Evaluation of AgriInnovation Stream C: Enabling Commercialization and Adoption – Summary
About the Evaluation
- The evaluation reports on the relevance, effectiveness, and efficiency of the AgriInnovation Program Stream C: Enabling Commercialization and Adoption, focusing on results achieved from 2013-14 to 2017-18.
- The evaluation used multiple lines of evidence: a program document, file and performance data review, comparative and matched pair analysis, literature review, case studies, and interviews to assess program activities.
AgriInnovation Stream C
- AgriInnovation is a Growing Forward 2 program that brings together the pre-commercialization and commercialization of stages of innovation.
- The objective of Stream C is to facilitate the demonstration, commercialization, and/or adoption of innovative agri-based products, technologies, processes or services.
- Stream C provides interest-free repayable contributions for up to 50% of eligible project costs.
- Total contributions from all AgriInnovation streams to an applicant cannot exceed $10-million per year.
What we found
- Stream C helps Canadian agriculture and agri-food companies respond to market opportunities and productivity challenges through support for innovation. However, small enterprises, start-ups and emerging sectors need more support.
- Stream C aligns with federal roles, responsibilities and priorities to enhance sector competitiveness and bring innovation to market by addressing barriers to finance, attracting investment, and reducing risks for adoption and commercialization projects.
- Stream C complemented other government sources of funding, which have different mandates, to further reduce the financial risk and accelerate the demonstration, commercialization and adoption of innovation.
- Stream C utilized its full budget toward 45 projects, exceeding the target of funding 36 projects.
- Stream C projects exceeded the intermediate outcome in matching private investment capital by 7.4-million but did not meet all the targets for completed projects.
- While Stream C projects are reporting increases in revenues, productivity, and savings, it is challenging to attribute Stream C contributions towards sector’s capacity to commercialize.
- Stream C met the target of increasing productivity in the sector. However, it is too early to assess long-term impacts as only 21 out of 45 projects have reported results.
- Stream C maintained low operational costs compared to similar programs, and its benefits exceed its costs.
- Stream C has attractive funding mechanisms, strong due diligence, and efficient processes but needs to address barriers faced by small enterprises, start-ups and emerging sectors, lack of clarity in guidelines, issues with data accuracy, and limited communication with industry stakeholders.
Assistant Deputy Minister, Programs Branch, should explore options to improve access to the Program for small enterprises, start-ups and emerging sectors undertaking commercialization.
Management Response Recommendation 1
Agreed. In developing the newly launched AgriInnovate Program, the assessment criteria of financial risk have been amended to improve access for small enterprises, start-ups and organizations from emerging sectors seeking to undertake commercialization projects.
Assistant Deputy Minister, Programs Branch, should strengthen quality assurance mechanisms for performance data collection and management, and strengthen performance indicators to better measure the success of the Program.
Management Response Recommendation 2
Agreed. The department is working towards a more automated system for the grants and contributions delivery, which will create program efficiencies and improve the integrity of program data. The Directorate will prepare an action plan including an annual quality assurance process to ensure that the data captured by the Program is accurate and complete.
Assistant Deputy Minister, Programs Branch, in collaboration with other Branches, should review industry communication strategies.
Management Response Recommendation 3
Agreed. The Innovation Programs Directorate developed an engagement plan for targeted outreach in advance of the launch of the AgriInnovate Program. This engagement plan included outreach to regional offices, regional development agencies, the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program, and select industry organizations from the emerging sector.
Assistant Deputy Minister, Programs Branch, should review options to collaborate with other agencies (Federal, Provincial, Private lenders, and Non-profits) to leverage the expertise and resources (advice and assessment) to better respond to where investment is lacking and providing a sector wide approach to innovation.
Management Response Recommendation 4
Agreed. To develop and coordinate a whole-of-government approach to innovation AAFC has representatives in the following organizations and committees: Innovation Canada, Clean Growth Hub, a government wide committee on the delivery of innovation programming, and a Federal/Provincial/Territorial Innovation Working Group. AAFC will continue to collaborate with other agencies through the committees and structures detailed above to support the government-broad initiative of better coordination of its innovation agenda.
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