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Summative Evaluation of the Southern Ontario Prosperity Programs


FedDev Ontario


Program Evaluation, Impact Measurement and Management

Background and Challenge

The Government of Canada created the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) with a mandate to strengthen Southern Ontario's economic capacity for innovation, entrepreneurship, and collaboration, and promote the development of a strong and diversified Southern Ontario economy. The Southern Ontario Prosperity Program (SOPP) served as the Agency's core program for its second five-year mandate (2014-15 to 2018-19). The SOPP consisted of the Eastern Ontario Development Program (EODP), the Advanced Manufacturing Fund (AMF) and four programs grouped under the Southern Ontario Prosperity Initiatives (SOPIs) including the Investing in Business Innovation (IBI) initiative, the Investing in Business Growth and Productivity (IBGP) initiative, the Investing in Commercialization Partnerships (ICP) initiative, and the Investing in Regional Diversification (IRD) initiative. As of March 31, 2019, 201 projects had been approved under these programs, with approved funding totaling $704 million.

The purpose of this study was to conduct an interim evaluation of the SOPP, focusing on its relevance, effectiveness, design, and delivery.

Approach and Recommendations

Key lines of evidence included a document and literature review (focused primarily on program relevance); a review of project and program financial data; surveys of 114 project proponents, 16 applicants not approved for funding, and 264 beneficiary organizations that received financial or other assistance funded by FedDev Ontario but delivered by a third-party organization; interviews with 36 key informants; and case studies of eight projects involving a document and data review as well as interviews with 8 FedDev Ontario project officers and 16 proponents, partners, and beneficiaries associated with the projects.

The evaluation also involved a review of 34 consortia projects, which updated and expanded the results of a similar review conducted in 2016. The methodology for the update included a review of project documents and data, case studies covering 10 projects or groups of related projects, site visits to 8 of the projects, and interviews or surveys with 90 representatives associated with the 34 projects. We delivered a presentation of the major findings, conclusions, and recommendations arising from the evaluation to representatives of FedDev Ontario.


The final report included an analysis of data collected by our team as part of the interim report in 2017 and focused on demonstrating the program's relevance, the effectiveness of design and delivery, and program impacts. The recommendations arising from the evaluation focused on enhancing support for certain target groups and areas, particularly women, Indigenous businesses, youth entrepreneurs and rural regions, and further strengthening performance measurements to better demonstrate the impacts achieved. The project was completed on time and within budget.

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