Applicants must submit their innovation zone projects to the Minister of Economy and Innovation, through his or her regional offices and those of Investissement Québec. A complete file includes eight sections:
I. Development vision for the innovation zone.
II. Stakeholders and contributions to the project.
III. Project governance.
IV. Boundaries and characteristics of the area:
- Geographical representation;
- Characteristics of the land involved.
V. Strategic analysis:
- Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats;
- Development orientations;
- Potential for private investment.
VI. Development plan and schedule:
- Major development projects;
VII. Preliminary financial package
- Private and public investments envisaged according to major projects and spread over a time frame of more or less five years.
VIII. Target results and spin-offs
- Demonstration of attainment of objectives and targeted benefits.
The project is then analyzed and commented by the interministerial committee on innovation zones. This committee is made up of representatives of the partner ministries determined by the MEI. Representatives of local organizations such as municipalities may also be consulted to collaborate in the analysis. The Ministry makes its decision based on the committee’s advice. The application and file reception period are open. Applications are analyzed on an ongoing basis.
The Minister of Economy and Innovation selects the projects based on the advice of the inter-ministerial committee and his own review. He then designates the corresponding innovation zones. Innovation zones and related stakeholders can benefit from financial and tax assistance programs offered by the Quebec government, as well as technical support decreed in this context.
For example, the Quebec government can contribute financially to the studies required to apply for an innovation zone project. It can also contribute financially to the creation and development of innovation zones. Some assistance may come from existing measures and programs, and additional measures may be put in place to help achieve the objectives of an innovation zone project. These contributions and assistance are subject to specific standards and are set out in a financial assistance agreement specifying the obligations of each party and the terms of payment.
The Quebec government can provide other forms of support, such as an accelerated and simplified process for obtaining authorizations or permits, or assistance from a one-stop shop. In such cases, the interdepartmental committee, MEI and Investissement Québec regional offices are called upon to help.
Renewal of recognition as an innovation zone is based on an evaluation framework that takes as a reference the implementation of the zone’s development plan and the achievement of established targets.