The 2015 Waterloo Innovation Summit begins today as a three day event that features a guided tour of the Waterloo Region ecosystem as well as a distinguished lineup of keynote speakers, firesides chats, and panel sessions at the main summit locations.

Home to Canada’s most innovative University and over 500 tech companies, Waterloo Region boasts a highly entrepreneurial community and has gained a reputation as one of the fastest growing startup ecosystems in the world.  It is from this powerful marriage of ground breaking research and globally competitive entrepreneurship that the Waterloo Innovation Summit was born “to facilitate the expansion of an innovation culture through the continued development of technologies, approaches, and industries.”

The Waterloo Innovation Summit is an annual conference created in partnership between the University of Waterloo and Communitech as a platform for fostering global innovation by bringing together leading innovators, global thought leaders, policy makers and academics with the power to influence change and drive prosperity.

This year the Summit will explore ‘What Drives Leading Innovative Ecosystems’ with kenote speeches from the Godfather of Silicon Valley, Steve Blank as well as Salim Ismail, Global Ambassador and Founding Executive Director – Singularity University, author of Exponential Organizations, and Mariana Mazzucato, author of The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public Vs. Private Sector.

During the week of the Waterloo Innovation Summit, the Waterloo Region will be hosting several additional technology and cultural events including Accelerator Centre Showcase (September 16), Hack The North (September 18-20), Doors Open Waterloo Region (September 19), and Maker Expo (September 19).

Innovation through research and development is critical to the growth and competitiveness of companies both big and small; however, financing for innovation or growth has always been a challenge for many companies in Canada. The Provincial and Federal government work together to deliver funding programs to encourage companies to invest in innovation.  The federal Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program provides up to 35% return in the form of a tax credit for costs incurred in the development of new or improved products or processes in Canada . The Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) offers direct funding for Canadian labour and subcontractor costs associated with projects that lead to the commercialization of innovative products, processes, or services.  IRAP is ideal for companies that require funding for early-stage R&D and prototyping, while the SR&ED program provides more extensive coverage that also includes experimental development.  Applicants may apply to both IRAP and SR&ED programs as long as expenditures are not double-claimed.