Canada Media Fund Experimental Stream Innovation Program Software Funding for Canadian Small Businesses

Please Note: This page is an archived and may contain outdated program information. For current details of the Canada Media Fund Experimental Stream, please visit Mentor Works’ CMF Experimental Program Page.

Canada’s software sector is a critical component of our national economy. With more than 33,000 companies, over $61 billion in annual revenues, and nearly 400,000 employees, it is one of the largest sectors of Canada’s information and communications technology (ICT) industry. It’s also a leading innovator that invests over $2 billion in research and development each year. But despite this commitment to innovation, Canadian companies often lack the financing needed to scale at a pace that meets or exceeds that of global competitors. As a result, these firms miss potential growth opportunities and have slower development/commercialization cycles.

Fortunately, the Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream supports software conceptualization, prototyping, production, and marketing projects. Through the program, software developers can turn ideas into functional products and repay project costs once the project’s results can be commercialized. By offsetting a portion of upfront costs, companies can advance their platform’s commercial readiness, launch their product, then repay the balance of Canada Media Fund’s investment as product revenues are generated.

The Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream offers up to $15k-$1.5M per project phase to develop software innovations from concept to commercialization.

To access CMF funding for software projects, developers must qualify for the program and submit a comprehensive application package during one of the program’s upcoming intake periods. Prior to applying, applicants should have a firm understanding of how products will be commercialized and how the Canada Media Fund will be repaid for its original investment.

About the Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream

The Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream is a Canadian government funding program directed towards software developers who create and commercialize interactive digital media products. It helps offset initial investment costs required to develop and market innovative software products; this helps developers release products more quickly and improve the commercial success of such products.

Through the program, interactive digital media developers may access up to $15,000 to $1.5 million per project phase, or up to $1.5 million per product.

CMF Experimental’s Innovation Program offers support to three types of projects, including:

1. Media Conceptualization Projects

Projects in the conceptual phase may receive Canadian government funding to create, test, and verify a design idea or proof of concept. These early project stages should result in companies being ready to start designing and demonstrating the product’s functionality

Through the Media Conceptualization Projects category, software developers may receive up to 75% of eligible project expenses to a maximum $15,000 in interactive digital media funding.

Conceptualization projects are awarded funding as a repayable advance. If no further funding is requested from CMF for future project stages, the advance can be repaid. If requesting funding for a Prototyping project, it will be combined and continue to be a repayable advance due at the end of the project. If requesting additional funding for an Innovation project, a formal request can be made to convert this advance into a recoupable investment and combined with any additional funds received.

2. Media Prototyping Projects

Projects that have been conceptualized then need to prove market demand; this is where prototyping becomes important. Projects in the Prototyping phase can receive funding to demonstrate product design and functionality, resulting in companies being ready to start into full-scale product development.

Through the Media Prototyping Projects category, interactive digital media developers may receive up to 75% of expenses to a maximum $250,000 in software funding.

Prototyping projects are awarded funding as a repayable advance. If no further funding is requested from CMF for future project stages, the advance can be repaid. If requesting additional funding for an Innovation project, a formal request can be made to convert this advance into a recoupable investment and combined with any additional funds received.

3. Media Innovation (Production, Marketing, and Promotion) Projects

Software developers can also access the Canada Media Fund for projects that focus on media production, marketing and promotion. This is used to create a final market-ready product and have ample resources to perform marketing and commercialization activities.

Through the Media Innovation Projects category, digital media developers may receive up to 75% of eligible expenses to a maximum $1,500,000.

Innovation projects are awarded funding as a recoupable investment. Recoupable investments require repayment from exploited software products until the amount received has been repaid; this can take up to seven years from the product’s original commercialization. Once CMF has recouped 100% of its investment, it participates in further profits, with the only change being a 25% reduction in the amount of profits shared with CMF (or 50% if the original investment is recouped within two years).

Businesses Eligible for CMF Experimental Stream Funding

Eligible Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream applicants must be either:

  • A for-profit company which is Canadian-controlled and has a head office in Canada; or
  • A public or private Canadian broadcaster that is licensed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

CMF Experimental Stream: Project Eligibility

The Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream seeks Canadian interactive digital media content and software that is innovative and leading-edge. Eligible projects must:

  • Contain digital media content and/or application software that is innovative, interactive, and is connected to the Canadian cultural sector;
  • Be produced in Canada, with at least 50-75% of project costs incurred in Canada; and
  • Remain under Canadian ownership.

Examples of Eligible Project Types

CMF funding can be extended to the following innovative project types:

  • Video games (PC, console, handheld console, mobile, or other platforms);
  • Software applications with a connection to the Canadian cultural sector;
  • Web 2.0 or higher applications;
  • Mobile applications; and
  • Projects containing audio-visual content and significant user interactivity.

Successful Canada Media Fund Experimental Projects

The Canada Media Fund regularly announces its support for new, innovative digital media projects. Some of the most recent recipients of funding include:

How to Apply for the Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream

To get started with the Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream, eligible companies should build a budget of rough costs and timelines for project spends. This will help select the optimal stream of support and help companies understand which program deadline to accommodate.

All applicants must develop a detailed application and submit it by an upcoming stream-specific deadline. Application forms can be found online via CMF’s website; completed applications typically range in length from 25-35 pages, depending on the funding request and complexity of the project. This does not include supporting documents, such as the project budget and any supplemental information.

To discuss your project’s suitability for interactive digital media funding and explore ways to optimize the application process, please contact Mentor Works.

Apply for Canadian Government Funding

Posted: August 16, 2016. Updated: May 30, 2019.

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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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