Business Grants Alberta: Top Funding Programs for Growth Projects
Alberta business grants and loans are an ideal way to support your organization’s upcoming strategic projects. Funded through the provincial and federal governments, there are a wide range of incentives that companies can use to offset costs and improve growth potential. It’s beneficial for businesses to create a plan of what to apply to and when to apply for it, so understanding the entire funding landscape is essential.
Business owners and executives from Alberta should proactively search for and develop a plan to use government grants and loans. This helps streamline the application process.
Before you can develop a plan to access funding programs, you must first understand what types of funding programs are available in the government funding landscape. The ideal, strategic use of government funding programs seeks to combine a range of incentives across multiple growth opportunities. To help you understand how to build government funding into your business’ strategy, use the funding programs below, sorted by investment category.
Business Grants Alberta: Funding for All Areas of Growth
Alberta business grants and loans can directly support a company’s strategic growth projects. Not only do they expand budgets and enable more projects to be completed, they also help improve project return-on-investment (ROI) and lead to spin-off benefits that wouldn’t be possible through smaller, more narrow-focused projects.
Consider how the grants and loans listed below can support your upcoming growth and investment projects:
Growth Opportunity #1: Hiring and Training
Hiring and training grants can help Alberta companies develop higher-skilled teams. Top incentives include:
Canada-Alberta Job Grant (CAJG)
The Canada-Alberta Job Grant helps employers directly offset third-party training costs. Employers get to choose a training program that meets their needs, select the employees they wish to receive training, then access funding to recover a portion of training fees. Read More
- Amount: Non-repayable grant contributions of 66% of training costs (e.g. course, exams, textbooks, software resources, etc.) up to a max limit of $10k per trainee. A maximum of $300,000 in small business grants may be awarded each year.
- Eligibility: Alberta-based SME with $2M liability insurance. Trainee must be a resident of Alberta, permanent Canadian citizen, or granted refugee status.
Hiring Grants for Student Interns and Recent Graduates
Hiring grants are widely available across Canada to help onboard new young employees. Funding is generally aligned to the type of candidate hired and how long they work for your company; less funding is available to hire interns while more funding is available to support recent graduates. Read More
- Amount: Depends on candidate type. Interns/Co-op students may help businesses leverage incentives of $5,000 to $7,000 per incremental new hire. Recent graduates may help businesses leverage incentives of $12,000 to $15,000 per new hire.
- Eligibility: Canadian for-profits and non-profits with the capacity to provide meaningful work experiences. Candidates should be in (or have recently graduated from) a business or STEM education program.
Growth Opportunity #2: Research and Development
Alberta businesses can expand innovative R&D projects while minimizing costs by accessing research grants and loans such as:
Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP)
The Industrial Research Assistance Program offers funding for technical or research-oriented projects to solve an internal innovation challenge. Funding supports software implementation, productivity improvements, and production design or marketing projects. Not suited for training projects. Read More
- Amount: Up to $10M non-repayable grant with 80% of direct labour and 50% of sub-contractor expenses.
- Eligibility: 1-500 people on payroll, two years incorporated with internal technical R&D expertise.
Protein Industries Canada Supercluster Funding
The Protein Industries Canada program supports collaborative product or process research, technology development, and export market development projects related to expanding Canada’s plant-based protein sector. Read More
- Amount: Offsets up to 50% of eligible project expenses with no defined maximum contribution. Remaining project funds must be supported by at least two project partners.
- Eligibility: Must have a minimum of two project partners; all must be PIC members.
NGen Manufacturing Supercluster Funding
The NGen Manufacturing program supports collaborative technology development and application projects that help Canadian manufacturing companies compete globally. Read More
- Amount: Offsets up to 44.4% of eligible project expenses. Project costs should be between $1M and $20M, providing non-repayable funding of approximately $444,000 to $8,880,000.
- Eligibility: Open to all industries and sectors. Must have a minimum of three private-sector project partners; lead partner and participants must be NGen members.
Alberta Innovates Research Funding Programs
Alberta Innovates provides research grants and other financial incentives to offset the costs of performing R&D in collaboration with academic researchers, other businesses, and public institutions. There are several research and development funding programs provided; all of them accelerate projects so that innovations can be commercialized faster. Read More
- Amount: Varies depending on project focus/program.
