Ontario’s interactive digital media industry is growing rapidly. A recent study found that it contributed $1.4 billion towards Ontario’s GDP in 2015 (up from $917 million in 2010), and supports nearly 11,000 full-time equivalents (FTE) employees. Continuing this success by driving innovation is a key to maintaining a strong, sustainable industry for years to come.
Fortunately, companies operating in Ontario’s software and interactive digital media sectors can leverage government funding to accelerate their growth. The Interactive Digital Media (IDM) Fund is an Ontario government grant that offsets a portion of costs directly related to concept definition and production projects.
Through the Interactive Digital Media Fund, applicants may receive up to 50% of eligible project expenses to a maximum $50,000 for concept definition projects, or $250,000 for digital media production.
To apply for the Interactive Digital Media Fund, companies must submit a comprehensive application package that details their company and proposed project. For both streams of funding, applications must be received by a deadline.
What is the Interactive Digital Media Fund?
The Interactive Digital Media Fund is a primary support mechanism for Ontario-based developers of interactive digital media content including software and other gaming products. As administered by Ontario Creates, the government funding program is comprised of several streams of funding support.
Two of the most popular streams of funding provided through the program are:
Stream 1: Concept Definition
Offers Ontario government grants to support early-stage activities such as prototype creation, preparing pre-production documents and concept pitches, and business planning. Through the program, applicants will move towards the production stages of a market-ready product.
The Interactive Digital Media Fund’s Concept Definition stream provides up to 50% of expenses to a maximum $50,000 per project.
Stream 2: Production
Supports the creation of market-ready content that will be released/sold to end users after production is complete. This includes developing video games, mobile applications, websites, and web series.
Through the Interactive Digital Media Fund’s Production stream, applicants may receive up to 50% of expenses to a maximum $250,000.
Businesses Eligible for the Interactive Digital Media Fund
Since Ontario’s digital media industry encompasses such a variety of businesses, from startups to mature businesses, the Interactive Digital Media Fund offers flexible eligibility criteria:
Financial Eligibility – All Applicants
All applicants of the Interactive Digital Media Fund must meet at least one of the following conditions:
- At least 25% of company revenue in the last 2 fiscal years has come from the creation of complete screen-based content products;
- At least 50% of company expenses in the last 2 fiscal years has come from the production of interactive digital media content projects that would have been eligible for the IDM Fund; or
- At least 50% of company revenue in the last 2 fiscal years has come from publishing activities and other brand extensions (trade shows, website development, television).
Business Eligibility – Established Digital Media Companies
To be successful recipients of the IDM Fund, established digital media production and publishing companies must:
- Be based in Ontario, but can be Canadian-owned;
- Be incorporated federally or provincially, or have plans to upon program approval;
- Have at least one owner or full-time employee with a minimum 3 years of experience in the creation or distribution of interactive digital media content; and
- Be in a stable financial situation and have financial documentation to support claims.
Business Eligibility – New Digital Media Companies
New digital media companies, those with less than one year in operations and no released products, must:
- Have an owner or full-time employee with a minimum three years of professional experience in digital publishing or interactive digital media development.
- Be an Ontario owned and operated company; and
- Be able to incorporate immediately if application is successful (businesses can be approved but cannot receive funding until incorporated).
How to Apply for the Interactive Digital Media Fund
The Interactive Digital Media Fund supports the intake of applications through a bi-annual call for proposals. To access funding, software and digital media developers must submit an application through Ontario Creates’ online portal on or before an application deadline.
To access the Interactive Digital Media Fund, media developers should apply by the program’s upcoming April 8, 2019 deadline.
Comprehensive application packages are typically up to 40 pages or more in length and should clearly show the number of jobs expected to be created/maintained. Applications are usually reviewed within 12-14 weeks.
To learn more about how your project’s eligibility for the Interactive Digital Media Fund and optimize the application process, please contact Mentor Works.
Posted: March 1, 2018. Updated: February 13, 2019.