Canadian Government Funding Landscape Spring 2019

This summer is an ideal time for businesses to access Canadian government funding programs. There are many new, existing, and re-launching incentives worth applying to over the coming months to ensure your business is well-positioned for growth. Like Canada’s seasons, governments operate on cycles that change throughout the year. With the reset of government fiscal years and an upcoming federal election to keep watch on, it’s expected that the funding landscape will continue rapidly evolving.

The government funding landscape is constantly changing. Companies should evaluate their growth priorities and consider if government funding programs can help achieve success.

Significant business growth challenges can be turned into growth opportunities with careful planning and use of Canadian government funding programs. Hiring and training employees, researching and developing innovative products/processes, expanding production and exports, and purchasing advanced technologies are just some of the ways that businesses plan to build a competitive edge; fortunately, these are all areas where companies can receive government grants and incentives.

Summer 2019 Canadian Government Funding Landscape Insights

Over the last few months, we’ve seen the launch of new government funding programs that benefit companies across Canada. In addition to the new funds available, we’ve started tracking a wider range of existing programs that support growing businesses inside and outside of Ontario. These incentives should be explored by all companies to see if there’s a good fit.

In addition to the programs we gained visibility into during Spring, there were also many programs that changed or closed. In these cases, we recommend closely reviewing the affected grants and loans and note if it impacts your business’ funding potential, either positively or negatively. If a funding program has closed or is no longer available, other Canadian government funding programs may provide an attractive alternative.

This blog also shares some of our high-level posts from the last three months that provide detailed reviews of the government funding landscape as they relate to Ontario’s 2019 provincial budget, a client success story, top manufacturing funding programs, and top incentives for agriculture and agri-food businesses. These are a good starting point if you’re new to the concept of business grants and loans.

Consider using the following grant and loan opportunities to accelerate business growth. Want to learn more? Register for an upcoming funding webinar.

New Programs and Focuses for Mentor Works

Spring 2019 was filled with great news of new government funding programs, including recently launched incentives and some provincial funds that were previously less of a focus for Mentor Works and our clients. Programs worth considering for your organization include:

  • Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) Stream 5: The Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) is designed to support business investments into cutting-edge technologies and processes. It traditionally provided four streams of funding, however, it recently opened a fifth stream of funding for “National Ecosystems.” This stream of funding offers a continuous intake of applications from industry-oriented R&D collaborations. Like other streams of SIF funding, applicants may receive up to 20-50% of eligible project costs with a minimum request of $10 million in conditionally repayable contributions.
  • Funding for Technology R&D Collaborations: The federal government’s Innovation Superclusters Initiative (ISI) led to the establishment of many collaborative industry groups. These groups have a mandate to enhance business productivity and diversify export opportunities. Now that these groups have been formed, they’re encouraging Canadian businesses to participate in collaborative projects led by consortium members. The NGen Manufacturing (NGen) Supercluster and Protein Industries Canada (PIC) Supercluster are both actively seeking projects aligned to manufacturing and agriculture (respectively); interested companies should learn more about the collaboration process and what results should come from projects.
  • Eastern Ontario Rural Innovation Initiative (RII): The Rural Innovation Initiative (RII) Regional Stream is an Ontario government funding program that helps businesses invest in competitiveness-boosting technologies. Companies operating in Eastern Ontario regions can access up to $100,000 in government grants to identify growth opportunities, then purchase and install the equipment to help get them there. All projects must be complete by December 31, 2020.
  • Upcoming IDEaS Defence Technology Challenges: The Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program is a federally-run incentive that invites Canadian manufacturers and technology developers to propose solutions to military and defence challenges. In exchange, innovators can receive grants and procurement contracts. Challenges are generally only open for 4-5 weeks, which is why it’s so important to keep an eye out for upcoming applicable challenges. We’ve identified upcoming challenges to be hosted over Summer 2019; explore the blog to learn more and target a challenge applicable to your organization.
  • BC Rural Dividend Fund: A popular program directed towards municipalities in British Columbia, the Rural Dividend Fund supports economic development and diversification projects. Communities can access up to 60-100% of eligible project costs to a maximum $10,000 to $500,000 in grants per project. Applications are accepted during scheduled intake periods; the current intake closes on August 15, 2019.
  • Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP) Atlantic Canada: As part of the federal government’s Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) initiative, businesses in Atlantic Canada can access the Business Scale-up and Productivity program to reduce the costs of strategic technology development and implementation projects. Organizations may apply throughout the year and request up to 50% of eligible project expenses to a maximum $20 million in conditionally repayable funding.

