Foreign Funding for Canadian Businesses & Researchers

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Canada provides one of the best environments in the world for small and medium-sized enterprises, and there is a staggering variety of government funding programs available for businesses from both the federal and provincial governments.

However, businesses may be less aware of the funding opportunities for Canadians offered by international organizations, often in partnership with the Canadian government.

Below, we touch on a few examples of joint organizations and individual countries that could provide funding to support research and innovation projects, as well as business expansion goals.

International Research Funding for Canadians

Several public organizations support international research projects. Canadian businesses and Canadian academic researchers with foreign partners may be eligible to participate.


EUREKA is an intergovernmental network made up of 41 countries from within Europe, as well as seven non-European countries, including Canada, as partner nations. EUREKA funds collaborative projects that involve two or more member countries, with a focus on research, development, and innovation.

Between 2014 and 2018, Canada’s participation in EUREKA contributed to €86.9M (over $126M CAD) in public-private investment in research. Most participants were small or medium-sized businesses.

The advantage of completing industry research through EUREKA is that it coordinates financial support for international partners, which helps to cut through the “red tape” that can slow down multi-national projects. Funding for Canadian applicants for EUREKA is provided by the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program.

Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute

The Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute promotes understanding between India and Canada through academic activities and exchanges. It is funded by government bodies in both countries.

The Institute’s initiatives support the creation of binational links between academia, government, and the business community by funding research and hosting seminars. International research funding is available to students, faculties, universities, and other institutions.

Horizon 2020 & Horizon Europe

Horizon 2020 is a research and innovation program for the European Union, with nearly €80 billion of funding available over seven years (2014 to 2020). Canadian researchers are eligible to be involved in funded projects; however, they either need to secure their own funding from a Canadian source or demonstrate that their involvement in the project is crucial to its success.

The follow-up program to Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe, is a €100 billion research and innovation program that will launch in 2021. Focus areas will include adaption to climate change; cancer; climate-neutral and smart cities; healthy oceans, seas, and coastal and inland waters; and soil health and food. Details, including eligibility of foreign participants, will be released by the European Commission at a later date.

European Research Council

The European Research Council (ERC) encourages high-quality research in Europe through competitive funding programs. ERC grants are awarded through open competition. Applicants can be researchers from any part of the world, as long as they will undertake research in an EU member state or associated country.

Funding varies but can reach up to €3.5M (over $5M CAD) for an Advanced Grant.

Eligible projects can cover frontier research in any scientific domain, including physical sciences and engineering, life sciences, social sciences, humanities, and interdisciplinary studies. Grants are offered to both emerging research leaders (Starting Grants and Consolidator Grants) and established scientists (Advanced Grants).

Funding for Business Development & Expansion

Many national governments offer incentives and foreign funding opportunities for Canadians looking to develop a new business or open an international location. Below are only a few examples of supporting agencies and organizations.


IDA Ireland promotes foreign direct investment into Ireland through a range of services, helping businesses expand their operations to Ireland. Several funding programs and incentives are available, including support for R&D, training, technology investments, marketing, and other business components.

The Irish government also offers specialized project funding and grants for international food companies that are looking to expand to Ireland, as well as other financial incentives and tax credits for R&D.


Mauritius, an African island nation known for its beaches and reefs, is attracting a lot of international attention for its start-up incubator. The incubator provides advice on recruitment and company creation, as well as provision of office space for entrepreneurs.

It also provides government funding for small businesses, including numerous incentives, grants, and schemes for several industries, including agriculture, film, smart cities, property development, health, ICT, manufacturing, and others.


Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI), the economic development agency of the Federal Republic of Germany, promotes the country as a business location and assists foreign companies in setting up in Germany.

GTAI runs several incentive programs, including a grant program, the Joint Task for Improving Regional Economic Structures, to help businesses reduce set-up costs of new production facilities.


The Philippines’ Innovative Startup Act encourages local and foreign investors to establish new companies. Under the act, startups have access to subsidies in business registration, use of office space and equipment, and research and development funding.

The Philippines also offers several advantages and incentives for established businesses that are looking to expand to the area, including an income tax holiday for six years, tax credit on raw materials and supplies, additional deduction from taxable income for labour expenses, duty-free importation of capital equipment, and deduction from taxable income for major infrastructure works.

Extra Resources – Incentives Available Within Canada

Businesses with international opportunities may also be interested in exploring their eligibility for Canadian government grants and government funding for small businesses, including Business Expansion Funding and Research and Development Funding for Business Innovation.

Entrepreneurs can check out the description of some of the key business incubators across Canada.

Are you a Canadian business that has interest in expanding into international markets? To help you overcome the common hurdles associated with going global, Mentor Works has developed a free guide that discusses how to assess, target, and reach new markets.

Download the Canadian Guide to Export Expansion White Paper!

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Disclaimer: Due to COVID-19, there may be temporary changes to these programs. Please refer to their direct websites for the latest updates.

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