Western Canada is home to many of the country’s most innovative and globally-oriented businesses. But while significant growth potential exists within the region, it’s often difficult for companies to make large-scale investments in productivity-boosting technologies. Despite the long-term benefits of adopting or adapting technology, upfront project costs can impact cash flow and make these types of investments less attractive.
Fortunately, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) provides the Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP) program to offset upfront project costs and help businesses grow more quickly. It provides no-interest repayable contributions (government loans) with repayment beginning within a year of project completion. This supports companies as they adopt or adapt technologies, then repay the cost of equipment over a period of up to five years when it’s helping to generate additional revenues.
The Business Scale-up and Productivity Program provides technology loans of up to 50% of project costs to a maximum $5 million per project and $10 million per applicant.
To apply for BSP funding, eligible applicants must develop and submit a comprehensive application package that consists of the program’s main application form, a business plan, financial statements for the last two full years of operation, and forecasted financial statements for the duration of the project. All projects must be complete by the program’s end date of December 31, 2023.
What is the WD Business Scale-up and Productivity Program?
Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) is one of Canada’s six regional development agencies that provide funding for strategic business projects. Its Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP) program helps companies adopt, adapt, and commercialize innovative technologies that have a significant impact on productivity. The equipment funding incentive places a direct focus on using technology to grow British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba-based businesses so that they can compete more effectively with international firms.
Launched in December 2018, the program replaces Western Innovation Initiative (WINN), a popular program that also provided funding towards developing advanced technologies. BSP funding is similar to WINN funding, but with some unique differences in its funding contribution, applicant eligibility, and project focus.
Western Canada companies can access up to $5 million in technology loans through the Business Scale-up and Productivity program.
If accepted into the program, applicants receive funding to directly offset incurred project costs. Companies access funding by reporting approved project expenses, then receive a contribution of up to 50% of those costs. Funding is provided to companies throughout the project and must be repaid within six years of project completion. Generally, applicants begin repayment within one year after the completion of their project and provide consistent payments over the next 50 months. There is no penalty for early repayment.
Businesses Eligible for BSP Expansion and Equipment Funding
To qualify for the Western Business Scale-up and Productivity program, companies must:
- Maintain profitable operations in western Canada (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, or Manitoba) for at least two years;
- Maintain fewer than 500 full-time employees; and
- Be incorporated at the time of application.
Projects Eligible for Western Economic Diversification Canada’s BSP
Likewise, to be eligible for Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP), companies must use its funding to support projects and activities such as:
- Early adoption or adaptation of innovative technologies and processes.
- Expanding management capacity.
- Commercializing/producing new products or processes.
- Researching/developing export markets.
- Must focus on advanced manufacturing, digital technology, value-added agriculture, clean technology, clean resources, or life sciences.
Successful BSP applications must have an impact on at least one of the following priorities:
- Advanced manufacturing;
- Value-added agriculture;
- Clean technology;
- Digital technology;
- Clean resources; and
- Life sciences.
How to Apply for BSP Western Canada Technology Loans
The Business Scale-up and Productivity program accepts applications during scheduled Calls for Proposals (CFPs). During these intakes, businesses can submit application packages to Western Economic Diversification Canada and have them evaluated by federal government reviewers. If applicants pass the pre-screening process, they will receive contact from a government official who will request additional project information, including financial information. The government will also conduct a credit check to ensure applicants can lead the project.
The next intake periods are: February 24 – March 23, 2020, September 15 – October 14, 2020, and January 15 – February 16, 2020.
It takes approximately six months from the CFP deadline to receive project approval. Applicants must receive approval prior to incurring eligible project expenses. Applications are assessed based on the applicant’s overall eligibility and ability to deliver project-related impacts such as technology demonstration and commercialization, expansion into global markets, and job creation.
Are you a good fit for the Business Scale-up and Productivity program? Contact Mentor Works to discuss your eligibility and learn how to optimize its application process.
Updated: February 25, 2020