May 26, 2022

The idea incubator: everything you need to know about the Northern Ideas Development Program

Wide-shot of a sunset over a Baffin Island community in Nunavut, Canada.

By Evergreen

Got a great idea for solving a supply chain issue that impacts housing in Canada's northern and remote regions?

The Housing Supply Challenge – Northern Access Round, an initiative of the Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) wants to hear it. They’re looking for submissions from small businesses. Innovative individuals. Tiny towns. Non-profits. For-profits. Anyone with a workable idea to help northern and remote communities reduce cost, time, and risk related to the building and maintaining of their housing supply.

CMHC recognizes that northern and remote communities often deal with unique challenges and can face additional barriers to complete funding applications. A new supporting program was essential to this round to ensure diverse and equitable representation of northern and remote voices.

In addition to the Applicant Support Program, led by Evergreen, which offers guidance mentorship and resources to potential applicants who have a fleshed-out solution and the capacity to apply on their own, applicants for this round also have access to the Northern Ideas Development Program (NIDP). Run by Indigenous-owned consulting firm Innovation 7, this unique hands-on program helps northern and remote applicants who have a solution (or problem) that they want to explore to develop their submission and find collaborators.

About the NIDP

 The Northern Ideas Development Program is in place to ensure anyone who wants to can apply. “The more ideas there are, the better,” says Dale Booth, founder of Innovation 7.

“Our goal is to ensure the greatest number of applicants go forward with a complete, quality application that has the best possible chance of success.”


Before founding his consultancy, Booth worked in infrastructure development with P3 Canada—an infrastructure partnership that harnesses private innovation to enhance public offerings– and what he learned there shaped his vision for the NIDP. “I always thought there should be an application optimization program for bidders,” he says.

“They’d spend all this time and money getting their submissions prepared – offering insights and feedback along the way would have been so valuable. So that’s what I’ve created with the NIDP: an incubator that levels the playing field for applicants.”

Who’s eligible for the NIDP?

The program is for you if you’re from a northern or remote community or have a solution that is applicable to that region, and…

  • You’ve identified a supply chain solution and need help developing it further
  • You have a supply chain problem and want help finding a solution
  • You’d like support putting together a team or partnership
  • You need a hand developing your submission
  • You don’t have the resources or capacity to do it yourself, or you’re planning to use consultant to develop your submission for you

Not sure if you’re the right fit for the program? Contact Booth and his team to learn more.

How the NIDP works

One-on-one support. The NIDP offers individualized support catered to the specific needs and experiences of northern and remote communities, including scheduled check-ins to ensure applications keep moving forward.

Connecting partners for better solutions. One of the mandates of the Northern Access Round is that each applicant team has to commit to working alongside members of northern or remote region’s communities, organizations or groups: they are the ones living it. However, great ideas can come from anywhere, and there are excellent proposals coming in from southern regions. The NIDP connects those applicants with northern partners in a collaborative approach that brings together the best of all worlds. “Say a community comes to us with a problem: supplies that arrived after construction season had to be stored, and stuff got stolen or damaged over the winter,” says Booth. “We define what supply chain issues they’re facing – whether it’s financing, storage, logistics or what have you – and pair them up with a southern applicant with an appropriate idea.”

Innovation 7 works in close partnership with Evergreen. Run side-by-side, the two programs have a collaborative approach to ensure that all potential applicants receive adequate support as they develop their ideas and seek partnerships.

Booth has been inspired by the diverse solutions shared by potential applicants – from innovative construction technology to solutions in transportation, storage, logistics, and overall systems management. “All these remarkable ideas have given me a newfound respect for Canadian innovation,” says Booth.

“I’m seeing that every problem that exists out there right now has a concept that could solve it, and I have real confidence that we can figure all of this out, as long as we keep working together.”

Questions about applying? Here’s a quick list of helpful resources

Read: 5 things applicants should know before applying

Read: Tips for submitting your application

Read: Northern Round FAQ

Contact Innovation 7 or Evergreen directly.

Finding this resource useful?

We’ve got hundreds more toolkits, videos, podcasts and reports available for free. Simply register now and you’ll get full access to our library of world class city building resources.