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Government of Canada invites small businesses to propose innovative solutions leading to alternate technology and improved accessibility

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Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Feb 18, 2020, 15:01 ET

Successful solutions will support Canadians with print disabilities and improve the accessibility of digital information

OTTAWA, Feb. 18, 2020 /CNW/ – As the single largest purchaser of goods and services within Canada, the federal government is using procurement to help Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) start up, grow and scale up.

Through the Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) Challenge Stream, the Government of Canada invites SMEs to propose innovations that address specific government challenges. Successful applicants may receive up to $150,000 to develop a proof of feasibility. If accepted into Phase 2, SMEs could receive up to $1 million to develop a working prototype. By funding the development of innovations, the Government helps SMEs accelerate their journey to market and create good middle-class jobs across Canada.

Today, ISC launched the following challenges:

  • Turning Pixels Into Data: Imaging for Accessibility
    The Document Imaging Solutions Centre (DISC) at Public Services and Procurement Canada is seeking to develop innovative capture solutions to improve the accessibility of digitized documents and increase production capabilities, thus providing Canadians and government organizations with more cost-effective, accessible and adapted digital information.
  • The Alternate Format Business Technology Challenge
    Led by Employment and Social Development Canada, this challenge aims to support innovation and efficiency in the production of, and access to, a wide variety of physical and digital alternate format materials, such as legal documents and online forms for Canadians with print disabilities.

Innovative Solutions Canada is a key component of the government’s Innovation and Skills Plan, a multi-year plan to make Canada a global innovation leader and prepare Canadians to succeed in tomorrow’s economy.


“Our government is using its purchasing power to help small businesses innovate and become more competitive. To achieve this, our focus is squarely on our greatest asset: our people. Supporting innovative work from small businesses will help us reduce existing barriers for Canadians living with a disability and give them equal opportunities to obtain the middle-class jobs of today and tomorrow.”  
– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“As Canada’s largest buyer, our government is in a unique position to be a leader on issues such as accessibility. Through this initiative, we are demonstrating our commitment to using these opportunities to foster growth and innovation in homegrown businesses.”
– The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement

“This is a small business–friendly government that is working hard to reduce red tape and make it easier for Canadian small business owners to start up, scale up and access new markets. Innovative Solutions Canada is a fantastic program that uses government procurement to help small businesses develop and then commercialize their innovations. These are worthy new challenges, and I can’t wait to see the ideas from Canadian small businesses. When small businesses in communities across the country succeed, our economy grows and middle-class jobs are created.”
– The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade

“Through initiatives such as the Alternate Format Business Technology Challenge, we are breaking down existing barriers to improve access to print materials for all Canadians. This investment in the development of alternate format materials promotes inclusion by design and helps ensure persons with disabilities have better opportunities to read and learn. Our country is at its best, and we all benefit, when everyone has opportunities to participate on an equal basis. Together, we are building a more accessible and inclusive Canada.”
– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce and Disability Inclusion

Quick facts

  • People with print disabilities have learning, reading, perceptual, physical or visual disabilities that affect their ability to read conventional printed published materials. About 2.4 million Canadians over the age of 15 have print disabilities.
  • It is estimated that less than 10% of published materials in Canada are available in formats that are fully accessible to people with print disabilities, which limits their full social and economic inclusion.
  • Innovative Solutions Canada helps Canadian innovators by funding R&D and testing prototypes in real-life settings. Its two streams have a combined funding of over $140 million dedicated to Canadian innovators who want to start up, grow and get to market. Innovators can sign up to receive updates on the Innovative Solutions Canada program.
  • There are hundreds of programs and services that offer everything from funding to expert advice to help businesses innovate, create jobs and grow Canada’s economy. Using a simple, story-based user interface, the Innovation Canada platform can match businesses with the most fitting programs and services in about two minutes.

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SOURCE Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada


For further information: Véronique Simard, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, 343-291-2500; Media Relations, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, 343-291-1777,

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