Funding programs for connected and automated vehicles

We are supporting many initiatives to advance connected and automated vehicle technologies in Canada. The following programs currently fund research, testing, and development of these technologies.

Learn about potential benefits of connected and automated vehicles for Canadians.

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The Enhanced Road Safety Transfer Payment Program

We have developed the Enhanced Road Safety Transfer Payment Program to fund a variety of projects that will help address Canada’s national road safety priorities. It creates new opportunities to invest in Canadian projects that:

  • promote road safety
  • aim to reduce road-related collisions, injuries, and fatalities and
  • encourage harmonization with provincial and territorial road safety initiatives

It also provides funding to promote the innovative design, testing, and integration of connected and automated vehicles and other safety enhancing technologies.

The results of this program will be used to create policies, standards, frameworks and eventually new regulations to make our roads safer.

The program provides funding to government and non-governmental organizations to support road safety initiatives.

This program was established in 2019, and will provide $30 million in funding over a 3-year period. The program is currently accepting applications for the 2020-2021 funding year. The deadline for applications is 1 December 2020.

Program to Advance Connectivity and Automation in the Transportation System (ACATS)

We created the ACATS Program to help Canadian jurisdictions get ready for the technical, regulatory and policy issues emerging as Canada introduces these technologies. The program is providing up to $2.9 million in grant and contribution funding over 4 years. It is currently closed to applications.

See a list of projects that the program funded.

Strategic Innovation Fund

The $2 billion Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) supports Canadian companies who are investing in innovative projects. It also helps Canada be a global leader in advanced technologies. SIF funds projects valued above $10 million to help companies grow and attract large-scale, investments that create jobs.

Key SIF investments in connected and automated vehicles include:

ENCQOR: 5G digital infrastructure

Through the SIF, the Canadian, Ontario, and Quebec governments provided a total of  $200 million to the Evolution of Networked Services through a Corridor in Quebec and Ontario for Research and Innovation (ENCQOR). Industry also contributed $200 million.

ENCQOR will create Canada’s first pre-commercial corridor of 5G digital infrastructure. It’s also Canada’s first public-private partnership aimed at increasing economic growth driven by 5G technology. It brings together subject matter experts, the public sector and global companies like:

  • Ericsson
  • Ciena
  • Thales
  • IBM
  • CGI

It will strengthen Canada’s networks, make communities smarter, and ensure we’re ready for the next generation of vehicles. The advantage of 5G technologies is that they could enable vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications in a way that wasn’t possible with previous networks.

Blackberry QNX

In 2019, Canada announced a $40 million investment in BlackBerry QNX as part of a $310.8 million project as part of the Strategic Innovation Fund. The investment will develop safe and secure software systems for the next generation of connected and automated vehicles.

BlackBerry QNX will use this funding to:

  • develop new automated control systems
  • upgrade and secure communications in vehicles
  • improve vehicle safety and security

The company will also develop and use concept cars as labs for technology and software development.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) funding

NSERC funds university-based research. From 2007 to 2016, the council awarded over $40.2 million as part of 327 grants to Canadian researchers working on connected and automated vehicles.

NSERC’s Canada Research Chair program invests about $265 million annually in up to 2,000 research chairs. This includes the Canada Research Chair in Machine Learning and Computer Vision. The position is held by Dr. Raquel Urtasun, Associate Professor at University of Toronto and Head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group Toronto. Dr. Urtasun researches how vehicles can sense and react to their environment.

You can search the NSERC awards database to find specific projects.

National Research Council funding

The National Research Council (NRC) is the Government of Canada’s largest research organization. It supports industrial innovation and government mandates, and advances knowledge and technology development.

The Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) helps small and medium-sized businesses in Canada innovate with technology. Since 2018, IRAP is investing $700 million over 5 years to support business research and development. The funding is for projects valued up to $10 million. These projects could be related to connected and automated vehicles.

In 2018, the NRC also launched a new Manufacturing and Automotive Innovation Hub in London, Ontario that provides space for the automotive supply chain to collaborate with NRC and the research network on new projects including connected and automated vehicles.

Building on Canada’s excellent reputation for turning research into innovative solutions, the NRC’s Automotive and Surface Transportation Research Centre helps take ideas from a concept to the market. The Centre has a proven track record, unmatched research, development and demonstration capabilities, and access to innovation support.

