SOPHIE is brought to you by Innovation Factory

Southern Ontario Pharmaceutical and Health Innovation Ecosystem

Resources and FAQs

Want more information about SOPHIE? We answered some of your most common and popular questions below. If you have a question that has not been addressed, please send it to us through the Contact form or get in touch with our team.

Frequently Asked Questions

Program Overview

  • With a Government of Canada investment of $6 million, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), Innovation Factory and the Synapse Consortium established the Southern Ontario Pharmaceutical & Health Innovation Ecosystem (SOPHIE) program. Its primary mission is to catalyze the commercialization and scale-up of innovative technologies being produced by life science firms across Ontario.
  • Through SOPHIE, Ontario life science firms can undertake collaborative projects to leverage the facilities, expertise and infrastructure of world-class academic and clinical institutions located in Hamilton, including McMaster University, Mohawk College, Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joseph’s hospital. Successful partnerships will accelerate commercialization efforts, enabling life science firms to further develop intellectual property, obtain critical clinical data or undertake key product testing and evaluation. Successful SOPHIE applicants can access up to $100,000 in non-dilutive funding to support their commercialization project with an academic or clinical partner.
  • Innovation Factory (iF) is a not-for-profit business accelerator, serving as the catalyst for technology innovation in the greater Hamilton area since 2011. From ideation to commercialization and scale-up; Innovation Factory provides business services, training, mentorship, and strategic connections to drive market adoption, leverage intellectual property, and increase revenues, investment, and jobs. Innovators can also access sector-specific resources including exclusive smart transportation test environments and data; and a formal life science and health innovation ecosystem.

  • Innovation Factory is a member of the Synapse Life Science Consortium.

  • Synapse Life Science Consortium is the formal regional cluster organization for the life sciences ecosystem in the greater Hamilton region. An initiative of Innovation Factory and its community partners, the Synapse Consortium supports efforts and projects that magnify the impact of collective action across the cluster ecosystem and accelerating the commercialization of life science innovation. The Synapse Consortium strives to engage all organizations that make up the Hamilton life science cluster, celebrating the strengths and successes of industry leaders and new start-ups, as well as promoting the region as an attractive place to live, work and invest.

    Founded in 2016, the Synapse Life Science Consortium brings together leaders from across the region, including private- and public-sector organizations who saw opportunity for greater collaboration and coordination across the cluster. Synapse Consortium partners represent the bulk of life science research and economic activity in Hamilton.
  • Privately incorporated Canadian life science firms, with operations based primarily in Ontario that are working towards commercializing an innovative technology at Technology Readiness Level Six (TRL-6) or above:
    • TRL-6: System/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a simulated environment
  • Eligible firms must be able to demonstrate commitment to commercializing innovation with a clear clinical application and be a member of Innovation Factory or a Regional Innovation Centre (e.g., MaRS, Communitech). Firms can sign-up for free with Innovation Factory here.
  • Life science firms include for-profit companies operating in the fields of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices, digital health, biomedical technologies, nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, and others that dedicate their efforts to creating products to improve the lives of organisms.
  • If your firm is located outside of Ontario and you are interested in working with a principal investigator / clinical champion partner in Hamilton, please contact the SOPHIE Program Manager (alek.tirpan@innovationfactory.ca) to explore potential options.

A principal investigator or clinical champion must be matched with the applying company from one of the partner institutions (i.e., Hamilton Health Sciences, McMaster University, Mohawk College, St. Joseph’s Hospital). If the applying company is not able to identify or name a partner, the SOPHIE program team will attempt to match high-potential applicants to a principal investigator / clinical champion.

Successful applicants of the SOPHIE program receive access to a suite of advisory services, testing capabilities and mentorship. With access to world-class researchers, clinicians, and facilities, program participants can receive support and acquire clinical/research expertise, evidence, or data to develop and commercialize health innovations. Program participants can accelerate product commercialization timelines, increase sales, or secure a ‘first buyer’.

  • Eligible project costs that can be included in the Commercialization Project budget are:
    • Directly related to the intent of the Commercialization Project;
    • Defined as reasonable costs for items that directly support the objectives and activities of the approved Commercialization Project;
    • Incremental to the usual cost of doing business;
  • Project costs are subject to approval by the Synapse Life Science Consortium and must be auditable including a paper trail. If you have questions about eligible costs, please reach out to the Synapse Consortium staff for more information.
  • The applying life science firm must declare any other government sources of funding received within the 12 months period prior to applying
  • Stacking federal government funding is not allowed
  • Stacking provincial or municipal funding is subject to review and approval

Download a package to learn about executed commercialization projects supported through the SOPHIE program and the partners involved.  

Download Project Examples

SOPHIE program application process

You can access the SOPHIE application form here.  You will not be able to save your progress, please complete your application in session.  Please see the resources available on this page to access a copy of the application for your review and reference.

Please feel free to reach out to us with any of your questions during the application process. The SOPHIE Program Manager can be reached at alek.tirpan@innovationfactory.ca

Download examples of funded projects

We welcome submissions continuously, as applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Please note that the review process for project grants may take longer than usual.

The budget form is created to provide us with a high-level understanding of your project and project activities from a financial perspective so that we can review how much seed funding you are requesting, how much you are contributing, and how you expect to use that money.  If you are accepted into the program, we will be working with you to develop a more comprehensive budget, KPIs and milestones.

