Innovation Assistance Program (IAP) Extended by $155M for COVID-19 Support


Earlier this year in April, the federal government invested $250 million into the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program’s (NRC IRAP) Innovation Assistance Program (IAP). Since then, the program has distributed government funding to more than 2,200 Canadian businesses and helped maintain more than 24,000 Canadian jobs, therefore building upon the IAP’s goal to uphold the economic growth of innovative sectors.

On November 6, 2020, the Government of Canada announced the decision to extend the Innovation Assistance Program (IAP) by $155 million to continue supporting Canadian tech sector businesses during the adverse economic impacts caused by COVID-19.

The additional funding amount has been allocated towards the ongoing support of existing IAP recipients that are high-potential Canadian businesses unable to receive COVID-19 government funding support from any alternative assistance programs.

What is the Innovation Assistance Program (IAP)?

NRC IRAP created the IAP to assist the Canadian tech sector and protect innovation efforts by providing financing to small and medium-sized businesses that were, and still are, unable to secure funding under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), which has also been extended to support businesses through the pandemic, and the Business Credit Availability Program, another program providing businesses with loans and grants during COVID-19.

“The National Research Council of Canada is pleased to continue supporting Canadian industry through our Innovation Assistance Program. The extension of this wage subsidy will allow us to continue helping Canadian innovative SMEs navigate the challenges arising from COVID-19, when they need it most.”
– Roger Scott-Douglas, PhD, Acting President, National Research Council of Canada

For the existing businesses receiving the extended IAP funding, no specific research and development project was required to be eligible for NRC IRAP funding since the program is designed to focus on supporting and subsidizing payroll costs of any highly innovative company that saw negative effects from the ongoing pandemic.

As such, the IAP funding is helping a variety of tech-sector businesses across the country. Sadira Beekha, financial director at TransPod, a Toronto-based startup working on creating a Hyperloop transit system, said that “the Innovation Assistance Program has been critical to sustaining our business during the pandemic,” a commonality across those in the industry that have accredited IAP for essentially saving the innovation economy.

“By extending the Innovation Assistance Program, we are continuing to support the high-potential, innovative small and medium-sized businesses that are the backbone of the Canadian economy.”
– Navdeep Bains, Minister Innovation, Science, Industry

NRC IRAP Partnering with BDC to Support Canadian Tech

While the addition of $155 million to the Innovation Assistance Program (IAP) is not open to any new applicants, it is worth noting that NRC IRAP has revealed an upcoming partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to provide further support to the rising Canadian tech sector.

According to both agencies, BDC will soon offer its financial services to existing NRC IRAP clients with the goal of bringing strong innovative products to the global market with funding for the research and development stages of Canadian projects. Through this partnership, NRC IRAP will assess clients and refer the eligible projects for access to BDC support loans starting at $100,000.

“By joining forces with NRC IRAP, we aim to help an even greater number of Canadian entrepreneurs to accelerate the commercialization of ground-breaking products, scale and compete on the global market.”
– Michael Denham, President and CEO of BDC

Government Funding to Alleviate COVID-19 Impacts

As the pandemic continues to cause closures and temporary shutdowns to thousands of companies, the federal and provincial governments continue to allocate funds towards the prevention and recovery of negative impacts being triggered by COVID-19.

Aside from NRC IRAP, the IAP, and the BDC partnership, there are numerous other financial aid programs that are assisting Canadian businesses through the turmoil that is the novel coronavirus. Please visit our COVID-19 government funding for Canadian businesses resource page on our website to learn more about the support and funding incentives that are offered at this time.

Find COVID-19 Funding Support Programs from the Canadian Provincial and Federal Governments

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