About the Initiative
With the support of FedDev Ontario and the Government of Canada’s Jobs and Growth Fund, NCFDC has launched thriveFORWARD to accelerate industrial investment in innovation capital across southern Ontario. By making forward investments in the talent, technology and industries of the future, we can enhance entrepreneur-led growth in strategic sectors and across multiple priority pathways.
Eligible projects include the commercialization of innovation or the adoption of an innovation by a startup or SME, prioritizing critical sectors, diverse organizations and equity-deserving entrepreneurs that are investing in clean inclusive growth. Funding amounts and conditions vary in each case (see below). For more information about diversity, equity and inclusion, we encourage entrepreneurs to explore GBA+ and the Government of Canada’s 50–30 Challenge, as well as supplier diversity via our partner, CAMSC.
The thriveFORWARD initiative will help participants future-proof their businesses, build resiliency and prepare for long-term growth by transitioning to a green economy, fostering an inclusive recovery, enhancing competitiveness, and by creating jobs across southern Ontario.
Now is the time to innovate, grow and thriveFORWARD.
Your thriveFORWARD Team
“Startup” means an early-stage technology-driven company that is:
- A registered for-profit incorporated business, partnership or cooperative;
- Located in southern Ontario;
- Formed on or after January 1, 2020; and
- At the pre-revenue/prototype stage to early commercialization stage.
Approved startups receive non-repayable performance-based funding matching up to $25,000 in certified incremental private investment as of April 19, 2021, with funding released based upon satisfactory achievement of agreed-upon major milestones demonstrating investment in the adoption of advanced technologies. The leverage minimum is 1:1.
- A registered industrial for-profit incorporated business, partnership or cooperative;
- Located in southern Ontario;
- Having fewer than 500 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees; and
- Having $100,000 to $100 million in annual revenue declared in Canada during its last complete tax reporting year (or during the last 12 months for monthly and quarterly filers).
Approved SMEs will receive non-repayable performance-based funding for incremental project activities that invest in innovation capital (talent and technology) with 50% reimbursement of eligible and approved costs up to $100,000 (project leverage minimum 1:1).
Other Key Definitions
“Clean technology” or “Cleantech” is any process, product, or service that reduces negative environmental impacts through significant energy efficiency improvements, the sustainable use of resources, or environmental protection activities. This includes a broad range of technology related to recycling, renewable energy, information technology, green transportation, electric motors, green chemistry, lighting, grey water, and more.
“Green projects” include supporting a clean growth economy and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. This could include, for example, projects with benefits related to renewable energy, the adoption of practices with benefits related to renewable energy, the adoption of practices or technologies to reduce carbon footprint or waste, the commercialization of clean technologies, products or services, lightweighting/advanced materials, supply chain localization and other applications.
“Digital projects” include digital solutions and/or advanced manufacturing processes to improve operations and must enhance competitiveness, increase productivity and improve efficiency.
“Southern Ontario” means the following Statistics Canada Census Divisions: Brant, Bruce, Chatham-Kent, Dufferin, Durham, Elgin, Essex, Frontenac, Grey, Haldimand-Norfolk, Haliburton, Halton, Hamilton, Hastings, Huron, Kawartha Lakes, Lambton, Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, Lennox and, Addington, Middlesex, Niagara, Northumberland, Ottawa, Oxford, Peel, Perth, Peterborough, Prescott and Russell, Prince Edward, Renfrew, Simcoe, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, Toronto, Waterloo, Wellington, and York.
Additional Terms and Conditions
Recipients of thriveFORWARD funding shall obtain and maintain General Liability and Property Damage insurance for the duration of the project, and will provide certificate(s) of insurance upon the request of NCFDC.
An applicant may only submit one project application at a time. No Recipient of funding can have more than one approved thriveFORWARD contribution agreement.
Other terms and conditions may apply.
- Capital; and
All costs must be reasonable and directly related to the eligible project activities.
