Overview Cluster Development Seed Fund Objectives Eligible Activities Eligible Applicants Eligible Costs Evaluation of Applications Reporting

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1 APPLICATION GUIDE

2 CONTENTS Overview... 3 Cluster Development Seed Fund Objectives... 4 Eligible Activities... 4 Eligible Applicants... 5 Eligible Costs... 6 Evaluation of Applications... 8 Reporting... 9 Conditions of Participation for all Eligible Applicants... 9 Confidentiality and Public Reporting Beyond the Cluster Development Seed Fund How to Submit An Application... 11

3 CLUSTER DEVELOPMENT SEED FUND GUIDELINES Overview Ontario is competing globally for new investments and opportunities. There are many compelling reasons why global leaders choose Ontario the province s concentration of talent and research capacity are leading-edge and world-class, and the global demand for Ontario s knowledge-driven products and services are growing. In order to maintain the competitiveness of Ontario firms, bold action is needed to help increase the province's productivity, innovation, and reach/access into global markets. A cluster-based approach is integral to supporting regional economic development and growth. Clusters can ensure that our province is able to play to its strengths by accelerating innovation, fostering networks of entrepreneurs, strengthening linkages between research institutions and firms, and attracting and retaining skilled talent in Ontario. Clusters provide a mechanism to leverage local institutional strengths (e.g. universities/colleges, and research organizations) and other assets tied to local economies such as human resources, knowledge, and value chains. For the business community, the presence of a strong cluster can provide reduced transaction costs associated with geographic proximity and established networks; quick access to skilled labour and capital; knowledge transfer due to labour mobility; and increased sales as a result of complementary products offered by other firms. As defined by Ontario Government in the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act, 2014, a cluster is a geographically concentrated group of interconnected businesses and related entities. The goals of the Act are to: drive productivity, foster innovation and enhance the export competitiveness of the province s economic clusters; support economic growth in clusters in the province; provide the framework for government, businesses, and other partners to collaborate on cluster planning, where there is a role for government in supporting the established or emerging cluster. Inherent to clusters are the synergistic linkages and relationships needed to underpin global competitiveness. Therefore, in addition to clustered companies, economic clusters may also be: comprised of research and postsecondary institutions, business associations, municipalities, economic development organizations, regional and/or sector innovation and accelerator centres, risk capital, and other entities that share a vision and plan for growing their cluster s competitiveness; and/or

4 related by skills, technology, supply chains, markets, and/or other linkages that transcend municipal/regional jurisdictional boundaries. Cluster Development Seed Fund Objectives The Cluster Development Seed Fund is a one-year pilot program that aims to assist eligible organizations with research and networking activities essential to successful cluster formation and growth in accordance with the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act, The seed funding will serve to support and accelerate agglomeration and create conditions for effective communication among cluster partners in the interest of enhancing industry s capacity to create new innovative products, manufacture more efficiently, provide knowledge-intensive services, and better compete in global markets. The main objectives of the Fund are to support cluster planning by: supporting cluster consortium building and networking, and supporting research and needs analysis Eligible Activities Applicants requesting funding must demonstrate a clear business case for requiring the funds and must explain how the activities to be undertaken will contribute to cluster development. Potential cluster opportunities to be explored through either stream must focus on promoting productivity, innovation and export competitiveness (PIE) within a tradable cluster. 1 The Cluster Development Seed Fund will support two streams of activities: Stream 1: Networking Activities Organizing networking events e.g. meetings, conferences, information sessions, symposia and discussions designed to determine if there is a potential cluster plan opportunity. Establishing independent and/or joint seminars and activities that strengthen linkages within the cluster/prospective cluster. Developing digital/electronic portals, databases, or other electronic tools specifically designed to support networking and sharing cluster-focused information, such as provisional priorities for a cluster consortium, that will support cluster development and maximize cluster performance. No activities will be funded that do not directly support the development of the cluster. 1 Traded clusters are concentrated regionally and sell products and/or services internationally, and tend to have higher average wages and higher average productivity than local clusters.

