Get $10,000 a year to hire students through the Innovator Skills Initiative (ISI) grant program

Applications are now open for the newly expanded Innovator Skills Initiative program (ISI), delivered by New Ventures BC. The program provides companies with funding to hire a student to fill a business or tech role – connecting undergrad and graduate students with an opportunity to bring their skills to a technology company looking for help or to a non-tech company looking to expand their innovation footprint.

If you need financial support this spring, consider hiring a student. You could get up to $10,000 per year in funding through this program. Previously, funding was only available to tech companies hiring for a business or tech role. Now, the program has expanded its eligibility requirements to provide funding to non-tech companies looking to fill tech roles.

Is your company eligible?

To qualify for an ISI Grant, you must be a B.C. based:

  • tech company or tech focused non-profit hiring for a business or tech role; or
  • business or non-profit hiring for a tech role.

You must also be able to provide entrepreneurial and skills training to the student.

Student eligibility has not changed. As always, your student: 

  • is not a co-op student for the semester they would be receiving grant funding;
  • is enrolled at an accredited BC post-secondary school or is taking one semester off;
  • can work part-time or full-time; and
  • can complete modules 1 and 2 of online Market Validation Training while at work.

International students and students working on contract are eligible as long as they meet the above requirements.

Check out what some local B.C. life science companies have to say about the program.

“While there are many subsidiary program options for undergraduate co-ops, aside from the ISI grant, there are not many funding opportunities to hire PhD students. At Precision Nanosystems Inc. (PNI), we occasionally have projects that require a high level of graduate-level expertise. In addition, there are no other funding equivalents that give students an opportunity to learn and see entrepreneurship first-hand while they are completing their degree.

“Without the support of the ISI grant, we could not have hired an intern for eight months. We were so happy with the ISI grant that we have taken another opportunity to apply again for another student from the University of Victoria.” – Anitha Thomas, Head of Formulation, R&D, Precision Nanosystems Inc., Vancouver, B.C.

“The project was a success. The student completed her tasks very well and helped the company validate cell line markets with scientists. We will use her research report to plan strategically for future product commercialization.” – Nancy Yao, Applied Biological Materials, Richmond, B.C.

The ISI Program runs from May 1, 2020 – April 30, 2021. Applications are open to B.C.-based companies and are accepted on a rolling basis.

About New Ventures BC

New Ventures BC (NVBC) is a non-profit organization that helps early stage tech companies grow their businesses. Each year, it runs the annual New Ventures BC Competition, presented by Innovate BC, that awards $250,000 in cash and prizes to BC’s top new startups. NVBC also administers a mentored, online Venture Acceleration Program to companies across BC and the ISI grant program to help companies grow their teams by hiring post-secondary students. New Ventures BC receives funding from both government and corporate sponsors.

About Innovate BC

Innovate BC is a one stop service centre to connect innovators — large and small — with B.C. government funding, resources and support. Innovate BC programs and initiatives serve and celebrate innovation in British Columbia, helping our industries grow, while ensuring the benefits of our thriving technology sector are felt by people in all regions of our province. Innovate BC is a Crown Agency of the Province of B.C.

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Rachel Burns

New Ventures BC