How Early Stage SMEs Can Qualify for Investing in Business Innovation (IBI)

bigstock-Casual-female-artist-using-dig-55906955In the winter of 2013, FedDev Ontario announced the launch of the Investing in Business Innovation. The goal of the program is to assist early-stage businesses in addressing challenges to growth and product commercialization. Funding from IBI is dispersed as a 0% interest loan and supports projects up to two years in length. Projects should be aimed at early-stage product or process commercialization, business development, late-stage product development, and marketing or distribution strategy.

Investing in Business Innovation for Early Stage Businesses: Company Eligibility

IBI is specifically for early stage businesses that have been incorporated for less than three years and headquartered in Southern Ontario. Companies must have less than 50 full-time employees. Applicable business also needs to have two-thirds of the project costs covered with committed investments. As this is an early-stage business focused program, business can be pre-revenue but must demonstrate cash flows to support the project for two years post-completion.

IBI Canadian Small Business Grants: Funding Details

Companies can apply for up to $1 million in funding to cover 33% of eligible non-capital costs. Companies can receive up to 25% for capital equipment costs. In-kind contributions are ineligible for this Ontario government funding program.

IBI Canadian Grants for Small Business: Eligible Projects

Investing in Business Innovation funding is provided for the following:

  • Early-Stage Commercialization of innovative and unique products and processes
  • Business Development of early-stage businesses, including building high-performance teams, adopting best management practices, processes, and systems, and improving governance and investment readiness
  • Late-Stage Product Development geared towards market diversification and growth or customer and market development
  • Developing and Implementing Marketing and Distribution Strategies

Costs Eligible for Funding through Small Business Grants Canada

The following costs are considered eligible for Investing in Business Innovation:

  • 33% of direct project labour costs
  • 33% of consulting and contractor costs
  • 25% of capital costs directly related to the project
  • 33% of non-capital costs directly related to the project

Please Note: In-kind funding is ineligible for this Ontario government funding program, however applicants can stack their funding up to 75% with other government funding sources.

The Investing in Business Innovation for Early Stage Small Businesses: Application Details

Applications for Investing in Business Innovation are accepted on an on-going basis, however projects must be completed by the end of the 5-year program in 2018. Once an application is submitted, it takes approximately 90 days for FedDev Ontario to assess the application and provide a consensus. Applicants should outline a project that is approximately 18 to 24 months in length for this program. Successful IBI businesses are reimbursed for their expenses upon submission of invoices to FedDev Ontario, who requires a minimum of two expense submissions per year and a maximum of one per month. Companies will need to submit periodic progress reports demonstrating the project’s progress to-date. The scope of the project can be re-evaluated based on performance.

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