Recently the province of Quebec’s Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation launched a new Innovation Program (Programme Innovation) to provide Quebec-based companies and companies having a place of business in Quebec with up to $500 000 of financial assistance in support of the development of new products and other key business assets. The program offers significant benefits for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and provides access to financial assistance expressly for the purposes of innovation.
In addition to supporting investments in product development, the funds may also be applied towards investments in the development of intellectual property assets, such as obtaining patents and developing IP strategies. Unlike the former "First Patent" program, which is no longer in effect, this new program is much broader and is not limited to companies that are taking their first steps in terms of patent procurement.
The Innovation Program will be available until March 31, 2021, and is comprised of two separate streams: Stream 1 (Volet 1) supports the creation and development of innovative projects, while Stream 2 (Volet 2) supports the commercialization of developed innovative projects.
The program is intended for both for-profit companies operating in any sector of activity and social economy companies, as defined by the Social Economy Act, and provides financial assistance to enterprises acting alone or in groups (ex: a collaborative project). The financial assistance provided by the Program can be up to 50% of eligible expenses, to a maximum of $350,000 per project and up to $500,000 per enterprise for the duration of the Program.
In terms of intellectual property, eligible expenses under the program may include expenses related to the preparation of an intellectual property strategy, to the creation of intellectual property assets (for example fees related to the preparation and filing of a patent application including patent agent/attorney fees) and to the acquisition of rights or licenses to key intellectual property assets in Canada and elsewhere. Companies seeking to leverage these tools would benefit from the guidance of an experienced IP advisory firm to help them develop an appropriate plan and access funding through the program.