Ideas To Market Strategy And The Market Readiness Program
Through its Ideas to Market strategy -- announced in the 2006 Budget -- the McGuinty government is helping innovative companies develop and implement cutting-edge technologies that will strengthen Ontario's economic advantage and provide high-value jobs for the future.
Many of Ontario's high-potential ideas and technologies don't make it to the marketplace because of a lack of investment and skilled entrepreneurial management in the early stages.
This is the conclusion of various reports on risk capital and commercialization, and of the Ontario government Risk Capital Working Group. The working group was struck to identify problems and propose solutions to what was preventing Ontario innovations from being developed, nurtured and brought to market.
The Ideas to Market strategy uses various programs to encourage early investment and management expertise for promising "born in Ontario" entrepreneurs. It helps them attract later-stage investment, succeed with their innovations and stay in the province to create jobs and compete in the global marketplace.
The Market Readiness Program
The four-year, $46-million Market Readiness Program will provide high-potential innovative companies in Ontario with early-stage financial support and management expertise to help them get off the ground, and attract investment from other sources.
The Ministry of Research and Innovation's partners -- the MaRS Discovery District and the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) -- will work directly with regional organizations to deliver the Market Readiness Program across the province.
These partners have had great success supporting the next generation of industries in Ontario. Since MaRS and the OCE were founded, they have each established a wide range of programs and services to support innovation, accelerate the movement of ideas to the market, and give entrepreneurs and emerging companies opportunities to succeed.
The Market Readiness Program has two components:
1) Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF) [$29 million]
The Investment Accelerator Fund finances eligible knowledge-based companies to test and develop their new technology in the early stages, and gain entrepreneurial know-how to take the idea closer to the marketplace.
Investments between $250,000 and $500,000 help companies with technology development, market potential analysis, prototype development, early customer trials, promotion and patenting costs.
IAF will also provide companies with business mentorship until a skilled management team is in place, either temporarily or permanently. The fund also supports assistance to attract later-stage venture capital.
2) Business Mentorship and Entrepreneurship Program [$17 million]
Entrepreneurs can apply to the Business Mentorship and Entrepreneurship program for help in getting the necessary management skills to take their new high-tech product or service through to the marketplace. The program has four parts:
- Entrepreneur Training -- offers peer-to-peer mentoring and training courses for entrepreneurs with varying levels of experience. Participants will develop skills required to create a new business or expand an existing enterprise ― so that it can successfully bring new products and technologies to market.
- Business Mentorship -- helps business managers in new, innovative companies to understand and solve specific business and technology development problems to take the company to the next stage of product development.
- Serial Entrepreneur/Business Executive Program -- strengthens the existing network of entrepreneurs and investors in Ontario and supports activities that engage Ontario entrepreneurs and attract entrepreneurial talent back to Ontario from other jurisdictions.
- Angel Network -- connects high-potential entrepreneurs with "angel investors", who provide both capital and valuable business expertise at the toughest stage of a company's growth. The program will also provide support to further develop angel networks across Ontario.
The programs will be available to companies in the fall.
Other Ideas to Market Programs
In addition to the Market Readiness Program, the government of Ontario offers these other programs to help entrepreneurs develop and sell their innovative ideas and technology:
- The $24-million Innovation Demonstration Fund supports innovative companies at the pilot or demonstration stage
- A $90-million Early Stage Venture Capital fund will invest in early stage Ontario-based firms in partnership with venture capital funds, pension funds and the federal government
- The Ontario Research Commercialization Program, launched in 2005, is the first program to help innovators in research institutions and the non-profit sector collaborate with the private sector for innovative product development in medicine, the environment, energy and other technologies.