5 Stream 2: Research and Feasibility Studies Carrying out time-limited research projects directly related to more substantially exploring a key cluster opportunity. Cluster mapping and assembling data to analyze cluster performance based on: workforce talent: education; age; income, etc. productivity: measuring output to inputs regional competitiveness compared to other areas degree of collaboration between actors in R&D development, training, knowledge sharing dissemination of technology movement of labour including formal and informal interactions Feasibility studies and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) Market research to determine the viability of developing a cluster or progressing an existing cluster. Developing digital/electronic platforms/tools to disseminate results of research and feasibility activities and directly support cluster development. Funding is available for use within the specified fiscal year only, and all activities for which funding has been requested must be completed by March 31, An applicant may apply for funds from either stream but may submit only one application during the pilot program. Eligible Applicants Type of organization Eligible Applicant(s) (i.e. lead applicant/ contracted party/ recipient of grant funds) Eligible Source(s) for Matching Funds (in-kind support will not be considered as matching) firms/companies X Must provide at least 50% of total matching funds per project incorporated not-for-profit organization post-secondary institutions X

6 municipality/municipal/regional organizations provincial government/provincial agency X X federal government/federal agency X In addition, organizations eligible to apply to the Fund must be: Currently established and operating in Ontario. In full compliance with all government laws and regulations. Have the necessary administrative practices and governance procedures to provide for the prudent and effective management of grant funds. Able to provide signed funding commitment letters from all matching fund providers. Eligible Costs Costs are those incurred by the grantee after the effective date of an approved contract for net new activities directly related to the approved project (i.e. no past activities will be funded) until the completion date, as defined in the grant agreement. The costs of any items or services not directly related to the approved project are ineligible. Activity Stream Stream 1: Organizing conferences, symposia or other cluster-related events that do not duplicate other existing events and/or networking platforms. Stream 2: Developing and carrying out research projects relating to cluster development (e.g., cluster asset mapping, feasibility studies, needs/swot analysis) Total Eligible Amount/Project Up to $100,000 Up to $100,000 Eligible costs may include the following: Stream 1: Networking Activities Development and dissemination of marketing materials exclusively for the delivery of the project. Printing costs are eligible when necessary, but efforts toward electronic dissemination should be made whenever possible. Space and equipment rentals exclusively for the delivery of the project. o No equipment purchases will be funded.

7 o Excluded costs include cost of renovations and/or alterations of existing space. Costs directly associated with web-based networking events, such as time-limited software subscriptions. Efforts should be made to use existing web, teleconference, and video conference systems whenever possible. Costs directly associated with the development and dissemination of electronic portals, databases, or other electronic tools specifically designed to strengthen linkages within a cluster and/or share information about the cluster. In the case of an event, hospitality and/or meal costs directly related to the delivery of the project, in accordance with the Ontario Government s Travel, Meal, and Hospitality Expenses Directive. Materials and supplies exclusively for the delivery of the project. Fees for consultants, including event speakers (when not members of the potential cluster), directly engaged to deliver the project. o Consultants are defined as individuals unrelated to any of the program partners and subcontracted to provide services. o Only time spent working directly on the project will be funded, and no other benefits will be funded. o Fees should always be paid in accordance with best value for money and should reflect reasonable market rates. o Consultants and other contractors will not be reimbursed for any hospitality, incidental or food expenses, including meals, snacks and beverages, gratuities, laundry or dry cleaning, valet services, dependent care, home management, and/or personal telephone calls. Up to 10% of eligible grant funds for administrative and other overhead costs for the grantee organization only. Stream 2: Research and Feasibility Studies Fees for consultants (when not members of the potential cluster), directly engaged to deliver the project. o Consultants are defined as individuals unrelated to any of the program partners and subcontracted to provide services. o Only time spent working directly on the project will be funded, and no other benefits will be funded. o Fees should always be paid in accordance with best value for money and should reflect reasonable market rates. o Consultants and other contractors will not be reimbursed for any hospitality, incidental or food expenses, including meals, snacks and beverages, gratuities, laundry or dry cleaning, valet services, dependent care, home management, and/or personal telephone calls. Costs associated with data access, data collection, and/or acquisition of clusterfocused data directly related to the delivery of the project. Materials and supplies exclusively for the delivery of the project. Costs directly related to the dissemination of research and feasibility study results. Printing costs are eligible when necessary, but efforts toward electronic

8 dissemination should be made whenever possible. Eligible costs may include development of digital/electronic tools for information-sharing if necessary. Up to 10% of eligible grant funds for administrative and other overhead costs for the grantee organization only. In accordance with the signed contract and approved itemized budget, funds will be disbursed against specified deliverables and for eligible costs incurred. Any deviations from approved itemized budgets will need to be approved before costs are incurred. In all cases, costs should be incurred on the basis of best value for money and should reflect the appropriate use of public funds. Funds are available only for actual costs incurred. All funds will be disbursed on a reimbursable basis only. If grantees anticipate upfront expenses that exceed the matching contribution by the grantee, exceptions can be considered individually on the basis of a strong rationale and itemized budget. Given fiscal year-end requirements, approved grantees that have not submitted reports by the stated due date will forfeit any outstanding funding from this Fund. Evaluation of Applications The following assessment criteria will be used to evaluate applications: Has the applicant fully articulated the cluster opportunity to be explored? Do the proposed activities strongly align with the purpose of the Fund in supporting cluster development? Does the application provide a strong rationale as to why an investment in the activities is important to supporting cluster development? Does the application reflect significant partnership with businesses and industry leaders? o Have those partners committed financially to the project? o Has the applicant provided signed matching fund letters from industry partners and any other partners to demonstrate 1:1 matching funds for the amount requested? o Are at least 50% of the matching funds from a private sector industry partner(s)? Does the application demonstrate a strong knowledge or capacity building component for the potential cluster consortium and/or for individual consortium members? Does the application demonstrate undertaking a unique activity (i.e., if the applicant has proposed the organization of a conference, is it clear that no others exist on the same topic or theme, or, if the applicant has proposed a data gathering exercise, is it clear that this data is unavailable through any other channels either at-cost or no-cost)?