Ineligible and/or unsupported costs include, but are not limited to the following:
- Any costs deemed not reasonable and/or not directly related to the eligible project activities;
- Activities in support of regular maintenance and/or ongoing operational costs;
- Cost incurred prior to the eligibility date as defined in the Contribution Agreement;
- Costs incurred after December 31, 2023;
- Costs of land, building or vehicle purchase;
- Costs of intangible assets such as goodwill, whether capitalized or expensed;
- Depreciation or amortization expenses;
- Interest on invested capital, bonds, debentures, or mortgages;
- Bond discount;
- Losses on investments, bad debts and any other debts;
- Fines or penalties;
- Costs related to litigation;
- Fees for administrators, including payments to any member or officer of the Recipient’s Board of Directors;
- Opportunity costs;
- Hospitality and entertainment costs;
- Costs of individual membership in a professional body (e.g. professional designations); and
- Lobbyist fees.
All costs must be reasonable and directly related to the eligible project activities.
How to Apply
- The Start-up Stream is currently closed (but you may view the application PDF here).
- The SME Stream is currently closed (but you may view the application PDF here).
The PDF is for preview only.
Only complete applications will be considered.
Your application will be reviewed by NCFDC and funding decisions will normally be made within 30 days from submission of a complete application.
What you will need to complete your application:
- Business information (articles, registrations, business number, and other key documentation);
- Financial information (historical financial statements for the last 2 fiscal years and the most recent interim financial statement—YTD Profit & Loss and Consolidated Balance Sheet);
- Project summary and rationale;
- Key personnel;
- Any other documentation or substantiation you may wish to include with your application (project proposal and/or company backgrounder, pitch deck, business plan, links to websites and social media, etc.);
- List of any government funding (including tax credits, e.g. SR&ED Program) currently received or anticipated to be received by your organization;
- Additional relevant business documentation that may be required.
Startups only must also provide proof of non-government-sourced Private Investment of at least $25,000 in total (as of April 19, 2021). You will be asked to provide a copy of associated term sheet(s) and a copy of your bank statement showing deposit of the proceeds of the Private Investment.
“Private Investment” means non-government-sourced equity or financing inclusive of:
- Commercial loans;
- Convertible debt;
- Venture debt;
- Founders Share Capital; and
- Other Venture Capital and Private Equity instruments.
How Funding Decisions are Made
Applicants will be notified in writing of funding decisions (Approve, Decline or On Hold). Each element of the thriveFORWARD initiative is equally weighted for a total possible score of 100, as follows:
1. Future-proofing, Resilience and Business Growth (20 Points)
Assessment of the viability and impact of proposed project outcomes in terms of business growth, resiliency/future-proofing, scale-up/market expansion, increased sales (domestic and/or foreign), supply chain adaptation, market diversification and other activities that will contribute to sustainable economic growth.
2. Job Impacts (20 Points)
Consideration of the number of FTE (Full-Time Equivalent) jobs the project will create and/or maintain in Southern Ontario.
3. Going Green, or Digital Technology Adoption (20 Points)
Investing in adoption of advanced technology, with prioritization of:
- Cleantech, OR;
- Digital adoption (such as cybersecurity readiness, productivity enhancement, operational resilience).
4. Critical Sectors (20 Points)
Within or impacting food production, medical supplies or bio-manufacturing sectors.
5. Priority Client Pathways: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (20 Points)
- Business owned or majority-led by underrepresented groups, such as: Indigenous peoples, members of racialized communities, women, youth, 2SLGBTQI+, persons with disabilities, newcomers to Canada, and members of official language minority communities; AND/OR
- Businesses with a diverse workforce, active HR/workforce development programs, businesses that are GBA+ certified, signatories to the 50-30 Challenge, are CAMSC Certified, and/or have other progressive policies, procedures and governance initiatives in place that substantially address diversity and inclusion.
thriveFORWARD partners include the following leading organizations:
Le programme Un avenir PROSPÈRE! de la SADCN, avec le soutien de FedDev Ontario et du Fonds pour l’emploi et la croissance (FEC) du gouvernement du Canada, a donné un coup de pouce aux entreprises en démarrage spécialisées en solutions technologiques pour les services de police, l’innovation communautaire et les premiers intervenants.
Early-stage thriveFORWARD ventures in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) included some of the most exciting up-and-coming start-ups in Canada in 2023. These start-ups have already raised more than $8 million in follow-on funding.
Episode 8 of Season 1 of the Podcast brings you to the frontier of biomedical engineering with Sydney Robinson, Co-Founder & CEO of Vessl Prosthetics.
