Canadian Government Funding for Small Businesses

Mentor Works has worked with hundreds of SMEs across Canada to solve one wide sweeping issue: cash flow planning. The challenge facing most Canadian businesses is how to find and take advantage of suitable Canadian government grants and loans to assist with their cash flow and accelerate their growth. Browse a list of top small business funding programs to find out what your businesses can leverage:

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List of Canadian Government Grants and Loans for Small Businesses

We have created a table of some of the most popular government grants for small business units in Canada, including repayable funding options, splitting them up into:

Each program has specific and unique eligibility criteria that you should review prior to applying to ensure your business and project are eligible. If you would like information on a specific program, please click on the program name to learn more. Have questions about the program? Fill out the form at the bottom of the program page, call our toll free number (1-888-599-3111), or send us a message via our Contact Form.

Description Business
Hiring &
R & D
Advancing Water Technologies (AWT) Program
Receive up to $100k in grant funding towards an industry post-secondary collaborative research project to create new water technologies that will:

  • Commercialize new water technologies
  • Bring new water technologies to market
  • Tap into the global water demand
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AgriInnovation Program (AIP): Industry-Led Research & Development
AgriInnovation Program (AIP): Enabling Commercialization & Adoption Stream
Industry-led Research & Development Stream: Supports pre-commercialization R&D, leading to new agri-based products, processes, and practices.

  • Combines industry, academia, & government expertise to promote innovation
  • Scope may be national, regional, or local.

Enabling Commercialization & Adoption Stream: Accelerates the rate of identification, assessment, development and adoption of innovation-based products.

  • Commercialization projects of a new product or innovation
  • Technology adoption projects to improve internal operations or end products
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Alberta Export Support Fund Provides assistance to Alberta SMEs focused on reaching new markets through attending trade shows. Grants will offset up to 50% of costs related to:

  • Airfare to/from the event
  • Select accommodation
  • Trade show registration
  • Marketing material translation
AgriMarketing Program
Provides non-repayable funding support to Canadian agriculture, agri-food, fish, and seafood industries by allowing them to identify market priorities and carry out marketing activities to develop export opportunities:

  • Development and production of advertising materials
  • Trade shows, conferences, and trade missions
  • Implementing marketing and branding plans
Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit Supports the training and certification of new trades apprentices through wage subsidies. Credit covers the training of new trades employees. check-mark
Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit (Ontario) Incentive to allow SME’s to hire new apprentices in trades.

  • Register new trades apprentices in sectors where there is high demand for skilled workers
Automotive Innovation Fund (AIF) Supports the development of innovative, fuel-efficient new automotive products and processes to:

  • Create knowledge-based jobs in Canada;
  • Improve automotive sustainability and environmental impacts; and
  • Improve Canada’s competitiveness.
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Automotive Supplier Competitiveness Improvement Program (ASCIP) Enables automotive manufacturers’ adoption of innovative hardware and software to increase productivity and fuel global competitiveness. Grant funding will cover a portion of the costs associated with:

  • Software upgrades;
  • Innovative equipment/hardware implementation; and
  • Automated systems training.
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Automotive Supplier Innovation Program (ASIP) Provides research and development grants to assist with innovative automotive product development. Ideal project activities:

  • Prototyping;
  • Product engineering; and
  • Pre-commercialization testing and validation.
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Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP) The Build in Canada Innovation Program is a first purchase program offered by the Canadian government.

  • Pre-commerical, innovative product or service opportunity to bridge the commercialization gap
  • Must be of use to the Canadian government by improving efficiency and effectiveness
Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG) Receive up to 66% or $10K in training grants per trainee to enhance your workforce.

  • Most training that improves skillsets and career advancement is eligible.
  • Training can be carried out throughout the calendar year.
  • Program available from 2014-2020 with an annual funding pool of $192M in Ontario.
Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream Grant for developing, producing, and promoting innovative, interactive software development projects including apps and video games.

