Canadian Government Funding for Small Businesses

Canadian government funding programs can support small businesses, large corporations, non-profits and post-secondary research institutions. However, the key to accessing these programs are knowing which ones provide the best fit for your organization and upcoming projects.

Many government grant and loan applicants miss out on their true funding potential because they are unaware of the scope of funds available, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Business leaders should browse the top funding programs below to learn more about commonly accessed government grants and loans:

Find Funding

List of Canadian Government Grants and Loans for Small Businesses

The most popular government grants for small businesses in Canada can be categorized into four project-related funding areas:

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 a small business funding program? Send us a message via our Contact Form or call our toll free number (1-888-599-3111).

Government
Funding
Program
Description Business
Expansion
Capital
Adoption
Hiring &
Training
R & D
Alberta Export Support Fund The 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
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Alberta Innovates Research Funding Programs
Alberta Innovates offers several research funding programs for Alberta businesses to:

  • Test or showcase advanced technologies
  • Hire research, development, and commercialization employees
  • Perform collaborative research and development projects
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Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit The Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit (AJCTC) supports the training and certification of new trades apprentices through wage subsidies. Tax credit covers the training of new trades employees. check-mark
Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit (Ontario) The Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit supports Ontario SMEs hiring new apprentices in trades.

  • Register new trades apprentices in sectors where there is high demand for skilled workers
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Automotive Supplier Competitiveness Improvement Program (ASCIP) The Automotive Supplier Competitiveness Improvement Program (ASCIP) enables automotive manufacturers’ adoption of innovative hardware and software to increase productivity and fuel global competitiveness. Ontario automotive funding will cover a portion of the costs associated with:

  • Software upgrades
  • Innovative equipment/hardware implementation
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Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF)
The Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF) provides up to 75% of eligible project costs to a maximum $3M in research funding to develop and commercialize technologies that:

  • Have a strong research and development component
  • Have a high potential for commercialization
  • Provide economic development opportunities for Atlantic Canada
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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
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Canada Job Grant (CJG) The Canada Job Grant offers 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.
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Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream Innovation Program The Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream Innovation Program is a government 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 (CSBFP) The Canada Small Business Financing Program (CSBFP) offers 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
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Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) 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
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Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation (CIPEC)
The Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation (CIPEC) supports Canadian manufacturers implementing energy management and ISO 50001 pilot projects with up to 50% of costs to a maximum $40,000. This covers:

  • Development and distribution of information related to energy efficiency
  • Development and delivery of training
  • Assessments, evaluations and benchmarking studies
  • Development of technical guides and reports, and implementation plans
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Canadian International Innovation Program (CIIP) The 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
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CanExport
CanExport offers Canadian government funding to assist businesses with export marketing activities related to markets not sold to in the last 24 months. Its exporting grants cover:

  • Trade shows, conferences, and related marketing and travel
  • Third party market research and competitive analysis
  • Product certifications & translation of marketing and packaging
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CDMN Soft Landing Program The CDMN Soft Landing Program delivers 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
The CME SMART Green Fund supports reducing 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 $500k/ facility or up to $1.5M 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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Commercialization for Small Business Program (CSBP) Manitoba
The Commercialization for Small Business Program (CSBP) offers Manitoba businesses up to $250k in funding towards commercialization of innovative products and processes. Projects can include:

  • Product development
  • Product commercialization
  • International market development
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Dairy Processing Investment Fund (DPIF)
The Dairy Processing Investment Fund (DPIF) provides up to 50% of project expenses to improve the competitiveness of Canadian dairy processors. Offers up to $10M for capital investment projects and up to $250k to access expertise.

  • Technology development or adoption to make use of surplus milk
  • Improving a facility’s capacity to use milk/components
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Eastern Ontario Development Fund (EODF) The Eastern Ontario Development Fund (EODF) supports 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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Export Market Access (EMA)
or
Early Stage Exporters
Export Market Access and its early-stage equivalent program Early Stage Exporters assist SMEs in their international ventures. Ontario government grants cover up to 50% eligible expenses up to $30,000 for:

  • 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
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Going Global Innovation (GGI) The Going Global Innovation (GGI) program offers Canadian 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
  • Other non-research related costs such as meeting or administrative expenses.
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Greenbelt Fund: Local Food Investment Fund Offered through Greenbelt Fund, the Local Food Investment Fund (LFIF) provides Ontario government grants to assist the Broader Public Sector, Market Access, and Local Food Literacy throughout Ontario. The program 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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Greenhouse Competitiveness and Innovation Initiative (GCII) The Greenhouse Competitiveness and Innovation Initiative (GCII) supports Ontario-based greenhouse business projects that will increase competitiveness and/or increase market access. This encompasses an array of business expansion-related investments, including:

  • Energy Efficiency
  • Input Reduction
  • Waste Management
  • Food Safety
  • Marketing
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Hiring Grants and Wage Subsidies
Small businesses across Canada may receive up to 50% of a recent post-secondary graduate’s wages to a maximum $14,000 to $20,000 to hire them for a position related to:

  • Business systems and process management
  • Research and development
  • Sales and marketing
  • Green and environmental studies
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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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IRAP Accelerated Review Process (ARP) The NRC-IRAP Accelerated Review Process is a non-repayable grant supporting innovation or technological improvement projects. The program generally provides up to $50,000 to overcome internal technical challenges with:

  • Software implementation
  • Productivity improvements
  • Production design
  • Marketing projects
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IRAP Mid-Size Projects The NRC-IRAP Mid-Size Projects stream may provide up to $500,000 or more in Canadian business grants 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 The Jobs and Prosperity Fund (JPF) is an Ontario business funding program designed to improve global competitiveness. Its three funding streams include:

