Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) drives the development of Ontario’s economy by helping create new jobs, products, services, technologies and businesses. In partnership with industry, OCE co-invests to commercialize innovation originating in the province’s publicly funded colleges, universities and research hospitals. For the graphic arts industry, OCE also supports and invests in early-stage projects, where the probability of commercial success and potential total return on innovation is substantial. Another expanding focus for OCE is the development of the next generation of innovators through our entrepreneurship fellowships and programs for students and youth across Ontario.
OCE’s Whole of Government Approach
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), Connect Canada and Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) are federal partners helping OCE create a streamlined, efficient process for our clients to access complementary innovation services and funding.
If you are a follower of this column, you know that we often discuss the NRC-IRAP program. If you aren’t familiar with IRAP, you should be. Across Canada, there are IRAP offices and IRAP consultants to help you identify what government grants may work for you. IRAP, through its IRAP Concierge Service simplifies the application process by allowing your business to apply once and have your application accessed for various grant opportunities, including OCE. You can learn more about IRAP at https://www.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/eng/irap/index.html.
Further, in the past in this column, we’ve discussed how BDC provides immediate funds to help innovators who are waiting for their SR&ED tax credits to be provided. Together with IRAP, BDC is a strong partner in helping companies meet their cash flow requirements and turn projects with an unacceptable return on investment (ROI) into exciting opportunities.
How OCE Works
OCE works directly with academia and industry to bring prospective partners together to turn ideas into income. OCE has a 40-person experienced team of Business Development Managers that it deploys to all corners of the province. They find out what’s needed by industry and literally explore the halls and labs of academia to find out about the latest breakthroughs from researchers. Together, they work through OCE’s tailored programs to commercialize innovations, transfer technologies and develop promising talent.
There are five key program areas: Industry-Academic R&D Collaboration, Commercialization and Demonstration, Campus Entrepreneurship, Advanced Technology Platforms and Clean Technology. In most cases, small to medium sized enterprises, such as the vast majority of graphic arts companies, would be focusing their efforts on Commercialization and Demonstration. Specifically, there are two Commercialization and Demonstration programs that might interest the reader, Market Readiness Investment Program and Small Business Innovation Challenge.
The Market Readiness Investment Program directly funds new start-up companies commercializing “Intellectual Property” out of Ontario-based academic institutions or a company based at a Campus Linked Accelerator (CLA).
Small Business Innovation Challenge (SBIC) supports the growth of high-potential, technology-driven small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Ontario, using public sector challenges as a platform for inspiring SMEs to develop and test innovative technology solutions.
The OCE story
Ontario Centres of Excellence’s (OCE) not-for-profit program was formally established in 1987 with seven independent centres that evolved and amalgamated into the Ontario Centres of Excellence Inc. in 2004. In other words, it has been supported by both Liberal and Conservative governments, and, likely will remain an important program for years to come.
OCE was designed to bridge the gap between universities, colleges, research hospitals and industry and create productive working partnerships between university and college research departments, research hospitals and Ontario industry.
Today, OCE drives the commercialization of cutting-edge research across strategic market sectors to build the economy of tomorrow and secure Ontario’s and Canada’s global competitiveness. OCE focuses on areas and projects that will deliver not only the greatest economic benefits but those that will have a positive social impact in communities across the province.
Do you have such innovation? If so, you might be eligible for OCE funding, but don’t hesitate, as government funds are limited and when they are gone, you will need to wait for another fiscal year to begin your application, when funds are topped up.