How Long are Grant and Loan Application Approval Times?

Government Funding Approval Times

A wide range of government funding programs are periodically available to support businesses’ various strategic initiatives. However, applicants should be aware of the turnaround time on submitted applications before committing to a specific Canadian government funding program. Unlike tax credits, which focus on retroactive reimbursement, small business funding grants and loans require applicants to pre-plan their project activities and spend, in order to benefit from the programs.

Most funding grant and loan programs require businesses to receive application approval before purchasing their eligible expenses.

Businesses can fall into the trap of applying for funding without knowing approval timelines. They later wish that someone had told them about the turnaround times on the application, as it affected their eligibility.

Furthermore, applicants can expect a large variance in approval times from one program to another. This article details Mentor Works’ experience with funding programs and what businesses should expect from their approval times. Businesses applying for government grants and loans should be aware of the importance of forward planning on strategic initiatives, as they relate to approval timing, to optimize the amount of funding obtained.

Application Timing for Hiring Grants for Business

Some of the fastest turnaround times of SME funding grants are related to wage incentives for hiring post-secondary graduates. When funding is available from programs, approval time can be as little as 1-5 business days. However not all hiring grants are equal.

Project Based Funding Submission Timing

Approval timelines for project related funding varies greatly from program to program, taking anywhere from 10 days to 6+ months. In our experience, here are the approval times experienced by businesses applying for some of the most popular Canadian government grant and loan programs:

Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)

Businesses must meet with IRAP initially to discuss projects seeking R&D funding support. Once IRAP has agreed to a suitable project, the applicant should expect a 1-2 month turnaround time on submitted applications. Applicants should also factor in that, depending on their IRAP Industrial Technology Advisor’s (ITA) capacity, the meeting and preparation activities could take an additional month.


CanExport funding provides up to 75%/$75K in Canadian government grants to support export marketing projects. Applicants cannot incur project expenses until approved for funding. A firm funding decision will be made within 60 business days of application submission. Repeat applicants must close off the first project report and expenses before starting another application.

Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF): Business Stream

Businesses applying for up to 15% grant funding program must first submit an Eligibility Checklist, which is reviewed within 48 hours. Once SWODF approves the applicant’s checklist, the full application is reported to take on average an approval time of 4 months.

Forecast Your Business’ Funding Programs to Maximize Funding Potential

Please note that the above timelines are not official government approval timelines; they are Mentor Works’ perception and experience based on the hundreds of applications that we have writen for small to mid-sized businesses across Canada in the last 2 years. And yes, we have removed the impact of elections from the analysis.

An important item to mention is that some programs allow deposits on eligible expenses, while others will exclude those budget items from an applicant’s eligible expenses. Fundamentally, it is critical to be aware of funding timelines, eligible expenses, and payment stipulations in order to maximize a specific business funding grant and loan program.

Determine Funding Application Timelines for Your Project

Before applying for a program, businesses should ensure that their timelines for spending, budget per project, and company profile are eligible for the particular funding program. Are you unsure about your eligibility or timelines for a certain program? Is the small business funding program that you are interested in not listed above?

Please reach out to us via our Contact Us Form to receive more insight. Businesses interested in learning more about funding programs, including approval timelines, launch dates, deadlines, eligible expenses, eligible projects, and company eligibility factors should register for a Free Funding Workshop/Webinar.

Funding Funding Now, Contact Mentor Works

Post Updated: May 1, 2020.

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