  • A member of the SOPHIE program team will review your application within 1-2 weeks before scheduling an introduction meeting to explore project suitability, alignment with SOPHIE program goals, and steps required to identify a suitable principal investigator / clinical champion. 
  • Work with the interested principal investigator / clinical champion, and their institution, to define the desired scope of Commercialization Project activities. 
  • Sign the SOPHIE Commercialization Project contract with Innovation Factory and the institutional partner.  The contract will outline the project scope, budget, critical activities, project milestones, and the expected business impact of the Commercialization Project. 
  • Start the Commercialization Project. 
  • Funding will be released in tranches on a reimbursement basis.
  • Once a firm has been successfully matched with a principal investigator / clinical champion partner and has submitted their project proposal, their complete application will be reviewed by the SOPHIE program team. Prior to being considered by the SOPHIE Team, all proposals will require sign-off from the lead partner institution (i.e., VP Research, Chief Innovation Officer, or Dean of Applied Research).
  • A recommendation to support or deny the application will be made and comments will be provided back to the applying life science firm. The SOPHIE team will discuss submitted project proposals and make selection decisions within 1-2 weeks, recognizing the importance of a timely response. The SOPHIE team will do its best to notify firms that are not successful.
  • Once recommended to receive SOPHIE funding, an approval letter will be sent to the life science firm and principal investigator / clinical champion partner notifying them of the success of their project proposal. This letter will trigger all parties to begin drafting the SOPHIE Commercialization Project contract that defines all responsibilities and requirements required for the success of the project including the statement of work and project outcomes and goals
  • A Commercialization Project contract template has been developed in consultation with the partner organizations. This template will be used to help expedite the contracting process. Please contact your partner organization once your project proposal has been reviewed and approved for funding.

Program administration

  • Life science firms will meet with the SOPHIE team quarterly (e.g., every 3 months) to provide an update on the project progress. A final report detailing the successful completion of the project deliverables, attestation of the work completed, and submission of all claims will be due at the end of the project. A final report template will be provided to the life science firm and partner organization to complete.
  • All dates for quarterly progress meetings with the SOPHIE team and due date for the final report will be stated in your contract agreement between your principal investigator / clinical champion and Innovation Factory.
  • The life science firm will also agree to report back to the SOPHIE team one year and two years following the completion of the SOPHIE Commercialization Project. Failure to do so could result in funds being requested back from the life science firm. The SOPHIE team will reach out to the company at the one year and two year post award completion dates for company data that FedDev Ontario requires in order to measure the success of the program.
  • A critical objective of SOPHIE is to create new intellectual property (IP) for the benefit of the life science firm. Unless otherwise agreed, ownership of any IP and/or trade secrets created as a result of the Commercialization Project is assumed to vest wholly with the for-profit firm (“Foreground IP”). The Commercialization Project contract will spell out explicitly how Foreground IP will be treated. Innovation Factory, Synapse Consortium nor FedDev Ontario will not take any ownership stake in any IP generated as a result of a Commercialization Project.
  • In some cases, all parties involved may decide that joint ownership, or some other arrangement, may better reflect the interests of all parties involved. In this case, additional considerations of the treatment of Foreground IP will be articulated in the Commercialization Project contract, whether through revenue sharing, licensing agreements, or some other means. It is understood that the participating firm owns all IP it comes to the Commercialization Project with (“Background IP”). All parties are expected to adhere to Innovation Factory’s IP policy, as well as the IP policy of the academic or hospital partner organization.
  • Applicants should clearly mark any information as “proprietary” within their application that they deem to be a trade secret or proprietary information. Proprietary information includes details regarding the Applicant(s), their financial information, and their project. This information is to be maintained as confidential and will not be shared on public sites. Proprietary information found within applications will be used or disclosed only for the purposes of project evaluation and review.
  • Projects who are successfully funded under the SOPHIE program are subject to the federal Access to Information Act and Privacy Act. All SOPHIE team members participating in the review of SOPHIE applications have signed non-disclosure agreements requiring them to uphold the confidentiality of all privileged information, including trade secrets and proprietary information. Coverage and treatment of intellectual property generated through the execution

Supplementary Information

  • A critical objective of SOPHIE is to create new intellectual property (IP) for the benefit of the life science firm. Unless otherwise agreed, ownership of any IP and/or trade secrets created as a result of the Commercialization Project is assumed to vest wholly with the for-profit firm (“Foreground IP”). The Commercialization Project contract will spell out explicitly how Foreground IP will be treated. Innovation Factory, Synapse Consortium nor FedDev Ontario will not take any ownership stake in any IP generated as a result of a Commercialization Project.
  • In some cases, all parties involved may decide that joint ownership, or some other arrangement, may better reflect the interests of all parties involved. In this case, additional considerations of the treatment of Foreground IP will be articulated in the Commercialization Project contract, whether through revenue sharing, licensing agreements, or some other means. It is understood that the participating firm owns all IP it comes to the Commercialization Project with (“Background IP”). All parties are expected to adhere to Innovation Factory’s IP policy, as well as the IP policy of the academic or hospital partner organization.

Alex Muggah – Director, Synapse Consortium Phone: 905-920-9939 Email: alex.muggah@innovationfactory.ca

Alek Tirpan – Program Manager, Life Sciences Phone: 647-919-1964 Email: alek.tirpan@innovationfactory.ca

Are you ready?

Apply Now

We encourage you to verify your eligibility and start your application journey. We welcome submissions continuously, as applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Please note that the review process for project grants may take longer than usual.

Need more information?

Contact Us

If you have any questions regarding SOPHIE, please get in touch with us through our Contact form.