Businesses around the province will once again have an opportunity to increase productivity and innovation by working with educational institutions in the province. The Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism is launching the fourth year of the Productivity and Innovation Voucher program. “The voucher program continues to be a successful program that receives a lot of interest from small- and medium-sized businesses around the province,” said John MacDonell, acting Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism. “This program is an example of how jobsHere, the plan to grow our economy, is helping businesses become more competitive.” The voucher program provides up to $15,000 for businesses to obtain assistance from Nova Scotia universities and colleges with services and advice on areas including applied research, engineering services, prototyping and field testing. “This program enabled us to undertake a project we’d been wanting to do for a couple of years — create an online writing centre for business and technology professionals,” said Dawn Henwood, president of Watchword Learning Inc., a company that designs, develops, and delivers writing training for technology professionals, business people, government employees, and entrepreneurs. “We were thrilled to have the opportunity to work with expert instructional designers at Acadia University. These advancements will allow us to eventually generate revenue without spending time in the classroom.” A core objective of the program is to help build and strengthen linkages between small business and universities and colleges. “This is a wonderful, straight-forward program that effectively serves the needs of businesses.” said Ron Robichaud, executive director, Acadia Centre for Social and Business Entrepreneurship. “By participating in this program, businesses have access to expertise from many different fields allowing them to grow and advance.” Businesses applying for program vouchers can get more information at www.gov.ns.ca/econ/pnivouchers/ . The deadline for applications is Oct. 3. Funding for the Productivity and Innovation Voucher Program was allocated in the 2011-12 provincial budget.