Saskatchewan Advantage Innovation Fund


The Saskatchewan Advantage Innovation Fund (SAIF), is a research and development (R&D) funding program managed by Innovation Saskatchewan (IS). It is intended to support and accelerate commercialization of game-changing technological innovations in the province’s core economic sectors.

Through SAIF, IS provides non-repayable grants for approved projects proposed by a group of companies. To apply, please refer to the “Program Guidelines” downloadable below.

Target Sectors

Projects developing technologies relevant to the following sectors are eligible for funding:

  1. Mining
  2. Energy
  3. Agricultural Technologies
  4. Manufacturing
  5. Education
  6. Healthcare

Eligibility Criteria

All applications must meet the following criteria to be considered for funding:

  1. Proposed by a group of active private sector partners. Ideally, the group should be representative of the project’s full value chain, including researchers, those involved in the production/supply process, and customer/end users.
    • Active partner: participating in the project either through cash and/or in-kind contribution, equity investment, and/or letter of intent to purchase.
    • The lead proponent must be a private entity based in Saskatchewan.
    • Priority is given to proposals that also have an academic partner from a Saskatchewan post-secondary or research institute.
  2. Demonstrate how the technological innovation will solve a specific industry-wide challenge and benefit the sector as a whole, not just individual companies.
  3. Development of novel and innovative solutions.
  4. Demonstrate a feasible path to commercialization, benefits expected, and how those impacts will be sustained in the long-term.
  5. Industry partners providing half or more of the proposed project’s budget. The amount requested from IS is no more than 30% of the proposed budget.

Intake Periods

Intakes for SAIF are held twice per fiscal year. Prospective applicants are to submit an EOI and complete the “Eligibility Questionnaire” before the EOI deadline to be considered for funding. Only selected applicants will be invited to submit full proposals. Shortlist decisions made by IS’ internal selection committee are final.

In years where applicants exceed available funding, only proposals determined to be most strategically aligned with the province’s R&D priorities will be invited to submit full proposals. The number of grants approved per year will be based on budget availability.

Below are important dates for each intake periods:

Intake Period 1:

April 30 – Deadline for EOIs

May 31 – All invites for full proposals sent

July 31 – Deadline for full proposals

September 30 – Funding decisions made

Intake Period 2:

September 30 – Deadline for EOIs

October 31 – All invites for full proposals sent

December 31 – Deadline for full proposals

February 28 – Funding decisions made


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A Single Spark Can Change Everything: WESK’s Matchstick is Igniting the Future

Entrepreneur Devon Fiddler is familiar with the precarious yet rewarding phase of business start-up. In 2015, Fiddler created an innovative Indigenous-themed fashion retail business, SheNative Goods Incorporated. The retailer sells handcrafted leather goods and apparel ( Fiddler says her business philosophy is “community-based” and she wants to “support and encourage other Indigenous women.” SheNative’s popular t-shirt line features empowerment slogans like “Indigenous Boss Babe.”

SheNative is entirely Indigenous-owned. Fiddler’s production, design and sales staff is also of Indigenous ancestry. On June 1, 2019, the SheNative team moved into a new flagship store at 714A 2nd Avenue N. in Saskatoon.

Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan (WESK) recently expanded its services to include targeted, culturally relevant support for First Nations business owners, like Devon Fiddler. What do they need from WESK to create a successful venture? The Matchstick: Spark for Indigenous Entrepreneurs program originated from a May 2017 WESK re-brand. WESK determined that an underserviced demographic—Saskatchewan’s Indigenous women—could directly benefit from its expertise and support. Young Indigenous women make up a significant proportion of the Saskatchewan population and more than 36 per cent of them are under the age of fifteen.

WESK secured funding and the three-year project was underwritten by Western Economic Diversification Canada, the Saskatchewan government, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and the Saskatchewan Indian Equity Foundation. An advisory board was established and a needs assessment was conducted. Devon Fiddler is a member of the Matchstick advisory board and she’s facilitated an exploratory workshop for Matchstick assisting participants in the brainstorming phase of imagining a potential business venture.

Matchstick’s goals are ambitious. The program’s directive is to better engage and involve Indigenous women in entrepreneurship, strengthen Indigenous women’s role in entrepreneurship and to address the lack of entrepreneurial awareness of business ownership as a career opportunity. Matchstick aims to increase the number of Indigenous entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan and to cultivate support for business in Indigenous communities.

To date, WESK has visited eight First Nations communities to conduct on-site business plan training. 250 women participated in the business planning sessions. The core curriculum was adapted specifically for First Nations participants. “We are very pleased with the Matchstick project and its strategic direction,” says WESK’s CEO Prabha Mitchell.

The project is set to conclude in March 2020. Going forward, WESK intends to build on the momentum of the popular program to provide continued services to Indigenous women entrepreneurs. In order to expand the Matchstick program’s scope beyond the original three-year mandate, WESK is courting funders to secure additional project support.

Trailblazer Devon Fiddler’s success will certainly bolster WESK’s case for the continued investment in Indigenous-owned small business ventures. As Fiddler’s SheNative t-shirts proclaim: “She Believed She Could Do it and She Did.”


Original article available here:

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