
Research and Development in Canadian Industry (Statistics Canada, 2012): Statistics Canada provides figures for R&D spending according to location, industry sector, and type of funder, performer and science.
State of the Nation – Canada’s Science, Technology and Innovation System: Canada’s Innovation Challenges and Opportunities (Science, Technology and Innovation Council, 2014): The Science, Technology and Innovation Council (STIC) is an external advisory body for the
Government of Canada on issues related to science, technology and innovation. This biennial report tracks and assesses Canada’s science, technology and innovation performance alongside benchmarks set by the international community. The report details Canada’s funding for R&D along key performance indicators related to business innovation, knowledge development and transfer, and talent development and deployment.