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. The next scheduled intakes for this program are September 15 – October 14, 2020, and January 15 – February 16, 2021.
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 meet the following criteria:
- Be a high-growth business producing innovative goods, services, or technologies;
- Maintain profitable operations in Western Canada (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, or Manitoba) for at least two years;
- Non-government funding must represent at least 50% of the proposed project costs;
- Maintain fewer than 500 full-time employees; and
- Be incorporated at the time of application.
Projects Eligible for Western Economic Diversification Canada’s BSP Technology Loans
Likewise, to be eligible for Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP), companies must use program funding to support projects and activities such as:
- Productivity Improvement: Adoption or adaptation of innovative technologies and processes.
- Business Scale-up: Expanding management capacity.
- Tech Commercialization: Commercializing/producing new products or processes.
- Researching/developing export markets.
Successful BSP applications must have an impact on at least one of the following priorities:
- Advanced Manufacturing;
- Value-added Agriculture;
- Clean Technology;
- Natural Resources Processing;
- Digital Industries;
- Clean Resources; or
Preferences are given to:
- Clean Technology;
- Food and Ingredient Processing;
- Health Analytics and Diagnostics; and
- Zero Emissions Heavy Equipment Vehicles.
How to Apply for BSP Western Canada Technology Loans
The Business Scale-up and Productivity program accepts applications during scheduled Calls for Proposals (CFPs). The next scheduled intakes are September 15 – October 14, 2020, and January 15 – February 16, 2021.
During these intakes, businesses can submit application packages to Western Economic Diversification Canada for evaluation 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 have sufficient resources to lead the project.
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.