$250M Wage Subsidy Announced for NRC IRAP Innovation Assistance Program (IAP)

IRAP IAP $250M COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Announced

To help Canadian businesses through the current ongoing pandemic, the federal government has created multiple new wage subsidies to support Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with the most recognizable of these programs being the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).

Unfortunately, many high-growth businesses that have not yet seen a 15% or 30% drop in revenue are ineligible for CEWS, but may still require financial support to avoid layoffs related to COVID-19. This scenario can happen for various reasons, such as a company being in the R&D stages of launching an innovative product or service, or a business with clients who are locked into contracts, but whose clients have requested reduced monthly payments due to the government-mandated shutdown.

It is with these SMEs in mind that the National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance program (NRC IRAP) created the Innovation Assistance Program (IAP). With a total of $250 million in wage subsidies available, this program aims to support innovative tech SMEs who are not eligible for other COVID-19 related funding programs. No specific R&D project is required to be eligible for IRAP IAP as this program is designed to support/subsidize payroll costs of highly innovative companies who are seeing a downturn due to COVID-19

This program cannot be combined with any other Canadian government funding program, including CEWS and other IRAP funding.

Innovation Assistance Program Eligibility Criteria

In order to be eligible for IAP, companies must be able to prove they can meet each of the following criteria:

  • Be ineligible for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS);
  • Be an incorporated, profit-oriented small or medium-sized business in Canada;
  • Be a company with 500 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees;
  • Plan to pursue growth and profit by developing and commercializing innovative, technology-driven new or improved products, services, or processes in Canada;
  • Lack sufficient financial resources to sustain operations during the COVID-19 downturn period;
  • Have a Canada Revenue Agency business number; and
  • Be incorporated by no later than March 1, 2020.

If you are unsure or have questions about whether your business is eligible for IRAP IAP funding, speak with a member of the Mentor Works team.

How Long Will Funding Last and When Is the Deadline to Apply?

The IRAP IAP provides a wage subsidy to eligible employers for up to 12 weeks. At the time of writing, there has been no announcement as to the maximum subsidy size eligible businesses can expect to receive from IRAP IAP. This page will be updated when more information is released.

The application intake for the NRC IRAP Innovation Assistance Program (IAP) will close on Wednesday, April 29, 2020 at 11:59 pm EDT.

Following the assessment and approval of applications, applicants will be notified in writing on the status of their application as early as the week of May 11, 2020. IAP will begin making payments to successful applicants starting the week of May 11, 2020.

Learn More About NRC IRAP Funding and Other COVID-19 Support Programs

The National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) has many funding programs to help innovative Canadian SMEs expedite their research phases and help bring their products or services to market. They have also launched the NRC IRAP COVID-19 funding stream to help manufacturers and suppliers temporarily pivot to produce medical PPE, sanitizer, disease tracking technology, and MedTech to Canadian frontline workers.

Learn more about federal and provincial government funding programs related to COVID-19. Register for a free webinar on COVID-19 government funding programs to learn what government funding programs could be a good fit for your business.

 Funding Funding Now, Contact Mentor Works


  1. I am interested in learning how to scale my manufacturing safety clothing company to manufacture the medical PPE

    1. Hi Lyse – There are several options available right now, including the Ontario Together Fund, NGen-19, and IRAP’s COVID-19 (not IAP) stream. If you would like guidance on which program is best for your organization, we recommend you let us know more about your upcoming investments and timelines by filling out our contact form. Stay well.

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