Searching for financing

Financing innovation is a specialized field.

On one hand, numerous financing programs are aimed at very specific sectors of activity. On the other hand, innovation sometimes requires a review of the company’s financial structure, particularly in the case of royalties, transfer of technology and the development of a suitable business model.

We accompany management in the search for financing. Essentially, we explain the mechanisms of this type of financing, help them find the right partners and programs, and support them in making applications for financing in general.

CQRDA, a major development partner in the aluminum transformation industry

For over 20 years, the Aluminium Research and Development Centre of Québec (Centre québécois de recherche et de développement de l’aluminium – CQRDA) has had the objectives of linking the work of researchers to industrial development; of encouraging the dynamic between producers and transformers of aluminum; of promoting synergy between the various SMEs; of stimulating the emergence of new uses for aluminum; of supporting the development of know-how in the areas of equipment and technologies; and of supporting training in the aluminum industry.

CQRDA has the following resources:

  • Six liaison agents providing ongoing support to promoters in order to maximize the results of their projects;
  • A wide selection of affiliated experts who accept to share their resources and knowledge with project initiators;
  • An 18-member scientific committee that includes some of the most experienced specialists and researchers Québec;
  • Canadian and international partnerships that can provide interesting returns;
  • Liaison activities and transfer of know-how open to all members and the aluminum milieu in general to help promote networking;
  • Informative French publications (Magazine Al13, Actualités aluminium, le Bulletin Aluminium) offering a platform for highlighting various realizations and projects.

To date, nearly 700 R&D projects have received technical and financial support of some $22M from CQRDA and $140M from various partners. In addition, CQRDA, which can count on over 200 members and associates invests $175,000 annually in structural projects that benefit the industry, such as Canadian and international conferences, technological missions both within Canada and abroad, a specialized publishing house producing works on aluminum, as well as the returns available from its active participation in setting up a Canadian technological road map for the transformation of aluminum in the industry in general. Mireille Clusiau, Project leader, communications, CQRDA

A centre for innovative technological applications for the aerospace industry

Unique in North America

The Centre technologique en aérospatiale – CTA is a centre for innovative technological applications serving the aerospace industry. Located adjacent to Saint-Hubert Airport in premises belonging to the of the École nationale d’aérotechnique – ÉNA, the CTA mission is to promote the creation and transfer of expertise towards private and public organizations, so that they are able to improve both their productivity and competitiveness.

Specialized services

The CTA helps identify technological solutions that correspond to the specific needs of companies in the following fields: machining, composites, metrology, prototyping, avionics, virtual communications, aircraft recycling, etc. More specifically, the CTA team has developed expertise in the following areas:

  • Machining of aluminum, composites and hard materials
  • Computer-assisted design and fabrication using CATIA, ANSYS and VERICUT
  • Optimization of cutting conditions using modal analysis
  • Inspection and quality control
  • Realization of prototypes for proof of concepts
  • Fabrication in composite materials
  • Characterization of materials
  • Mechanical design
  • Dimensional control
  • Design of hydraulic and avionics systems

An opportunity for businesses

Due to it’s team made up of more than 30 permanent specialists, a network of more than 100 experts working in the aerospace field around the world, as well us numerous partners in the private and public sectors, the CTA can assist companies in a variety of ways. For example:

  • By testing new technologies likely to be integrated into their processes;
  • By adapting technologies into their production that have proven efficient in other economic sectors or abroad;
  • By developing operational procedures;
  • By analyzing in an impartial manner the economic feasibility of the implementation or adaptation of a particular technology;
  • By promoting the training of more and more qualified personnel;
  • By accompanying them even further in their development.

New equipment and infrastructure

The CTA possesses new premises, with laboratories and state-of-the-art equipment that are added to the existing laboratories used for machining and fabrication of composite materials for the injection moulding process jointly operated with the École Polytechnique de Montréal.

This new equipment, added to that of the ÉNA, represents more than $70M put at the service of companies in this sector. It should be noted that the choice of equipment was made in order to complement that already available in universities, and private and public centres of technological applications in Québec, partners of CTA. This has allowed large-scale applied research programs to be carried out.

Included in the new equipment is a robotized inspection system that uses laser and ultrasound to inspect composite parts. The technologies available in the metrology laboratory allow a number of problematic situations current in the aeronautical market to be dealt with, with or without contact, and either automated or robotized. The machining laboratory includes 5-axis machine tools, a milling lathe and a robot for machining aluminum, composite materials, titanium and Inconel. The avionics certification laboratory carries out sand and dust testing, as well as Halt & Hass tests. The new service for DO-160 certification will be offered jointly with the Industrial Research Centre of Quebec (Centre de recherche industrielle du Québec – CRIQ). In this way, the CTA acts as an interface between the different actors in the industry: specialists, companies, research centres, universities, training centres, governments and associations at both the Canadian and international levels.

