Please Note: The Scale-Up Vouchers Program is closed and no longer accepts applications. Please explore more business expansion funding opportunities.
Ontario’s small business community is booming, yet few of these companies effectively scale their solutions into global markets. In December 2015, there were 48.3 times more small businesses (1-99 employees) than medium-sized (100-499 employees) companies in Ontario. This trend is especially prevalent in the technology startup community where entrepreneurs are developing world-class intellectual property (IP) but have difficulty securing customers – in Canada and across the world.
Since business expansion is critical to long-term success of companies, measures need to be taken to ensure firms have the resources to scale effectively. This is the concept behind the Ontario Scale-Up Vouchers Program, a government funding initiative that connects high-growth technology businesses to mentors and project-oriented vouchers to reduce the cost of business expansion. This injection of expertise and capital will help innovation-intensive small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) increase global revenues.
Ontario Scale-Up Vouchers Program participants can access a business innovation ‘growth coach’ in addition to vouchers offsetting up to $1 million in project costs.
To apply, eligible Ontario-based SMEs must complete an online application outlining the business’ unique growth challenges. Vouchers are awarded after working with an assigned growth coach who can recommend activities for the business to perform.
Ontario Scale-Up Vouchers Program – Business Expansion Funding
The Ontario Scale-Up Vouchers Program is a unique approach to help early-stage, high-growth, innovation and technology-based businesses grow and access international markets. During the program, participants may receive two forms of support:
- Growth Coach Insights: Growth coaches are senior business leaders who’ve proven their expertise in one of four key business development areas, including talent management, sales and revenue growth, protection of IP, and access to capital. These technology and innovation leaders will provide actionable insights for businesses to effectively enter the next stage of growth.
- Business Development Vouchers: Recommendations from growth coaches will create new priorities for program participants to achieve. The activities become the basis for non-repayable vouchers which companies can use to directly offset project costs. Funding is available to reduce project expenses by up to $1 million.
Please Note: Working with a Growth Coach does not guarantee vouchers will be provided. Businesses must follow the recommendations outlined by their mentor to receive funding.
Participants start the program by being matched to a qualified coach who identifies ways to accelerate growth. Assigned Growth Coaches then begin working with the business to understand its challenges/barriers to success. Once a mentor understands the business’ situation, they will provide recommendations to fuel growth.
Businesses may choose what they do with these recommendations; if companies decide to immediately implement the growth plan, a second phase of the program may be used to receive government vouchers. Vouchers are a redeemable form of government funding where companies perform certain actions (those outlined in a growth plan) and offset a portion of costs. Ontario Scale-Up Vouchers Program participants may receive up to $1 million in vouchers to improve their project’s outcomes.
Please Note: Vouchers expire 24 months after being granted and can only be used once for eligible project activities.
Applicants Eligible for the Ontario Scale-Up Vouchers Program
To be eligible for the Ontario Scale-Up Vouchers Program, applicants must:
- Be based in Ontario (at least 50% of wages, full-time employees, and senior executives must be Ontario-based);
- Be a member of a technology or innovation-focused industry (including information and communications technology, clean technology, and life sciences);
- Maintain annual revenues of $5 million to $25 million;
- Maintain a minimum of 20 employees; and
- Have an annual growth rate of 20% (revenue, sales, or employment) and/or secured at least $2 million in private investment over the last two years.
How to Apply for the Ontario Scale-Up Vouchers Program
Eligible Ontario-based businesses may submit an online application to be considered for the Ontario Scale-Up Vouchers Program. Preliminary applications require audited financial statements and should provide international performance metrics to demonstrate growth opportunities. Applications are accepted continuously with occasional deadlines to indicate the end of certain program cohorts.
The next Scale-Up Vouchers Program growth plan deadline is scheduled for August 8, 2018.
Applicants typically receive application feedback within one month. At this time, companies may be approved or referred to other Ontario government funding programs.
To discuss your business’ eligibility for the Ontario Scale-Up Vouchers Program and receive application support, please contact Mentor Works.
Posted: June 21, 2017 by Jeff Shepherd. Updated: May 22, 2018 by Jeff Shepherd.