The Governor General's Innovation Awards are an annual celebration of innovations that exemplify excellence and help improve the quality of life in Canada and around the world.

The program operates on an annual cycle, with an awards ceremony held in May.

Each year since 2016, up to six award winners are identified through a two-stage, merit-based selection process. The Office of the Secretary to the Governor General and the Rideau Hall Foundation oversee the execution of all aspects of the program.

Who is eligible to receive an Award?

Nominees must be living Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Posthumous nominations are not eligible. Nominees may be from any sector of activity – the arts, sciences, business, not-for-profit or community-based, for example.

Nominees can be at any stage in their life or career. The aim is to have at least one young innovator among the winners who is 30 years of age or younger and who, individually or as leader of a team and/or organization, has been undertaking exceptional, transformative and innovative activities.

The innovations for which nominees are proposed must be demonstrably having an active impact in the economy or society.

How are Nominations Made?

Nominations are sought through a national network of organizations that have been designated as nominating partners. Organizations interested in becoming nominating partners can contact the Rideau Hall Foundation at

While nominating partners are not limited in the number of nominations they can submit, they are encouraged to be highly selective, and only put forward nominations in keeping with the objectives of the awards program while satisfying all of the selection criteria.

To respect privacy, nominations are not made public.

Can I Nominate Someone for this Award?

Nominations are only accepted from the nominating partners. If appropriate, you may wish to contact one of these organizations to suggest nominations that fit the selection criteria.

Selection Criteria

In addition to being assessed on whether the innovations are truly exceptional and transformative, and are having an active and positive impact on society, nominations are assessed based on the following specific selection criteria:

  • Inspiration – how the process leading to this innovation, its implementation and its developer(s) inspire future innovators in Canada
  • Leadership – evidence of initiative, collaboration, risk-taking and problem-solving in the process of developing and implementing the innovation
  • Impact – demonstration of the impact the innovation is having because of its successful implementation in the sector, economy, society or culture

Selection of Award Winners

All eligible nominations are received by the Rideau Hall Foundation and undergo a two-stage merit-review selection process involving an Assessment Committee and a Selection Committee.

The Assessment Committee members are recruited for their knowledge in private, public and social innovation. By thoroughly examining each nomination, the committee determines to what degree the nominees meet the specific selection criteria. The committee is assisted by field-specific experts from across Canada who provide advice on the transformative nature of the innovations embodied in each nomination. The committee members then identify up to 20 top nominations from all those submitted by the nominating partners. This group of nominees is recommended to the Selection Committee as finalists for the Governor General’s Innovation Awards.

The Selection Committee is composed of distinguished individuals chosen for their expertise in and breadth of understanding of Canadian innovation. The committee members examine the list of finalists and select up to six award winners whose work exemplifies innovations that are truly exceptional, transformative and are having a positive impact on society, and who best meet the selection criteria.

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