Concierge service to help Canadian SMEs commercialize innovation


Canadian SME Concierge

Canadian SME Concierge

On December 2, 2013,  Greg Rickford, Minister of State (Science and Technology) launched the Government of Canada’s new Concierge Service, a guide to innovation.

This new customized service delivered by the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) gives small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Canada access to the most relevant programs and services to help them grow through innovation.

“The Concierge Service brings together comprehensive, up-to-date information under a single umbrella to help Canadian businesses innovate with new products, services and markets – whether they’re looking for access to funding, equipment, expertise or new global networks,” says Anet Greenley, Concierge Advisor, NRC-IRAP.  

What does the Concierge Service provide – and not provide?

The Concierge Service is intended to help SMEs grow through innovation.

“Following a needs assessment, ‘funding sources’ have been identified as the most pressing concern for entrepreneurs, and is our initial priority in developing the Service,” adds Greenley.

However, if a small business contacts the Concierge Service for help with other issues, such as writing a business plan, they will be directed to the appropriate place.

The Concierge Service was able to help a digital media firm in developing three diverse streams of products utilizing their specific technology solution. The firm needed help with developing their online presence, branding, marketing, etc. The Concierge Advisor was able to link the firm to the Haltech Regional Innovation Ctr. at Sheridan College. Haltech has since provided access to an Executive in Residence and helped the firm utilize the digital media expertise at Sheridan College. – Trish Barrow, Ontario Region Concierge Advisor

How Does It Work?

When you contact the Concierge Service, staff will first work with you to define and understand your specific business needs. Then Concierge staff will direct you to the most appropriate support to help you develop new products, services or markets – pointing out innovation programs and services you might not have otherwise identified. When required, a business may also access the Service’s expert advisors located across Canada.

The Concierge Service will also expedite your dealings with many partner-organizations by ensuring your query is directed to the right organization, and providing that organization with details of your searches to help them better answer your needs.

What types of businesses are eligible?

Small- to medium-sized businesses with a new idea, market, product, or service that require assistance to commercialize it and grow through innovation are eligible. If your business has fewer than 500 employees then you are eligible for the Concierge Service.

Concierge Advisors will be able to “crystalize” the SMEs path to effectively accessing innovation resources and services within their region. The advisors come from industry, they understand the path that will lead to successful transformation of ideas into marketable products. – Ron Matheson, West Region Concierge Advisor

What do you mean by “innovate”?

Since “innovate” can mean many different things in the business world, we mean: “The ability to conjure up new products and services, to find novel uses for existing products and to develop new markets.”

In short,

Innovation = New Idea + Commercialization.

How do I get started?

Start by doing a search on the website ( or by calling the toll-free number (1-855-53-GUIDE / 1-855-534-8433). Information officers take calls Mondays to Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. local time.

The Concierge Advisors use their specific know how and experience to see the bigger picture and help direct SMEs to the most relevant programs at specific points in their development. We offer information on a whole suite of programs and work with a number of partner organizations to understand the types of clients most suited to their program or service. – Jo Van Betsbrugge, Quebec Region Concierge Advisor

When will the Concierge Service be fully complete?

The Service will be continually updating its databank of program and service information, and supporting the evolving needs of business innovation. For more information please refer to the website or refer to this list of advisors.

Concierge Advisors (By Region)






Do you know of any companies that could use this service? Spread the word!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the contributing author, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forum for International Trade Training.

About the author

Author: Vincent Chetcuti

EDEN COMMUNICATIONS is an Ottawa-based research, writing and editing company, which has been in business since 1979. Mr. Vincent Chetcuti (, a former entertainment journalist, is the sole proprietor of Eden Communications. He has considerable expertise and experience in the international trade field having completed hundreds of projects for such organizations as the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canadian International Development Agency, Canadian Commercial Corporation, Forum for International Trade Training, and Team Canada Inc.

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