The Government of Canada as been actively supporting research and development through the National Research Council (NRC) since 1916. Their Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) has a long list of success stories, the most recent of which is Vancouver's Strangeloop Networks.
With financial assistance from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), Bixby and his fellow founders first built a proof-of-concept prototype of the AS1000. NRC-IRAP then helped them bridge the gap between seed investments and their first round of angel financing, where investors lent them money in return for an equity stake in the company. Later, NRC-IRAP's funding assistance enabled Strangeloop to build another prototype of their hardware device. Then they took their product to market.
Strangeloop, which now employs about 40 people, raised $11.5 million during its first angel investing round – the largest private angel deal in Canadian history, according to Bixby. They have subsequently raised another round of private financing.
"NRC-IRAP's involvement allowed us to start the technology to get us to our customers," Bixby explains. "It allowed us to ask them, 'Does this solve the problem that you have?'"
According to Bixby, the expertise, strategic advice and the networking contacts available through NRC-IRAP were even more valuable than the financial assistance.
As an example of the networking support, look at the upcoming NRC-IRAP Client Presentations for Investors (aka the “IRAP Lions’ Den”) scheduled for September 19, 2009. It's a great way for NRC-IRAP clients to connect with investors whose financing and value-added services will advance their development. On the flip side, it provides a unique opportunity for investors to meet with companies that have received NRC-IRAP support.
NRC-IRAP Client Presentations for Investors are held quarterly with up to 6 IRAP clients presenting their company to a panel of up to 10 investors. NRC-IRAP invites investors whose investment criteria roughly matches the companies that will be presenting. Past investor participants include BC Advantage Funds, Discovery Capital, GrowthWorks, and Wesley Clover.
If you're an NRC-IRAP company (or interested investor), you can express your interest in participating by email to NRC-IRAP Business Analyst Perry Quan.