9 Does the application demonstrate a strong project management structure, realistic itemized project budget, and budget justification? Is the organization applying for funding an eligible registered not-for-profit or public organization with the capacity, resources, and appropriate governance to deliver the proposed activities, manage public funds, and report as required on outputs and outcomes? Does the application demonstrate alignment with the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure and Ministry of Research and Innovation economic priorities, including disruptive technologies? Can the activity described be completed on time? Applications that demonstrate engagement from a broad-based consortium of businesses, academic/research institutions, and other cluster partners will be given priority. Note: Please be advised, as funds are limited for this pilot program, not all projects that meet the criteria above will receive funding. Reporting Interim and Final reports will be required from all grantees. Information must be provided about key outputs and outcomes against the identified performance metrics in the reporting templates that will be provided with signed contracts. Reporting will include how those outputs and outcomes will determine whether a cluster plan will be later proposed under the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act and, if not, why not. Expense reports (submitted within 30 days of project completion) must contain both invoices and proof of payment. Payment will be processed upon receipt of expense reports. As intermediate outcomes and longer-term results are likely to occur beyond the period of funding, grantees will also be required to submit a later follow-up report when requested. This follow-up report will be requested within the year following the completion of the funding period. The template for this report will be provided to grantees with their signed contracts at the beginning of the project. Conditions of Participation for all Eligible Applicants Application forms must include all required information and should be signed/endorsed by a senior executive of the applicant organization as certification that all the information is accurate and verifiable.

10 Applicants are required to sign/endorse a declaration of good corporate citizenship and be in compliance with government laws and regulations. Application forms will become the property of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and once received, none will be returned. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce will not be responsible for applications that are lost, misdirected or delayed. Contact information (mailing address, telephone and fax numbers, and website addresses) will be included in the Ontario Chamber of Commerce s client management system for correspondence purposes. Information provided by applicants will be made available to a review committee for the purposes of determining eligibility for funding. All decisions of the review committee are final. Applicants approved for funding are required to enter into and abide by the conditions outlined in the Terms and Conditions. Terms and Conditions will be signed/endorsed by an authorized office of the applicant organization. Applicants agree that the Ontario Chamber of Commerce may publish the names and amount of funding awarded to all grant recipients. Applicants agree that the Ontario Chamber of Commerce shall have the right to make available and/or publish in print or electronically, aggregated data and analytics derived from information contained in the application forms and results achieved (performance indicators) for funded applications. At the Ontario Chamber of Commerce s discretion, this aggregated data may be released to selected groups including other government entities or to the public at large. Confidentiality and Public Reporting The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is delivering the Cluster Development Seed Fund, for which funds will be provided by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure. The Ministry is subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The Act provides every person with a right to access to information in the custody or under the control of the Province, subject to a limited set of exceptions. Section 17 of the Act provides a limited exemption for third party information that reveals a trade secret or scientific, commercial, technical, financial or labour relations information supplied in confidence where disclosure of the information could reasonably be expected to result in certain harms. Any trade secret or any scientific, technical, commercial, financial or labour relations information submitted to the Province in confidence should be clearly marked. The Province will notify you before granting access to a record that might contain information referred to in Section 17 so that you may make representations to the Province concerning disclosure. If the government decides that your information does not meet the criteria to be exempted, you will have the right to appeal that decision to the Information and Privacy Commissioner. Please read the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and ensure you understand it fully.

11 Ministries must publicly report annually on the status of business support programs, including the project description, amount of government support and results achieved to date. Beyond the Cluster Development Seed Fund To learn more about the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act, please visit If you feel you may be ready to work on a Cluster Plan with the Ministry under the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act, please contact the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure at How to Submit an Application Steps: 1. Read the eligibility criteria and conditions for participation. 2. Complete the Application Form and press Submit ( along with all the required supporting documentation. At the end of the Form you will be able to yourself a copy

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