SAINT JOHN (GNB) – The provincial government is investing $7.25 million in a new innovation fund to help small- and medium-sized enterprises become more productive and competitive. Premier David Alward made the announcement today.

"As part of our government's $80-million investment in innovation and research and development, we are creating a new tool that will enhance the productivity and competiveness of local businesses and leverage the talent, capacity, and facilities of our research organizations," said Alward. "Investing in smart partnerships between New Brunswick researchers and small and medium size businesses is an important part of our plan to rebuild New Brunswick's economy and create jobs."

The investment will be used to create and administer the Innovation Voucher Fund through the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation. The fund gives small- and medium-sized enterprises in New Brunswick an opportunity to draw on the province's scientific talent and facilities needed to develop and commercialize new innovations.

"As an entrepreneur myself, I know many companies have valuable ideas sitting on the shelf that, with development, can lead to expansion and growth," said Bob Hatheway, foundation chair. "To get started, the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation will provide up to $80,000 to cover 80 per cent of a collaboration between a New Brunswick company and a research organization."

Successful applicants must contribute the remaining 20 per cent of the cost. Projects may include proof of concept, prototypes, product testing, science and engineering services, advice and support. Eligible projects may range from $10,000 to $100,000. Research and development services covered under the Fund include: applied research; proof of concept. More information is on the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation website.

The New Brunswick Innovation Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit corporation that makes venture capital investments in start-up companies; funds applied research at New Brunswick research organizations; and provides innovation vouchers for established businesses. The foundation invests all the financial returns that it earns on its investments in innovation-based companies and projects in New Brunswick.