ARCHIVED - NRC Industrial Research Assistance Program Overview

Archived - This content has been developed for the transition binder for the NRC President, December 2020

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Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)
Helping small and medium‑sized businesses grow

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The NRC – what we do

  • We advance scientific and technical knowledge
  • We support government policy objectives
  • We support business innovation

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The NRC delivers value to Canada in two ways

  • National network of researchers and facilities: performing research and technical services with partners
  • Delivers national funding program: The Industrial Research Assistance Program

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  • 2,154 scientists, engineers and technicians, and over 255 IRAP Industrial Technology Advisors
  • Specialized facilities in 179 buildings on 22 sites
  • 1,225 R&D collaborations and helped 8,034 SMEs

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Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)
Helping small and medium‑sized businesses grow

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Industrial Research Assistance Program

  • Mandate: Stimulate wealth creation for Canada through innovation
  • Mission: Accelerate the growth of small and medium‑sized businesses by providing them with a comprehensive suite of innovation services and funding
  • Vision: Be the most impactful program of its kind in the world, where Canadian firms go first to transform their ideas into commercial success

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Industrial Research Assistance Program

  • Provide advice, connections, and funding to help Canadian small and medium‑sized businesses increase their innovation capacity and take ideas to markets
  • Serve over 8,000 clients annually (advisory services, funding or referrals) across all industry sectors and fund over 3,300 clients
  • Link innovative Canadian SMEs to global value chains and support their growth by providing access to current technology and business market intelligence on priority industry sectors
  • Support youth with an employment program

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Industrial Research Assistance Program

  • 70‑year proven track record
  • $336M in annual contribution funding to SMEs
  • 8,034 firms receiving advisory services, funding or referrals

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Industrial Research Assistance Program

  • 11,490 jobs supported in SMEs
  • 668 youth internships supported
  • 921 assessments completed (for other government departments)

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Long Description:

This page features an illustration with an image of a map of Canada with an overlay of NRC IRAP Offices, NRC Research Facilities and NRC Research Facilities & IRAP Office co‑locations across 110 communities.


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Industrial Technology Advisors (ITAs)

  • Private sector experience
  • Later in career cycle (typically 20+ years of experience)
  • Senior managers and entrepreneurs
  • Most have an engineering or science background
  • 255 advisors across Canada

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IRAP sector teams

Advanced Manufacturing • Aerospace • AgriFood • BioMedical • BioProducts • CleanTech • Construction • Information and Communications Technology • Mining

  • Link innovative Canadian SMEs to global value chains
  • Support SME growth by providing access to current technology and business market intelligence on priority industry sectors
  • Increase the positive impact of NRC on innovative SMEs
  • Contribute to the competitiveness of Canadian industry
  • Strengthen Canada's innovation system

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Grow global

International co‑innovation opportunities for Canadian SMEs

  • Connect to programs and expertise
  • Improve competitiveness
  • Tap into emerging markets and innovative developed markets

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Helping SMEs succeed globally

IRAP connects clients to the global value chain

  • Large enterprise initiative
  • Sector teams
  • Tools to support international growth

Supported programs

  • Eurostars
  • Canadian International Innovation Program (CIIP)
  • CanExport

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Working with stakeholders 

IRAP offers program delivery expertise and advisory services to other federal and provincial organizations including:

  • Program design
  • Proposal assessments
  • Program management
  • Full program delivery

921 technical and business assessments for other government departments.

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NRC IRAP COVID‑19 Response

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NRC IRAP COVID‑19 response

In addition to delivery of 'regular' IRAP, the Program's contribution to pandemic response has been significant. IRAP's budget has more than doubled (vs FY19‑20) from $364M to $831M. By the end of Q2 (September), the number of jobs supported by NRC IRAP had increased 49% year‑over‑year and the number of new projects increased by 37%.

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NRC IRAP COVID‑19 response

In direct response to COVID‑19, NRC IRAP delivered two additional Programs.

Innovation Assistance Program – a wage subsidy (liquidity) program delivered in two (2) rounds.