It is a valued contributor to the automotive and surface transportation sector. It does research on:

  • passenger vehicles
  • heavy-haul and light rail
  • heavy-duty trucking fleets
  • specialized military vehicles
  • first response vehicles

A key example of an NRC research program is Fleet Forward 2020. The NRC’s Fleet Forward 2020 Program has world-class engineering and scientific expertise, along with unique facilities. It develops new technologies for Canadian ground vehicle fleets. This program has tested connected vehicle technology that warns vehicles of an approaching train before they reach a rail grade crossing. Federal funding includes $19.4 million from the NRC over 7 years, with contributions from industry clients and the Department of National Defence. The funding total is $141.9 million.

Learn more about programs and services offered by the NRC.

Regional Economic Development Agencies

Canada's Regional Development Agencies (RDA) work closely with businesses and innovators in their regions to fuel economic growth that creates more well-paying middle-class jobs for Canadians. This includes support for industries with investments in connected and automated vehicle innovation.

Canada's regional development agencies (RDA) are a key part of the Government of Canada's Innovation and Skills Plan, advancing and diversifying our regional economies and helping communities thrive. There are seven RDAs across Canada.

The RDAs are also administering the $962-million Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) in their regions. The fund provides interest-free loans to help support fixed operating costs of small and medium-sized businesses where business revenues have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and they haven’t been able to access other Government of Canada financial support. Firms in the digital and automotive industries may be eligible for support.

Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) works with communities, businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and other levels of government in southern Ontario, which is a critical region for Canada’s digital and automotive industries. The goals of FedDev Ontario are to:

  • help secure the region’s economic growth and long-term prosperity
  • strengthen southern Ontario’s economic capacity for innovation, entrepreneurship, and collaboration

The agency received $920 million in renewed funding in Budget 2018. It is now accepting applications that could accommodate a variety of projects, including those related to connected and automated vehicles.

The agency could fund the projects through the following streams:

  • its national business scale-up and productivity stream
  • the regional innovation ecosystem stream
  • a community economic development and diversification stream

Windsor Automotive Mobility Cluster

In 2019, the FedDev Ontario announced a $5 million investment to WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation (WE EDC). The goal of the investment is to help the Windsor-Essex region move away from relying on traditional automotive manufacturing by taking advantage of new opportunities in next-generation mobility innovations, smart technologies, and automation.

With this funding, WE EDC will lead the development of an automobility innovation cluster in the region, which will include partnering with University of Windsor, as well as many local organizations, businesses and municipalities. Together, they will work to advance new technologies, such as smart traffic equipment, and undertake a pilot project to operate the first bi-national automated shuttle.

By promoting a vibrant ecosystem and embracing automation, smart technologies and innovation, WE EDC aims to make Windsor-Essex a leader in transformative automotive technologies and undergo a global re-brand—becoming the “automobility capital of Canada.”

Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy

In 2017, the Government of Canada launched the $125 million Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy. The Strategy was created to:

  • promote collaboration between centres of expertise in Toronto-Waterloo, Montreal, and Edmonton
  • attract top academic talent in the field of artificial intelligence (AI)
  • help Canada be a world leader for investment in AI and innovation, including connected and automated vehicle technologies

The Canada CIFAR AI Chairs Program is the cornerstone program of the CIFAR Pan-Canadian AI Strategy. A total of $86.5 million over five years has been earmarked for this program to attract and retain world-leading AI researchers in Canada. The Canada CIFAR AI Chairs that have been announced to-date are conducting research in a range of fields, including in automated vehicles.

Smart City Challenge Fund

In 2017, Infrastructure Canada, working with ISED and other government departments, launched the $300 million Smart Cities Challenge Fund (SCC). The fund is part of Canada’s Impact Challenge program, which can be used to support connected and automated vehicle related projects. The SCC is a pan-Canadian competition open to all municipalities, local or regional governments, and Indigenous communities.

The SCC helps communities to adopt a smart cities approach to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data, and connected technology.

Competition One of the SCC finished in 2019. It picked four winners and 20 finalists from almost 200 entries.

The City of Montreal won in the $50 million category of Competition One of the SCC. In this project, Montreal is mobilizing technology to harness neighbourhood-level citizen participation to develop mobility and food security solutions. This includes developing an integrated mobility platform with a neighbourhood service focus (centered around the food security environment). The platform will be supported by app-based trip planning, enhanced micro-mobility options, and automated vehicle deployment.

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