Businesses across Canada can now apply for free cloud-computing resources through a program that aims to improve Canada's competitive position in the technology sector.
The Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research (DAIR) program is offered by CANARIE, operator of Canada's Advanced Research and Innovation Network, in partnership with two other leading technology organizations, Compute Canada, and Cybera. It is designed to help entrepreneurs develop and test new products without prohibitive product development costs, so that Canadian companies can get a competitive foothold in emerging technology markets. The goal is to support hundreds of projects across Canada over the next three years.
"Building or even paying for computing infrastructure can be a huge cost and time impediment for high-tech innovators. The DAIR program effectively removes that hurdle," says Jim Roche, President and CEO of CANARIE. "All Canadian entrepreneurs should think about how this rapid access to low-cost cloud computing can help them improve their businesses."
Current users of DAIR have great things to say about the value of the program.
"A startup like ours is very sensitive to incurring costs, especially in high-risk R&D activities like moving to the cloud infrastructure," says Dr. Shahzad Khan, President of Gnowit Inc, a digital-media/social-networking developer. "DAIR enabled us to experiment with the cloud infrastructure for a fraction of the cost (and at a much lower risk-profile) than if we had used one of the commercial offerings — indeed, we may never have had the incentive to consider this without the DAIR program — which would have limited our growth significantly."
Dr. David Poellhuber, COO of ZEROSPAM Security Inc., points out that it's vitally important for tech entrepreneurs to keep pace with emerging technologies. "There is an important shift in our market to cloud-based solution as organizations realize the hidden costs of software and appliance-based solutions," he says. "I wish I had known this program existed before."
"This is exactly the kind of program that Canada needs in order to compete in today's digital economy," says John Reid, President and CEO of Canada's Advanced Technology Alliance. "It leverages existing infrastructure, builds skills, and gives a competitive edge to Canadian entrepreneurs."
The Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research (DAIR) Program provides an R&D environment that supports Canada's tech innovators and entrepreneurs in designing, prototyping, validating, and demonstrating their new technology applications, products and services.
An initial DAIR pilot program, which supported 42 Canadian companies in 2011 and 2012, was considered highly successful by users. The current launch is based on positive feedback from pilot users.
Companies apply to the program through an online form. They need to outline the purpose and scope of the product they are developing, and the scale of resources being requested, such as data requirements and number of virtual machines.
Cost: Use of the DAIR program is limited to one year. Users may request up to four "cores" at no cost for that year. A core is an independent central processing unit that can read and execute program instructions. Additional cores are available at $100 each for the year.