Program Guidelines

The Proof of Concept Program supports projects that help to establish the commercial feasibility of innovative natural products or technologies (Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) 4-9) to advance development, commercialization, or de-risk subsequent investment.

NPC defines natural products or technologies as biologically-based innovations that leverage or enhance the use of naturally-occurring molecules. NPC is looking for highly innovative products or technologies with proprietary intellectual property. The innovation must benefit people, animals and the planet, and may be applied to a range of industries, including: food production and value-added agriculture; bioproducts and sustainability; human nutrition, health and wellness; animal health and nutrition; and water and waste management. Technologies and solutions based on IT (software, hardware, AI, etc.) or mechanical solutions (drones, automation, etc.) that exclude a biological element fall outside of scope for the Programs.

Canadian SMEs and start-up companies and academic research institutes, can receive up to 40% of the cost of the proof of concept project to a maximum of $350,000 over a maximum 18-month project period. The applicant will be required to contribute 60% of the cost over the project period.

The Program does not support basic research, but rather supports activities that demonstrate commercial potential via animal, field, demonstration, or human trials.

For companies, the Program is intended to demonstrate commercial feasibility of products and technologies.

For academic research institutes, the Program is intended to move a product or technology from intellectual property disclosure to near term spin-out and/or licensing opportunities.

Companies or academic research institutes interested in applying to the Program should contact NPC at [email protected].

Minimum Eligibility Requirements

  • Canadian incorporated SME, start-up company, or academic research institute.
  • Applicant has a novel natural product or technology that aligns with NPC’s definitions of natural products or technologies (See examples of previously funded projects) and must also fit within the TRL 4-9 of the Government of Canada’s established Technology Readiness Levels.
  • SMEs and start-up companies must have the potential to achieve $10MM to $15MM in annual revenue within a reasonable period for the market or sector.
  • Products or technologies being developed within academic research institutes must address an industry/sector challenge that has a significant market potential.
  • Potential for significant economic, social, health and/or environmental benefits.
  • Technological advancement and benefits to the natural products ecosystem across Canada.
  • Technical feasibility of the project.
  • Potential for commercialization in Canada.
  • Potential spillover benefits to more than one sector.
  • Potential for improving the representation of women, visible minorities, and Indigenous peoples in the natural products ecosystem.
  • A member of Canada’s Natural Product Innovation Cluster.
  • A minimum NPC Contribution of $100,000.

Funding Conditions and Reporting

  • NPC’s contribution is non-dilutive, non-repayable funding.
  • Successful applicants will receive a contract from NPC that includes the project scope, reporting requirements, and mutually agreed upon key deliverables to be achieved.
  • Canadian Government stacking rules apply. There is a limit on the combined level of financial assistance from all government sources (federal, provincial, territorial, municipal) not to exceed 75% of eligible costs by SMEs and start-up companies and 100% of eligible costs by academic research institutes.
  • The funding is provided through reimbursement of eligible project costs upon approval of the quarterly reports. Quarterly reports include a written and financial claim, and must contain invoices and proof of payment.
  • Successful applicants are required to pay a non-refundable project administration fee of 5% of total project costs plus GST/HST. This fee is not considered as an eligible project cost.
  • An annual report will be required during the project and for each of the five (5) years after the project ends.

Application Process

  1. Eligibility Assessment:
  • Companies or academic research institutes interested in this Program should contact NPC at [email protected].
  • An NPC team member will follow up with the applicant to review the Minimum Eligibility Requirements, in addition to the scope of the potential project.
  • Applicants that meet the eligibility assessment will be invited to submit an application.
  1. Application Submission and Evaluation:
  • Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.
  • Eligible applications will be evaluated on the following criteria: the novelty of the natural product or technology; market opportunity; business model/commercialization strategy; competitors; strength of the management/research leadership team; need and impact of the trial; trial design and key activities; qualifications of the individuals and/or centres conducting the trials; and risk mitigation.
  • Applications will be initially reviewed by the NPC team and feedback will be provided. Companies will have the opportunity to revise the application. If the application is approved by the NPC team, it will proceed to the Commercialization Sub-Committee for final review and funding decision. The Sub-Committee is comprised of NPC Board members and an external industry expert.
  1. Notification:
  • Applicants will be informed of the progress throughout the process outlined above and will be notified of the final funding decision.
  • In the event where an application is not approved for funding, the applicant will be provided feedback on the application. The applicant can request an appeal by providing, in writing, the basis for their objection(s) with the decision within 15 days from receiving the decision from NPC.


All applications will be treated as confidential information. The applications will only be seen by those directly involved evaluation of the applications.

For more information, contact NPC at [email protected].