  • 3 streams: Development, Production or Marketing & Promotion
  • Covers up to 75% of eligible costs up to $400k/$1 million
  • Canadian companies can apply if ≥75% of content is developed in Canada
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Canada Small Business Financing Program Small businesses with <$10M in annual gross revenues can receive loan funding for expansion activities up to $1M.

  • Competitive interest rates
  • Can apply at a financial institution or credit union
  • May require a business plan
Canada Summer Jobs Encourages the hiring of young workers (i.e. 15-30 years) to allow for career related experience. Financial hourly wage subsidy program.

  • Part of the Youth Employment Strategy programs
Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP) Supports non-profits in developing new products, ideas, or technologies to advance the agricultural industry.

  • Covers 50% of costs; $1M project max & $4M lifetime funding max
  • Covers labour, equipment, travel, software, and other direct project costs
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Canadian International Innovation Program (CIIP) Supports collaborative research and development projects between Canadian businesses and international partners in Brazil, China, India, Israel, or South Korea.

  • Covers up to 50% of costs to a maximum $600,000 in government grants
  • Used for technology adaptation, validation, and co-development projects
Canadian government funding to assist businesses with export marketing activities related to markets not sold to in the last 24 months. Covers:

  • Trade shows, conferences, and related marketing and travel
  • Third party market research and competitive analysis
  • Product certifications & translation of marketing and packaging
CBaSE: University of Guelph Program Outsource market research and business plan development to a team of senior commerce students for 1 semester. Sample projects include:

  • International marketing plan development
  • Market research for prospective export target markets
  • Competitive analysis of new industry segment
CDMN Soft Landing Program Funding for mature startups and SMEs to enter into new markets, close international sales, or connect with new partners. The program connects businesses to local incubators to help fund international business activities.

  • Up to $4K in funding for international activities
  • Partnership with local business accelerator for market development
  • Desk space and associated services covered by CDMN for up to 3 months
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CME SMART Green Fund
Supports the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions among Ontario manufacturers. Grants may fund up to 50% of the cost of environmental assessments (to measure baseline GHG emissions) and implementation projects. Capital investments should simultaneously improve productivity while reducing carbon or other emissions.

  • Ontario government grants valued up to $200k/ facility or up to $500k for multiple facilities
  • Ideal for heating, cooling, and ventilation investments
  • Not applicable for manufacturers who’ve opted-in to Cap and Trade
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Community Futures Program – CFDC Loans for existing SMEs and start-ups to help with growth. Loans can be used for purchasing fixed assets, leasehold improvements, capital equipment, and operating capital.

  • Loans up to $150,000 for business development activities
  • Interest rate for the loan averages between 2-3% above prime, subject to local CFDC
  • Ontario businesses of all sizes can apply
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Connect Canada Internship Allows companies to solve a R&D problem through the hiring of an intern over 4-6 months. Eligible projects include:

  • Market Research
  • Applied Scientific Research
  • Technical Problem Solving
  • Software Solutions
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Eastern Ontario Development Fund (EODF) This program is designed to support business expansion projects that create jobs within Eastern Ontario, provides up to $1.5M in grant funding or a $5M fully repayable loan depending on the project size. Eligible costs include:

  • Capital Equipment
  • Leasehold Improvements
  • Direct Labour
  • Skills Training
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ecoENERGY Efficiency for Industry Program: ISO 50001 Provides grant funding for companies registered under NRCan as a CIPEC Leader to obtain ISO 50001 certification. Eligible costs include:

  • Accreditation
  • Development of energy baseline
  • Energy use assessment
  • Energy performance monitoring and reporting
  • Professional fees and training
Export Market Access (EMA)
Early Stage Exporters
Funding available through FedDev Ontario and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to assist SMEs in their international ventures. Grant covers 50% eligible expenses up to max of $30k such as:

