Please Note: Export Market Access is now closed and not accepting further applications. For trade show grants and other forms of export support, learn more about the CanExport program.
When exploring new international markets, trade shows are an excellent opportunity to gain brand exposure with a physical presence. These events can help your business interact face-to-face with buyers, make contacts, and perform competitive or cultural research which can be used to strengthen market plans. However, many small businesses do not attend trade shows because of the costs and risks involved with exploratory export marketing projects.
To reduce the risks and costs of trade show marketing activities, businesses should consider using the marketing grant Export Market Access (EMA). EMA funding is an Ontario government grant that helps goods and services providers expand access to export markets, ultimately increasing revenues in those regions. It offers support for costs such as renting booth space at trade events, developing international marketing materials, and airfare/accommodations.
Export Market Access provides up to 50% of eligible project expenses to a maximum $50,000 in Ontario government funding per application.
To apply for the EMA grant, businesses must complete a comprehensive application package of approximately 20 pages that details your target market(s), marketing activities, and projections for future export sales as result of the project. Applications should be submitted approximately three months prior to the first funded trade show.
Export Market Access (EMA) Grants for Export Marketing
The Export Market Access program is funded through FedDev Ontario and administered by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC). It offers a significant reduction in export marketing costs for manufacturers and service-based businesses who are either:
- Exploring new export markets where no revenues are currently earned; and
- Expanding current export markets where additional opportunities exist.
Companies may apply for up to three trade shows per Export Market Access application.
Export grants provided through EMA support many of the activities and expenses businesses must incur while exploring/expanding export markets. In fact, it offsets these costs by up to 50% to a maximum $50,000 per application. The program can be applied to twice per 12-month period for a maximum $100,000 per year and a lifetime maximum of $250,000.
EMA Grant: Applicant Eligibility Factors
To qualify for funding through the Export Market Access program, Ontario-based businesses must:
- Employ between 3-500 full-time workers;
- Be incorporated for at least two years;
- Earn at least $300,000 in annual revenues;
- Manufacture/produce export-ready products and services;
- Have capacity to meet foreign demand; and
- Have a minimum $2M in commercial general liability insurance.
Industry Sectors Receiving EMA Funding Priority
In addition to the above eligibility criteria, applicants to the Export Market Access should fit into one of the following high-priority industry sectors:
- Advanced Manufacturing;
- Building Products and Construction;
- Clean Technology;
- Information and Communications Technology (including Digital Media);
- Life Sciences; and
- Professional Services (such as Architecture and Engineering).
Project Eligibility for EMA Funding
Export Market Access small business grants will help companies access and perform marketing activities within markets that are strategically important to companies. Some of these activities include:
- Establishing Direct Contacts: Attending international trade shows, exhibitions, and outgoing trade missions led by the provincial or federal government.
- Developing Marketing Tools: Translation and development of marketing materials to increase awareness of business in a foreign market.
- Performing Market Research: Building competitive intelligence to target a given market more precisely. This could include exploring market size, growth rates, buying trends, and distribution channels.
- Upgrading E-Commerce: To facilitate trade with the target market.
- Securing Temporary In-Market Office Space: To further business relationships.
How to Apply for Export Market Access
EMA applications can be submitted to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce throughout the year based on their continuous intake process. Application forms are available from OCC and can be submitted online. Complete submissions generally range from 18-23 pages and must include:
- An international market development strategy;
- At least 2 years of audited financial statements; and
- Proof of at least $2M in commercial general liability insurance.
How EMA Funding Applications are Evaluated
All applicant projects will be graded against common evaluation criteria. These factors include:
- Project eligibility and suitability for the program;
- Financial capacity of the business to carry out proposed projects;
- Managerial capability of the business to carry out proposed projects;
- Ability to measure and validate project impacts; and
- Level of funding requested in relation to expected project impacts.
If you have questions regarding your eligibility or would like to optimize the application process with support, please contact Mentor Works.
Posted: May 13, 2013 by Ryan Weaver. Updated: June 22, 2018 by Jeff Shepherd.