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Statistics Canada then compared the growth of these firms to the growth of a comparison group and found that, over time the FedDev Ontario clients reported significantly higher average annual revenue growth of The firms also, on average, spent Furthermore, the survival rate of FedDev Ontario clients tended to be higher than in the case of non-clients. This chapter provides a summary of the findings regarding program design, delivery and cost-effectiveness.

A series of statements were developed regarding program design and delivery. The proponents and the 40 unfunded applicants were asked to indicate whether they strongly agreed, somewhat agreed, neither agreed nor disagree, somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed with each statement. The results are summarized in the table on the following page.

As indicated, a majority of the proponents strongly agreed that:.

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The most significant concerns amongst the proponents were the length of the application and approval process, the reporting requirements, and usefulness of the performance measurement data. Given they invested in the process but were eventually not successful in accessing funding, the non-funded applicants tended to be less supportive of various aspects of the program design and delivery, particularly the length of the application and approval process i.

The proponents, unfunded applicants and non-applicants were asked to identify what they see as the primary advantages and disadvantages of the FedDev Ontario program. The advantages most commonly identified were the level of funding available identified by 83 percent of respondents , the types of costs covered 67 percent , and ease of access 46 percent. The disadvantage most commonly identified was the reporting requirements 48 percent. A few applicants talked about the application process being unclear and cumbersome e. Others noted difficulties in accessing funding as the five-year mandate comes to a close the need to wait for more funding to become available.

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While perceptions of program design and delivery were largely consistent across programs, there were some variations. Not-for-profit proponents of large multi-year ICP projects, which can involve partnerships between MNEs, SMEs, institutions, and not-for-profit organizations, were those most likely to express concerns about the length of the application and approval process as well as the reporting requirements. The following sections summarize the input provided by key informants, proponents, and unfunded applicants regarding program design and delivery issues, including the key issues that were identified and their suggestions for improvement.

The prevailing sentiment amongst proponents and key informants is that the programs are well-structured, each filling an important role or niche which targets one or more key issues constraining development of the economy e. The programs are considered effective in reaching the key target groups. Demand Footnote 29 for most programs has been strong as demonstrated by the total of project applications received by FedDev Ontario and its third party delivery agents. Targeting not-for-profit organizations, through non-repayable contributions, and for profit businesses, through repayable contributions, FedDev Ontario is able to implement the parallel strategies of solidifying the ecosystem that drives development through increasing access to capital, research capacity, technology, and support services and strengthening businesses that generate economic growth by establishing, expanding and modernizing operations, developing new products and markets, and commercializing new technologies.

Through the EODP, IRD and other programming, FedDev Ontario has also been able to support communities in addressing tough economic conditions by, for example, leveraging their strengths and better supporting the development and survival of smaller companies and social enterprises as a means to compensate for the loss of larger companies.

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There was support, both within and external to the organization, for maintaining the existing program structure given that the suite of programs works well together to address key needs and are well-designed and delivered. Continuation will mean that FedDev Ontario avoids a situation similar to that of , needing to create awareness of a new suite of programs. The movement to fund larger projects was supported by key informants, who indicated that making significant investments in the innovation ecosystem and leveraging significant investments by major anchor companies can be highly effective strategies for supporting cluster development and regional development.

FedDev Ontario reviews its programming on an on-going basis and makes some changes to improve program design and delivery. Examples of changes include development of the Professional Practice Pilot Footnote 31 ; increased use of third party delivery models; revisions to centralize administration of the collaborative projects component CEDP of the EODP; easing the required timelines for completion of EODP projects funded at the local level; and other improvements to processes, tools, project databases, and templates.

The quality of applications has also tended to improve over time as organizations and staff became more familiar with the new programming. The most serious concern regarding the program design relates to the five-year funding mandates of FedDev Ontario, which according to both key informants and proponents impacts on what projects can be funded, particularly in the later years of the mandate.

The finite nature of the mandate:. Means that multi-year projects can only be approved earlier in the mandate and little funding remains available for approvals late in the mandate.

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The following table was developed based on approved funding and project start dates and end dates. As indicated, almost three quarters of the funding to May 24, was approved for projects more than three years in duration, which meant that the projects had to be approved early.

Of the approved funding, two-thirds 67 percent was associated with a start date in and 19 percent was associated with a start date in 8 percent was associated with projects prior to April 1, Other issues or opportunities that were identified by key informants or project proponents included:. Most proponents, as well as those key informants who expressed an opinion, felt that the application requirements, criteria and process were appropriate given the objectives of the programs.

Most concerns related to the definition of organizations eligible to apply for funding. Suggestions focused on:. With respect to EODP, it was also suggested that consideration be given to varying the level of funding provided to each CFDC depending on local opportunities and needs either through a pooling of funding or directly providing differing levels of funding ; providing the CFDCs the option of offering repayable contributions; and, where warranted, allowing CFDCs to provide larger individual contributions to fill a perceived gap existing between the EDOP and the larger SOPP programs to which regional businesses and not-for-profits would not normally be able to access funding.

