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How The Build in Canada Innovation Funding Program (BCIP) Can Help Startups Get Their First Paying Customers

How The Build in Canada Innovation Funding Program (BCIP) Can Help Startups Get Their First Paying Customers
on July 27, 2017
Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP)

Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP) is a highly competitive program offered by the Canadian government, designed to provide funding to Canadian companies of all sizes to help move their innovative goods to the marketplace at scale.

With over $40 million in Canadian funds available, successful BCIP applicants will gain access to funding and sponsorship from the government to bolster their first sale to the market. Essentially, the government partners with your company to help sell your innovation on a larger scale, as they search and select ideal buyers for your product.

These innovative goods are used by all levels of government departments, agencies, or organizations and provide greater efficiency and efficacy within those agencies. The program even covers sales to Canadian universities, schools and registered non-profits, depending on the product uses and applications.

Is your company a fit for BCIP?

Do you have an innovative product that offers an edge or unique value to the customer, superior to the products already existing in the market? Looking to tap into a larger market share, but haven’t launched your product yet?

The BCIP program is a good fit for your company if you want to:

  • Sell your innovation but want to ensure you get to keep your intellectual property (IP)
  • Test your innovation product in a real-world environment
  • Land your first major reference sale (ie: selling to the federal government)
  • Receive valuable feedback to launch your products on the market more effectively

To be eligible for the BCIP program, your product:

  • Is allowed to have pilots running or beta customers
  • Is not currently commercially available (your product can’t be publically available yet, this program is tailored to companies in pre-commercialization)
  • Must be at least 80% Canadian owned and manufactured
  • Will already be past the idea, design, and prototype stages

Essentially, you’re ready to sell your product but haven’t yet closed your first deal or taken your innovation to market.

How will it benefit your company?

Successful BCIP applicants receive financing for the first sale of emerging (not startup) products, meaning you will need a working product ready for sale, not a prototype. Your company will be prepared to produce and deliver what you are selling.

The 2017 BCIP call for proposals covers the first $500,000 of the purchase for Canadian-made goods and services. For those products tailored to military, navy, and airforce agencies, BCIP increases the available funding for purchases up to $1,000,000.

BCIP isn’t just for funding the sale to government departments (military and non-military; the program is also offers universities and nonprofit organizations as potential customers. BCIP funds the purchase order and protects you for two or more years to be a specific supplier.

With Canadian government funding programs designed for startups, BCIP is one of the best offers available out there. It is neither a grant nor a loan. The BCIP program turns the Government of Canada into your first paying customer.

As a result of going through the BCIP process, one of our software clients saw their accounts grow from a few hundred dollars a year to 6-figure accounts. And this was a company whose BCIP application wasn’t approved.

Our team at Ascension was one of the first in Canada to work with BCIP. Since we started, we’ve seen an increase in questionable grant writers entering the BCIP fray, and for good reason. As the funding from IRAP-NRC dries up, and with sales ranging from $100K to $1M (for defense contracts), there’s a ton of money on the table. Make sure a grant writer offers a deal in your favor, as some of these new writers are charging over 20% commission just to write the proposal. That’s a big red flag, because the proposal is only a fraction of what is required, and a well-worded proposal is no guarantee you will be able to close the sale.

Want to learn more? Head over to our website to download our FREE guide to BCIP applications, “License to Launch”.


Matthew Unger is an innovation management consultant, and the CEO and founder of Ascension Innovation Management. His work focuses on disrupting enterprise business-to-business (B2B) markets, and he has worked on projects ranging from Richard Branson’s Virgin Oceanic to projects for publicly traded companies, crown corporations, and SMEs.

Matthew specializes in developing scalable systems, processes and thought leadership to future-minded organizations. Previously, Matthew studied Fintech and Innovation Management at MIT, and he has launched and exited multiple startups. Matthew sits on several advisory boards and boards of directors, and is currently serving as a volunteer mentor and judge to the New Ventures BC 2017 cohort.


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