Innovation Fund

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC)'s Innovation Fund provides funding to First Nation communities to build school facilities that are innovative, promote education reform or achieve cost savings.

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About the program

The Innovation Fund was created in 2012 as part of the Education Infrastructure Fund. INAC's initial investment of $25 million is expected to leverage around $38 million in First Nation and private sector contributions for the four school projects. Beginning in 2016-2017, INAC will invest an additional $50 million in the Innovation Fund over six years.

As part of the annual infrastructure investment planning process, INAC regional offices work with First Nations to identify projects that may benefit from the Innovation Fund. A maximum investment of $10 million per project for eligible activities is available for infrastructure costs.

Projects approved for funding must:

Who can apply?

First Nations communities


To be eligible to receive funding, First Nation communities must submit their First Nations Infrastructure Investment Plan every year to their INAC regional office by the following deadlines:

How to apply?

Contact your INAC regional office and ask to speak to a Regional Capital Manager. Eligible projects are identified, reviewed and selected by INAC regional offices based on the First Nation Infrastructure Investment Plan's annual process and priority ranking.

Assessment criteria

Potential projects are assessed by criteria such as the following, although others factors may also be considered:

  • level of cost-sharing, where the First Nation invests at least 10% of overall project cost from its own revenues.
  • use of alternative financing models, where the First Nation uses financial institutions or Public Private Partnerships Canada to assist in financing their project:
    • INAC can provide support to First Nations in order to gain a loan, grant, or bridge financing from a financial institution to facilitate the construction of school projects. The financial institution can be First Nation oriented, or a bank, or an Aboriginal Financial Institution.
    • The First Nation will engage in a partnership with a private organization that will design, construct, operate and/or finance their school infrastructure project.
  • use of alternative procurement models, where the First Nation uses an alternative method to buy goods and/or services such as but not limited to:
    • Design-Build: Design and construction services are contracted from a single company.
    • Design-Build-Maintain: A partnership that combines the design and construction responsibilities of the design-build procurement with maintenance. The projects are procured with one single contract.
    • Design-Build-Finance-Maintain: The facility will be maintained to meet the performance specifications outlined and the contractor will hand the asset over to the First Nation at the end of the maintenance period according to a specific hand-back condition in the agreement. Payment for regular maintenance is made on a periodic basis according to a schedule specified by the contractor in its proposal.
  • use of alternative construction models, where the First Nation uses modular construction, pre-fabricated construction, aggregation or bundling such as but not limited to:
    • modular construction: modular buildings are prefabricated and multiple modules can be assembled to produce the desired footprint. Modules are typically six sided boxes that can be connected to make a building.
    • pre-fabrications: construction method relying primarily on the assembly of standardized manufactured components
    • aggregation: First Nations willing to construct a school project collectively with others to be shared by more than one community
    • bundling: grouping multiple construction projects under one contract or contractor to save on the costs

Selected projects

Consult a list of selected projects for 2016-2017.

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