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Employment Forecasting

Top 7 Canadian Small Business Grants

Clock5 min. read
byVexxit Expert onOctober 08, 2020

Find funding for your small business.

There are plenty of resources available for small business owners in Canada, and depending on the sector, size, stage and activities of your business, you may be eligible for a number of grants. In 2020, even more funding has been made available for businesses whose revenues have been affected by COVID-19. 

Finding these grants isn’t always the most straightforward process, but the Government of Canada website has a user-friendly search feature that will find a tailored list of funding, tax credits, wage subsidies and interns, loans and capital investments, expert advice, and partnering and collaboration opportunities based on the criteria and information you provide about your business. If you’re not sure exactly what you’re looking for, this is a good place to start. 

Here are the top six small business grants in Canada and what you need to know about each one: 

1. Indigenous Community Business Fund

The Indigenous Community Business Fund will provide $117 million in non-repayable financial contributions to help support operating costs for First Nation, Inuit and Métis community-or collectively-owned businesses and microbusinesses whose revenues have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund seeks to provide support for businesses that do not qualify for other Government of Canada COVID-19 relief measures. 

The fund is intended to relieve financial pressure and allow these businesses and microbusinesses to strengthen operations and support their viability during the pandemic, with the goal of positioning them for recovery. Visit the website for eligibility criteria and deadline information.

2. Canada Job Grant

The Canada Job Grant is a program that combines federal and provincial funding to subsidize training for employees of private and non-profit organizations. Approved funding is granted on a first-come, first-served basis, and each province and territory has its own application process. Grants are available for non-government organizations of every size and in every industry.

In most provinces, the Canada Job Grant covers two-thirds of the cost of training, up to a maximum government contribution of $10,000 per employee. The employer pays the remaining balance of up to $5,000 per employee.

Employers can use the Canada Job Grant to subsidize a wide range of courses. Funds can be used to give an employee the necessary skills for greater responsibilities or a more senior position. The grant can also be used to refresh, maintain or upgrade a worker’s knowledge of an existing role.

3. Financial support for technology innovation through NRC IRAP

If you're a small or medium‑sized Canadian business pursuing technology‑driven innovation, you may be eligible for financial support from NRC IRAP. The initiative provides funding to eligible firms under its technology innovation projects and youth employment strategy programs. This program will cover a maximum of 75% of eligible costs. 

Working as an extension of traditional NRC IRAP support, the additional funding for larger research and development projects is targeted toward firms that will have demonstrated to the program the ability to grow rapidly and significantly. These firms will be identified by NRC IRAP with the objective to help recipients of this increased funding threshold achieve transformative growth within 5 years of completing their project and, in so doing, significantly benefit Canada's economy. 

4. Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)

The Strategic Innovation Fund provides financial support to large-scale, transformative and collaborative projects that help position Canada to prosper in the global knowledge-based economy while providing economic, innovation and public benefits to Canadians. 

The SIF supports four types of projects, including projects that attract and retain large scale investments to Canada and projects that advance industrial research, development and technology demonstration through collaboration between academia, non-profit organizations and the private sector. 

The program is open to incorporated, for-profit entities looking to undertake projects that encourage research and development activities to accelerate technology transfer and commercialization, facilitate the growth and expansion of Canadian firms and/or attract and retain large-scale investments to Canada. Small, medium and large firms, across all of Canada's industrial and technology sectors are eligible to apply. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis.

5. CanExport

If you’re looking to grow your business globally, you can apply online for up to $75,000 in CanExport SMEs funding to cover up to 75% of your international market development activities. You may choose up to five export markets to target where your company has no or minimal business.  

CanExport SMEs provides financial assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises registered in Canada to help them develop export opportunities for their product or service in new international markets. The program is delivered by the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) of Global Affairs Canada, in partnership with the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP). 

6. Interactive Digital Media Fund, Ontario Creates

Through consultation with stakeholders, Ontario Creates has created a range of programs and resources to provide financial, strategic and research support to Ontario’s cultural entrepreneurs and established trade and event organizations from the interactive industry. 

Ontario Creates support provides opportunities for producers of interactive content to create new products, access existing and new markets and grow their business.

Support is also available to established trade and event organizations for activities that stimulate the growth of Ontario's interactive industry. Research grants are also available to incorporated not-for-profit industry organizations undertaking research initiatives that support or complement the mandate of Ontario Creates.

7. Innovative Solutions Canada

This Government of Canada innovation funding program has two streams dedicated to Canadian innovators who want to start, grow and get their product to market.

The Challenge Stream works with government organizations to launch challenges. Canadian innovators compete for funding to prove the feasibility of their solution and build a prototype. Through the Testing Stream, they buy late-stage, innovative prototypes from Canadian businesses and test them in operational settings with government departments.

This program has many perks, including landing government as a client, retaining your intellectual property rights, maintaining equity in your company, and 100% non-repayable funding. Any private company, public company, not-for-profit organization, university, or individual can submit a proposal, and open calls for proposals happen numerous times throughout the year.

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