If your business is looking to pursue new export-focused activities or collaborate with international researchers, you may be eligible to apply for government funding. The Canadian federal or provincial governments offer numerous programs that support Canadian companies with projects aimed at growing international partnerships and increasing exports.
Disclaimer: Due to COVID-19, there may be temporary changes to these programs. Please refer to their direct websites for the latest updates.
Some of the funding opportunities for businesses undertaking international projects are listed below. You can explore funding by region and project type, using the following hyperlinks:
- Federal Government Funding for Exports & International Business Development
- Federal Government Funding for Research & Development
- Western Canada Government Funding for International Projects
- Ontario & Quebec Government Funding for International Projects
- Atlantic Canada Government Funding for International Projects
- Northern Canada Government Funding for International Projects
Federal Government Funding for Exports & Business Development
Administered by Global Affairs Canada, the CanExport program was given $50M in 2016 to provide government export grants to help businesses and other organizations export Canadian goods and services. This program has temporarily pivoted its eligible expenses due to COVID-19. The program has four streams:
- Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), to help businesses break into new foreign markets
- Innovation, to allow Canadian organizations to establish R&D partnerships that will commercialize new technologies in foreign markets.
- Associations, to support national industry organizations in pursuing international business development activities
- Community Investments, to help Canadian communities attract, retain, and expand foreign investment
Funding amounts vary by stream and project, but successful applicants in the SME stream can receive up to $75K.
The Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA) initiative helps Canadian companies that have an existing technology, product, or service to take advantage of opportunities in foreign markets. While CTAs do not provide direct funding, they do offer mentoring, workspace in foreign markets, and introductions to potential investors and customers.
Canadian Technology Accelerators are located in Boston/Cambridge, New York City, San Francisco / Silicon Valley, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, and Taiwan.
As one of the federal programs under the Canadian Agriculture Partnership (CAP), the AgriAssurance SME Component funds third-party assurance certification projects that address international market requirements, to help grow export opportunities for Canadian agricultural and agri-food products.
A program of the federal government, Creative Export Canada offers funding for projects that help Canada’s creative industries reach more people around the world. Projects should generate export revenues, have high-potential and innovation, and involve partnerships.
Creative Export projects can receive up to $2.5M in funding, to a maximum of 75% of eligible costs.
Applicants may be for-profit or not-for-profit organizations, and must operate in one of the following industries: audiovisual, design, interactive digital media, music, performing arts, publishing, and visual art.
Funded by the federal government and other partners, Mitacs connects industry with post-secondary institutions to solve business challenges in Canada and around the world. The Mitacs Entrepreneur International program offers $5,000 travel grants to Canadian start-ups housed in university incubators, allowing start-ups to connect with international incubators and explore business opportunities abroad.
Export Development Canada (EDC) is an export credit agency and Crown corporation that helps Canadian companies respond to international business opportunities. EDC offers insurance and financial services, bonding products, and small business solutions to Canadian exporters and investors, as well as to their international buyers. The organization also supports Canadian direct investment abroad.
Federal Government Funding for Research & Development – International
The Canadian International Innovation Program (CIIP) fosters collaborative industrial research and development projects between Canada and select partner countries. It also stimulates science and technology networking and matchmaking activities to further new partnerships and accelerate commercialization.
CIIP will provide up to 50% coverage for eligible costs, to a maximum of $600K.
As a “seed fund”, CIIP encourages other public and private sector participants to contribute science and technology expertise and funds of their own. Partner countries are: Brazil, China, India, Israel, and South Korea.
Mitacs funds cutting-edge research and development to help companies reach their business goals. One of several Mitacs programs, Mitacs Globalink offers travel funding between Canada and select international partners to support research. Companies in Canada can collaborate with researchers from France, Israel, Mexico, and Norway. Funding starts at $7,500 for a 16-24-week project.
Funded by the Government of Canada and other partners, Grand Challenges Canada funds innovators in low- and middle-income countries and Canada. It drives the implementation of solutions to international health challenges, such as access to care for mental disorders and improved prenatal and natal care in poor, hard-to-reach communities.