  • Marketing brochures, sell sheets, pre & post show mailers
  • Trade shows and related exhibition costs, display panels, banners
  • Translation and freight
  • Flights and per diem allowance for meals/lodging
  • Industry Market or competitive research
  • Also includes foreign bidding projects
Greenbelt Fund: Local Food Investment Fund Ontario grant initiative, dedicating $6M through three streams to assist the Broader Public Sector, Market Access, and Local Food Literacy throughout Ontario. Aims to:

  • Increase local food purchases
  • Increase access of farms/processors to markets
  • Improve exposure to where local food can be found
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Going Global Innovation (GGI) Government grants for businesses pursuing collaborative research and development relationships with an international partner. Companies may receive up to 75% of project expenses up to $75,000 to formalize research partnerships in a global market. Grants cover the costs of:

  • Travel including airfare and local transportation;
  • Accommodations such as hotels;
  • Meals and incidentals;
  • Visa applications; and
  • Other non-research related costs such as meeting or administrative expenses.
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Growing Forward 2 Ontario for Organizations & Collaborations
Growing Forward 2 Ontario for Food & Agri-product Processors & Producers
Cost-sharing grants for 35-75% of project costs, aimed at supporting the agricultural industry in Ontario to expand, innovate and become more competitive. Funding is available to support:

  • Labour Productivity Enhancement
  • Market Development
  • Assurance Systems
  • Business and Leadership Development
  • Environmental and Climate Change Adaptation
  • Animal and Plant Health
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IESO Conservation Fund The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) created the Conservation Fund to provide support for significant advances in new conservation and demand management programs, practices and technologies that impact Ontario’s initiative to reduce electricity consumption by 2030. Eligible costs are those related to developing or piloting conservation programs , practices and technologies, including:

  • Design and development
  • Installation and implementation
  • Testing and measurement
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Investing in Business Innovation (IBI) Additional government funding (i.e. up to $1M) to commercialize new products, practices or processes of start-up businesses after obtaining angel or venture capital investments. 3 streams of funding: Early-stage businesses, Angel Networks, and Not-for-profits.

  • Education and Resource Development and Coordination & Convening
  • Late stage product development geared towards market diversification and growth
  • Customer and market development
  • Developing & implementing marketing and distribution strategies
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Investing in Business Growth and Productivity (IBGP) Aims to help southern Ontario businesses scale-up to expand markets and facilities, increase adoption of new technologies & processes, and increase business capacity to participate in global markets. The program offers two streams, one for For-Profit organizations, and one for Not-for-Profit organizations.

  • Increase adoption of new technologies and processes to improve productivity
  • Increase business capacity to participate in global markets through market diversification or expanding markets and integration in global value chains
  • Help scale-up by expanding markets and facilities
  • Support activities to fund or collaborate with SMEs regarding the adoption or adaptation of technologies
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Investing in Commercialization Partnerships (ICP) This funding program offers support for business-led partnerships that focus on helping to develop products and services that can compete globally.

  • Post-secondary institutions and incorporated not-for-profits, including research institutions and industry associations
  • Must be located in southern Ontario; Must have 50% support from industry/partners for cost
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Investing in Regional Diversification (IRD) IRD was developed to help support the long-term development of strong and diverse economies.

  • Diversification of regional economy
  • Capacity building activities
  • Business infrastructure initiatives
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IRAP Accelerated Review Process (ARP) Non-repayable grant (i.e. up to $50k) to support innovation or technological improvement projects. Various aspects supported:

  • Software implementation
  • Productivity improvements
  • Production design
  • Marketing projects
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IRAP Mid-Size Projects Businesses can receive research funding towards developing or improving technologies using internal technical employees. Eligible projects include:

  • Product development and improvement
  • Process development and improvement
  • Technology development and improvement
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Jobs and Prosperity Fund Ontario business funding program designed to improve global competitiveness. The 3 funding streams include:

  • New Economy Stream
  • Food and Beverage Growth Fund
  • Strategic Partnerships
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MaRS – Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF) Helps entrepreneurs with early stage technological developments. Repayable loan and 5% equity position (i.e. up to $500k) and support sectors:

