Early Stage Exporters Ontario Small Business Grants

Please Note: The Early Stage Exporters program is no longer accepting applications. Please explore the Export Market Access (EMA) program for exporting grants.

Administered by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and FedDev Ontario, the Early Stage Exporters program is a variant of the Export Market Access Ontario government funding initiative to help fund key international marketing and product certification activities. Early Stage Exporters helps small and mid-sized businesses (SMEs) to develop and grow export markets and increase the amount of Ontario products that are exported and sold globally.

SMEs may receive up to 50% of eligible project expenses to a maximum of $30,000 in Ontario government grants.

Early Stage Exporters is specifically designed to meet the needs of small businesses in Ontario. Businesses applying for the fund should be earning $300k-$500k annually to be included in this category. If your business earns more than $500,000 annually, Export Market Access (EMA) provides a separate government grant, which will assist your mature business in a similar fashion to the Early Stage Exporters fund.

Small Business Eligibility for Early Stage Exporters Ontario Government Grants

Small businesses wishing to leverage these government grants must first be deemed eligible. Please consider the following program requirements prior to applying for Early Stage Exporters. Businesses must:

  • Be located and produce products in Ontario;
  • Be in business for at least two years (financials required);
  • Generate $300,000 – $500,000 in annual revenue;
  • Provide employment for at least 3 people;
  • Have $2 million in commercial general liability insurance; and
  • Have market-ready products to be exported, and capacity to fill export market demand.

Furthermore, high-priority businesses that are most likely to receive funding will fall in one of the following industries:

  • Advanced manufacturing;
  • Aerospace and aviation;
  • Clean technologies;
  • Exportable professional services (such as architecture, engineering, and urban planning);
  • Information technologies (hardware and software, including digital media);
  • Construction; and
  • Medical and pharmaceutical.

Early Stage Exporters Grants Ontario: Project Eligibility

Eligible businesses must also ensure that their project meets basic Early Stage Exporters requirements. Small business grants are available to businesses seeking to implement the following projects:

  • Development of direct contacts in export markets (including trade shows);
  • Development of marketing tools;
  • Conducting market research;
  • Product testing and certification for foreign sale; and
  • Bidding on foreign projects.

Cost Eligibility for Government Business Grants

Early Stage Exporters will provide up to 50% of eligible costs to a maximum of $30k in Ontario business grants. Eligible costs, that may be recovered, include:

  • Economy travel costs and up to $125 daily per diem allowance per representative for up to 2 representatives while outside of Canada;
  • Tradeshow booth rental & necessary exhibition costs;
  • Creation and distribution of tradeshow marketing materials;
  • Freight costs associated with trade show materials, booth, etc.;
  • Product testing to achieve foreign national standards;
  • External consulting fees related to gathering market intelligence; and
  • In-market office rental (less than one year to a maximum of $5,000).

Expenses Ineligible to Receive Early Stage Exporters Grants Ontario

  • Any activities not directly related to developing an export market;
  • Consultants’ travel expenses;
  • Website domain and hosting fees;
  • Salaries and commissions;
  • Entertainment and hospitality;
  • Taxes;
  • Capital costs such as office equipment and machinery;
  • Development of electronic promotions (such as e-newsletters, e-commerce portals, and online journals);
  • Postage or courier fees;
  • Modification of existing products to meet foreign standards; and
  • Purchase of previously existing software.

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Jeff 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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