CanExport Trade Show Grants for Export Marketing

Many Canadian firms have unrealized export potential. Canada’s sterling international reputation and strong business landscape should lend well to Canadian export success, yet many businesses do not leverage this opportunity. Whether it’s because of the upfront investment or effort required, Canadian businesses tend to shy away from international markets. Fortunately, Canadian government funding programs can help reduce export project costs and help more businesses tap into high-potential international markets.

CanExport is one of these programs that can offer considerable support for export market development. It offers non-repayable grants that directly offset trade show participation costs, including development of marketing materials for international audiences, travel and per diem for up to two employees, and trade show booth/exhibition costs. Events funded through the program should provide a direct benefit to the company’s market development strategy.

CanExport provides Canadian businesses with up to 25-50% of eligible project expenses to a maximum $50,000 in export marketing grants per application, or up to $99,999 per year.

To access the CanExport program, companies must develop a comprehensive application package that includes a list of target markets, potential contacts and buyers in the market of choice, project overview and budget, and evidence that the company has capacity to complete export projects. Although applications can be submitted year-round, it’s best to apply at least eight weeks ahead of incurring expenses to accommodate the review and approval process.

CanExport Funding: Export Marketing Grants for Business

The CanExport program is a popular Canadian government grant that supports businesses as they explore/expand new and under-developed international markets. The export grant is specifically designed to help firms participate in trade shows where company representatives travel to an export market and meet with potential customers. Through these projects, Canadian companies can more aggressively pursue export market development projects and drive greater revenues from customers outside of Canada.

Through the CanExport program, companies may access up to 25-50% of trade show costs to a maximum $50,000 per project. Up to two applications can be submitted per government fiscal year.

As companies begin exploring the CanExport funding program, the most critical element to consider is the market where your trade show is taking place. CanExport only supports trade events in markets where the applicant’s sales have been under $20,000 or less than 10% of total international sales over the previous 24 months.

If you’re still considering which trade show(s) to access using this program, explore Mentor Works’ curated list of top trade shows and events over the coming 6-12 months. Alternately, if you wish to find your own trade shows, this resource on trade show databases will be helpful.

Related Blog: CanExport Funding Awarded to 500+ Businesses in 2016

Canadian Businesses Eligible for CanExport Funding

To be deemed eligible for CanExport funding, businesses must:

  • Have 1 to 500 full-time employees;
  • Earn $100,000 to $100,000,000 in annual revenue;
  • Be a federally incorporated business or a limited liability partnership (LLP);
  • Have expansion plans for new or under-developed export countries*;
  • Have eligible project expenses worth at least $20,000;
  • Match the Canadian government funding contribution on a 1:1 ratio (requires a minimum of $10,000 in cash contributions);
  • Not operate in the agriculture or agri-food industry (instead, consider AgriMarketing).

* New Export Markets: SMEs must have less than 10% of total international sales or less than or $20,000 earned in the market over the last 24 months.

CanExport Grants: Projects Eligible for Exporting Funds

Although CanExport funding is predominantly used for trade shows, this government export grant can support a wide range of export market development activities. These include:

  • Participation in one or several trade shows (within the same foreign country);
  • Travel to the foreign country;
  • Modifications to marketing materials (content translation);
  • Foreign product certifications: and
  • Marketing and competitive research related to the foreign country.

Haven’t chosen an export event yet? Browse our curated list of international trade shows or find your own trade shows.

How to Apply for CanExport Grants Canada

To access CanExport funding, Canadian businesses should start by finding a trade show or export event in a market where they have earned little to no revenues in the past 24 months. It can take some effort to find the right opportunity, so use the resources listed above if you’ve yet to find the ideal fit for your objectives.

Application forms can be accessed online; completed applications are approximately 8-10 pages in length, plus supporting documentation.

Funding applications should be submitted at least eight weeks prior to incurring project expenses, which requires companies to start the application process well ahead of traveling to international markets. Expenses incurred prior to program approval are not eligible for funding. Companies receive funding by submitting claims to the program once eligible expenses have been incurred. Claims are typically processed within 20 days.

Application Assessment Criteria

CanExport applications are evaluated against a common set of criteria that includes:

  • Incrementality: Demonstrating that the project goes beyond core activities and will yield incremental results;
  • Export Business Case: Strength of the application’s export business case, and alignment of the export business case to the firm’s overarching business strategy;
  • Alignment to Government Trade Strategies/Priorities: How the firm’s products or services, proposed project and activities, and target markets relate to the Government of Canada’s trade strategies (such as doing business in countries where Canada has a free trade agreement);
  • Market Potential: Any opportunities or challenges anticipated as it relates to the business’ products or services; and
  • History and Export Readiness: Previous success in export market development projects, including any projects previously funded by the government.

To confirm your eligibility for the CanExport program and learn how to optimize the application process, please contact Mentor Works.

Apply for Canadian Government Funding

Posted: January 13, 2016. Updated: December 11, 2018.

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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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