From agenda to action
The McGuinty government has made innovation a priority. In fact, it is part of the government's five-point plan on the economy.
Ontario has outlined how it will deliver on this priority through the recently-released Ontario Innovation Agenda .
The agenda calls for Ontario to focus on areas where the province has the research, business and market opportunity to compete globally.
It also calls for Ontario to leverage the skills and knowledge of Ontarians, particularly business and commerce skills.
The agenda is a commitment by Ontario to act as a catalyst for innovation in the province, tapping into the talent of Ontarians to build the next generation of business, jobs and prosperity.
The Market Readiness Program
The Market Readiness program is one of the ways Ontario is putting the agenda into action.
The support announced today will go to companies actively pursuing opportunities in the advanced health technologies and information technologies markets -- two areas identified in the Ontario Innovation Agenda as having significant global market opportunities.
The program is helping Ontario innovators find the training they need to develop the necessary entrepreneurship and business skills needed to take an innovation to market.
And, it's an example of how Ontario can act as a catalyst for innovation, providing support at a key point between research and private sector investment. Support at this point is critical to ensure great ideas coming out of research in this province result in new companies and new, marketable products.
The partners work in collaboration to deliver the primary components of the program -- the Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF) and Business Mentorship and Entrepreneurship Program (BMEP) .
Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF)
Today's announcement represents the first companies supported under the IAF component of the Market Readiness program. The IAF is an early stage seed fund to help Ontario technology companies bring their products and services to market. Through early stage investment of up to $500,000 in the form of a convertible debenture (loan) in return for a nominal equity position, the IAF helps launch high potential ventures that are attractive to follow-on investors.
Business Mentorship and Entrepreneurship Program (BMEP)
A significant factor in launching and growing a successful, innovative company is the management team's depth of skills and network. Building both is the aim of BMEP.
With the help of BMEP, high potential companies can access the educational material and mentorship needed to gain the entrepreneurial know-how to successfully take ideas to the marketplace. The program has four parts consisting of the Entrepreneur Training Program, Business Mentorship Program, the Global Network Program and the Angel Network Program.
In the six months since the launch of BMEP, the program has rolled out and served clients in a variety of ways. BMEP has eight "Entrepreneurs in Residence" acting as mentors in locations throughout Ontario, including Waterloo, Ottawa, Markham, Toronto, London and Mississauga. Almost $1 million has been committed to strengthen angel capital networks across Ontario. And, BMEP has developed a suite of research services, on-line education programs and has provided project funding to seventeen high potential companies.