A few proponents, unfunded applicants and key informants expressed reservations as to whether project officers have the requisite experience and industry specific knowledge needed to fully review the applications, particularly for more complex, highly technical or niche projects. It was noted that there has been considerable turnover in the officer positions. Difficulties in assessing applications can lead to delays in the approval or non-approval of applications. To help ease some of these issues, FedDev Ontario is developing a Professional Practice pilot program to help accelerate the development of the Agency's capacity in terms of economic and business practice intelligence.

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Some of the key elements of the pilot program include business information sessions, recommended reading lists, and the development of personal learning plans. A few key informants suggested that FedDev Ontario could complement its internal resources by contracting with one or more outside agencies e. Under the MOU, FedDev Ontario retained responsibility for project approval but obtained input from ISED regarding the technical aspects innovation , market relevance and potential spillover benefits of the proposed project. At times, ISED contracted with a private sector contractor to assist in that review.

The arrangement was initially complicated by the inexperience the two groups had in working with each other, some differing expectations, and differences in the reporting relationships at the beginning, ISED and FedDev Ontario reported to different Ministers. In addition, the large number of applications received relative to the number eventually approved placed some pressure on the model 41 applications were received including 20 in the first intake from December to October and 21 in the second intake which ran from January to October , of which only 8 were approved.

In the interviews, some concerns were expressed regarding the amount of time that the reviews would take. Most of the initial issues were worked out over time, as personal relationships developed and the reporting relationship of the organizations changed. Overall, the arrangement was considered effective in bringing together knowledge of the region FedDev Ontario with knowledge of the sector and technology knowledge ISED. The most common concern from unfunded applicants is that they would have liked to have known, earlier in the process preferably before preparing a full proposal that they were unlikely to be successful in accessing funding.

It was suggested, for example, that it would be useful to know how much funding FedDev Ontario had remaining.

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  7. There were some anecdotal stories that applicants submitted an application, only to be told that funds were no longer available and that they should try again when funds are available. There was also some uncertainty as to what proposals should address, what is key to a successful proposal and, in the case of unsuccessful proposals, how the proposal scored and the specific reasons why it was not successful so that improvements can be made to future proposals.

    While the broad eligibility guidelines for the programs are published, some applicants went further and recommended that FedDev Ontario should inform applicants which types of projects are preferred preferably supported by a formal scoring system so that a more informed decision can be made regarding whether to prepare a proposal. A few representatives suggested that FedDev Ontario offer a single point of entry, with a common application form rather than promoting each program separately. Some companies expressed confusion about what support each program provided and under which they would be eligible.

    By adopting a single point of entry, it was suggested that the responsibility for matching applications to programs would be shifted to FedDev Ontario to decide under which program a potential project would best fit. Another alternative would be to have the potential applicant fill out a short questionnaire defining the key characteristics of their organization and proposed project, which would then be matched against the program eligibility criteria to suggest programs or to indicate that the project as outlined is not eligible for funding.

    The most common concern regarding program design and delivery relates to the length of the approval process and, perhaps more importantly, the unpredictability of the timing. Some applicants including those that were approved indicated that they did not receive clear guidance regarding how long the approval process would take. Even once projects are approved, there can still be an extended period before the contribution agreement is in place and the project can actually proceed.

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    Unpredictability regarding timing is a major concern because it makes it very difficult for the organizations to plan and ensure that the proposed partnerships and resources will still be in place when the go ahead is received. Delays can also contribute to a loss of momentum, shorten the timelines available for implementation, and prevent projects from going ahead at the speed of business.

    One proponent, for example, indicated that their project waited for approval for about 18 months which meant that the project, once approved, had to both ramp up very quickly while being restructured in order to meet the new timelines. Factors that can contribute to delays include challenges in reviewing the applications e. It was also noted that FedDev Ontario has little additional capacity to handle surges in application volumes. It was suggested that capacity constraints could be eased somewhat by further clarifying the eligibility requirements and finding ways to screen applications that are not going to be approved earlier in the process.

    It was also recommended that FedDev Ontario publish its standards regarding the time required to approve and sign contribution agreements for projects and that performance against those standards be made available publicly. Regular updates regarding expected timing should be given to proponents of active applications.

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    The timing of the election in may have delayed some projects. There is also at least the perception, amongst proponents, that it is more difficult to gain approval and sign-off for a follow-on project than for the initial project some proponents reported that negotiations for the follow-up funding took over a year to finalize. It can be difficult to keep a consortium together during such a long waiting period. Some concerns were expressed by both proponents and key informants regarding the reporting requirements and the usefulness of the performance measurement data itself.

    As part of this interim evaluation, a detailed review was conducted of the program data including project approval and project summary forms, contribution agreements, the tombstone data, progress reports and closing reports.