January 11, 2016

The Honourable Kathleen Wynne
Premier of Ontario
Room 281, Main Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A1

Dear Premier:

In your mandate letter to me of September 25, 2014, you outlined five key priorities for the Ministry of Research and Innovation (MRI) to support a business environment in which entrepreneurs and innovators can continue to create high-growth businesses and well-paying jobs, as well as a research environment that will lead to expanded innovation and enhanced competitiveness.

As a knowledge-based economy, Ontario must be able to convert today’s innovative research, discoveries and ideas into tangible long-term economic development strategies.

That is why MRI supports the full cycle of research, innovation and entrepreneurship — from scientific discoveries to translating those discoveries into commercial use. We recognize that Ontario’s capacity to compete globally depends on how well we can harness our research, innovation and entrepreneurship strengths, and we are proud of the ministry’s contribution to making Ontario a research and innovation leader. According to a recent Conference Board of Canada report, Ontario is among the top performers in the world when it comes to innovation, placing first in Canada and fifth among 26 regions, just after Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the United States. I am pleased to present a summary of the ministry’s work to achieve our commitments.

Developing Research Infrastructure

  • In January 2015, MRI signed a five-year, $25-million operating funding agreement with the Institute for Quantum Computing to help make the Waterloo region a global centre for the development and commercialization of quantum technologies.
  • In June 2015, we announced a commitment of $25 million to the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine to help Ontario become a global leader in the development and commercialization of stem cell-based products and therapies.
  • The Ontario Health Innovation Council advised our government on how to support the growth and competitiveness of the health technology sector. Highlights of the province’s response included a commitment to create a dedicated Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist and establishing a new $20-million Health Technology Innovation Evaluation Fund. In September 2015, William Charnetski was hired as the province’s new Chief Health Innovation Strategist. In the 2015 Budget, the Ontario government announced its intention to adopt all six recommendations from the council’s report.
  • In May 2015, we announced $23.5 million to support the new Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation at Baycrest Health Sciences, which will combine all of Baycrest’s brain research, clinical and educational programs into one national hub.
  • In June 2015, we awarded a total of $196 million through the Ontario Research Fund to support innovative projects and top talent at leading research institutions.

Supporting an Innovative Business Climate

  • We continue to support and grow the impact of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs — Ontario’s innovation and entrepreneurship system. Last year alone, over 6,000 new start-ups were launched, 15,000 new jobs were created or retained, and $575 million was leveraged from the private sector.
  • We are investing $20 million over two years in Campus-Linked Accelerators and $5 million over two years in the On-Campus Entrepreneurship Activities program at 42 institutions across Ontario.
  • We are exploring the merits of developing a high-performance computing and big data strategy for the province, and our public strategic plan for the sector is due to be completed in 2016. The University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo have been awarded two national high-performance computing sites from the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The ministry will provide co-funding for these sites through the Ontario Research Fund.
  • In September 2015, we announced a contribution of $1.5 million annually over 10 years toward the new Lazaridis Institute for the Management of Technology Enterprises at Wilfrid Laurier University, which will help innovative technology start-ups to become globally competitive companies.

Collaborating on Shared Responsibilities Across Government

  • MRI is working with the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure (MEDEI) and the Ministry of Finance to explore ways to enhance the effectiveness of government investments that support business research and development.
  • We worked with MEDEI on developing the Strategic Partnership Stream of the Jobs and Prosperity Fund, encouraging open innovation technology partnerships to transform sectors.

Working with the Federal Government

  • Over the last year, MRI has worked with FedDev Canada and the National Research Council’s Industrial Research and Assistance Program to identify areas of priority and partnership opportunities through Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE) members such as Ontario Centres of Excellence.
  • Working closely with the federal government and building on the success of the Ontario Venture Capital Fund, the Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund closed in July 2015, with the $50 million federal and $50 million provincial investments leveraging $200 million from the private sector.
  • The ministry has put in place proactive measures to ensure federal-provincial-municipal co-ordination of program delivery. This includes engaging the ONE Advisory Committee, which is comprised of regional and federal partners to advise on the ONE's strategy and direction.

