Waterloo micro-drone maker Aeryon Labs Inc. received a boost today from a federal government program that helps commercialize Canadian innovations.

Peter Braid, Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo, visited Aeryon’s facility to announce that the lightweight, easy-to-fly Scout surveillance drone has been pre-qualified for support under the Canadian Innovation Commercialization Program (CICP).

The $40-million program, established in 2010, helps move companies along by identifying innovations that can be tested and promoted for government use before they are widely commercialized.

The unmanned Aeryon Scout is one of 36 innovations to pre-qualify for support under the program’s second round. The government backed 27 new technologies in the program’s first round.

“This is a vote of confidence from the Government of Canada to the small enterprise and a boost to our local economy. This program is great news for us,” said Chuck Lownie, Aeryon’s vice-president for sales.

“Supporting Canada’s economy is our Number 1 priority, and today’s announcement is great news for the workers at Aeryon Labs,” Braid said. “Our government is putting its support behind their innovation designed right here in Waterloo and bringing them one step closer in moving their innovations into domestic and international markets.”

Aeryon, profiled last summer by Communitech, was founded in 2007 and has been steadily gaining altitude in the public consciousness through a series of high-profile deployments of its rugged and nimble Scout, which is easily flown using a tablet computer.

The battery-powered Scout was used to monitor oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico from an underwater BP well in 2010, and the drone’s use by Libyan rebels last August in their drive to topple the dictatorial regime of Moammar Gadhafi made international headlines.

More recently, officials in Alaska used the Scout to help guide a Russian tanker into the icebound port of Nome to deliver a crucial fuel shipment to the town.