What is MAGNET?

The Ontario-Israel Research Network Program – MAGNET, a new program announced earlier this year, funds partnerships between Ontario and Israeli SMEs. Each side has an opportunity to access up to $200,000 in funding. The program’s overall 5-year goal is to create partnerships between the two countries. Specifically, the partnerships that will bring to the market innovative solutions to industry problems. Each year there might be different priority areas – industry problems – that need solutions.

This year’s priority area is cybersecurity solutions for financial institutions. Within this priority area, there are six challenges that can be addressed by the applicants. They are very broad and can range from solutions to fraudulent transactions, to solutions to authentication problems, and from solutions to encryption data, to managing an organization’s third party footprint. For the full up-to-date list, please visit OCE website.

The program has partnered with the following financial institutions: Bank of Montreal (BMO), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Scotiabank, and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD). All Big Five are at the table. Not bad, no?

Because this is a partnership program, each Ontario applicant needs to have an Israeli partner and financial institution from Ontario on board. Also, It is encouraged to partner with local academic talents.

How much money is on the table?

MAGNET is run jointly by Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and the Israeli Innovation Authority (IIA), with each side committing $1M in the first year. The eligible companies can get up to $400,000 in funding per eligible project (with each side receiving up to $200,000).

The applicants are expected to provide a matching contribution. If you are asking for the full amount ($200,000), you need to demonstrate a matching contribution of $200,000. Likely this money does not have to be in your bank account until after the proposal submission. So if you may not have the matching contribution at the moment, I would still advise you to apply now.

Who can use MAGNET?

This is another good part. The eligibility criteria does not exclude early stage companies with no revenue. (We all know how it can easily become a catch-22. To have revenue, companies need start-up funds, and to have start-up funds, companies need revenue.) So, no, you do not need to have revenue for this program.

You do need to be an Ontario-based company. Thus most R&D and/or manufacturing activities need to be conducted in Ontario. And most of your employees need to be in Ontario.

What I liked the most

Even though MAGNET sounds quite complex at first, it is not that complex if you look at it closely.

If your technology fits with the program’s priority areas, you can apply without an Israeli partner. The Israeli ministry will help you find a partner from the pools of their applicants.

And you can apply without financial institution support. OCE will match you with a financial institution.

And, as I mentioned earlier, you can apply without the matching funds in the bank at the time of submission, if you have a plan to acquire these funds later. (As a side note: One of our clients plans to leverage the grant approval to secure the investor, who is very interested but would like to have an additional form of validation.)

Final thought

As was recently stated in a report by Deloitte/OCE (Harnessing the cybersecurity opportunity for growth. Cybersecurity innovation & the financial services industry in Ontario; October 2016), Ontario has access to over $250M in VC money for cybersecurity solutions. Yet the industry interest for Ontario solutions is slow. Is this the time to wake up?

ConnexFund specializes in grants and funding for innovative companies and start-ups with a focus on technology and manufacturing. Many Canadian businesses are aware that there is some free money available for them. But not so many know where to find it, how to access it and how to prepare a grant application that is successful. And this is exactly what ConnexFund does!