Many businesses that Mentor Works deals with have heard of the two most popular research and development (R&D) funding programs: NRC’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) and the SR&ED tax credit program. Both are valuable programs that support innovation and commercialization efforts.
However, most of our clients are unaware of the wider range of programs that exist to support R&D, innovation development, and commercialization.
In this post, we want to briefly review some of the innovation funding programs available to help businesses grow. When we look at innovation funding in Canada, we typically see programs that impact either early-to-middle stage development or late-stage through to commercialization supports.
CanExport Innovation (CXI): Research Partnership Development
When a company is working with an international firm to support aspects of research and development they can utilize programs such as the CanExport Innovation program to help cover the costs of developing the international partnership.
Through this program, you would be able to cover up to $75,000 (at 75% coverage rate) in partnership development costs. Common cost categories include travel and legal costs associated with developing a formal R&D partnership.
European R&D Support through Expanded NRC Funding
Innovation projects that are already receiving funding through the NRC-IRAP program can receive additional support by partnering with the EU’s Eureka Network. The Network offers funding supports under a range of programs. Businesses are able to respond to open calls for projects and demonstrate how they can support the project requirements. If there is a good fit between the business and the project, the company can then apply for funding through NRC.
This approach helps businesses access additional funding support and find potential commercialization partners in the EU where they’ll be able to get their innovations to market faster and/or reach a wider market.
Industry-Academic Collaborations (NSERC)
As a business is conducting R&D and working on innovations, they may find that they have an internal skill gap that would only need to be filled to meet the needs of a specific project. In these cases, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to bring on a permanent full-time hire. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) funding programs help you to access the expertise you need to support your R&D project.
Through their programs, businesses can access post-secondary researchers (and the labs they are attached to) and offset the costs of using the researchers by $25,000 (for the NSERC Engage program) or up to $1M (for the NSERC Alliance program). Both innovation funding programs allow a business to access skilled researchers to support an R&D project.
Commercializing the Innovation
Once an innovation has been fully developed and is ready for commercialization, the costs for a business typically shift from internal R&D labour to more marketing and third-party costs.
When you’re ready to get your new products to market you can use different funding programs to indirectly support the process.
For example, you can test your marketing strategies and market rollout through the CanExport program, which allows you to offset marketing and market development costs associated with working in a new geographic market. In other cases, late-stage development and commercialization activities can be covered through government procurement programs, such as the Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) program.
Government procurement programs operate differently than grants, but they can help you offset your final R&D and commercialization efforts. With this type of program, the government provides your business with a contract to purchase the innovation and support the late-stage development. This helps you de-risk the innovation and pilot it with a first customer.
Get Started with R&D and Innovation Funding
As you can see, there are several options to get your innovation funded through Canadian government funding. This article covers only some of the top programs available, and you can access many more to help cover the costs of R&D and eventually commercialization.
To learn more about all of your funding options and to get started on your strategic funding journey, we encourage you to download Mentor Works’ How to Build a Proactive Funding Plan slide deck.