Innovator Skills Initiative

The Innovator Skills Initiative provides up to $10,000 to help employers hire a new employee. The program helps under-represented people get their first job in B.C.’s tech sector and supports companies facing skills shortages to grow and expand.

Currently this program is not accepting new applications. You may consider applying to the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) Work Integrated Learning Digital Program which offers a similar hiring grant for employers hiring students with domestic status . If you have any questions please contact ICTC.

More Information

The Innovator Skills Initiative is designed to increase diversity in the tech sector and help B.C.-based businesses fill talent shortages and grow. The program provides grants to employers that are hiring for tech or tech-related roles.

The program aims to help more under-represented people get their first job in the tech sector by ensuring placements for under-represented people are available.

Employers will offer valuable paid work experience to prepare individuals for ongoing employment.  

 Employers can receive:

  • A maximum of one grant of up to $10,000 per candidate per company to supplement a new employee’s salary
  • Up to 10 grants for 10 different employees per year

Innovate BC will provide employers with links to resources to support them in recruiting, retaining, and developing employees who self-identify as under-represented.

Innovator Skills Initiative funding is available to employers through Innovate BC’s program as well as through partner programs including:

Employer Eligibility

  • A B.C.-based tech company or non-profit hiring for a business or tech role
  • A B.C.-based non-tech company or non-profit hiring for a tech role
  • A B.C.-based post-secondary institution hiring for a tech role
  • A B.C.-based local/regional authority or Indigenous community hiring for a tech role

Intern Eligibility

  • Self-identifies as belonging to an under-represented group:
    • Indigenous
    • Black and people of colour
    • Neuro-diverse
    • Persons living with a visible or invisible disability
    • Women
    • Youth from care
    • Non-binary
    • Other
  • Must be eligible to work in B.C.
  • Has completed training or education on or after December 1, 2019, whether at a post-secondary institute or through other recognized pathways.

Placement Eligibility

  • Must be at minimum a 4-month period
  • Must start no earlier than June 1, 2021 and end no later than July 15, 2022.
  • Must have a start date no later than March 15, 2022.
  • May be part-time or full-time
  • Application deadline: March 11, 2022
  • Earliest hire date: June 1, 2021 
  • Latest hire start date: March 15, 2022
  • Latest work placement end date: July 15, 2022
  1. Read the Program Guidelines
  2. Submit the Application Form

Innovate BC has a number of grants that require employers to hire skilled workers. To help employers find the right candidate, here is a list of organizations that have available skilled workers. 

If you’re interested in hiring tech talent, please reach out to a contact below with your job description and the Innovate BC program you applied for. 

  • BrainStation connects employers with their talent network. Interested employers can join their network here:  BrainStation Talent Network. To connect with the Talent network, interested employers can reach out to Meaghen Gutelius at
  • Jelly Academy connects employers with their talent network. Interested employers can reach out to Chris Penner at 
  • Lighthouse Labs connects employers with their network. Interested employers can reach out to Meri Ghazaryan at
  • WithYouWithMe (WYWM) focuses on driving training and employment outcomes. As a social impact organization, WYWM was created with the mission of solving underemployment in underrepresented groups of people, by matching individuals to new digital careers based on their skills.
    If you are looking for tech talent or to upskill your own internal employees based on their skills, reach out to
  • Palette Skills is a national talent platform that meets the needs of Canada’s most innovative companies by helping them source the talent they need. Through public-private partnerships, we identify major skills gaps and build industry-driven upskilling programs that expand the available talent pool for companies competing in today’s digital economy. Interested employers can contact Trevor Roald at for more information about our recent SalesCamp graduates.
  • NPower Canada launches diverse youth and adults into meaningful digital careers. Participants complete technical skills training, industry certification, job placement services, post-hire mentorship and continuing education. Graduates are prepared for many roles such as QA Analyst, Help Desk Agent, Business Analyst, Jr. Software Developer and Information Security Specialist and have been hired by companies such as Accenture, CGI, CIBC, RBC and Teleperformance. To learn more, please contact Derek Darch, National Director, Employer Engagement, NPower Canada at or 647-689-5850 ext 109. 
  • Empowered for Employment can connect employers with recent graduates 55+ from their vocational training programs in accounting, delivered through the Vancouver Community College. Many graduates also have prior high qualifications in additional areas. Contact Nina Rihal, Employer Liaison at or 604-209-4370 for more information.


How long does it take to process an application?

Each individual step (Employer Application, Employee Confirmation and Employee Intake) in the application process takes up to 15 business days to process. The Employer will be notified of their application status via email shortly after review.

Can I apply to receive a grant before I hire an Employee?

Yes. Note that the latest start date for a hire is March 15, 2022.

Can I apply after the work term has already started?

Employers can apply for a grant retroactively for work terms that started in the past, with a start date no earlier than June 1, 2021. The application must be submitted before the minimum 4-month work placement is complete.

Are we eligible for a grant if we received other funding for the employee?

Yes, grant stacking is permitted as long as the combined value of all grant funding does not exceed the employee’s salary. Limitations apply: Grants supported by Innovator Skills Initiative funds through our partners (e.g. Mitacs and ICTC) are not eligible for the same employee at the same time.

Can I hire someone from outside of B.C.?

No. An employee must reside in B.C. in order to be eligible.

What is the definition of ‘immediate family’?

‘Immediate family’ means father, mother, step-father, step-mother, foster parent, brother, sister, spouse or common-law partner, child – including child of common-law partner, step-child, ward, father-in-law, mother-in-law, or any relative permanently residing with the recipient or the employer.

Are international students on work permits/visas eligible for the program?

Yes, if they are authorized in writing to work in Canada under the federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. In addition, the student must be 16-years of age or older as per B.C.’s Employment Standards Act.

Can I submit a claim before the placement term is completed?

Yes, on a case-by-case basis. If you have reached $10,000 in salary payments and a minimum of 3 months has passed, contact us to inquire about submitting for early claim.


Success Stories

Learn more about how our talent programs helped these B.C. companies