Ontario Centre of Innovation


OCI accelerates innovation through game-changing research leading to successful commercialization and vibrant collaboration between industry and academia helping to launch the next generation of products and jobs

What we do

OCI focuses on ensuring the people of Ontario reap the personal and economic benefits of leading-edge research underway at our publicly funded universities, colleges and research hospitals –  research that can be transformed into technologies and services that enhance quality of life and help build a globally competitive, job-creating economy in Ontario.

Specifically, OCI supports the commercialization of academic intellectual property (IP), industry-academic collaborations and the development and adoption of emerging technologies. This includes overseeing the execution of advanced technology platforms that will equip Ontario companies to compete in a competitive global digital economy.

We also support and invest in early-stage projects where the probability of commercial success and investment return on innovation are substantial. OCI’s strong expertise in de-risking innovation helps attract private investors and other funders to new ventures, bolstering their success. We contribute as well to the development and retention of talent to ensure that industry has access to personnel with the most advanced skills and knowledge and that highly trained personnel find opportunities to apply their expertise in Ontario.

OCI’s Whole of Government Approach

A trusted partner of government in program delivery, we have adopted a whole-of-government approach to streamline funding application processes for companies and entrepreneurs. 

Participating in this whole-of-government approach are The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), Connect Canada and Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).

How we do it

OCI deploys an experienced team of Business Development Managers across the province to help build industry-academic collaborations and support the launch and growth of businesses. They identify what is needed by industry and literally explore the halls and labs of academe to discover the latest breakthroughs from researchers. OCI then guides industry-academic partners in accessing tailored programs that provide the support and expertise required to commercialize innovations, transfer technologies and develop promising talent.

OCI is also helping SMEs, academic researchers and entrepreneurs access emerging technologies to develop new applications while sharpening competitive edge and building export capacity. These include 5G and next generation network testbeds for the validation of new technologies, applications, and services; advanced computing technology infrastructure and programming; and the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation network aimed at reinforcing Ontario’s position as a North American leader in transformative automotive technologies

The majority of OCI programs require industry partners to co-invest in projects. OCI-funded projects attract additional funding from other external investors including angel and venture capital investors, which facilitates economic growth resulting in more labour and economic spin off.

We focus on sectors of the economy that are seen by Ontario’s elected leadership as having the greatest potential to drive Ontario’s future prosperity and global competitiveness.

Our Impact

An important catalyst in Ontario’s economy, OCI:

  • generates more than double the amount of its original investment in partner co-investments ($177.8 million in 2017-2018)
  • helps attract follow-on investments in client companies, primarily from angel investors and venture capitalists ($937million in 2017-2018)
  • helps create or retain thousands of jobs (9,772 in 2017-2018)
  • Through follow-on investment into firms engaged in OCI projects, contributes substantively to Ontario taxes 

The OCI Story

In 1987, seven not-for-profit centres were formed to foster industry-academic collaboration in various industry sectors. In 2002, the Government of Ontario under Conservative leadership merged the centres to form Ontario Centres of Excellence Inc. with a goal of achieving greater efficiency and economic outcomes.

Prior to the creation of OCE, there was limited connection between universities, colleges, research hospitals and industry. Consensus was that the quality research being produced by these institutions was not being utilized to its full potential by industry.

OCI’s role was to bridge that gap and create productive, working partnerships between university and college research departments, research hospitals and Ontario industry.

Over three decades, Ontario and Canada have invested in shifting our traditional economic foundation from one that is commodities-based and North American-focused to one that is innovation-driven and global. During that period, OCI, in partnership with the Ontario government, has been instrumental in helping to advance Ontario’s economic transformation.

On behalf of the Province, OCI enables Ontario’s great academic institutions, its dynamic and forward-looking companies and business leaders and new generations of driven entrepreneurs to work together to create sustainable prosperity, high quality jobs and a better Ontario through innovation.

A not-for-profit organization, OCI is funded by the Government of Ontario and works in partnership with government, industry and academia to commercialize innovation and build a strong provincial economy.