Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
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Frequently Asked Questions


What are the objectives of the AIF?

The objectives of the AIF are to help Atlantic Canadians develop and bring to market innovative new products and services that lead to commercial success and economic growth, help grow strategic sectors, maximize benefits from national R&D programs or lead to the creation of research and commercialization partnerships among businesses, universities and research institutions in Atlantic Canada.

What types of projects are eligible for funding?

The AIF supports projects in the area of natural and applied sciences, as well as in social sciences, humanities, arts and culture, that lead to the successful development and commercialization of technology-based products, processes or services.  The program also helps businesses work with researchers to adapt existing technology when it is new to the market and there is technical development required to successfully integrate the technology into the company’s operations.

To be eligible under the AIF, a project must involve an R&D component with a strong potential for commercialization.

Eligible activities may include:

  • R&D projects that are linked to economic development in areas that are of strategic importance to the region;
  • technology adaptation projects related to production improvements, such as the adaptation of an existing production technology to be used in a non-traditional manner, allowing a firm to produce a product or service less expensively, faster and/or with enhanced productivity and competitiveness; and
  • related initiatives that emphasize building the Atlantic system of innovation, including those components that bridge the gap between research institutions and the marketplace, and that encourage collaboration among the various components of this system through partnerships, alliances and networks.

Who can apply?

Eligible applicants include private-sector businesses, universities, colleges, non-government research organizations and provincial Crown corporations operating in Atlantic Canada.

Federal departments, including federal research laboratories and institutes, and provincial government departments are not eligible recipients under the AIF.

What is the duration of AIF projects?

Proposed projects can vary in duration from several months to a maximum of five years; however, preference will be given to shorter-term projects ranging from 18 to 36 months.

What are the eligibility criteria?

To be considered under the AIF, projects must meet the following criteria:

  • be compatible with the AIF objectives;
  • be scientifically and/or technically sound;
  • demonstrate management capability to successfully undertake the project;
  • demonstrate significant economic benefits for Atlantic Canada;
  • demonstrate the commercialization potential of the project;
  • support new or improved technologies or new applications of technologies;
  • have adequate financing for the duration of the project;
  • be incremental; and
  • support one or more strategic sectors or technologies.

While not an absolute requirement, the AIF will favour projects with a combination of the following desirable criteria:

  • includes private-sector participation (for institutional proposals);
  • fills a gap in the Atlantic system of innovation;
  • improves the innovation capacity of the private sector;
  • is pan-Atlantic in scope;
  • builds critical mass through networks or co-operation of existing or additional talent (researchers);
  • leverages funding from other public- and private-sector sources;
  • attracts new firms, institutions and researchers to Atlantic Canada;
  • builds on research excellence; and
  • fosters national and international affiliations.

What costs are eligible?

Eligible costs could include wages, salaries, capital costs and other operating expenses directly related to the project.

How much financial assistance is available?

The AIF can provide assistance of up to 80 per cent of total eligible costs for projects led by not-for-profit organizations and up to 75 per cent of total eligible costs for private-sector-led projects. It should be noted that the AIF assistance for eligible building and major renovation costs would not normally exceed 30 per cent of the costs.

Applicants seeking innovation funding between $500,000 and $3 million can be considered under the AIF. Funding requests for innovation projects of less than $500,000 may be eligible under ACOA’s Business Development Program.

Is AIF funding repayable?

Contributions to the private sector are conditionally repayable based on the commercial success of a project. Contributions to not-for-profit organizations are non-repayable.

What is the role of the AIF Advisory Board?

An integral aspect of the AIF is its Advisory Board, which is comprised of Atlantic Canadian leaders.

The board makes recommendations to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) on specific AIF project proposals based on the thorough analysis of the proposals performed by the Agency’s officials against the objectives and criteria of the program. As well, the board provides strategic advice on the AIF to ACOA.

Click here to see the current AIF Advisory Board members.