There are hundreds of Canadian small business grants and loans that companies can apply to. There are some key strategies to keep in mind to optimize your chances of success though; for one, always consider the program’s eligibility criteria. It’s not worth applying to small business grants and loans that are not a fit for your business or upcoming project. The second top strategy is that when it comes to developing an application, most funding programs favour projects that lead to increased productivity, innovation and exports (PIE).
Relating strategic projects to productivity, innovation, and export benefits is a key way to connect with government reviewers and show the value of your investment.
This strategy works based on the concept that most small business grants and loans have a focus/mandate to support those types of projects. Because PIE factors can heavily influence the review process where evaluation criteria often include productivity, innovation, and exports, Canadian businesses need to understand how to incorporate these themes into their funding proposals. Mentor Works deploys this tactic with all our clients for enhanced success rates.
Top 3 Factors for Small Business Grant Applications
When developing Canadian government funding applications, companies should consider framing their project in relation to three top factors: productivity, innovation, and exports (PIE). Learn how each of these components relates to a small business’ ability to qualify for grants and loans.
Factor #1: Productivity
Productivity is a key factor to consider for many government-funded projects. The federal and provincial governments want to ensure that funding awarded to a company is used to help drive process improvements. Naturally, enhanced productivity could lead to exports if there’s an export strategy in place, although the critical element here is that a firm can produce the same amount or more product for less money. Equipment grants should always lead to productivity enhancements, wider profit margins, and a healthier business.
Productivity is a central measure used by government funding review teams to ensure the project delivers a quantifiable, long-term benefit.
Productivity projects are generally large in scale, requiring investments into infrastructure and equipment that can costs millions of dollars. To access hundreds of thousands or even millions in funding through the government for these projects, funding applications must convey that these enhancements will lead to new business opportunities and streamlined operations.
Factor #2: Innovation
Innovation is a growing trend in government funding programs. As Canada maintains its global position as a source of innovative products and processes, businesses need to invest more than ever. Advancing the commercial readiness of new, cutting-edge technologies can have wide-reaching impacts across individual organizations or industries, which is why there are more research grants and innovation funding programs than ever before.
Government reviewers consider innovation’s benefits and implications to company performance. The more disruptive the innovation, the more likely it is to receive funding.
While internal research projects are essential to driving innovation, many large-scale Canadian government funding programs now focus on collaborative research projects. Research completed in partnership with post-secondary research organizations, industry associations, non-profits, and other businesses can greatly help strengthen your application and widen the range of funding options that can be used.
Factor #3: Exports
Moving Canadian products across its borders into other countries, especially diverse markets, is an incredible benefit to build into any government funding application. While export grants exist specifically to help Canadian companies expand internationally, there are many other programs that use export growth as a secondary benefit and evaluation criterion. So, for a wide range of projects including facility expansion and technology adoption, companies should consider the potential impacts to company exports.
Establishing a primary export market or diversifying into previously untapped countries helps build a compelling story for Canadian government funding application reviewers.
Export growth is used to help determine a business’ resiliency to market changes. Companies with well diversified markets are likely to succeed in economic downturns and thrive in positive economic climates. Not only do export markets help sell more goods, they also ensure Canadian firms are not over-competing for the same domestic client base.
Bonus Factor: Jobs
Outside of productivity, innovation, and exports, one other factor is supremely important when it comes to developing competitive small business grant and loan applications: Jobs are another common element used by government review teams in their assessments. Companies proposing projects that are likely to create many new, high-quality jobs will have better chances of success than a project that proposes no (or few) new jobs to be created.
The number of jobs created by your project should be directly related to the size of investment and other project benefits. Large funding contributions should be met with large job growth.
Some Canadian government funding programs focused on business expansion use a formula to determine the ratio of investment to new jobs created. Other funding programs are less formal and instead place emphasis on a company’s rationale for the number and types of new jobs created. In this situation, fewer jobs may be required if the company creates and communicates the value behind advanced positions that require well-paid skilled labour.
Next Step: Discover Top Canadian Small Business Grants
These principles provide the basis of a Canadian government funding strategy. While the tips mentioned in this article will help you position your project, there are many other vital strategies that should be used to enhance your business’ chances of funding success. To optimize your success rate, consider working with Mentor Works, the Canadian Government Funding Planners.
To learn more about how we help businesses develop and execute funding strategies, please register for a webinar on small business grants and loans.