  • New Economy Stream
  • Food and Beverage Growth Fund
  • Strategic Partnerships
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Manitoba Industrial Opportunities Program (MIOP)
The Manitoba Industrial Opportunities Program (MIOP) provides low-interest rate repayable funding contributions of up to 20% project costs, to a maximum $500k-$5M to attract investment from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) expanding or starting a new business in Manitoba. Funding can be used to:

  • Expand existing facilities or build new production facilities
  • Adaption and adoption of innovative technology
  • Hire and train new/existing employees
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Mitacs Accelerate Mitacs Accelerate provides up to $7,500 to support 4-month internships. During this time, graduate students spend 50% of time on-site with the SME and 50% of time at a post-secondary institution to solve a research-related challenge. This includes:

  • Innovative research
  • Methods and development of tools
  • Prototype models
  • Technology or solutions to support challenges
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Mitacs Accelerate PhD Fellowship The Mitacs Accelerate PhD Fellowship program helps Canadian businesses gain access to a PhD for 3 years to support their fellowship. 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 Mitacs Elevate offers 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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Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) Funding Programs NOHFC funding programs serve a wide range of northern Ontario’s 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
or
NSERC Collaborative Research and Development (CRD)
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) offers non-repayable grants to connect SMEs 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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OCE Customer Demonstration Program
The OCE Customer Demonstration Program provides up to $50,000 in government grants to support technology demonstrations between two or more Ontario-based businesses. Projects should:

  • Advance computing innovation
  • Enhance productivity, competitiveness and skills development
  • Bridge barriers to adopting emerging computing technology
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OCE Market Readiness Program
The OCE Market Readiness Program provides up to $125k-$250k in Ontario small business grants to scale-up an innovative academic spinoff business through its customer creation and company building stages. Eligible activities include:

  • Website and marketing material development
  • Trade show participation
  • Training employees
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OCE Voucher Programs OCE vouchers provide 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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OMDC Interactive Digital Media (IDM) Fund The OMDC Interactive Digital Media Fund offers Ontario business funding to support the conceptualization and production of interactive digital media (usually software and gaming products) 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
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Ontario Exporters Fund (OEF)
The Ontario Exporters Fund (OEF) supports the hiring of an Export Manager or International Business Development Manager to develop international revenue streams. The program:

  • Helps SMEs better understand their export capacity
  • Encourages development of focused export strategies
  • Assists businesses to realize their export sales objectives
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Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit (OIDMTC) The Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit supports Ontario producers of interactive digital media products through tax credits for:

  • Labour costs related to production
  • Marketing expenses
  • Distribution costs
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Ontario Scale-Up Vouchers Program
The Ontario Scale-Up Vouchers Program connects business leaders with expertise and funding to expand the reach of innovative companies. Vouchers can be used to grow businesses in four key areas:

  • Talent management
  • Sales and revenue growth
  • Protection of IP
  • Access to capital
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Rural Economic Development Fund (RED) The Rural Economic Development Fund (RED) supports regional economic development activities of non-profits in rural southern Ontario.

  • Innovation and collaborative activities
  • Support the growth of rural Ontario communities with populations of <100,000
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SD Tech Fund The SD Tech Fund is 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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Southern Ontario Fund for Investment in Innovation (SOFII) The 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) The Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF) supports business expansion projects that create jobs and secure large-scale investments. It 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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Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)
The Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) offers up to 50% of project expenses to a maximum $50M in funding towards:

  • Accelerating technology transfer and commercialization of innovative products, processes and services
  • Facilitating the growth and expansion of firms in Canada
  • Attracting and retaining large-scale investments to Canada
  • Advancing industrial R&D through collaboration between academia, non-profits and the private sector.
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TECTERRA Funding for Geomatics Companies TECTERRA offers 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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Waste Reduction and Pollution Prevention Fund (WRAPP)
The Waste Reduction and Pollution Prevention Fund (WRAPP) offers up to $50,000 in Manitoba business grants to develop and implement more sustainable waste management or pollution prevention strategies. This includes:

  • Organic waste management
  • Construction and demolition waste management
  • Integrated waste management system development
  • Pollution information and education
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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, free resources can help sort through the funding landscape, including this Canadian Small Business Funding Guide.

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Register for Free Events on Canadian Government Grants and Loans

Developing a government funding strategy is critically important to your overall success with Canadian business funding programs. The best way to kickstart your government funding strategy development is by registering for a small business funding workshop or webinar, hosted by Mentor Works. These sessions are tailored towards specific business improvement initiatives and industries, which helps business leaders choose a session most appropriate to their current funding needs. Topics range from workforce development (hiring funding), exporting, research and development, and more.

If you would like to learn about grant funding directly from us, please register for an upcoming Free Canadian Funding for Small Business Webinar or Workshop.

Funding Events

Need Help Finding Canadian Government Funding?

Are you uncertain of your eligibility for any of the Canadian government funding programs listed above? The majority of government grants for small businesses 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. From here, we can further evaluate your eligibility for specific Canadian government funding programs and help you choose the funds most optimal for your business’ growth plans.

Startups & Entrepreneurs

If you’re a startup, the best way to align yourself for future government funding opportunities is by completing the Startup Funding Checklist. This startup funding resource provides priorities for all startups to carry out in order to be best positioned for funding. You can also explore current funding opportunities and attend an exclusive startup funding webinar by becoming a Canadian government Funding Insider.

Ask a Question about Canadian Government Funding

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

Apply for Canadian Government Funding