Promoting Openness and Accountability

  • The ministry has supported the principles of open data and released all 10 of its data sets identified in the Open Data Catalogue on ontario.ca.

Premier, I am confident that my ministry, working in collaboration with our partners in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, can continue to deliver on our commitment to the people we are privileged to represent and serve. I look forward to working with you to deliver our government’s mandate — and to ensure a brighter future for every person in this province.

Sincerely yours,

Reza Moridi signature

Reza Moridi
Minister of Research and Innovation

Results achieved

Mandate Letter Commitment Progress to Date
Support a business environment in which entrepreneurs and innovators can continue to create the high-growth businesses that will provide the well-paid jobs of the future.
  • Supported by the province, the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE) is a network of over 130 centres across the province helping Ontario’s entrepreneurs, innovators, and firms to start, grow and succeed. Last year alone over 6,000 new startups were launched, and 15,000 new jobs were created/retained, and $575 million was leveraged from the private sector.
Facilitate investments and research funding that will lead to new discoveries and new approaches — and will ensure that those innovations are used to boost the competitiveness of Ontario’s industries.
  • The Strategic Partnerships Stream (SPS) is investing in strategic partnerships to build Open Innovation Marketplaces. SPS focuses on disruptive technologies with the potential to transform sectors and industries.
  • Supported by the province, the ONE is a network of over 130 centres across the province helping Ontario’s entrepreneurs, innovators, and firms to start, grow and succeed.
Working to maintain and strengthen Ontario’s flagship research program, the Ontario Research Fund, by managing new investments of $250 million over the next three years.
  • On June 9, 2015, Ontario awarded a total of $196 million through the Ontario Research Fund (ORF) to support innovative research projects and top talent at leading research institutions across the province.
  • ORF Round Eight was also launched in June.
Continuing to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the province through initiatives such as the Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund and the Youth Investment Accelerator Fund.
  • In July 2015, Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund completed its final close at $300 million. Since initiation, the fund has been an active investor, with investments in six high-potential venture capital funds and three Ontario companies.
  • As of June 30, 2015, the Youth Investment Accelerator Fund had invested over $4 million in 16 youth-led companies.
Identifying opportunities for targeted investments in research infrastructure, such as the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo.
  • $25 million in operating funding for the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) was announced in the 2014 Budget. A five-year grant agreement was signed in January 2015.
  • Currently, the IQC is home to 22 faculty members, 47 postdoctoral fellows and 116 graduate students.
  • IQC has participated in 70 outreach activities, reaching more than 2,900 people, and has signed Memoranda of Understanding with Israel, South Korea and the Netherlands.
Exploring the merits of developing a High Performance Computing and Big Data Strategy for the province, to ensure that Ontario is at the cutting-edge of one of the most important technological platforms of the 21st century.
  • A public strategic plan for the sector is due in early 2016.
  • Ontario has been awarded two of the four national high-performance computing sites from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, at the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo. The ministry will provide co-funding for these sites through the Ontario Research Fund.
Strengthening the relationship between entrepreneurs and investors.
  • The ministry continues to invest in a suite of programs that raise and deploy risk capital.
  • Ontario’s $90 million commitment to the Ontario Venture Capital Fund has leveraged $970 million in third party capital into the risk capital ecosystem.
  • The Innovation Accelerator Fund has made over $49 million in important seed-stage investments.
  • The Angel Network Program’s supported members have invested $116 million.
Continuing to encourage a dynamic culture of entrepreneurism — including social entrepreneurship — throughout the education sector via the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs.
  • After only one year in operation (2014-15), the Campus Linked Accelerators/On Campus Entrepreneurial Activity Program (CLA/OCEA) component of the Youth Jobs Strategy has helped to create 1,329 jobs and provided support to over 734 start-ups.
  • On September 8, the province was at Wilfrid Laurier University to announce the Lazaridis Institute for the Management of Technology Enterprises ($15 million commitment).
