Engaging a TAC

Collaborating with a TAC enables Canadian SMEs to reach the resources they need become high-growth firms, succeeding at home and abroad. These partnerships assist the firm with their technical R&D work, preparing them to enter new markets with new products.

To connect with a TAC to solve your challenge, please visit TACJumpBall.ca. We have a dedicated point person at each of the 67 TACs eager to rapidly respond to your innovation-related inquiry if their TAC is equipped to assist.

For innovative firms, there are several ways to engage with a TAC, each of which can be custom-tailored to meet the needs of the client. These engagements are:

  • interactive visits;
  • fee-for-service arrangements;
  • leveraged projects;
  • capstone projects; and
  • association-supported projects.

1. Interactive Visits & Strategic Interactions

Interactive Visits provide eligible companies with 20 hours of collaboration with a TAC to solve an innovation challenge. Strategic Interactions provide 55hr collaborations involving 2 TACs, or a TAC and a college research centre, to solve more complex problems:

  • Evaluating technical/economic feasibility of new products, processes, or services.
  • Short-term R&D assistance and prototype development.
  • Providing access to cutting edge technology a company doesn’t have in-house.
  • Providing objective scientific, technical and business advice.

The Interactive Visit and Strategic Interaction program is open only to incorporated Canadian for-profit firms with under 500 employees and the potential to grow through innovation, referred by their NRC IRAP ITA or CEA. We strongly encourage and welcome the participation of companies owned by members of traditionally underrepresented groups (women, Indigenous persons, members of visible minorities, and persons with disabilities). Tech-Access Canada gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of the National Research Council's Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) to enable this initiative.

2. Fee-for-Service Engagements

Fee-for-service engagements can entail specific technical and business services; training on new equipment and technologies; as well as collaborative applied research projects.

The cost of the engagement will be - by design - at, or above, the market rates of other service providers in the region, but the TAC will assemble the correct team, bring in unique value-added expertise, and the engagement can start the minute the contract is signed. Most of these service, training, and applied research projects can be completed in the rapid timelines the partner needs, often days or weeks.

3. Leveraged Projects

On leveraged applied research projects, the TAC can stretch the partner's R&D dollar further by attempting to access provincial or federal R&D support programs designed to de-risk the innovation investment.

These leveraging programs are competitive, take a considerable amount of time from application to decision, and are not guaranteed to receive leveraging support. However, if successful, the TAC will assemble the correct team of experts and start immediately.

4. Capstone Projects

If the partner's innovation challenge is on a slower track, or the partner is of more modest means, capstone projects are an excellent option.

For a very modest fee, often the cost of supplies and consumables, the TAC will assemble an interdisciplinary team of college student researchers in the last year of their undergraduate program, under the supervision of an instructor, to solve the industry partner's problem.

The project will only take 4 or 8 months, but it must align with the start of the college semester, and is contingent on finding the right mix of willing students to field a team.

Capstone projects have two other significant appeals: de-risking innovation for aspiringly-innovative firms, and letting the firm test-drive potential future employees. What better job interview than 4 months spent learning about a firm and solving their innovation challenge?

Regardless of the project outcome, capstone projects at TACs are also a form of experiential learning that allows college students to acquire valuable innovation skills before they graduate, socializing them to team members from different academic and professional backgrounds, helping create a competitive workforce in the region's key industrial sector.

5. Industry Association Supported Projects

A fourth type of engagement is through industry-association sponsored applied research. In these engagements, an industry association, representing private firms of all sizes in a sector, engages the services of a TAC to tackle an innovation challenge that affects all of their members.

The TAC works individually with a subset of the association's membership on projects, and the results are disseminated to all members for application in their individual operations to improve their productivity and innovation outcomes.

Playing to economies of scale, an engagement of this kind makes much more sense than having each individual member of the association attempt to engage the TAC to conduct duplicate research, especially if there will be no individual proprietary advantage with the results of the project.