Vessl is introducing ISOFORM™, an automatically adjustable prosthetic socket. “We are dedicated to amputees and being the best company we can be,” Sydney said, in conversation with Frontier co-hosts Braden Kemp and Tracy Morningstar.
Judy Selvig is an accomplished regional program manager with complimentary experience in the municipal sector as an experienced economic development professional. Her work at NCFDC has focused on driving significant industrial innovation both locally and across Eastern and Southern Ontario—impacting hundreds of advanced manufacturers and growth firms—including the Eastern Ontario Development Program (EODP), CEDP (Collaborative Economic Development Projects), RIIEO (Rural Innovation Initiative – Eastern Ontario) and RE3, with the support of FedDev Ontario and the Government of Canada.
At NCFDC, Judy works with innovators, intrapreneurs and industrial leaders to accelerate their timelines for investment in innovation capital and to maximize success—driving business development, export market expansion, sales growth and job creation.
Heather Cannings Biography
Heather Cannings (BA, Criminology and Psychology, University of Ottawa) is an experienced Risk Analyst (formerly with 360insights) with a demonstrated track record in the Information Technology and Services industry. Heather is skilled in Trend Analysis, Department Administration, Microsoft Office, Trade Compliance, and Policy Enforcement.
John Hayden (B.A., University of Toronto, M.A., American University of Beirut) has over fifteen years’ experience working with entrepreneurs and innovators with a special interest in early-stage technology-driven enterprises. He completed a certificate in Strategy and Innovation from MIT’s Sloan School (Exec Ed) including the Entrepreneurial Development Program (EDP) and practices Customer Focused Technology Planning®. His own startup experience includes: They Innovate, Zoomaal and General Civilian.
At NCFDC, John has led the development and execution of regional startup acceleration and funding initiatives (N1M) as well as equity financing, fintech, cybersecurity projects and more, with the support of FedDev Ontario and the Government of Canada. He is a member of the CVCA and enjoys running (roads and trails).
Braden Kemp Biography
With more than a decade of experience in Canada’s technology commercialization industry, Braden Kemp has held senior roles in both the public and private sectors. As an entrepreneur, Braden founded and currently operates a manufacturing and e-commerce company along with a consulting practice.
Braden has held various positions in growth companies and the organizations that support them—most recently as Director of Operations at National Prostaff Inc. and previously as Director of Client Services at Spark Centre, Durham and Northumberland’s Regional Innovation Centre.
Braden has been an advisor to a variety of technology companies in food and agricultural technology, military technology and training, engineering and design, influencer marketing, e-commerce, wearables and more. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics from the University of Guelph and is a graduate of Ryerson DMZ accelerator.
Executive Director, GreenCentre Canada
Andrew Pasternak (PhD, Northwestern University. MBA, Rotman School of Business) has been with GreenCentre Canada since its inception (2009) and was recently appointed Executive Director. He has over 25 years’ experience directing early-stage technology commercialization and product development in both small and large company environments. In his most recent GreenCentre role of Business Development and Commercialization Director, Andrew was responsible for government relations and all commercial activities of the organization which have resulted in numerous strategic partnerships, high-margin service contracts, and licensing agreements. Andrew is an accredited Professional Director and serves on several Boards as GreenCentre’s representative. He has a passion for martial arts, piano, and a variety of outdoor activities.
As the Director of Canada’s Food & Agri-Tech Engine at Bioenterprise, Carla is responsible for all facets of the Engine, including its development, implementation and management, strategic partnerships, and membership growth and engagement. She is committed to working with communities, governments, industry, and all related partners as a catalyst for establishing long-term relationships, connectivity and collaboration in the food, agri-tech and related sectors across Canada.
Carla and her team provide member companies with customized services for them to keep growing and achieving their goals. Offering a mix of marketing, communications, events and partnerships, they help members feel part of a larger community, while encouraging Engine Insiders to get involved.
Carla brings a well-established track record demonstrating strong business acumen, team building skills, project management and marketing at large scale organizations across many global regions and cultures, including the UK, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Her experience includes working with private sector, not-for-profit organizations, and various levels of government, leaving her perfectly positioned to lead Canada’s Food & Agri-Tech Engine.
President, Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC)
Cassandra Dorrington leads the charge of delivering of programs and processes to promote and facilitate procurement opportunities between major corporations in Canada, and suppliers of all sizes owned and operated by Canadian Aboriginals and Minorities. In her two years at the helm, she has been instrumental in expanding the CAMSC brand across Canada and significantly growing the supplier base in Canadian marketplace.
As a result of CAMSC’s growing prominence in the business community, Cassandra sits as a member of the Toronto 2015 Diversity Advisory Council and the Toronto Board of Trade Diversity Council and she has been frequent speaker at seminars and conferences both nationally and internationally.
Currently, Cassandra sits as the Chair for the National Board of Directors of Certified Management Accountants of Canada, the Co-Chair of the newly merger CMA /CA organization – CPA Canada, and Chair for the Black Business Enterprise in Nova Scotia.
In addition to her wide range of experiences in the business world, Cassandra’s community involvement has garnered her Commemorative Medal for the 125th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, the YWCA Woman of Distinction award for Community Service and a 2010 Women of Excellence award.
Executive Director, DNA Angels
Kristen, born and raised in Whitby, Ontario, is a champion of the regional start-up ecosystem and loves to assist entrepreneurs in finding the right resources for growth and success. Previously with MaRS and Metropolitan University’s DMZ, as Executive Director of DNA Angels (formerly Spark Angels), Kristen leads the assessment of high-potential start-ups that are investment-ready, and brings them forward to investors. She supports initial founder-investor relations as entrepreneurs navigate the angel investing landscape. Prior to DNA Angels, Kristen was involved with a wearable tech start-up in Toronto where she managed the day-to-day operations of the company—she understands what it means to wear as many hats as you can handle to get the job done. She has mentored countless entrepreneurs at Co-iLab, Spark Centre, Ontario Tech University’s Brilliant Catalyst and Venture13.
Executive Director, Ontario Clean Tech Industry Association (OCTIA)
Maike is a multilingual brand building and growth communications expert with extensive experience leading and managing global cleantech communications, facilitating the transition to a sustainable economy. Her wide-ranging expertise includes strategic communications planning, advocacy, on- and offline stakeholder engagement, media relations, social media management, and corporate publishing.
Maike has been communicating in Germany, Canada and the U.S. for companies such as Senvion, Veolia Water, Viessmann, E.ON and BNP Paribas Cardif as well as for governments, politicians and not-for-profits.
Vinay Paramanand, MBA
Supervisor, IDEA Innovation Hub – City of Mississauga
Seeking information and using that information to make people’s everyday life easier is Vinay’s mantra. You will find him thinking about what he can do to help his team and organization operate efficiently and grow sustainably. He has learned that decisions, supported by morals, ethics, sound research and compliance to rules, survive the test of time. Vinay is well grounded in sustainability, community development and youth empowerment. With over 10 years of experience in banking operations including lending, business development, people management, business planning and market research, Vinay brings a wealth of cross-functional knowledge.
Previous leadership roles within the southern Ontario innovation ecosystem included posts at Toronto Business Development Centre (TBDC), Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI) and Futurpreneur Canada. Vinay holds a B.Sc. from the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, and an MBA from Concordia University, with a focus on Finance and Strategy. He is also a mentor with JVS Toronto and TRIEC, amongst other non-profit organizations.
Manager Entrepreneurship, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB)
Tracy Morningstar was born and raised in Mississauga #8 First Nation, at the mouth of the Mississauga River on the North Shore of Lake Huron (Blind River, Ontario). After a 1994 Land Claim trust was created, Tracy entered her name and was successfully elected as a Trustee for the Mississaugi Trust (June 2006-2012).
Prior to coming to CCAB, Tracy was the Administration Coordinator for New Gold during the construction phase of the Rainy River mine. After the construction phase of the mine, Tracy was responsible for a number of duties related to contract administration and large contract procurement practices. Prior to that she worked as a Chef and Administrator for two food service companies in Northwestern Ontario. Tracy also enjoys pitching for the “Red Gut Babes” in the Rainy River District Women’s fastball league. She looks forward to watching the Toronto Blue Jays and Raptors games in the city.