  • Materials and engineering
  • Clean technology
  • Information technology and health sciences
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Mitacs-Accelerate Expansion of SME’s R&D environment for a $7500 investment. Four month internship is matched for $15000 research grant. Aimed at connecting SME’s with University expertise for:

  • Innovative research
  • Methods and development of tools
  • Prototype models
  • Technology or solutions to support challenges
  • Graduate spends 50% of time on-site with SME
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Mitacs-Accelerate InDev $3,500 wage subsidy for recruiting Masters and Ph.D students for a 4-month collaborative business development projects, including:

  • Product Development
  • Marketing/Competitive Research
  • Prototyping & Design
  • Strategic Planning
  • Production Planning
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Mitacs-Accelerate PhD Fellowship Gain access to a PhD for 3 years for a fellowship and receive $90,000 in grant funding:

  • Any Canadian based for-profit can apply
  • Full-time expertise of high-skilled PhD graduate student
  • Access to university resources and academic supervisor
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Mitacs Elevate Funding for industry/academic partnerships to solve industry issues through collaborative R&D projects up to 2 years in length. Industry focuses include:

  • ICT
  • Health Science & Technology
  • Clean Technology
  • Advanced Manufacturing
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NextGen Biofuels Fund Repayable loan for support of full scale-up and process integration projects for technical and financial performance of technologies at first-of-kind facility. Assists with:

  • Project assessment, definition
  • Building construction
  • Environmental assessment
  • Design/Engineering
  • Production equipment, and
  • All labour costs related to the above
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Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) Funding Programs NOHFC Funding Programs serve a wide range of developmental needs by:

  • Offering Ontario business grants for hiring recent graduates
  • Offsetting northern businesses’ capital costs
  • Providing funding for community development projects
  • Promoting innovative Northern Ontario businesses, and more.
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NSERC Engage
NSERC Collaborative Research and Development (CRD)
Non-repayable grant designed to connect SME’s with University researchers for research and development.

  • Short-term (i.e. 6 months) research and development funding grants through NSERC Engage
  • Long-term (i.e. 5 years) research and development funding grants through NSERC CRD
  • Addresses a company specific problem
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OMDC Export Fund – Interactive Digital Media Ontario based interactive digital media content producers can receive funding to pursue export development activities that support company growth.

  • Travel costs, including airfare, hotel, and per diem allowance for events
  • Design, production, and shipping of marketing materials
  • Trade show booths and exhibits
OMDC Interactive Digital Media (IDM) Fund This Ontario business funding grant will support the conceptualization and production of interactive digital media with the intent to inform, educate, and entertain. Two streams exist:

  • Concept Definition: The creation of storyboards and conceptualization of the digital media
  • Production: The programming and development of the interactive digital media
Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) – TalentEdge Program Funding for hiring post-secondary graduates as interns or research fellows to work on collaborative industry-driven research projects.

  • TalentEdge Internship Program: Grant for hiring recent post-secondary graduates or current students.
  • TalentEdge Fellowship Program: Grant for supporting industry’s contribution to PhD fellowships.
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Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Voucher Programs OCE provides funding for collaborative projects between businesses and universities and colleges to:

  • Develop new products for export markets
  • Solve industry concerns
  • Commercialize innovations
  • Develop online marketing tools
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Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit (OIDMTC) Ontario producers of interactive digital media products can receive tax credits towards:

  • Labour costs related to production
  • Marketing expenses
  • Distribution costs
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Rural Economic Development Fund (RED) The Rural Economic Development Fund (RED) supports regional economic development activities in rural southern Ontario.