Building on Ontario’s progress in connecting high-growth firms to sources of capital by establishing new start-up hubs. Collaborate with the private sector and other orders of government to leverage international agreements for research and commercialization opportunities.
  • The 10 CLAs and 20 OCEAs that involve 42 postsecondary institutions across the province (see above) represent a key component of new start-up hubs, as do provincially supported Regional Innovation Centres.
Bringing forward initiatives and encouraging partnerships that increase levels of venture capital and lead to other innovative funding alternatives, such as crowdfunding.
  • In July 2015, the Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund reached its fundraising goal of $300 million.
  • The Scale Up Venture Fund was announced as part of the 2015 Budget and the ministry is working with proponents on details of this fund.
  • Ventures North, a conference organized in part by the province, brought foreign venture capitalists to Toronto during the Toronto International Film Festival to learn about opportunities.
Working with the Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure and the Minister of Finance to explore options for improving government investments that support business research and development.
  • Supported by the province, the ONE is a network of over 130 centres across the province helping Ontario’s entrepreneurs, innovators, and firms to start, grow and succeed.
Collaborating with the Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, and partner ministries, to develop and deliver sector strategies. Focus on sectors with a strong culture of innovation, such as life sciences, advanced manufacturing, cleantech, and information and communications technology.
  • As part of the Jobs and Prosperity Fund, the Strategic Partnerships Stream (SPS) is investing in strategic partnerships to build Open Innovation Marketplaces.
  • SPS focuses on disruptive technologies with the potential to transform sectors and industries.
  • The recently announced JLABS@Toronto (a world-class, life science incubator) is an example of what can be achieved with SPS.
Working closely with the Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure to implement the Jobs and Prosperity Fund. Your goal is to ensure the government takes a strategic approach to identifying business investments that focus on innovation and productivity improvements — and to explore opportunities for funding early-stage demonstration projects.
  • As part of the Jobs and Prosperity Fund, the Strategic Partnerships Stream (SPS) is investing in strategic partnerships to build Open Innovation Marketplaces.
  • SPS focuses on disruptive technologies with the potential to transform sectors and industries.
  • The recently announced JLABS@Toronto (a world-class, life science incubator) is an example of what can be achieved with SPS.
Advising your Cabinet colleagues on how best to incorporate an innovation lens into their policy submissions and initiatives.
  • Ongoing by minister/ministry.
Supporting initiatives led by partner ministries to help increase innovation within the public service and broader public sector — and provide new opportunities for Ontario’s innovators and entrepreneurs. Provide input on areas such as improving the effectiveness of the government procurement system, Open Government and implementation of the Youth Jobs Strategy.
  • MRI/MEDEI continue to support and endorse the early adoption of innovative technologies as well as the concept of strategic procurement in the Ontario Public Service (OPS).
  • The Green Focus on Innovation and Technology (GreenFIT) has been introduced to help validate and accelerate new cleantech solutions.
Continuing to create and develop partnerships with the federal government to strengthen support for risk capital.
  • Working closely with the federal government, the Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund closed in July 2015, with the $50 million federal and $50 million provincial investments leveraging $200 million from the private sector.
  • Both governments are sponsors of risk capital conferences that strengthen the industry.
Exploring ways of working more closely with federal and provincial partners to better co-ordinate the delivery of innovation support programs.
  • The ministry has put in place proactive measures to ensure federal-provincial-municipal co-ordination of program delivery.
  • These have included the ONE Advisory Committee — which is comprised of regional and federal partners to advise on the strategy and direction of the ONE.
Developing a public-facing website that highlights the outcomes, both successful and unsuccessful, of all government investments in innovation. The website will include information on the short- and long-term impact on employment, growth and secondary innovations. Your goal is to demonstrate that the government’s strategy for supporting innovation is working and generating real results.
  • Any updates to the government’s innovation investment activities will be posted on the government’s existing website, along with other innovation activities.
Updated: June 01, 2021
Published: January 10, 2016