Update: The National Research Council (NRC) now offers project-based funding through a single Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP). Please visit the NRC-IRAP Research Project Contributions page for more information.
The National Research Council Canada (NRC) created the Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) as a suite of Canadian government funding programs that assist small and mid-sized businesses solve technical challenges and develop innovative technologies. NRC-IRAP grants support the development and commercialization of innovative technologies, while accelerating businesses growth and competitiveness. The organization administers Canadian business research grants to encourage exploratory R&D projects that lead to new, innovative processes and products.
Canadian businesses can access NRC research grants through the organization’s multiple funding streams, which include Accelerated Review Process (ARP) and Mid-Size Projects. Both funding streams provide research grants to allow businesses to leverage technical talent and reduce payroll while conducting a research and development project.
Though both programs share similarities, businesses must understand the different requirements for each stream when determining a project’s eligibility. Qualified businesses will be assigned to a specific stream depending on the nature of their project and its anticipated outcomes. Throughout this article, innovative businesses can gain a better understanding of IRAP grants and which types of projects may be eligible to receive funding.
IRAP Small Business Research and Development Grants
The Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) supports innovative technology development projects that allow Canadian businesses to grow and improve market competitiveness. For nearly 70 years, NRC-IRAP has administered research grants to help businesses address technical challenges, aid in the development and commercialization of advanced technologies, and reduce the time it takes businesses to bring innovative ideas to commercial markets.
By accessing NRC-IRAP government funding programs, innovative businesses can enhance their processes and products, adopt new technologies, and increase market competitiveness. Research grants allow businesses to solve internal technical challenges and tackle large-scale projects such as developing commercially-viable innovations that lead to new manufacturing products and capabilities.
IRAP Accelerate Review Process (ARP) vs. Mid-Size Projects
IRAP’s Accelerated Review Process (ARP) and Mid-Size Projects programs are popular amongst SMEs with innovative technology development projects. Both programs have been designed to support growing, commercially-proven for-profit organizations, with the desire to maximize profits through innovative technical or technology driven projects. Eligible businesses must be commercially successful for at least two years with 1-500 Canadian payroll employees, and possess internal technical expertise to carry out research activities.
Though both programs share similar details, each has its own specific objectives and requirements that businesses must consider when determining their eligibility. One question that businesses should ask themselves when approaching IRAP is if their upcoming project solves an internal technical challenge or if the research project is more geared towards the development of innovative technologies with a level of technical uncertainty or risk.
Please use the flowchart below to determine if ARP or Mid-Size Project grants are most suitable for your research project:
Small and mid-sized businesses can access the following NRC-IRAP Research and Development Funding streams:
IRAP Accelerated Review Process (ARP)
NRC’s IRAP Accelerated Review Process (ARP) program supports innovative R&D projects that aim to solve internal technical challenges, which can lead to process and product improvements. The program allows businesses to conduct exploratory research to facilitate growth while improving market competitiveness. IRAP grants can be used to increase a project’s return-on-investment (ROI) by reducing labour expenses and accelerating project timelines.
Eligible applicants may receive up to 80% to offset internal labour costs and up to 50% of third-party Canadian consulting costs, to a maximum contribution of $50,000 in research grants.
IRAP Accelerated Review Process (ARP) program will support the following project types:
- Assessment and development of technologies to improve internal processes;
- Feasibility studies and assessments for new services and/or product ventures; and
- Prototype engineering activities.
Projects provided funding through IRAP’s ARP program must be completed within the fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).
IRAP Mid-Size Projects
IRAP Mid-Size Project research grants support the commecialization of innovative technology-driven processes and products. The program supports projects that seek to enhance or develop a new process, product, or service that will fill a market gap. Eligible businesses can leverage government funding to offset a project’s direct technical labour expenses.
Eligible applicants may receive up to 65-80% to offset project labour expenses to a maximum $100,000–500,000+ per year in Canadian government funding.
IRAP Mid-Size Projects program will support the following project types:
- Process or product development;
- Product commercialization; and
- Process or product improvements and/or innovative variations.
Projects provided funding through IRAP’s Mid-Size Projects program are typically completed within 36 months.
IRAP Youth Employment Program (YEP)
The NRC IRAP Youth Employment Program (YEP) provides businesses conducting research and development projects with hiring grants to offset youth (15-30 years of age) employment salaries for 6-12 months. Eligible businesses will have access to fresh post-secondary talent to address a technical challenge or innovation opportunity. Canadian government funding can be used to cover the salary expenses of up to two recent graduates that have been hired to conduct research for an innovative project. Please note that businesses cannot hire candidates before their hiring grants application is accepted by IRAP.
Eligible businesses may receive up to $30,000 per graduate to cover payroll costs.
IRAP Youth Employment Program will support businesses that hire recent graduates to assist with the following technical or technology related projects:
- Market analysis for new technology-based products/services;
- Research and development to solve an internal technical challenge;
- Multi-media enhancements;
- Business development that supports science and/or technology related activities;
- Improving customer services; and
- Engineering activities.
How to Apply to IRAP Research and Development Funding Programs
Canadian businesses with innovative projects may be eligible to receive IRAP research grants. In order to apply to NRC’s IRAP Accelerated Review Process and/or IRAP Mid-Size Projects programs, business must take the following steps:
- Contact IRAP via their phone hotline (1-877-994-4727) to express program interest – businesses will be assigned an IRAP Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA);
- Meet with your assigned IRAP ITA to discuss the business’ innovation priorities and technical challenges;
- Present potential projects to overcome specified challenges that may be a suitable fit for funding (IRAP will provide initial application forms during this session);
- Complete and submit the application forms provided by your NRC-IRAP ITA and provide additional context and progress reports as required.
Businesses that are interested in applying to receive IRAP grants may contact Mentor Works to learn more, however all applicants will need to work directly with IRAP to receive funding.
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