The Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream supports software conceptualization, prototyping, production, and marketing projects. Through the program, software developers can turn ideas into functional products and repay project costs once the project’s results can be commercialized. By offsetting a portion of upfront costs, companies can advance their platform’s commercial readiness, launch their product, then repay the balance of Canada Media Fund’s investment as product revenues are generated.
CMF Experimental offers up to $15k-$1.5M per project phase to develop software innovations from concept to commercialization.
To access CMF funding for software projects, developers must qualify for the program and submit a comprehensive application package during one of the program’s upcoming intake periods. Prior to applying, applicants should have a firm understanding of how products will be commercialized and how the Canada Media Fund will be repaid for its original investment.
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Canada Media Fund Experimental Stream: Funding Snapshot
The Canada Media Fund is a non-profit organization that distributes funding for innovative digital media content and software. The Experimental Stream supports the conceptualization, prototyping, production and promotion (innovation) of interactive content intended for use in Canadian media industry or for public use by Canadians.
- Amount: Up to 50-75% of project costs to maximum $1.5M. Funding is dependent on stream: Conceptualization (75%/$15k), Prototyping (75%/$250k), Innovation (75%/$1.5M). Maximum amount a single project can access across all funding streams is $1.5 million.
- Timeline: Program streams offer spring and fall submission deadlines; specific dates vary depending on the project focus.
- Eligibility: For-profit Canadian companies with projects developed in Canada (minimum of 75%). Must have a letter of intent from a market channel partner committing to take the project to market and actively promote the project if applicant does not host the digital media on their own internal network/infrastructure.
- Projects: Innovative interactive projects in Web 2.0 or higher, software apps, mobile apps, virtual reality & video games.
About the Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream
The Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream is a Canadian government funding program directed towards software developers who create and commercialize interactive digital media products. It helps offset initial investment costs required to develop and market innovative software products; this helps developers release products more quickly and improve the commercial success of such products.
Through the program, interactive digital media developers may access up to $15,000 to $1.5 million per project phase, or up to $1.5 million per product.
CMF Experimental’s Innovation Program offers support to three types of projects, including:
1. Media Conceptualization Projects
Projects in the conceptual phase may receive Canadian government funding to create, test, and verify a design idea or proof of concept. These early project stages should result in companies being ready to start designing and demonstrating the product’s functionality
Through the Media Conceptualization Projects category, software developers may receive up to 75% of eligible project expenses to a maximum $15,000 in interactive digital media funding.
Conceptualization projects are awarded funding as a repayable advance. If no further funding is requested from CMF for future project stages, the advance can be repaid. If requesting funding for a Prototyping project, it will be combined and continue to be a repayable advance due at the end of the project. If requesting additional funding for an Innovation project, a formal request can be made to convert this advance into a recoupable investment and combined with any additional funds received.
2. Media Prototyping Projects
Projects that have been conceptualized then need to prove market demand; this is where prototyping becomes important. Projects in the Prototyping phase can receive funding to demonstrate product design and functionality, resulting in companies being ready to start into full-scale product development.
Through the Media Prototyping Projects category, interactive digital media developers may receive up to 75% of expenses to a maximum $250,000 in software funding.
Prototyping projects are awarded funding as a repayable advance. If no further funding is requested from CMF for future project stages, the advance can be repaid. If requesting additional funding for an Innovation project, a formal request can be made to convert this advance into a recoupable investment and combined with any additional funds received.
3. Media Innovation (Production, Marketing, and Promotion) Projects
Software developers can also access the Canada Media Fund for projects that focus on media production, marketing and promotion. This is used to create a final market-ready product and have ample resources to perform marketing and commercialization activities.
Through the Media Innovation Projects category, digital media developers may receive up to 75% of eligible expenses to a maximum $1,500,000.
Innovation projects are awarded funding as a recoupable investment. Recoupable investments require repayment from exploited software products until the amount received has been repaid; this can take up to seven years from the product’s original commercialization. Once CMF has recouped 100% of its investment, it participates in further profits, with the only change being a 25% reduction in the amount of profits shared with CMF (or 50% if the original investment is recouped within two years).
Who Can Apply for the Canada Media Fund Experimental Stream?
To be eligible for the Canada Media Fund Experimental Stream, applicants must be either:
- A Canadian-controlled for-profit company with its head office in Canada; or
- A Canadian Radio-television & Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) licensed public or private Canadian broadcaster.
Project Eligibility for Canada Media Fund Experimental Stream
Eligible Canada Media Fund Experimental Stream projects must:
- Contain digital media content and/or application software that is innovative, interactive, and is connected to the Canadian cultural sector;
- Be produced in Canada with at least 50-75% of project costs incurred in Canada; and
- Remain under Canadian ownership.
This includes projects such as:
- Video games (PC, console, handheld console, mobile or other platforms);
- Mobile applications;
- Web 2.0 or higher applications;
- Software applications with a connection to the Canadian cultural sector; and
- Other projects containing audio-visual content and significant user interactivity.
CMF Experimental: Ineligible Project Types
Some types of projects that cannot receive support through the CMF Experimental Stream include, but are not limited to:
- Film and television projects;
- System software;
- Products with a specific corporate, industrial or promotional focus;
- Curriculum-based products (including e-learning applications, software and technologies);
- Partial or split projects (and project portions) that cannot be exploited independently;
- Project adaptation from one platform to another;
- Catalogues or compilations of repurposed material, presented without benefit of new, value-added original content; and
- Casino type games.
Expense Eligibility for CMF Experimental Stream
Up to 75% of expenses may be provided through the Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream. This includes:
- Salaries, benefits, and wages for employees directly responsible for the project;
- Technology infrastructure (hardware and software);
- Making content accessible online, including copyright clearance, documentation, design and development, translation costs;
- Research and preparation of content;
- Project audit fees;
- Technical and administration expenses; and
- Marketing and promotion costs.
Expenses Ineligible for the CMF Experimental Stream
Unlike the project-specific expenses mentioned above, core business operations or capital expenditures will not be eligible for funding. This includes:
- Real estate purchases; and
- Maintenance costs.
Canada Media Fund Experimental Stream Success Stories
Discover how other Canadian interactive digital media developers have used CMF Experimental funding in the past:
- Canada Media Fund Awards $6M for Innovative Digital Media Projects
- Canada Media Fund Awards $9.5M to Interactive Digital Media Projects
- Canada Media Fund’s Innovation Program Awards ~$6.2M in Funding
Additional Canada Media Fund Experimental Stream Resources
- Canada Media Fund Deadline Blog: Deadlines have been announced for Canada Media Fund Experimental Stream. Discover when your business should apply for CMF this year.
- Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream Guideline Enhancements: In 2019 CMF announced several changes to the Experimental Fund. Learn what’s changed from previous years.
How to Apply for Canada Media Fund Experimental Stream Funding
To get started with the Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream, eligible companies should build a budget of rough costs and timelines for project spends. This will help select the optimal stream of support and help companies understand which program deadline to accommodate.
All applicants must develop a detailed application and submit it by an upcoming stream-specific deadline.
Application forms can be found online via CMF’s website; completed applications typically range in length from 25-35 pages, depending on the funding request and complexity of the project. This does not include supporting documents, such as the project budget and any supplemental information.
To discuss your project’s suitability for interactive digital media funding and explore ways to optimize the application process, please contact Mentor Works.
Posted: February 13, 2014. Updated: May 30, 2019.