Innovation Funding Looks to Move Ideas Into Marketplace

As part of the second application intake period for the federal government’s Western Innovation (WINN) Initiative, SMEs in Western Canada may request repayable, interest-free loans of up to $3.5 million per project. Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) opened the application process on Sept.30, and will accept applications until noon (MDT) on Oct. 30.

“This funding is geared towards the capital gap that small to medium-size enterprises face,” says Michelle Rempel, minister of state for Western economic diversification. “If they’ve got a widget or a process and they just quite can’t find that money to test whether or not it works in the field, or if it can scale up, or if the data seen in its first go round can be replicated — that pre-commercial phase in intellectual property development.”

WINN’s first intake last November resulted in support for 27 projects in western Canada, with 12 B.C. companies receiving over $8 million in funding commitments, including three Victoria-based companies: iDUS Controls, Tutela, and Redlen Technologies.

Ron Hartman, founder and president of iDUS Controls credits the process of applying with bringing a welcome focus and the discipline needed to develop iDUS’ executable commercialization plan.

“This funding will now greatly help accelerate our go-to-market initiative, and enables us to better support a growing list of distribution partners,” Hartman said when the funding was announced this summer.

WINN is a five-year, $100 million federal funding initiative to offer repayable contributions to western Canadian businesses with less than 500 employees, to enable these businesses to commercialize innovative technology-based products, processes or services. Through this initiative, the WD hopes to support entrepreneurs in bringing their ideas from the work-bench into the marketplace.

“We really want to ensure that we have a broad a cross-section as possible, that we’re reaching into the community to attract people to this program,” Rempel says.