A laboratory dedicated to the development of energy technologies

The Natural Gas Technologies Centre (Centre des technologies du gaz naturel – CTGN/NGTC) in Boucherville is the only Canadian technology centre devoted to natural gas, with focus on both distribution and utilization.

Due to the transformation of markets in the energy sector, the NGTC has enlarged its area of expertise to include other sources of energy such as biogas, solar thermal and geothermal energy, while remaining active in the area of energy efficiency. To this end, the NGTC has also been working for some years at integrating renewable energies into energy systems that use natural gas as their main source.

Access to multidisciplinary experts

The NGTC works mainly with gas companies, equipment manufacturers, government agencies, professional associations and universities.

The “business-oriented” approach of NGTC’s multidisciplinary experts is very much appreciated by its clients. Each project is analyzed from both a commercial and technological point of view in order to offer an approach adapted to the client’s specific needs.

Whether it involves studying the benefits or disadvantages of a particular technology or developing a new one, NGTC’s approach is to work in close collaboration with the teams of each of its clients in order to obtain their objectives in terms of technological development.

Services for companies

Equipped with modern installations including a 900-m2 laboratory with a climate chamber (-300oC to 400oC) and a test bed for all types of equipment using CVAC and domestic hot water, the NTGC supplies the following services:

  • Customized technology watch, pre-competitive studies, technical and economic studies;
  • Evaluation of technologies axed around performance in actual conditions;
  • Development of customized products with accompaniment throughout the certification process;
  • Demonstration and transfer of technologies;
  • Development of custom energy assessment tools;
  • Simulation of buildings and energy systems.

Solution-oriented techies for SMEs

In Québec, there exists a resource that is still little known, but it is becoming more and more indispensable in the field of innovation and transfer of technology: the Réseau Trans-Tech.

It is made up of some 45 college-based centres for technological transfer (centres collégiaux de transfert technologique – CCTT), which devote their resources to innovation, research and development, and training in the latest techniques. These centres undertake projects in collaboration with SMEs located in all regions of Québec.

Rapidity, efficiency and clarity

To support companies in their projects, Réseau Trans-Tech can call upon more than 600 experts including researchers, engineers or technologists, as well as specialists holding Ph.Ds, Masters degrees, bachelors degrees or specialized technical diplomas.

In addition to all these human resources, the CCTT can count on an impressive range of state-of-the-art equipment and infrastructure for research purposes, to which SMEs may have access to carry out their own research.

How can you identify a company’s intellectual property?

It is inevitable that whenever the issue of a company’s intellectual property (IP) comes up, it quickly comes down to which type of protection is best: patent, brand name, etc. Unfortunately, discussion of this issue often bogs down and the decision about whether or not to protect the IP is postponed.

Let’s step back a little.

All agree that it is essential for a company to innovate in order to maintain and reinforce its competitive position over the medium to long-term. When we speak of innovation, we are speaking about intellectual property, and the importance of protecting it automatically follows.

Let’s begin by defining a company’s intellectual property: intellectual property includes all knowledge and know-how developed by the company which differentiates it from its competition and of which the economic value represents an important asset.

Creating a picture of your company’s IP

Starting from this definition, it is possible to create a picture of your company’s intellectual property. The first step consists of identifying all the knowledge and know-how belonging to your company that differentiates it from its competition. To do this, you need to:

  • Know your products and process in depth;
  • Create barriers to entry: can our suppliers and sub-contractors access our IP easily? Are there simple ways of creating effective barriers?
  • Estimate the value of this (these) barrier(s);
  • Establish the environment in which your company is developing: is it a standardized sector, a highly specialized sector, does it involve exclusive technology, a unique product, a worldwide market?
  • As far as possible, get to know your competitors’ processes;
  • Evaluate what differentiates your products and processes from those of your competitors.

Once you have this picture, you are at the crucial stage of determining the economic value in terms of an actual asset. How do you put a price on an original idea and estimate the likely financial returns?

Financial evaluation techniques

A number of exercises can be used to evaluate the value of your innovation; an accounting of the costs related to the development of your innovation or perhaps estimating its value by comparing it to something similar are just two examples. But the true question remains the following: what would be the value of the loss of your competitive advantage? Meaning, what would the economic consequences for your company be if you did not protect your innovation.

Although this question is not so easy to answer, it must nevertheless be attempted. The Technical Expertise Center - TEC (Centre d’expertises en technologie – CET) can help you see things more clearly.