The face of the modern business community is changing, and in today’s web-based culture, it is near impossible for a business to thrive without an online presence. As Google replaces the Yellow Pages, search engines become a global business directory and a ‘one-stop-shop’ for users scouring the Internet for wants and needs. Without an established online presence, businesses risk losing sales to their more technologically adept competition. Increasingly, a business’ website is not only the initial point of contact between businesses and consumers, but also often the only point of contact. Businesses face the challenge of being creative in the ways they can serve and interact with customers without ever coming face-to-face.
Upgrading, expanding or developing a website can prove to be a burdensome task to some SME’s who struggle to foot the cost for expensive web developers and search engine optimization (SEO) experts, and most SME’s do not have the talent internally. Fortunately, Canadian small businesses have access to a number of profitable small business funding grants to help ensure they don’t fall through the cracks despite these obstacles.
Overview of Business Funding Grants for Web Development & Online Marketing
The Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) Accelerated Review Process provides grant funding for business projects that revolve around software implementation, productivity improvements, and production design or marketing projects. Eligible applicants looking to implement or improve SEO, web applications and/or development and content strategies, could profit from this funding for small business program, which covers 80% direct labour cost and 50% sub-contractor costs, up to a maximum of $50K in non-repayable funding. IRAP funding is allocated on a per region basis and some regions still have funding left for projects that can end on or before March 31, 2013. Otherwise, small businesses can apply for this research and development funding when it becomes available again in April 2013 (funding allocation pending).
The Small Business Internship Program (SBIP) is a beneficial funding vehicle for web marketing activities such as web development, keyword analysis, SEO, site ranking, conversion traffic, press releases, building content and link building strategies. SBIP supports these projects by providing grant funding for business hiring initiatives, subsidizing wages for new graduates up to $10K with business contribution of only $2500. This program not only allows businesses to receive cash flow support towards their web marketing projects, but also allows them the opportunity to connect to fresh talent in the workforce. 2012 funding is depleted, however the program is expected to re-launch in Spring 2013.
Information & Communication Technology (ICTC) Career Focus is another ideal source of government funding for small business web development. This program supports the hiring of a new graduate to perform IT activities related to website development, SEO, software development, database creation and maintenance, conversion traffic, and various other content and linking strategies. ICTC Career Focus contributes 50% of salary and benefits up to $12,750 to hire a graduate full-time for 4-8 months to dedicate to IT efforts. This program is expected to reopen in Q2 2013
For more technical web-related projects such as programming web apps and developing e-commerce and web portals, the Graduate Enterprise Internship (GEI)/iSTEM program supports the hiring of specialized graduates from the Science, Technical, Engineering and/or Mathematics (STEM) fields of study. The GEI/iSTEM program is currently available and contributes 50% of salary (CPP+EI) for a 6-month internship, supporting up to $10K for graduate interns with a Bachelor degree, and up to $15K for Masters or Ph.D’s.
Canadian Government Funding Support via Mentor Works Ltd.
Effective execution of website strategy, design and content are all integral components of a business’ successful online presence. Businesses can contact our Team of Canadian Government Funding Experts or sign up for our Weekly Canadian Government Funding E-Newsletter to receive the latest funding updates and releases.