The Southern Ontario Fund for Investment in Innovation (SOFII) is a long-term self-sustaining program that provides repayable funding for Ontario-based small and medium-sized businesses. Through the program, innovative high-growth companies may access funding to support scale-up costs.
With SOFII, southern Ontario SMEs may access small business loans valued up to 50% of project costs to a maximum $150,000 to $500,000.
To qualify for SOFII small business loans, companies must (among other criteria) be located in southern Ontario and maintain 50-500 employees. Loans are provided to support growth-based projects; to be successful, applicants must clearly demonstrate how projects increase revenue and lead to the loan being repaid.
SOFII Funding for Small Business: Program Details
The Southern Ontario Fund for Investment in Innovation was launched as an $8M fund in 2012 and enhanced in 2014 to include an additional $20M. The program is self-sustaining, meaning as funds are repaid from existing participants, they can be dispersed to new applicants.
SOFII’s repayable funding is advantageous to high-growth companies that have trouble securing loans from financial institutions. It offers funding for up to 50% of project costs, which typically range from $150,000 to $500,000. This funding will enable projects such as innovative research, development, and commercialization activities that lead to revenue growth.
For a more in-depth look at how the SOFII program is run, explore Mentor Works’ SOFII overview blog.
Companies Eligible for SOFII Small Business Loans Ontario
To qualify for the Southern Ontario Fund for Investment in Innovation, companies must:
- Operate in southern Ontario;
- Maintain more than 50 and fewer than 500 employees (or demonstrate how they will reach 50 employees within a three-year period);
- Be a member of the knowledge-based industry, including (but not limited to) firms involved in pharmaceuticals, health technologies, new materials, software telecommunications, information technology, medical equipment, and avionics.
- Demonstrate the ability or experience to operate the business;
- Plan to create and retain jobs in the region;
- Be suitable for public funding and unable to obtain financing assistance from other sources;
- Repay the SOFII government funding contribution; and
- Have successfully secured funding through private investment, financial or equity partnerships, or working capital.
Projects Eligible for SOFII Ontario Small Business Loans
SOFII Ontario small business loans are intended to support:
- Developing new products and/or services;
- Commercializing new products and/or services;
- Using existing technologies for applications or markets; and
- Implementing new processes or technologies to improve innovation or productivity.
Eligibility of Expenses
Most reasonable expenses related to an eligible project can be included for funding. Loans will be awarded based on a project’s overall budget and outcomes. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Incremental new hires;
- Equipment and working capital;
- Documentation development and creation;
- Marketing materials;
- Trade shows and conferences;
- Innovation demonstrations and pilots; and
Get Started with the Southern Ontario Fund for Investment in Innovation
Businesses eligible for SOFII support can develop and submit applications year-round. To get started with the application process, companies must develop a Statement of Intent (SOI) that includes a questionnaire and supporting documentation to detail a proposed project(s).
Within 15 business days (3 weeks) from submission, applicants will be advised whether they should proceed with a full Loan Application. Final applications can take between 4-11 weeks to approve once submitted.
Contact Mentor Works to discuss whether SOFII loans are a good fit for your business. Our team of Government Funding Planners can also assist with the application process.
Posted: March 26, 2013 by Ryan Weaver. Updated: January 10, 2018 by Jeff Shepherd