- Eligibility: Varies depending on project focus/program.
Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS)
IDEaS is a federal government procurement program. Administered through the Department of National Defence (DND), it seeks pre-commercial military and defence technologies that have the potential to address current challenges faced by Canada’s Armed Forces. Read More
- Amount: Dependent on the challenge being responded to (i.e. the CFP/RFP) – Maximum $20M per project.
- Eligibility: All organization types are eligible to apply. Applicants must demonstrate at least 50% Canadian content for goods and services.
Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC)
ISC provides government grants and procurement contracts to stimulate technology research, development, and commercialization. The program helps startups and small/medium-sized businesses (SMEs) overcome technology development hurdles so that they can produce globally-demanded products and services, while also improving government operations. Read More
- Amount: Phase 1: Grants up to $150k; Phase 2: Grants up to $1M; Phase 3: Government procurement contracts with no fixed maximum.
- Eligibility: For-profit, privately held Canadian businesses with fewer than 499 FTE employees.
Growth Opportunity #3: Business and Export Expansion
When it comes to expanding production capacity and moving goods across national/international borders, Canadian government funding can help. Some top programs to support this area include:
Canadian Agricultural Partnership Alberta
The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) is a federal-provincial-territorial government funding program providing many streams of financial support. Its suite of programs offered to Alberta businesses and organizations supports the growth and competitiveness of Alberta agriculture. Read More
- Amount: Varies depending on project focus/stream.
- Eligibility: Varies depending on project focus/stream. Some streams are exclusive to agricultural producers while others offer funding to agricultural groups and organizations.
CanExport provides support for export marketing and international expansion activities. The program helps exporters improve their sales and brand exposure in international markets through trade shows and marketing activities, packaging modifications, and market research. Read More
- Amount: Up to 50% of eligible expenses or $10,000-$50,000 in cost matching funds per application. Up to two applications can be submitted per government fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).
- Eligibility: 1-250 people on payroll, $200k-$50M in annual, taxed revenues, 1+ years incorporated or a limited liability partnership (LLP). Markets must be under-developed, including countries where less than $20,000 or 10% of international sales have been generated in the past 24 months.
The Export Support Fund reduces the cost of attending trade shows in new export markets. The program offers grants to offset travel, select accommodation, event registration, and marketing material translation costs. Read More
- Amount: Up to 50% of eligible expenses to a maximum $20,000 grant. Can apply once per year.
- Eligibility: For-profit, incorporated in Alberta for at least two years, with a minimum one employee, and sales ranging from $50,000 to $25 million.
Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)
SIF offers Canadian industrial and technology-based businesses financial support to fuel company expansion and R&D of products, processes, and services. Read More
- Amount: Minimum funding contribution of $10 million per project. Type of financial support awarded is at the discretion of the program; this can consist of a combination of repayable financial support and/or financial reimbursements up to 50% of project costs.
- Eligibility: Incorporated Canadian businesses with high growth potential and the ability to drive innovation.
Growth Opportunity #4: Capital and Technology Adoption
Purchasing innovative technologies can have a profound impact on business competitiveness and innovation. When purchasing advanced machinery and equipment, relevant funding programs include:
Western Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP) Program
The Business Scale-up and Productivity program helps businesses with high growth potential adopt/adapt innovative technologies that support productivity, grow operations, and increase exports to global markets. Read More
- Amount: Repayable contribution (no-interest loan) of up to 50% of eligible project expenses to a maximum $5 million per project and $10 million per applicant.
- Eligibility: Must maintain profitable operations in Western Canada for at least two years and be incorporated at the time of application. Projects must focus on advanced manufacturing, digital technology, value-added agriculture, clean technology, clean resources, or life sciences.
How to Navigate the Government Funding Process
The programs listed throughout this article are a small selection of the many grants and loans available to Alberta businesses and organizations. Identification of government funding programs is just one stage of the funding process, however. With this information, your business must align applicable projects and strategic spends, then craft and submit a detailed application that reviews your opportunity.
You’re not alone in the process. Mentor Works can help you optimize the entire funding application process; download our free slide deck to learn more about your options.