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Does your business have a software development idea that you are looking to develop but also want to conserve equity?  Finding information is difficult, as opportunities are scattered across a multitude of different government and non-profit sites.  What is more, there is no one grant that is the best for everyone, as they are each suited for different types of ventures, businesses, and projects.

Fortunately, through our work with hundreds of clients, we have come to learn which Canadian government funding programs are the best for software development ventures, and we also provide support services to help you navigate the process. Mentor Works has summarized the best small business grants and funding support for software development below.

1. Research and Development Projects

The National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP)

The IRAP program grants money to expedite companies’ innovative research and development projects. This program is administered by the National Research Council and funding contributions are provided by the federal government. Eligible R&D projects are described as being innovative with a level of technical uncertainty.

Businesses can receive up to 60-80% of internal technical labour and subcontractor costs expensed.

Intake periods for the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) start April 1, ending on March 31 every year. Single-year projects must happen between that timeline, with 12+ months being allowed for larger projects.

This is a proactive funding program, meaning that your business needs to be approved for an eligible project before costs can be incurred. If you are looking for retroactive funding for an already completed project, consider looking at the SR&ED tax incentive program. You can learn more about the difference between IRAP and SR&ED funding with our free whitepaper.

2. Business Funding Grants for Hiring

Canada Summer Jobs

In order to help the youth of Canada get some software development experience under their belt, the federal government offers a yearly wage subsidy program called Canada Summer Jobs, which subsidizes 50% of the provincial minimum wage for employees aged 15 – 30. This is just one of many hiring grant and wage subsidy programs available to Canadian businesses, but we believe it’s one of the best.

Depending on when you are reading this article, the Canada Summer Jobs program may or may not be open for applications. Many similar hiring grant and loan programs have short intake periods and open with relatively short notice, so we highly recommend you subscribe to our newsletter to be notified of program launches.

3. Getting Your Innovative Software to Market

Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream

The Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream is here to help Canadian-made software go from an idea, to a prototype, to its development stage, and finally its marketing. Businesses can receive up to 75% of eligible costs covered to a maximum of $15k-$1.5M per project phase. The maximum amount a single project can access is $1.5M. The Experimental Stream offers different funding programs to apply to, depending on where your software idea is in its development stage:

  1. Conceptualization (75%/$15K)
  2. Prototyping (75%/$250K)
  3. Innovation (75%/$1.5M)

Eligible projects can include video games, mobile applications, web 2.0 or higher, software with connections to Canada’s cultural sector, and audio-visual accessibility projects.

4. Entering Foreign Markets

CanExport

Software development companies looking to expand their digital products into foreign markets can receive funding towards marketing tools, translators, market research, legal advice, IP protection, certifications, and more through the CanExport program.

Businesses can receive up to 75% of project marketing expenses to a maximum of $75,000.

Businesses eligible for funding through this program need to maintain an annual revenue of $100,000, maintain between 1 – 500 employees, and have at least $20,000 in project expenses. View the full list of eligibility criteria for the CanExport program.

Find More Software Development Programs

There are far more government funding programs for software development companies than the ones shown here. You can find government funding programs related to business expansion, capital investment & technology adoption, research & development, and hiring and training.

Get help navigating the government funding process by downloading our free slide deck to learn how your business can find government funding programs that are in line with your strategic growth projects.

Navigating the Canadian Government Funding Process

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Written by

Matthew has a background in digital marketing, working with small business owners on their branding, digital marketing strategy, and the execution of their campaigns. As a Marketing Coordinator at Mentor Works, Matthew continues to help business owners by creating educational content on what Government funding opportunities are available to Canadian businesses. Follow Matthew Mongeon on Twitter or add him on LinkedIn for government funding updates.

Comments 6

5 April 2018 Reply

Can anyone apply for Funding?

6 April 2018 Reply

Hi Delkn,

Most Canadian government funding programs, including those for software developers, require businesses to be incorporated and financially stable for a minimum two years. This shows government reviewers that taxpayer money is being awarded fairly and competitively.

15 June 2019 Reply

is there any Grant’s or funding for app development in Ontario Canada ?

17 June 2019 Reply

Hi Michael, great question, thanks for asking us – it should be updated soon! Ontario Creates is a provincial funding agency that offers government funding programs to support interactive digital media (software and game) development. Check out their Interactive Digital Media Fund for up to $50,000 to $250,000 in funding. Don’t forget to send us a message if you want to chat about your project and identify ways to optimize the application and reporting processes!

16 July 2020 Reply

Hi there, Is there any Grants or funding agencies for app development in Manitoba Canada ?

17 July 2020 Reply

Hi Harshita – Yes, absolutely there are a number of options, including the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) mentioned in this blog.
Mentor Works can actually help you build a funding plan directly if you have 15 or more full-time payroll employees and have been incorporated for at least 3 years; let us know a bit more about your company by filling out our Contact Form and we can explore funding options together. If you are a startup, there are also Startup Resources available specifically for young companies.

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