i.d.e.a. Fund

Supporting a more sustainable economy while fostering an inclusive and equitable recovery in Southern Ontario​.

i.d.e.a. Fund is a program that fosters inclusion, diversity, environment and acceleration while contributing to a green recovery. The program is delivered in partnership with the following Ontario Regional Innovation Centres (RICs): Boundless AcceleratorHaltechInnovate NiagaraWEtech AllianceInnovation Factory and TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario, to support a more sustainable economy while fostering an inclusive and equitable recovery in Southern Ontario.

About i.d.e.a Fund​​​

This program will provide specialized industry expertise to develop growth plans and related strategies in the areas such as talent attraction, raising follow-on investment, product development and quantification of product benefits/market value propositions, commercialization of intellectual property, and market diversification. Each RIC will distribute up to a maximum of $30,000 in matching seed funding to select innovative businesses in various sectors.

If your company is in southern Ontario, has a project that might fit the criteria and is interested in benefiting from a financial injection of seed funding and executive-level mentorship – keep reading!

Program benefits

Dollar symbol funding icon - idea fund

Seed funding and support​

  • Non-repayable seed funding of up to $30,000 with matching funds
  • Up to 40 hours of fully funded, targeted support from business leaders
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Expert help

Our experts have the knowledge and experience to help you address challenges such as: 

  • Growth plans and strategies
  • Raising follow-on investment and talent attraction
  • Market diversification and value propositions
  • Product development and quantification of product benefit
  • Commercialization of intellectual property
Check mark icon - idea Fund

Who can apply?

We’re looking for 120 companies that are:

  • high potential businesses that have growth potential
  • committed to reducing their impact on the environment by developing new or redesigning: products, services, processes and technologies

Applications for the second cohort of i.d.e.a. Fund have closed.

For full selection criteria, consult the i.d.e.a. Fund Program Guide (Downloadable PDF).

To find out if you are eligible for our $30,000 (matching) seed fund, email

Frequently asked questions

How many companies will be accepted to i.d.e.a. Fund?

There are two cohorts of i.d.e.a. Fund. The i.d.e.a. Fund will accept 120 clients into each program cohort.

Which Regional Innovation Centre (RIC) will I be assigned to?

Your company will be allocated to one of the partner Regional Innovation Centres (RIC) based on a number of criteria including regional proximity and any current or previous history working with a particular RIC.

How does the expert-matching work?

Once accepted into the program, your Regional Innovation Centre (RIC) will determine the best expert/mentor to match you with based on your industry, business stage and specific project goals. There may be an opportunity to engage more than one expert, depending on project requirements.

What information will I be expected to provide for reporting requirements?

You can anticipate providing i.d.e.a. Fund regular project updates as well as general business metrics during your participation in the program, as a requirement to receive funding. Once the project(s) are complete there will also be post-program follow-up reports that will be requested for up to three years. Metrics may include but aren’t limited to: revenues, investment, employment and intellectual property. I am a co-founder/partner in the business.

I am a co-founder/partner in the business. Do we all participate in this program, or is there one point of contact?

We expect that all decisions around financial commitments, project plans, budgets, milestones and KPIs, and updates will involve a decision-maker in the business. This is usually the owner/founder/C-Suite. Other members of your team can be involved in these meetings and are welcome. Once projects begin, involvement may be limited to one or more functional area and/or person depending on the project scope.

What are the eligibility requirements to participate in this program?

  • One or two team members of the business’s leadership team are available to participate in the program.
  • The applicant must be early-stage business or small to medium enterprises (1-499 employees) and the business must be headquartered in southern Ontario
  • Business must be incorporated (Ontario or federal)
  • Business must have a scalable product or service

I see that I need to have a scalable product or service to participate in. Is there an opportunity, within the application form, to explain my product or service in more detail?

Yes. There are open-ended questions on the application form where you will have an opportunity to explain their product and/or service in as much detail as they’d like.

Do I have to be incorporated in Ontario?

You must be incorporated federally or in the province of Ontario in order to participate in the i.d.e.a. Fund.

If I’m not currently incorporated, am I required to incorporate my business to participate in the program? Can this program support with the incorporation process?

