Canada offers several funding programs for businesses, startups, and individuals. These federal government funding schemes can support non-profits, small businesses, research institutions, and large corporations and are particularly focused on helping innovative projects get to market.

In this article, we will cover the different funding programs available in Canada, which ones are better fitted for your endeavour, and how you can apply for funding.

What is a federal funding program?

A funding program is a series of grants and incentive programs that encourage research, development and demonstration. If you qualify as a potential recipient, you can submit a proposal and request help in the form of funds, advice, or networking opportunities.

The government of Canada has numerous funding programs for various eligible projects. Although it can be tempting to apply to many, you should always research which one best fits your business and project. Keep in mind also that some programs use open calls with specific deadlines while others are always open to new applicants. Make sure you read the program guidelines, particularly the eligible expenses and limits. Many applications are rejected because they are not eligible or they are missing information.

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No business or path to growth is the same. if you have a question about which funding solution might be best suited to your business, get in touch with us today.

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What are Canada’s most popular government funding opportunities?

The government of Canada offers several funding programs for startups and small businesses. To qualify for them, you usually have to be a Canadian legal entity (this includes non-profit organizations and research institutes, too) and be able to demonstrate you have the expertise and capabilities to develop and manage one or more eligible projects.

Below are some of Canada’s most popular funding programs available presently.

Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax incentives

The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax incentives are available to businesses of all sizes and operating in all sectors. The incentives include a deduction against income and/or an investment tax credit (or ITC) that can be refundable or non-refundable. Your ITCs can be as much as 35% of your qualified SR&ED expenditures (15% for individuals), and you can carry any unused ones back three years or forward 20 years.

To claim the SR&ED tax incentive, you need to show your work can advance scientific knowledge or represent a technological advancement and that your investigation or search is carried out using experiment or analysis. Examples of eligible work categories are basic, applied, and experimental research, and work categories include engineering, design, mathematical analysis, data collection, testing, computer programing, and psychological research. You can find more about the different tax incentives for specific provincial or territorial areas here.

Accessible Technology Program funding

The Accessible Technology Program funding offers opportunities for innovative projects led by non-profits, research institutes, and the private sector. Their goal is to help develop new adaptive and assistive digital technologies and devices that can help Canadians living with disabilities participate fully in the digital economy.

This program is open to projects that can help develop new technologies that are commercially available long-term and can enhance the employability and marketability of all Canadians (but particularly those with disabilities). For example, you can apply for this program if you are working on assistive technologies or workshops and events open to the public. Read more about this funding opportunity here.

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No business’ path to success and growth is the same. If you are ready to apply or would like to learn more about our funding, get in touch today.

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Global Innovation Clusters

Canada invests in five main clusters that can help the country build innovative eco-systems with a unique competitive edge. The clusters (or areas of intense business activity) are digital technology, protein industries, advanced manufacturing, scale AI, and ocean, each with its own application process. All opportunities are, however, open to members from academia, industry, accelerators and incubators, large and small companies, Indigenous groups, and non-profit organisations.

The program has over 490 approved projects, 2,100 partners and has co-invested over 2.19 billion dollars in different industries. Among the services provided by the Global Innovation Cluster initiative are funding, expert advice, and networking opportunities. You can think of this program as a sort of Silicon Valley-style initiative but with companies made in Canada. Learn more about these possibilities here.

Innovative Solutions Canada

Innovative Solutions Canada is a set of two funding streams dedicated to helping Canadian innovators create new products and get them to market. The program regularly launches new initiatives designed to fund novel projects. For example, the latest ones include funding opportunities for respiratory disease therapeutics, microplastic mitigation, and concussion detection.

The goal of this program is to help Canadian innovators solve specific challenges. They can, for instance, help you prove the feasibility of your designed solution and create a prototype or test it in real-life settings. You can set the parameters of your challenge and outline your desired outcomes, receive advice, and access services to help innovate and create jobs. You can find more information about this program here.

Canada’s Regional Development Agencies (or RDAs)

The country’s different regional development agencies are part of the Government of Canada’s Innovations and Skills Plan, an ambitious effort to make the country a world-leading innovation centre. Its goal is to advance and diversify regional economies, helping the different communities thrive.

There are seven RDAs: ACOA (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency), CED (Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions), CanNor (Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency), FedDev Ontario (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario), FedNor (Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario), PrairiesCan (Prairies Economic Development Canada), and PacifiCan (Pacific Economic Development Canada). They all support business, innovation, and community development across the country and aim to help create the perfect conditions for the development of strong and inclusive regional economies. Learn more about them here.

Have a question?

No business’ path to success and growth is the same. If you are ready to apply or would like to learn more about our funding, get in touch today.

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Strategic Science Fund (SSF)

The Strategic Science Fund is a program created with the goal of mobilising the resources and expertise of third-party, independent science and research organisations. The goal is to enhance Canada’s science, innovation, and technological excellence through allocating funding to TPOs with transparent and competitive processes. The program addresses, in particular, critical needs such as research, talent acquisition and retention, knowledge mobilisation, and the strengthening of culture.

In order to apply for funding, you will need to demonstrate your investment will add value to federal science, technology, and innovation (STI) while remaining aligned with core federal priorities and responsibilities. You will also be required to demonstrate your project’s impact and potential presence at the national level. You can learn more about the SSF here. 

Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP)

This program focuses on helping businesses gain an e-commerce presence and digitise their operations more easily. The funding is available to individuals and companies and also offers excellent training opportunities for young Canadians. For example, you can access events and webinars on digital marketing, e-commerce, operation efficiency, and business productivity and get cyber-certified or become a digital advisor. Read more about the program here.

Accelerated Growth Service (AGS)

The AGS is a program designed to help entrepreneurs and small businesses scale by providing specialised support. The initiative uses Innovation Advisors that can help you understand and take advantage of government opportunities; for example, how to handle your financing better or break into foreign markets. The only condition is that your business is rooted in Canada. Learn more about this service through this link.

Have a question?

No business’ path to success and growth is the same. If you are ready to apply or would like to learn more about our funding, get in touch today.

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What to include in your government funding application

Most applications for government funding have similar requirements. These include:

  • The business description
  • The number of employees
  • The incorporation documents
  • At least three years of financial statements

In some cases, a program officer will also request a detailed breakdown of expenses, any risks associated with your startup of the business, market research, and the benefits your company will provide for Canada.

Frequently asked questions

What is grant advance funding?

Companies that are leveraging government funding opportunities can access grant capital in advance. This strategy also referred to as ‘grant-based funding’, can allow you to retain equity, maintain timelines, and complete grant milestones more quickly.

Most government funding is eligible for grant advance funding (provided your company has already been approved and you have all relevant documentation). The loan usually needs to be at least £40k, of which you will be able to access up to 90%.

What is an R&D tax credit loan?

R&D tax credit is a type of government program for companies in innovative fields. This incentive consists primarily of tax deductions and tax credits that can result in a significant deduction on expenses related to research and development.

SMEs can typically access R&D tax credit schemes provided they have less than 500 employees and their turnover is under €100m (you can still use this program if you are a larger company, but at a lower and more limited return). If you are a limited liability company that has invested a lot in R&D, you can usually apply for a refund of up to 33% of your expenditure.

Have a question?

No business’ path to success and growth is the same. If you are ready to apply or would like to learn more about our funding, get in touch today.

Contact us