March 9, 2023
In Canada, 97.9% of businesses are small, with an average of 8 employees. 75% of companies have fewer than 4 employees. Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are major drivers of the Canadian economy but unfortunately due to their size, many do not have R&D departments in-house. Without access to R&D, SMEs lose access to opportunities for innovation and growth.
Enter: Technology Access Centres (TAC).
What Is a TAC and What Do They Do?
A TAC is an applied research centre affiliated with a local Canadian college or cégep. TACs provide companies with access to cutting-edge technology and equipment to help SMEs create market-ready products or adopt new technologies to become more innovative and productive.
TACs help SMEs to:
- Develop prototypes
- Scale up processes
- Solve business challenges
Technology Access Centres: Uniquely Canadian
Executive Director of TAC, Ken Doyle, notes that 95% of the Canadian population lives within a 50km drive of a community college campus and that “Canada is strong” because of its public college (and university) system. Taking advantage of this proximity, and through federal funding, technology access centres were created to provide SMEs with R&D access based on sectors in a specific region. In the Bay of Quinte region, local community college Loyalist’s TAC, supports SMEs in the natural products and cannabis sectors.
Benefits of TACs on SMEs
- Support small businesses with objective business innovation advice
- Are ideally within an hour’s drive of these companies
- Allow businesses to retain the IP; whereas universities do not allow businesses to retain their IP
- Provide opportunities to innovate
- Help local companies access public funding to work with TACs
Because of Canada’s geography and public education system, “TACs are a uniquely Canadian model”, according to Doyle.
Who Benefits from TACs?
The short answer to this question is: everyone in the Bay of Quinte region, because TACs help local business communities diversify and inject new dollars into the economy.
More specifically, businesses operating in the natural product and cannabis sectors benefit from a TAC at Loyalist College. The Quinte region is strongly supported by the manufacturing sector and food manufacturing and food processing. Within this sector, there is a whole eco-system of businesses and in the past the Loyalist College TAC has worked on projects using shrimp waste, hemp, hops, and crickets as alternative protein sources. Peripheral companies like bottle sterilizing and non-traditional waste streams can also benefit.
Residents, including employers, students, and job seekers, also benefit from the TAC because Loyalist students work on these local projects creating connections with future employers. Students have a high success rate of working with the SMEs they were partnered with during their projects and get a unique opportunity to learn.
Bay of Quinte SMEs operating in the natural products and cannabis sectors, get access to technology and research they normally would not, expert talent, and market-ready products when they work with the Loyalist College technology access centre. Loyalist’s TAC is also your window to access services from any of the 59 other TACs located across Canada. Over 2000 experts in business innovation and applied R&D with in-depth industry experience across many sectors, including manufacturing, mining, and agriculture.
The Quinte Economic Development Commission (QEDC) provides information, connections, and resources for manufacturers in the Bay of Quinte. QEDC supports the region’s businesses and entrepreneurs as well as the local workforce.