How to Get Started with Canadian Government Funding

Canadian government funding is a powerful resource that helps action-oriented companies respond to market opportunities. It offers the potential for financial support towards project-related expenses that lead meet the government funding program’s objectives such as accessing new markets, developing innovative products, and improving productivity, among others. When used strategically, it can greatly improve a business competitiveness and growth trajectory.

However, getting started with government grants and loans can be a confusing and time-demanding process. Researching programs can be challenging for most businesses inexperienced with funding. This shouldn’t be a barrier preventing your business from applying though; business funding resources exist to make the funding discovery process easier and more efficient.

When businesses are new to the government funding process, there is significant research that needs to be done. This includes considering the program’s eligibility criteria (who can apply), contribution amount (how much funding is available) and timelines (when applications need to be submitted), among other key variables.

Basic Eligibility for Canadian Government Funding Programs

Canadian small business funding is usually designated for incorporated and established firms with a track record of profitability. Although each funding program has its own unique eligibility criteria, most initiatives require applicants to be well-established businesses. This decreases investment risk and ensures that the funds are being used to maximum effectiveness.

Although early-stage businesses are generally excluded from these types of small business funding programs, startup funding is available for this specific segment. Many startup funds are competition-based; this makes researching available opportunities even more important.

The following video will help you understand these basic eligibility criteria, as well as some other helpful tips:

How to Research and Evaluate Canadian Government Funding Programs

There are several details that can be used to define Canadian government funding programs. Some of these criteria include:

  • Funding Amount: The amount of money a project can receive through the program. This is often expressed as a percentage of project expenses and an upper limit on the amount that can be awarded.
  • Business Eligibility: The type of businesses that can apply for funding. This is often a request for specific industries, such as industrial or technology-related sectors.
  • Project Eligibility: The type of projects that can be awarded with funding. This is often a request for specific activities, such as facility expansion or expanding into new markets.
  • Expense Eligibility: The types of expenses that can be offset through funding. This will note specific cost items such as materials, labour, equipment, and training fees.
  • Timeline: When applications are due, how long the review/approval process takes, and when projects must be finished by in order to access funding.

Example: Get Started with the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)

Mentor Works makes it easy to research many of Canada’s top business funding programs because we’ve already summarized many of these details.

Our Canadian government funding program directory is a good place to start; from here, business leaders can find and access more information about grants and loans. By clicking on a program name (such as the Strategic Innovation Fund), you’ll be taken to a page that provides core details. It’ll look like this:

  1. Program Description: A summary of the program, including what it’s for and who needs to be involved.
  2. Program Details: An overview of the program’s funding contribution, eligibility criteria, timeline, and other essential details needed to evaluate the program’s fit.
  3. Program Resources: A directory of blog articles and other resources to guide additional program research.
  4. Inquire About the Program: Ready to get started? Have a question about the program? Head over to our contact page and we’ll respond to your inquiry within 2 business days.

Next Step: Build a Government Funding Plan

Once a few programs have been identified to support your business’ upcoming projects, the best way to follow through is to establish a formalized application plan. These could detail topics such as when your business will apply (to meet program deadlines), what outcomes are required from the project (if successful with funding), and if multiple programs can be stacked together to increase the amount of funding received.

We’ve covered the process of developing a government funding plan extensively in our free slide deck, How to Build a Proactive Funding Plan™. Once you’ve gotten started with funding research, this resource will help see you through to application submission.

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Written by

Jeff Shepherd holds an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration at the University of Guelph. He is passionate about Canadian business, economics, and politics. As Marketing Coordinator for Mentor Works, Jeff educates business leaders about proactive funding strategies.

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