Chapter 3.4 of Stephen Harper's Budget 2013 promised to "enhance Canada's venture capital system" through a number of initiatives.
Most notably, $100 million set aside for the Business Development Bank of Canada to invest in firms graduating from business accelerators.
But they also set aside a whopping $60 million over five years "to help outstanding and high-potential incubator and accelerator organizations expand their services to entrepreneurs."
At the time not many questioned this line item. But now that the Honourable Jim Flaherty has announced the next step in implementing the Harper Government’s "Venture Capital Action Plan" to have more information and its going to be a feeding frenzy for this easy money.
On September 23, the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program issued a Request for Proposals under the Canada Accelerator and Incubator Program to solicit applications for funding support from leading business incubators and accelerators in Canada. $60 million is up for grabs to support new, incremental activities at outstanding and high-potential accelerators and incubators that promote:
- the development of investment-ready early-stage firms by accelerators and incubators;
- an increased range, availability and quality of services available to innovative early-stage firms, such as mentorship and business plan development;
- and tronger entrepreneur networks that link recipient organizations with other important innovation organizations in Canada and internationally, including other accelerators and incubators, public research institutions, investor networks and venture capital funds.
Sounds generic enough that every organization that refers to themselves as an accelerator or incubator should be sharpening their pencils to get their proposals off to NRC-IRAP. And the funding is as good as it gets—"over a five year period in the form of non-repayable contributions."
NRC-IRAP is very clear in their guidelines that only a "limited number of best-in-class accelerators and incubators (i.e. fewer than 10)" will be successful in securing funding. So who should get this money? GrowLab, Extreme Startups, FounderFuel and the other recognized accelerators? Or organizations like Communitech, Invest Ottawa, and Wavefront?
Weigh-in below and let's see who Techvibes' readers think could put the money to best use.