A Ticket to Success: Ontario Launches its Scale-Up Vouchers Program for Innovative Technology Companies

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By Stephanie White and Yang Wang, May 9th, 2017

Last November, the province of Ontario committed to help small businesses become more globally competitive. In doing so, the Ontario government promised a Scale-Up Vouchers program that would provide high potential SME’s (small and medium-sized enterprises) with access to additional resources to support critical business activities. Ontario has now made good on that promise.

On April 28, 2017, Ontario’s Ministry of Research, Innovation & Science (MRIS) and Ministry of Economic Development and Growth (MEDG) launched the Ontario Scale-Up Vouchers Program, a four-year, $32.4 million initiative. Details of the program can be found at http://www.ontarioscaleupprogram.ca/.

The program is intended to foster the growth of SMEs in Ontario to become sustainable Canadian companies. Although Canada generates world class research, and there are many start-ups based on this research, we continue to lag behind other industrialized nations in successful technology commercialization. Canada spends a lot of public money on R&D, however, to date, resources directed at supporting commercialization of the resulting innovative technologies have been largely ineffective.

In order to address this shortfall, while at the same time maximizing the likelihood of meaningful return on investment, the Ontario government has decided to target the Scale-Up Vouchers program to a subset of Ontario SMEs identified as “high-growth”. More specifically, the program is directed to companies in the high value fields of Information and Communications Technology, Advanced Materials and Manufacturing, Clean Technology, and Life Sciences. In order to be considered “high growth”, and consequently eligible to apply to the program, a company must:

  • have an annual revenue of between $1 and 50 million; and
  • should already be experiencing a 20% annual growth rate in revenue, sales or employment over the most recent fiscal year; and/or
  • have secured private investment of at least $2 million in the previous two years

The program will be delivered by three Ontario Regional Innovation Centres; MaRS, Invest Ottawa and Communitech. Each application will be reviewed and scored by a selection committee to identify those companies considered to have a high potential for exponential growth in Canada and globally.

Companies successful in the application process will be provided access to growth coaches, who are senior executives and professionals with proven expertise in talent management, sales and revenue growth, IP protection and innovation, and/or financing. Successful applicants will also be eligible to work with their coaches to apply for a voucher to offset eligible expenses for supporting growth by:

  • increasing sales
  • securing and nurturing talent
  • developing and protecting intellectual property and/or
  • accessing capital

Voucher values correlate to the size of company revenue, as follows:

  • $150,000 voucher value – for companies with revenues between $1 million and $5 million (with an expectation for the company to match 33% of the voucher value)
  • Up to $250,000 voucher value – for companies with revenues over $5 million (with an expectation for the company to match 50% of the voucher value)

It is important to highlight the value of this program in championing Ontario’s innovative technology companies and, importantly, in recognizing the value of encouraging intellectual property protection of Canadian technologies. Strong intellectual property protection is inextricably linked to access to capital and ongoing commercial success, particularly for early stage companies. We are hopeful that similar programs will become available for pre-revenue, start-up companies with valuable technologies, so that we will continue to see fresh cohorts of applicants over the four year lifetime of this Scale-Up Vouchers Program.

For more information please contact:

Stephanie White, Partner

T: 613.801.1067

E: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Yang Wang, Summer Law Student

T: 613.801.1082

E: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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Randall is a partner of the firm and has been certified as a specialist in all areas of Canadian IP Law.
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