COVID-19 Update: The CanExport SMEs program is not approving any travel and related activities (i.e., trade shows) until further notice. Please see the eligible projects section for details.
The CanExport funding program provides Canadian government grants to support export marketing projects including participation in trade shows and government-led trade missions. By accessing additional funding for these types of activities, businesses can de-risk export market evaluation and development, ultimately helping to accelerate international growth.
Through CanExport, Canadian businesses may access up to 75% of costs associated with export marketing projects to a maximum $75,000 per application.
The program provides funding for up to 1,000 businesses per year to support new export marketing strategies. To be deemed eligible, companies should be a small or medium sized business (including the agri-sector) with 1-500 payroll employees, maintain annual revenues of at least $100,000, and have at least $20,000 in project expenses.
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Program Overview: What is CanExport Funding?
The CanExport program is a popular Canadian government grant that supports businesses as they explore/expand new and under-developed international markets. The export grant is specifically designed to help firms participate in trade shows where company representatives travel to an export market and meet with potential customers. Through these projects, Canadian companies can more aggressively pursue export market development projects and drive greater revenues from customers outside of Canada.
Through the CanExport program, companies may access up to 75% of trade show costs to a maximum $75,000 per project. Up to two applications can be submitted per government fiscal year.
As companies begin exploring the CanExport funding program, the most critical element to consider is the market where your trade show is taking place. CanExport only supports trade events in markets where the applicant’s sales have been under $100,000 or less than 10% of total sales over the previous 24 months.
If you’re still considering which trade show(s) to access using this program, explore Mentor Works’ curated list of top trade shows and events over the coming 6-12 months. Alternately, if you wish to find your own trade shows, this resource on trade show databases will be helpful.
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Applicant Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible for the CanExport program, Canadian businesses must:
- Maintain 1 to 500 full-time employees;
- Earn annual revenues ranging from $100,000 to $100,000,000;
- Be federally incorporated federally or classified as a limited liability partnership (LLP);
- Create eligible project expenses of $20,000 or more; and
- Be financially stable and able to pay all project expenses not covered by the program.
Project Eligibility Criteria
To access CanExport funding for upcoming international expansion initiatives, ensure the project revolves around:
- Participation at international trade shows;
- Developing marketing materials for international clients;
- Travel to the export market of choice; and
- Completing foreign market research.
CURRENT Eligible Market Development Projects During COVID-19
- Marketing tools creation, adaptation, and translation
- Interpretation services
- IP protection, certification, and adaptation
- Business, tax, and legal advice
- Market research, feasibility studies, identification of key contacts, and b2b facilitation
Projects Ineligible for CanExport Export Marketing Grants
Alternately, some of the project activities not eligible to receive CanExport small business grants include:
- Activities in a foreign country where more than 10% or $100,000 of total sales has been generated in the last 24 months;
- Ongoing or operational activities not associated with market expansion;
- Language training and other educational services; and
- Promoting Canadian investment or seeking economic immigrants.
Expense Eligibility Criteria
The CanExport program provides grant contributions towards a portion of sales and marketing activities targeted at up to 5 new export markets:
• Virtual Trade Events & Fairs: Exhibiting fees, event passes, and participation fees.
• Search Enginge Optimization (SEO): For online content targeting new export regions.
• Adaptation of Marketing Tools: Third-party design, and translation of marketing tools.
• IP/Product Certifications: Intellectual property, certification, and adaptation of contracts.
• Market Research: Third-party market research and analysis on the target export market(s).
• Expert Advice: Third-party advice on market access, intellectual property, trademarks, patents, certifications, consulting services, and sales agents.
Project Expenses Ineligible for CanExport Grants
Alternately, the following project expenses cannot be claimed for CanExport funding:
- Project expenses already incurred prior to formal approval into the CanExport program;
- Costs for participating in Canadian tradeshow;
- Routine or ongoing expenses for activities that are not project-specific;
- Employee salaries, wages, and commissions;
- Development of marketing plans;
- Research and development of products;
- Website development or maintenance fees;
- Phone, data, and roaming fees;
- Entertainment and hospitality fees (beyond what is permitted through per diem funds);
- Lobbying or influencing of government policies;
- Membership fees or event sponsorship; and
- Any applicable taxes.
Additional CanExport Resources
- 2019 Update – CanExport Funding Increases to 75%/$75,000 and Supports AgriBusiness: As of August 22, 2019, CanExport has updated program details and eligibility criteria. Read more about the changes.
- FAQs for CanExport Grants: If you still have questions after reviewing the CanExport overview and eligibility resources, this blog may be helpful to fill in any remaining knowledge gaps.
- CanExport Update: 2018 Program Enhancements: In 2018 the CanExport program restructured the way it provides export expansion funding. Companies can now apply multiple times per year, accessing up to $75,000 per application. More export markets are also eligible.
- CanExport Update Expanded Eligibility Criteria: With a top-up in funding from Canada’s federal government, the CanExport program has expanded its eligibility criteria to make even more employers eligible.
- Trade Shows to Use CanExport Funding For: Ready to use CanExport funding for a trade show? Explore international trade show opportunities for which your business could access exporting grants.
How to Apply for CanExport Grants
To access CanExport funding, Canadian businesses should start by finding a trade show or export event in a market where they have earned little to no revenues in the past 24 months. It can take some effort to find the right opportunity, so use the resources listed above if you’ve yet to find the ideal fit for your objectives.
Application forms can be accessed online; completed applications are approximately 8-10 pages in length, plus supporting documentation.
Funding applications should be submitted at least eight weeks prior to incurring project expenses, which requires companies to start the application process well ahead of traveling to international markets. Applicants must be approved before incurring eligible expenses. It takes up to 40 business days to receive a verdict
on submitted applications. Applicants can only have one active application at a time.
Application Assessment Criteria
CanExport applications are evaluated against a common set of criteria that includes:
- Incrementality: Demonstrating that the project goes beyond core activities and will yield incremental results;
- Export Business Case: Strength of the application’s export business case, and alignment of the export business case to the firm’s overarching business strategy;
- Alignment to Government Trade Strategies/Priorities: How the firm’s products or services, proposed project and activities, and target markets relate to the Government of Canada’s trade strategies (such as doing business in countries where Canada has a free trade agreement);
- Market Potential: Any opportunities or challenges anticipated as it relates to the business’ products or services; and
- History and Export Readiness: Previous success in export market development projects, including any projects previously funded by the government.
Discuss Your Upcoming Export Projects with a Government Funding Planner
Considering how CanExport can support your upcoming project? Contact Mentor Works to evaluate whether your project is a good fit. Our team can help you align your upcoming project for CanExport funding and streamline the application process with time-saving info collection documents and a dedicated team of writers.
Posted: January 8, 2016. Updated: August 21, 2020.