Canadian businesses are now able to access free cloud-computing resources, thanks to a program designed to reduce product development costs for entrepreneurs looking to develop and test new products before bringing them to market.
The Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research program (DAIR) is offered by CANARIE, operator of Canada’s Advanced Research and Innovation Network, in partnership with Compute Canada and <a href="http://www.cybera.ca/" target="_blank" Cybera. It aims to support hundreds of projects 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,” said Jim Roche, President and CEO of CANARIE, in a statement. “All Canadian entrepreneurs should think about how this rapid access to low-cost cloud computing can help them improve their businesses.”
The program is already up and running, and one user has been Gnowit Inc., a digital-media/social-networking startup based in Ottawa. Its president, Shahzad Khan, said in a statement that as a startup they’re very sensitive to incurring costs, especially in high-risk R&D activities like moving to the cloud.
“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,” said Khan.
DAIR provides an R&D environment for designing, prototyping, validating, and demonstrating new technology applications, products and services. A pilot program supported 42 Canadian companies in 2011 and 2012.
Companies apply through an online form, outlining the purpose and scope of their proposed product and the data resources they need. Use of the program is limited to one year, during which users can request up to four cores at no cost, and purchase more for $100 for the year.
“This is exactly the kind of program that Canada needs in order to compete in today’s digital economy,” said John Reid, President and CEO of Canada’s Advanced Technology Alliance, in a statement. “It leverages existing infrastructure, builds skills, and gives a competitive edge to Canadian entrepreneurs.”