Field Notes: 3D in Action conference panel provides tips to secure funding from government organizations
by Sadi Muktadir
One of the most common hurdles listed by manufacturing businesses in scaling up is often capital investment.
TORONTO — On May 18 and 19, Mohawk College presented 3D in Action, a virtual event showcasing 3D printing and its applications across manufacturing. A number of industry experts discussed product solutions, trends, pandemic resiliency, and how to harness government investment to scale up manufacturing production successfully.
The event was particularly focused on a pandemic recovery and strategies to help business pivot or scale their products to a larger scale through additive manufacturing. One of the most common hurdles listed by businesses in scaling up is often capital investment. Especially within 3D printing, organizations like Molded Precision Components (based in Oro Medonte, ON) and Burloak Technologies (Oakville, ON), have listed capital investments as key to their scale up and success.
Burloak’s video presentation explored how their capital was used to secure a large marketshare in the additive manufacturing space. According to Peter Adams, Chief Innovation Officer of Burloak Technolgies, they have spent over $120M to date in upgrading and building-out a large additive manufacturing facility. Currently, Burloak services most of the major players in the aerospace market, and increasingly so in the automotive and energy markets.
When it comes to securing capital investment, the 3D in Action conference held an important session around how to secure funding from government agencies, non-profits and grant programs.
The Ontario Centre of Innovation, the NRC IRAP (National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program), and NGen, Canada’s advanced manufacturing supercluster, discussed tips businesses and manufacturers could take advantage of to secure key funding that’s needed for them to scale up.
Ann-Marie Harte, Industrial Technology Advisory at the NRC IRAP counselled that an embracing of new technologies is required if you want to remain competitive. If companies are looking to stand out in their business proposals or grant requests, then they can stand out by taking advantage of new printing technologies in their attempted scale-up.
“If embracing a new technology is not possible, there are other ways to stand out too. Embracing new technologies doesn’t just mean taking advantage of new printing technologies or products. It can also include innovative marketing techniques, business models and hiring practices. This can all help to secure funding,” said Ann-Marie Harte.
Gillian Sheldon, Director of Investment Partnerships at NGen Canada elucidated on Molded Precision Components’ story, based out of Oro-Medonte.
“Prior to the pandemic, Molded Precision approached us with an R&D plan, and how each level of government would fit in with their funding. Because they were still in their R&D phase when the pandemic hit, they were able to pivot quickly and change their plans to serve a new market,” says Gillian. “Their flexibility helped them secure funding for the mass production of their PPE.”
Another key tip was provided by Amir Pahlevanpour, Business Development Manager at the Ontario Centre of Innovation.
“If you want to secure funding, you’ll need to keep us updated on your progress. Reports, data, when you’re hitting your targets, will all result in capital investment. If we see the data and reports, especially in numbers, it’s easier to make that decision,” he says.
All three organizations have different models of how the funding is distributed. NGen relies on a reimbursement model, where the business spends the money first, and then NGen will reimburse their costs and growth, while NCR IRAP and OCI rely on their business development managers to work with manufacturers to assess viability before awarding funding.
Where all three organizations were united however, was in talking about the importance of commercialization beyond just increasing their own market reach in the industries they were in.
“If you can show social benefits to your manufacturing business, things like job retention, job creation, then these things will help you stand out,” says Amir. “Not just your bottom line or your market reach, but having benefits for an entire industry and economy will definitely help you secure funding.”
Gillian Sheldon seemed to echo this.
“Tell the story. Don’t just answer the questions in your business plan or proposal. Show us the full picture.”