Open Innovation Subsidy Program for start-up companies

Last updated December 12, 2022

This subsidy program helps emerging companies test innovative solutions in a business context by partnering with stable organizations. It aims to support projects that will have an impact on the sustainable transformation of Montréal.


This financial incentive gives start-ups the chance to start a business relationship with an established organization in Montréal. 

The objective of the program is to stimulate the commercialization of innovations that address an urban issue, the ecological transition or the labour shortages. Urban issues include Montréal’s economic, cultural and social development; environmental management; transportation systems; or revitalization of neighbourhoods or wasteland.

As part of this collaboration, the emerging company gets financial and technical support, along with an extended business network. For its part, the partner organization gets the agility of a start-up and access to an innovative solution.


To be part of the program, an agreement must be reached with a partner organization, which must make a minimum financial contribution to the project. 

The following conditions must be met:

  • The company’s head office or principal place of business must be located in one of Montréal’s borough or neighbouring municipalities
  • Be in the start-up phase or in operation for fewer than five years
  • Have a team of at least two people working full-time
  • Post annual sales equal to or lower than $2 million
  • If the company is a joint-stock company, its capital stock must primarily be held by Canadian citizens, permanent residents or holders of a Certificat de sélection au Québec. The company cannot be more than 50 per cent owned by another legal person. Social economy companies (co-ops or non-profits) are also eligible.

Social economy businesses (cooperative or non-profit) that meet the aforementioned criteria are also eligible.

  • Must be established within the Montréal agglomeration 
  • Must be a legal entity governed by public or private law with more than 50 employees or independent workers
  • Must be a non-profit corporation such as a cooperative or industrial cluster

The city can act as a partner organization to test a product, except for the Service de développement économique, which manages the program.

In order to receive financing, the project must: 

  • Be implemented over a maximum period of twelve months
  • Be in one of the following activity sectors:
    • biofood and access to food
    • entertainment and tourism
    • logistics and intelligent mobility
    • medical technologies and community health
    • clean technologies and green energy, including energy optimization and the circular economy
    • commercial vitality of neighbourhoods and quality of life of residents
  • Be aimed at commercializing a new solution or product by: 
    • Proving a concept or demonstrating feasibility by product tests and trials in a real context 
    • Validating technology
    • Offering a pre-commercial demonstration or validating targeted markets 
    • Making the first sales
  • Not have received a separate subsidy from the city

Review of applications

Projects will be evaluated according to the following elements:

  • Growth potential of the start-up and capacity to successfully complete the open innovation project
  • Quality of the project and of the collaboration between the start-up company and the partner organization
  • Scope and financial benefits of the project

Financial assistance

  • The maximum amount of the subsidy is equal to 50 per cent of the actual cost of the project and cannot exceed $50,000.
  • The financing package must include a contribution from the partner organization representing a minimum cash amount of 10 per cent of the costs. 
  • The financing package can, for example, be completed by loans, other public contributions, private investments or service contributions. 
  • The start-up must remain the owner of all rights associated with adaptations, changes or developments made to the innovative product during the project implementation period.


Cancelling the subsidy

The city may request the reimbursement of the subsidy in full or in part if, in the year following the end of the project, the start-up: 

  • Moves its head offices or main business establishment outside of Québec.
  • Is acquired by another company or sells the rights to the innovative product to a third party.

Expenses can be incurred only after the project has been confirmed, and must be in the following categories:

  • Remuneration of temporary or permanent staff, based on market conditions
  • Professional fees, such as legal assistance, research done by a researcher from a recognized institution, accounting services, services aimed at software or data processing development
  • Purchase of equipment and supplies
  • Equipment rental fees
  • Licencing or certification fees
  • The first instalment must be equivalent to 60 per cent of the maximum estimated amount of the subsidy.
  • The balance of the subsidy is payable after receipt of the accountability documents.

At the end of the project, the following documents must be transmitted to the city by email at [email protected]:

  • Completed accountability form (in French)
  • Invoices, record of wages and any other item detailing the real cost of the open innovation project
  • Proof of payment, other than in cash, of admissible expenses incurred by the open innovation project, notably a copy of the cashed cheque, a copy of the bank draft, a bank account statement or a credit card statement
  • Proof of payment, other than in cash, of the partner organization’s contribution and of its collection, excluding a receipt, annotated invoice or acquittance
  • Verifiable proof of any contribution of services, if applicable

Submit an application

The program is offered until funding is exhausted. 

Project eligibility and the maximum amount of the subsidy will be confirmed within 30 working days of receipt of the application. 

Here are the documents you must provide:

  • Completed application form (in French)
  • Board of directors’ resolution authorizing the submission of the application, or document establishing power of attorney held by any person acting on its behalf, if applicable
  • Curriculum vitae of each member of the management or their online link
  • Financial statements from the last fiscal year (if the company has no financial statements, present a report and earnings statement prepared internally, along with bank account statements for the six month period preceding the date of your application).
  • Estimate of the innovative product’s sales potential in the target market over three financial years
  • Business plan or any other document summarizing the business model and commercialization strategy

Contact us

Do you have questions? Please complete this form (in French).