Tech businesses across Canada can apply for free cloud-computing resources through a program that's designed to boost Canada’s competitive position in the technology sector.
Over the next three years, the initiative will help tech entrepreneurs develop and test new products without facing steep product development costs associated with designing, prototyping, validating, and demonstrating their new technology applications, products and services.
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.
“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,” described 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.”
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. Individual uses of the DAIR program are limited to one year. Users may request up to four “cores” at no cost for that year; each core is an independent central processing unit that can read and execute program instructions.
Additional cores are available at $100 each for the year.
An initial DAIR pilot program, which supported 42 Canadian companies in 2011 and 2012, was considered highly successful by the users, and the current initiative builds on the positive feedback received from early adopters.
“A start-up like ours is very sensitive to incurring costs, especially in high-risk R&D activities like moving to the cloud infrastructure,” said 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.”