No. Your business must be incorporated federally or in the province of Ontario in order to participate in the program. If you need support to be incorporated, please contact  for more information.

Can I download a copy of the application to review prior to completing it?

Yes. Prior to entering the application, there will be a PDF version available for download. Please note that this is for review purposes only; all applications must be submitted via the online application form. You will also be able to add members of your team to the intake form to collaborate online.

Is there a “save and continue later” feature for this application?

Yes. This feature will be visible once the application form is started and after the pre-qualification questions.

Will the application form time out and delete what I have completed?

If you use the “save and continue later” feature, the application will not delete completed questions.

When will the intake period open and close?

Applications for the i.d.e.a. Fund open on March 24, 2023, and close on April 17, 2023.

Is there more than one intake period for this program?

Yes. Cohort 1 ended on February 28, 2023. Applications for Cohort 2 cohort of the i.d.e.a. Fund open on March 24, 2023 and will close on April 17, 2023. Updates will be posted on the i.d.e.a. Fund website. At the bottom of this page you can also sign up to receive email updates and to be notified when the applications open.

How much detail do you require for the budget in the application?

The budget form is created to provide us with a high-level understanding of your project and project activities from a financial perspective so that we can review how much seed funding you are requesting, how much you are contributing, and how you expect to use that money. If you are accepted into the program, we will be working with you to develop a more comprehensive budget, KPIs and milestones.

Can I apply to this program if my business is pre-revenue? Is there a minimum revenue requirement?

There is no minimum revenue required for i.d.e.a. Fund. Companies must have fewer than 500 employees.

How can I determine what stage my business is at (idea, discovery, validation, efficiency, scale)?

There will be five (5) options for your business state. The explanations are:

  1. Idea: Entrepreneur with idea; initial market and technology exploration.
  2. Discovery: Value proposition established; testing ideas; proof of concept; identifying customers; early financials; Friends and Family funding.
  3. Validation: Business model established; minimum viable product; customer verified; initial orders; testing go-to-market strategy; pursuing angel funding or in accelerator
  4. Efficiency: Initial market traction; scaling sales and marketing; demand creation; forecasting based on actuals; pursuing early-stage VC.
  5. Scale: Validated product and market; customer growth; established management team; pursuing later-stage investment.

How do I find my NAICS code?

Please visit the Government of Canada’s website to identify your 5-digit NAICS code. Often businesses may be categorized by more than one code, please choose the most applicable one.

What is a business model canvas and is there a resource to assist with completing this?

A business model canvas is a visual tool intended for developing new or documenting existing business models. It quickly informs how an organization or business creates its products or services, delivers them and captures value (e.g. with your customers or revenue). Think of the business model canvas as containing nine (9) essential building blocks. We encourage you to attend one of our information sessions to see an entire walk-through of the BMC or visit www.strategyzer.com/canvas/business-model-canvas to learn more.

You can also download an OCR accessible Business Model Canvas Guide(PDF).

Changing the world with crickets and cows: Innovation factory’s unique i.d.e.a. Fund cohort contributing to a greener economy

Innovation Factory’s inaugural i.d.e.a Fund cohort is shaping a greener future by helping early-stage technology companies focused on sustainability unlock their potential and access the capital and mentoring needed to commercialize innovative technologies.

Innovator testimonial

Hear from our innovator, MoxyPatch about how i.d.e.a. Fund is supporting their growth and recognizing the sustainable impact of their solutions.

i.d.e.a. Fund recipients

For more information about the grant recipients and their innovative technologies and solutions, check out our portfolio.

Meet our partner

Celebrate BIG ideas that make a bigger impact at The Big DiF, Innovation Factory’s annual open house and client showcase. Join 250+ people from the Hamilton-Halton community to celebrate entrepreneurship and innovation.

Join Innovation Factory's Annual Open House - The Big DiF!

Network with 250+ industry professionals, discover emerging solutions from our innovators, and celebrate entrepreneurship within the Hamilton-Halton ecosystem.

May 9, 2024 | 4:00pm – 8:00pm | Hamilton, Ontario