Program Updates and Closures

In addition to the announcement of new program launches and innovation challenges, there were many changes to how programs operate. Some programs changed drastically, while others have been shut down and are no longer available to new applicants. Consider if these updates impact your funding intentions moving forward:

  • Export Market Access and Export Manager Program: In April we tracked the closure of two well-known Ontario government funding programs designed to support exports and global expansion. The Export Market Access (EMA) and Export Manager Program (EMP) are now closed to new applications, although companies that submitted their forms prior to the program closing will still be considered. Consider following-up with the program if your application is still pending review to ensure it’s moving through the review process.
  • Canada Media Fund: The Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream has been updated to re-focus its support streams. Instead of the program’s old streams and contribution rates, funding is now provided through three new streams, including Conceptualization projects (75%/$15,000), Prototyping projects (75%/$250,000), and Innovation Projects (75%/$1,500,000.) Major updates to this suite of funding programs include changing the overall funding maximum to $1.5 million per project, combining production and marketing support, and creating a new stream for early-stage development projects.
  • Hiring Grant Options: The hiring grants landscape is constantly shifting. Despite these changes, employers need to know what types of hiring grants and incentives are available. In April we examined the current state of hiring grants and discussed the major types of hiring incentives available, including grants for hiring student interns and recent post-secondary graduates.
  • NSERC Industry-Academic Research Grants: The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) offers government funding to reduce the costs of collaborative R&D projects completed at colleges and universities. The program used to maintain a few programs like NSERC Engage, Engage Plus, and Collaborative Research and Development (CRD). These have been re-imagined to streamline the administration and application processes. Companies can now use NSERC funding through the Engage stream (up to $25,000) for applied college-based research projects, while the new NSERC Alliance grant (up to $1 million/ project/ year) helps businesses reduce the cost of university-based scientific research projects.

Overviews of the Canadian Government Funding Landscape

  • Funding for Manufacturing and Agriculture: With insight into the top Canadian government funding programs for a range of industries, Mentor Works can help recommend the most suitable incentives for businesses’ upcoming growth projects. We’ve taken this knowledge to develop a snapshot of funding available for two key Canadian industries: manufacturing and agriculture. Agri-food and beverage manufacturers may want to review both!
  • 2019 Ontario Provincial Budget Impact on Funding: Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party released its first provincial budget this Spring. Included are many indicators of a shifting government funding landscape, such as the concept that most (if not all) existing Ontario government funding programs will receive a “value-for-money” review with uncompetitive programs being reformed or removed entirely. This provincial focus has already led to shifts in the funding landscape, including the elimination of EMA and EMP.
  • Infographic: Manufacturing Funding Success Story: Additionally, we wanted to share a client success story that deserves the attention of all Canadian manufacturers. One of Mentor Works’ most proactive clients, a mold maker serving the automotive industry, has had incredible success accessing government funding programs. Learn about their success and some of the strategies they use to drive value from grant and repayable funding applications.

Develop a Canadian Government Funding Plan

Ready to build a funding plan based on the growth opportunities and programs identified throughout this article? Join Mentor Works’ team of Canadian Government Funding Planners™ during an upcoming webinar to learn more about the government funding landscape. These 30- to 60-minute sessions take a deep-dive into funding eligibility criteria, explain how the funding process works, and identify specific government funding programs your business can use to fuel its growth.

Register for an upcoming webinar to learn more about funding programs for your industry and specific growth opportunities.

Canadian Government Funding Events for Small Business

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Written by

Jeff Shepherd holds an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration at the University of Guelph. He is passionate about Canadian business, economics, and politics. As Marketing Coordinator for Mentor Works, Jeff educates business leaders about proactive funding strategies.

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