As the single-largest purchaser of Canadian goods and services, the Government of Canada has announced details of its plan to use procurement to help Canadian small businesses innovate and create employment opportunities for Canadians.

Ministers Navdeep Bains and Bardish Chagger announced the $100-million Innovative Solutions Canada program that invites Canadian small businesses to develop novel solutions to challenges proposed by federal departments and agencies.

Twenty federal departments and agencies will participate in the new program and identify problems spanning the military, economic, and environmental sectors; for example, the prediction of natural or man-made disasters (including fires, floods, and disease outbreak).

Minister Bains, said, “Our government’s new Innovative Solutions Canada program is a big winner on several fronts. We’re being proactive and transforming our challenges into opportunities—opportunities for innovation, economic growth, and small business success that will result in a vibrant innovation economy and more middle-class jobs for Canadians.”

The program has identified the first set of specific challenges that it is looking for innovators to solve:

New challenges will be posted on an ongoing basis based on departmental challenges, such as clean technology and natural resources, biosciences, agri-food, and advanced manufacturing.. Innovators can subscribe to receive updates.

Dr. Peter Gallant, WaterTAP’s President and CEO said, “WaterTAP’s water technology clients consistently report that it is easier to find success in export markets than in their home country. In fact, many of them make sales in Canada only after they’ve proven their technology in export markets.”

He added, “By leveraging federal R&D budgets and procurement power, this program takes a step in the right direction. If the program works similarly to the SBIR, it will give a boost to water tech companies where it is much needed, allowing them to test and prove their solutions in their home market, refine their products with the support of a committed early adopter, and develop a reference site to help them sell to global markets.”

Innovative Solutions Canada is modelled on the U.S. Small Business Innovation Research program, which has included water-related technologies.

Innovative Solutions Canada will encourage submissions from businesses owned and led by women, Indigenous peoples, youth, and other traditionally under-represented groups.


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