  • Innovation and collaborative activities
  • Support the growth of rural Ontario communities with populations of <100,000
  • Business and community streams available for each sector
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SD Tech Fund Designed to assist with pre-commercialization strategies of clean technologies. Non-repayable grant supports productivity improvements and competitive advantage for activities such as:

  • Capital items
  • Goods and services
  • Personnel labour costs
  • Depreciation expenses
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SmartStart Seed Fund This entrepreneurial support funding program is intended to help Ontario-based entrepreneurs accelerate their startup business idea with:

  • Up to $30,000 in seed funding
  • Up to $5,000 in financing towards business skills development
  • Access to regional business and investment networks and resources
Southern Ontario Fund for Investment in Innovation (SOFII) Supports growth of knowledge-based industry SMEs through loans to meet these innovative business challenges. Loans help finance:

  • Late stage commercialization
  • New applications or markets
  • New product or service development
  • Development/Implementation of new processes or technologies
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Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF) This program is designed to support business expansion projects that create jobs within Southwestern Ontario, by providing up to $1.5M in grant funding or a $5M fully repayable loan depending on the project size. Eligible costs include:

  • Capital Equipment
  • Leasehold Improvements
  • Direct Labour
  • Skills Training
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Strategic Aerospace Defence Initiative (SADI) The SADI program provides Canadian aerospace and aviation companies with funding to support develop innovations that will advance the industry. Funding is intended to:

  • Support innovative products, services and processes in the aerospace & defence sector
  • Aid projects that will benefit the Canadian government’s aerospace division
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TargetGHG Collaborative Technology Development Program
Supports collaborative late-stage development and commercialization of technologies which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Funding will provide up to 50-67% of eligible expenses to explore:
  • Production-related manufacturing technologies
  • Technologies reducing GHGs throughout the value chain
  • Carbon capture and storage technologies
TECTERRA Funding for Geomatics Companies TECTERRA offers a full gamut of small business funding support programs for geomatics companies in Canada, including:

  • Commercialization Funding Programs
  • Research & Development Funding
  • Business Support Programs
  • Hiring Grants and Wage Subsidies
  • Networking Programs
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Yves Landry AIME Global Initiative (Southern Ontario)
Yves Landry AIME North Initiative (Northern Ontario)
Non-repayable grant aimed at accelerating innovation through training support for technology development related projects. Training that leads to innovation may include:

  • Development of new engineering skills
  • Training of new IT best practices and other tools for innovation
  • Embracing new technologies, new materials or processes and new manufacturing methods
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Finding Canadian Government Grants for Business

Most business owners receive financing through banking institutions. However, they often overlook government grant funding for business activities from both the provincial (i.e. Ontario business grants) and federal levels of government. Canadian small business grants and other funding for small business is abundantly available. It’s important to know the different types of funding for small business. Fortunately, we offer free resources to help sort through the funding landscape, including our Comparing Funding Types Info Sheet.

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Register for Free Events on Canadian Government Grants and Loans

At Mentor Works, we work closely with businesses to determine the best opportunities for growth and innovation through small business funding grants and other Canadian government funding opportunities. If you would like to discuss grant funding for business opportunities directly with us, please attend an upcoming Free Canadian Funding for Small Business Webinar or Workshop to receive helpful advice and have your questions answered by Mentor Works, the Canadian Government Funding Experts.

Funding Events

Need Help Finding Canadian Government Funding?

Please feel free to contact us directly if you are uncertain of your eligibility for any of the Canadian government funding programs listed above. We support businesses of all sizes, including startups/entrepreneurs. However the majority of government grants for small business units are reserved for established SMEs (ie. 3+ years incorporated, +5 payroll employees, +$500,000 annual revenue). If you are established, please send us a message or register for an upcoming small business funding event.

Startups & Entrepreneurs

If you are a startup, you can prepare your business for future Canadian government funding opportunities by completing the Startup Funding Checklist. This checklist provides priorities for all startups to carry out in order to be best positioned for funding.

Ask us a Question about Canadian Government Funding

If you have a funding specific question, feel free to ask it here. The more context you provide to us, the better we will be able to tailor our responses to your unique business profile.

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