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.
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.
The Southern Ontario Fund for Investment in Innovation (SOFII) was launched as an $8M fund in 2012 and enhanced in 2014 to include an additional $20M. As participants repay the funds, new participants are eligible to participate. SOFII’s repayable funding is beneficial to companies with high growth that have trouble getting financing from traditional banks.
SOFII offers up to $150,000 to $500,000 in funding support for eligible businesses via interest bearing term loans that are repayable at anytime without penalty and have zero fees.
To qualify for SOFII, companies must fulfill the following eligibility criteria:
- Be based out of Southern Ontario;
- Have between 50 and 500 employees;
- Be a member of a knowledge-based industry, such as health technologies, information technology, or medical equipment;
- Prove the ability to operate and scale a business;
- Have a strategic plan to both create and retain jobs within Southern Ontario;
- Be suitable for public funding and unable to obtain financing assistance from third-party sources;
- Have the ability to repay the SOFII contribution in full and in a timely manner; and
- Have successfully secured funding through private investment, financial or equity partnerships, or working capital.
Eligible Projects for SOFII
This funding will enable projects such as innovative research, development, and commercialization activities that lead to revenue growth. SOFII Ontario small business loans are intended to support the following:
- Projects that aim to develop new products and/or services;
- Initiatives for commercializing new products and/or services;
- Use of existing technologies for new applications or markets; and
- Activities to implement new processes or technologies to improve innovation or productivity.
Eligibility of Expenses
A project’s reasonable expenses can be considered for funding. Budget and final outcomes of the project will determine how much a loan can be awarded. Among the eligibility factors are the following:
- Making incremental hires;
- Equipment and working capital;
- Documentation development and creation;
- Creating marketing materials;
- Taking part in trade shows and conferences;
- Innovation demonstrations and pilots; and
- Collecting the necessary inventory.
Applicants seeking SOFII support can make submissions at any time. The application process begins with a Statement of Intent (SOI) that includes a questionnaire and supporting documentation that describes the project(s).
Applicants may be advised 15 business days after submission whether they should proceed with a full loan application. Final applications may take up to 11 weeks to be approved.
Government Funding for Southern Ontario Businesses
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.
Moreover, if SOFII isn’t a good fit for your organization, there may be other government funding opportunities available. Visit our Ontario Funding Directory to see a comprehensive list of the top programs available in Ontario, including more Southern Ontario programs.
Mentor Works believes in each one of the applications that we support. Our detailed pre-qualification process leads to a higher rate of approval when compared to the global approval rates of each government funding program.
Posted: March 26, 2013 by Ryan Weaver. Updated: January 10, 2018 by Jeff Shepherd