The Canadian government offers a wide array of funding programs designed to support businesses across various stages and objectives. These programs range from grants and funding for specific projects, and loans for expansions, to tax credits, wage subsidies for hiring, expert advice for strategic growth, and opportunities for partnering and collaboration.
Whether your business aims to conduct R&D, start or expand, increase working capital, or engage in eco-friendly initiatives, there is support available directly from the Canadian government on a Federal and Provincial level.
While the range of funding opportunities provided by the Canadian government is extensive and very appealing to any business owner, successfully navigating the application process demands a clear and organized approach to give your application the best chance.
In this blog, we delve into:
- Steps to follow when applying for funding
- How to stand out amongst the other applications
- Government funding opportunities in Canada
Steps to Follow When Applying for Funding
- Identify Appropriate Funding Programs: As we highlighted above, there are a myriad of funding programs, grants, loans, tax credits, etc available to businesses in Canada, so the first step is to find the right funding program fit for your business and requirements.
The best way to do this yourself is to thoroughly go through the Business Benefit Finder which helps you filter out the most relevant funding programs for you based on criteria like Province, Industry, Objective, Funding Amount, and more.
You can also leverage resources like startup incubators and business support organizations. These entities, with their specialized experience, can guide and advise you on the most suitable funding programs for your specific business needs, saving you a lot of time, effort, and guesswork.
2. Assess Eligibility and Fit: Meticulously review the eligibility criteria of each program to ensure your startup aligns with its objectives. However brilliant your application is, it would never reach the evaluator’s desk unless your business actually matches the eligibility criteria.
3. Gather Necessary Information and Documents: Prepare essential documents like business plans, financial statements, incorporation papers, detailed project proposals, past performance, etc.
4. Understanding the Application Requirements: Documentation and paperwork are just one part of the requirements, there are various other types of eligibility as well, such as application deadlines, eligible expenses, reporting obligations, and funding limits. Paying attention to specific formatting or submission guidelines is also essential.
5. Develop a Strong Project Proposal: Developing a strong project proposal is key. This involves clearly articulating the purpose of the funding and detailing the project’s objectives, timelines, and expected outcomes. It’s important to highlight the economic and social benefits of the project, particularly its contributions to Canada’s interests.
6. Prepare a Detailed Budget: Create a comprehensive budget that outlines how the funding will be utilized, is realistic, and includes a breakdown of all project-associated costs.
7. Review and Refine Your Application: Review and refine your application to ensure it is complete, accurate, and error-free. Consider having it reviewed by a third party or professional for feedback.
8. Submit the Application: When submitting the application, don’t forget to adhere to the submission deadlines and follow the prescribed method of submission, whether online or through other means.
9. Follow Up and Network: Keep track of your application’s status closely.
10. Prepare for Reporting and Compliance: If your application is successful, be prepared for reporting and compliance.
11. Learn from the Process: Finally, learning from the process is the most important takeaway. Whether successful or not, gather feedback to improve future applications and stay informed about new funding opportunities and changes in government policies.
How to Stand Out Amongst the Other Applications
It is no surprise that the government receives an abundance of applications and the competition is fierce. With many applicants vying for the same funding opportunities, we’ve put together some tips for you that can help your application stand out.
1. Meticulously Read the Fine Print: To enhance your chances of securing government funding, meticulously read the fine print. Federal government program officers report that at least 20% of applicants fail to provide key information. Pay close attention to eligible expenses and limits, as overlooking these details is a common reason for application failures.
2. Streamline Your Application Process: Most funding programs will ask for common information like business details, financial statements, project descriptions, project expenses, etc. It would be astute to keep this information readily available through this journey. Spending extra time on refining your descriptions and data can really shine through in the final application.
3. Be Prepared to Share the Risk: Applying and receiving funding from the government does not dissolve your responsibility as a business owner to fund your business. Applicants who demonstrate their ability to contribute financially to a significant portion of the project; for example, showing that they have existing funding from other legitimate sources, prove that they have skin in the game.
4. Communicate Clearly, and Avoid Marketing Jargon: In the realm of government funding, taxpayer accountability can never be forgotten. Focusing your project description on tangible benefits to the people of Canada in simple language, with less jargon, can help emphasize that the value and purpose of your project are easily understood and justifiable to the public.
5. Embrace Conciseness: Program Officers are mandated to go through copious amounts of information and data. Providing only the information that is requested in the application and strategically using phrases like ‘available upon request’ can ensure that your application is sufficiently concise. Avoid offering additional details or overloading the application with unnecessary information.
6. Ensure Cohesion in Your Proposal: Present a unified voice in your application. Use a single writer or editor to maintain a consistent voice and flow throughout the document. This approach helps in putting forward a coherent proposal, making it easy for the evaluator to understand your mission.
7. Build Relationships with Funders: While networking with Program Officers doesn’t guarantee success, it can provide valuable insights and guidance for your proposal. Did you know that you can even call Program Officers to gain more clarity? You can also browse through some FAQS about applying for government funding here. Steps like this can certainly help your application reach its most optimal level, and hence increase the likelihood of a favourable outcome for you.
8. Talk to Other Founders: Learn from companies that have successfully secured funding. They can provide unparalleled insights into their process and journey of applying for funding for their startups.
Government Funding Opportunities in Canada
- The Boost Your Business Technology Stream offers grants to small and medium Canadian-owned businesses for adopting new technologies, covering 90% (up to $15,000) of the cost for Digital Advisors to create tailored digital adoption plans. Additionally, businesses can apply for a zero-interest loan of up to $100,000 from the BDC for plan implementation and receive a wage subsidy of up to $7,300 for hiring talent through funded work placements. The program is currently accepting applications.
- Businesses engaged in scientific research and experimental development (SR&ED) can benefit from a tax credit program. This program allows claiming a refundable investment tax credit or a deduction against income. Eligible projects must address scientific or technological uncertainties through systematic investigative approaches aimed at scientific or technological advancements. The program is currently open to clients.
- Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) — The Financial Assistance Program offers non-repayable financial support of up to $10 million for incorporated, for-profit small or medium-sized Canadian businesses with 500 or fewer employees. It covers up to 75% of eligible costs for developing, adopting, or adapting new or improved technologies at any innovation stage. The program is currently accepting project proposals.
- Student Work Placement Program This program offers non-repayable wage subsidies for post-secondary STEM interns, with up to $5,000 per placement, and up to $7,000 for under-represented students, including first-year students, women in STEM, Indigenous students, persons with disabilities, and newcomers.
- The Canada Small Business Financing Program offers term loans up to $1 million and lines of credit up to $150,000 for small businesses, facilitating financing by sharing the risk with lenders. This program is currently accepting applications.
Remember, each application is a learning opportunity. Whether successful or not, feedback and experience gained can be invaluable for future endeavours. Keep refining your approach, and good luck!
Want to Apply for Government Funding in Canada for Your Business?
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