  • Round 1  - announced April 17, launched April 22
  • $250M to assist innovative, early‑stage companies that are unable to access existing
    COVID‑19 business support
  • As of December 14, just over $247M has been disbursed to over 2,200 SMEs, supporting over 26,000 jobs
  • Round 2 - announced in October 2020, an additional $150M available to a subset of round 1 recipients
  • As of December 14, over 570 projects approved and $8M already disbursed

IRAP‑Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) Challenges – a challenge‑based program designed to support innovative firms working in the areas of N95 filtration material, POC Diagnostic Kit, Low cost sensor for patient monitoring, Intelligent Data Clearing House, Magnetic Reagents for detection of COVID‑19, Recycling technologies for disposable, single‑use PPE and Compostable, disposable surgical masks/respirators.

  • $15M announced in March 2020 [REDACTED]

14 Firms supported to date including Roswell Downhole Technologies Inc. producing 58m tonnes filtration material per month (=58m masks/month) for medical‑grade masks and respirators

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NRC IRAP COVID‑19 response

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  • IRAP support to develop COVID test kits by Canadian SMEs. The firms aim to obtain Health Canada (HC) approval to accelerate technologies to market in Canada.
  • Advisory services to SMEs on the test kit supply chain (e.g., antibody supply, assay reagents, plastic consumables).


  • Health Canada to approve swabs for sale in Canada based on safety and effectiveness results from clinical trials.
  • Companies conducting clinical trials in Canada & Peru; clinical trial protocol has been approved by Health Canada.

Vaccine Development

  • Support for a limited number of firms on COVID vaccine development, supporting preclinical and early phase clinical trials.

Therapeutics Development

  • IRAP engaged with a variety of companies researching or creating therapeutic technologies related to COVID (e.g., ventilator components, hydroxychloroquine effectiveness, high‑flow oxygen recirculation).
  • Firms receiving IRAP advisory services have developed Health Canada‑approved ventilator prototypes.

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NRC IRAP COVID‑19 response

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Production & Fill and Finish

  • IRAP feasibility and engineering design production projects are underway to deliver greater manufacturing capacity.
  • Fill‑Finish capacity expansion IRAP project is also in progress.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • With COVID‑19, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) prioritized certifying USA‑made N95 PPE products and created delays for Canadian manufacturers.
  • Guidance in place to allow Canadian manufacturers to get their products authorized by Health Canada under Interim Order.


  • Assisting SMEs to develop contingency plans that could address potential shortages in hand sanitizer ingredients.
  • Reducing reaction time during shortages for major hand sanitizer manufacturers and smaller SMEs.

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Success Stories

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Success stories

BioNeutra North America Inc. develops and manufactures a specialized sweetener alternative to sugar that is natural, lower‑calorie fibre with multiple health benefits. VitaFiber was approved for sale by U.S. FDA, Health Canada and the European Food Safety Authority and is sold around the world in many locations including Canada, U.S., Europe, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia.  ITAs advised and supported the client on numerous fronts including better characterization and articulating of the health benefits using scientific evidence. Cumulative sales in the past 3 years have exceeded $107 million and it has 38 employees at its development and manufacturing headquarters in Edmonton. BioNeutra was named by the Financial Times as one of the 500 fastest growing companies in the Americas in 2020.

Drivewyze Inc. delivers a time‑saving and cost‑effective weigh‑station bypass solution to the trucking industry. IRAP's engagement with IIS/Drivewyze began in 2013 through a funded project to conduct a market opportunity assessment for a mobile toll payment collection solution. This market opportunity assessment led to a larger IRAP‑funded project to support the development of a prototype of the mobile toll payment solution. The technology components developed through the mobile toll payment project have been incorporated into the connected truck network solution currently in development through another large 3‑year IRAP‑funded project. Since 2013, the firm has raised over $20M in private venture capital financing, and in July 2020, the firm announced the closing of $60M (USD) capital raise to scale the connected truck platform. Currently the firm has over 100 + staff in the Edmonton office and the headcount is growing.

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Thank You