Western Canada Government Funding for International Projects
The Alberta Export Expansion Program provides funding support to Albertan SMEs, municipalities, industry associations, Indigenous communities, and economic development organizations. Projects should promote Alberta exports through outbound international business travel or by bringing international buyers to Alberta.
Grants for Albertan companies range from $1,000 to $25,000 per year for approved export activities.
The German-Canadian Centre for Innovation and Research and the Alberta Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism offer the Alberta-Europe Technology Collaboration Fund to help boost Alberta SMEs’ global competitiveness via development of new technologies and research-based alliances. Funding must be matched by the Albertan company. Maximum provincial government funding per project is $250K.
The BC Agrifood & Seafood Market Development Fund is a federal-provincial program that supports BC processors, producers, co-operatives, and associations in developing marketing skills and plans, completing market research, creating export-focused promotional materials, and taking part in export-focused activities. Intake for the program occurs in the fall.
Saskatchewan Trade & Export Partnership (STEP) helps Saskatchewan businesses access global opportunities. Its Market Access Program (MAP), provides funds to help STEP member companies to enter a new market or make a return visit to a new market, outside of Saskatchewan. The maximum provincial government funding is $6K per year.
Ontario & Quebec Government Funding for International Projects
The Export Program, offered by Economie et Innovation Québec, is aimed at Quebec companies that wish to be better positioned to export or strengthen exporting capabilities. Projects need to have total eligible expenses of at least $15K; the maximum assistance that can be granted is $80K.
The Support for Skills Development Program from Emploi Québec provides financial assistance for in-company training in two areas: diversification of markets and goods and services, and international trade. In the latter area, training can focus on international transport and logistics, financing and exchange rates, legal aspects related to international taxation, standards and certifications, and trade agreements and customs compliance.
Administered by FedDev Ontario, Business Scale-Up & Productivity helps to accelerate company growth and enable adoption of new, innovative technologies that support scale-up, productivity, and new market development to help Ontario companies become globally competitive.
BSP offers no-interest, repayable contributions from $500,000 up to $10 million per project.
Two of Ontario Creates’ programs that support international activities are the Interactive Digital Media Fund – Global Market Development program, and the Export Fund – Film and Television program. Both programs provide eligible Ontario companies and producers with funding to pursue strategic export development activities, including targeted sales trips and attendance at international events.
Atlantic Canada Government Funding for International Projects
The Export Market Access Program (EMAP), funded by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, provides government export grants to help businesses market effectively and increase exports. Companies working to enhance the way they market and sell outside of Canada may be eligible for financial assistance to hire a consultant for activities such as market research and export plan development.
Projects should be no longer than 6 months in duration. The maximum EMAP contribution is 65% of eligible project costs, to a maximum of $15K per year.
The Export Growth Program provides provincial government funding to Nova Scotian businesses looking to increase their export sales. Eligible activities include visiting a client, potential partner, or investor in another market; inviting a foreign client and/or potential partner to visit the Nova Scotia operation; and attending a trade show or conference. The Program contributes up to 50% of eligible costs to a maximum of $15K.
Northern Canada Government Funding for International Projects
The Entrepreneurship and Business Development (EBD) fund is offered under the Northern Aboriginal Economic Opportunities Program (NAEOP), administered by CanNor, the federal government’s regional development agency for Northern Canada.
The EBD fund provides financial support to Aboriginal entrepreneurs, businesses, and commercial entities to establish or grow their operations.
There is a range of eligible project activities, including using advisory services to identify international opportunities.
The Enterprise Trade Fund (ETF) aims to stimulate Yukon business activity. Its objectives are to open up new markets or significantly expand existing markets, particularly export markets, for Yukon businesses.
Additional Government Funding for Small Businesses
Other programs offered by Canada’s Regional Development Agencies support exporting and international research activities for businesses in various parts of Canada. For more information, read “Canada’s Regional Development Agencies: Could They Help Your Business?”
Canadian businesses may also be eligible for funding from programs offered jointly by the Government of Canada and foreign governments, or by foreign governments alone. You can find a list of some of these programs in our blog about international funding opportunities.