There are a variety of Canadian government funding programs that exist for small and medium-sized companies in the manufacturing sector; this includes Ontario small business grants and loans. Unfortunately, few firms take full advantage of all of the government funding mechanisms available, and even less know which programs to utilize in order to support their strategic growth initiatives.
As the Government Funding Planners, Mentor Works routinely educates manufacturers about their top choices for accessing government grants and repayable funding. Our comprehensive research on top government funding programs helps us to better inform small business leaders about the possibilities available to match strategic initiatives to active funding opportunities.
Although the “top” choices will differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, there are a number of Canadian manufacturing grants that provide support for a wide range of employers and projects, which make them ideal as a basis for a successful government funding strategy. Each of these manufacturing grants and loans are outlined below, including links to stay updated on program updates, deadlines, and an invitation to learn more about these programs through a small business funding webinar.
1. Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF): Business Expansion through Strategic Investment
The Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) was launched in 2017 as a 5-year program supporting facility expansion and technology adoption projects that lead to more competitive manufacturing processes. Government funding will support up to 50% of eligible project costs, however the type of funding support is left to the discretion of application reviewers. This means that manufacturers can either receive non-repayable grants, repayable loans, or a combination of both types of support.
2. Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP): Research and Development Funding Grants
Most incorporated manufacturing firms are eligible for several research grants through the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP Funding). IRAP offers two project streams, including IRAP Accelerated Review Process (ARP) and IRAP Mid-Size Projects. The streams provide similar support in terms of project types, however, the application process is more advanced for projects with larger budgets.
IRAP Accelerated Review Process (ARP)
The IRAP Accelerated Review Process (ARP) provides grant funding for small business supporting 80% of direct labour costs and 50% of subcontractor fees, up to $50,000. This Canadian research and development grant is available for most Canadian corporations that have the capacity to carry out internal R&D and have been incorporated for at least 2 years. Some of the best uses for these small business grants are Business Process Mapping (BPM), Lean Manufacturing Projects, and any project that aims to solve an internal technical challenge.
IRAP Mid-Size Projects
Alternately, the IRAP Mid-Size Projects stream provides research and development grants to support up to 65%-80% of labour costs across the project, to an upper limit that typically does not surpass $500,000. As opposed to the ARP stream, mid-size projects typically focus on development and commercialization of products that fill a market void and can be used to achieve significant benefits. Applicants must be incorporated for a minimum of two years and maintain fewer than 500 employees.
3. CanExport: Trade Show and Global Expansion Grants for Business
To support international business expansion, Canadian manufacturers should explore the CanExport program. CanExport is designed to reduce the costs associated with participating in international trade shows, such as rental of a booth, travel and accommodation, and translation of marketing materials to support foreign audiences. With successful application, manufacturers may be able to access up to 50% of eligible expenses to a maximum $99,999 in government grants. Eligibility requirements include company incorporation for at least 1 year, $200k-$50M in annual, taxed revenues, and a maximum of 250 employees.
4. Canada Job Grant: Hiring Grants for Manufacturers
One of the major growth constraints experienced by Canadian manufacturers is access to skilled labour. As manufacturing technologies evolve, so do the skillsets required to keep business operating efficiently. To improve the skillsets of new and existing employees, manufacturers should consider using the Canada Job Grant (CJG). The Canada Job Grant is a federally-led program that offers businesses up to 66% of third-party training costs to a maximum $10,000 per trainee. Training topics most likely to receive funding support will improve employee skillsets and prepare them for job advancement. To be eligible, manufacturers must have a minimum $2M in general liability insurance for the duration of the training program.
5. Hiring Grants: Recruit Top Talent from Canadian Colleges and Universities
Another way to develop a team of highly skilled employees is to develop a post-secondary recruitment plan that includes the use of hiring grants. There are many types of hiring grants and wage subsidies available to manufacturers, with the majority of programs becoming available in the spring months each year, when post-secondary recruitment is most active. By using hiring grants, most manufacturers will be able to receive up to 50-70% of a recent graduate’s wages to a maximum of $14,000-$20,000. Since the availability of these programs vary throughout the year, manufacturers should use the Wage Subsidy Identifier online form to detail the position they’re hiring for and ideal candidate. This will help to narrow down the choices and provide you with a clear picture of funding programs to apply towards.
Next Steps: Attend a Free Canadian Government Funding Webinar
Ready to take the next step and uncover additional government funding programs that your Canadian manufacturing business can use? Those who are interested in receiving manufacturing grants can register for a free small business funding webinar, hosted by a Government Funding Planner from Mentor Works. During these sessions we can uncover a broader range of support for projects, and can outline the funding application process.