In recent years, federal and provincial governments have place a strong focus on business innovation in Canada. The Government of Canada’s Budget 2017 announced the realignment of resources to improve innovation programs and strengthen the economy. Investing in business innovation allows small and medium-sized companies to flourish and increase their market competitiveness.
In October 2017, Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), IBM Canada, and Invest Ottawa opened a state-of-the-art business innovation centre. The IBM Innovation Incubator was established to help businesses accelerate commercialization of new products and technologies. The Government of Ontario invested nearly $23 million in funding to support the development this new facility.
The IBM Innovation Incubator will foster business growth and development by providing access to advanced technologies and industry expertise. In addition, this centre is expected to help Ontario-based businesses create up to 2,600 jobs by 2020.
Ontario Government Funding Supports IBM Innovation Incubator in Ottawa
In 2016, Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), IBM Canada, and Invest Ottawa partnered to create an innovation space for small and medium-sized businesses. To support this project, the Government of Ontario contributed a total of $22.7 million in funding through the Jobs and Prosperity Fund. In October 2017, the IBM Innovation Incubator opened its doors to provide businesses with access to technology and expertise needed to create new jobs and become globally competitive.
The centre will provide businesses access to IBM’s technical resources, including a cloud-based development platform and advanced computing technologies. By leveraging the centre’s resources, businesses can enhance productivity and lower the cost of introducing emerging and enabling technologies within international markets.
Additionally, businesses will have access to OCE’s and IBM’s global networks to help companies approach new customers in foreign markets. These assets will allow business owners and executives to explore new opportunities in global markets, while fostering innovation and economic growth in Ontario.
Small Business Grants and Loans for Innovative Projects
Government funding is available to help growth-oriented businesses invest in projects that demonstrate innovation. Small business grants and loans can be leveraged to support expansion, capital investment/technology adoption, workforce development, and export expansion.
Ontario-based businesses should consider the following funding opportunities to support innovation-focused projects:
The Jobs and Prosperity Fund (JPF) supports large-scale capital investment projects across Ontario that extend a company’s capabilities and boost international competitiveness. The program delivers government grants and loans to help participants enhance their productivity, demonstrate innovation, and create sustainable jobs. Funding contributions can be used to offset facility expansion/upgrades, capital equipment costs, and employee salaries.
The JPF has four unique funding streams, which include:
- New Economy;
- Strategic Partnerships;
- Forestry Growth Fund; and
- Food and Beverage Growth Fund.
Eligible applicants can access up to 10-15% coverage of project expenses through a combination of government grants and loans.
Capital Investment & Technology Adoption
Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE)’s I3 Customer Demonstration Program provides Ontario government grants to support collaborative disruptive technology projects. Funding can be used to help businesses demonstrate smart computing solutions that address an opportunity or challenge faced by potential clients. Small business grants help the partners reduce the project’s labour and contractor expenses, as well as equipment, materials, and travel costs.
Eligible applicants may receive up to 50% coverage of project expenses to a maximum contribution of $50,000 in Ontario small business grants.
Small and medium-sized businesses can leverage hiring grants and wage subsidies to expand their workforce and access top talent. Government funding is available to offset the cost of hiring post-secondary research talent. Employers can access academic interns and/or recent graduates to support an innovative research and development project.
Hiring grants can offset up to 50% of new hire wages to a maximum of $13,500 – $20,000 in government funding.
Businesses with market-ready products, services, and technologies can explore export expansion grants to reach new global markets. Popular funding programs that support export marketing activities, include CanExport and Export Market Access (EMA). These programs support a range of international marketing and tradeshow costs to help businesses explore new markets and attain new customers.
Businesses can access up to 25-50% coverage of export marketing expenses to a maximum $50,000 in grants.
You can determine which funding program is best suited for your international expansion plans by Comparing Export Marketing Grants.
Learn More About Canadian Government Funding for Businesses
Access to cash flow continues to be a barrier for many businesses looking to undertake expansion projects. To help businesses grow, federal and provincial funding is available to accelerate projects that help companies expand their capabilities and boost competitiveness. Business owners and executives are encouraged to learn more about the range of small business grants and loans available to support innovative projects.
Download Mentor Works’ Canadian Small Business Funding Guide to discover what opportunities are available for your business.