AI is a key component of a business’s digital transformation. Do you know what support is available to bring your projects to fruition?
There are various measures and assistance programs available to finance your organization’s artificial intelligence project.
Regardless of its size or activity sector, financing is available for projects that involve the development, integration and commercialization of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.
AI is a powerful tool to help organizations increase their productivity, efficiency and competitiveness, particularly through the automation of business processes. This is why our governments have established significant initiatives to accelerate the adoption of AI in business.
Quebec government call for projects
At the end of 2020, the Quebec government introduced a call for AI innovation projects with a $25M envelope. While the program is intended for Quebec businesses in all sectors, it prioritizes SMEs and start-ups and finances projects to develop, commercialize or integrate AI technology.
This year, businesses have until October 15, 2021 to apply.
The program comprises three components:
- 1. Startup innovation projects, for AI companies less than three years old that receive coaching from a business incubator or accelerator. Maximum assistance of $50,000.
- 2. SME innovation projects, for SMEs that intend to produce goods and services or carry out in-house research and development (R&D). Maximum assistance of $150,000.
- 3. Large-scale innovation projects, for business groups that include at least two Quebec companies. This component finances projects that have the potential to generate significant short-term economic benefits. Maximum assistance of $1.5 million per project.
The Quebec government supports another call for AI innovation projects, the Partenar-IA Program, that is managed by the nine sectoral industrial research clusters (RSRI). This program comprises two components and focusses on collaboration:
- 1. Partenar-IA | Enterprise, for groups of businesses that want to carry out an innovation and collaborative R&D project, while being accompanied by a public research centre for part of the project. The businesses must share the costs, benefits and intellectual property of the innovation project. Maximum subsidy equivalent to $150,000 per partner company, and $600,000 per project.
- 2. Partenar-IA | Academic, for all public research centres and Quebec businesses that want to carry out a project to develop, commercialize or integrate AI technology. Eligible projects must be carried out by public research centres in partnership with at least on Quebec SME or start up. Maximum subsidy of $500,000 per project.
The application must be submitted to your industry segment’s RSRI. The next filing deadline is October 15, 2021.
Scale AI is an artificial intelligence supercluster in Canada. This non-profit consortium of companies, research centres and universities is supported by the governments of Quebec and Canada.
In addition to helping fund training initiatives and business incubators, Scale AI funds industrial projects. The organization reimburses up to 50% of eligible expenses for business projects that target the adoption or commercialization of AI for supply chains.
Projects must have more than one participant, and at least one SME must be a partner. There is no minimum or maximum funding amount.
INVEST-AI manages a $35M co-investment program that reimburses up to 50% of the eligible costs of an AI project. The non-refundable contributions are provided once the expenses have been paid.
INVEST-AI financing ranges from $50,000 to $1M based on the project size. At least 30% (preferably 50%) of the required investment must be from the private sector. The business must generate minimum annual sales of $1M.
Other assistance programs
Your business can also take advantage of other financial assistance programs for its AI project. Here are the main ones:
- Investissement Québec’s Innovation Program, which offers non-refundable contributions for innovation projects and commercialization. The maximum assistance ranges between 30% and 50% of eligible expenses, depending on the type of project.
- Investissement Québec’s PME en action – SME Productivity Support, which provides support for certain projects to implement business practices that generate productivity gains. The maximum subsidy is 40% of eligible project expenses, to a maximum of $50,000.
- ESSOR – Investment Project Support, from Investissement Québec and the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation, which offers various types of assistance. Eligible expenses must be at least $100,000 or $250,000, depending on the type of project.
- National Research Council of Canada’s Financial support for technology innovation through NRC IRAP, which subsidizes innovation projects to develop new or improved products, services or processes.
- Programme NovaScience, from the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation, with various support measures to promote a scientific and innovation culture, in particular with SMEs, and train and integrate a qualified workforce. The various programs are expected to be extended in 2021-2022.
When planning your artificial intelligence project and anticipating its costs and financing, remember to consider SR&ED credits and government tax incentives. Read our article on this topic.
You could also qualify for other types of financing for SMEs or all of your digital transformation projects.
Call on our team to help you set up your artificial intelligence project and benefit from the advice of our experts. They are committed to the success of our local businesses and will be happy to help you achieve your goals.
09 Jun 2021 | Written by :