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Navigating Canada’s Public Funding Landscape: 5 Tips to Keep in Mind

May 17, 2016

TaylorJessica_Blog_PiggyBankBy  Jessica Taylor, Sr. Analyst – Food & Food Systems at Bioenterprise 

Public funding is unchartered territory for many, especially entrepreneurs starting their first venture or entering a new market. Often times program guides are littered with unfamiliar vocabulary and requirements can be unclear and confusing. So where do you start? Whether your next steps are contingent on securing funding or you are looking to leverage a private investment there are few things to keep in mind when navigating the public funding landscape. This blog aims to provide you with tips that will increase your likelihood of receiving public funding:

  1. There are different types of public funding; understand what makes the most sense for your project.

Most public funding can be categorized as one of the following:

  • Grants, contributions and financial assistance
    • These programs run on a cost-share basis and require that you report the outcomes of the project; however, most do not require you repay the funding body.
  • Loans and cash advances
    • When dealing with loans and cash advances it is critical that you understand the terms of your specific agreement. Ask questions both of the funding organization or lending institution and seek out a mentor who can review the agreement.
  • Loan guarantees
    • A government guarantee can attract creditors providing a sense of security in providing financing to an early stage company.
  • Tax refunds and credits
    • Certain activities, such as research and development, are eligible for tax credits and the government offers a number of tax incentives that can help reduce your overhead costs.
  • Wage subsidies
    • Hiring grants and wage subsidies are available for a variety of different roles. In particular, a number of programs focus on new graduate hiring incentives that can make onboarding a new employee or position more feasible.

Canada Business Network provides a great overview of the types of funding that are available in Canada here.

2. Demonstrate the benefit beyond your organization.

It is important to show the funding organization that the project will benefit the rest of your industry through increased revenues, jobs or other economic means such as providing equipment or services to other ventures. This can be illustrated by providing letters of support from other organizations or collaborating with an industry partner or academic institution for a project that is mutually beneficial.

3. Know when to apply for government funding.

Timing is critical when applying for government funding. Public funding programs operate in one of two ways:

Continuous application intake:

These programs receive, review and approve applications on an ongoing basis until the program is fully subscribed or the government’s commitment has ended/is completed. This has a “first come first serve” mentality and timing of your submission may be more crucial to success.

Application intake period:

Other programs set a “call for proposals” or intake period, which is a specific period of time where applications will be accepted. Once the intake period ends, all of the applications are reviewed and funding decisions are made. If a company does not get their application in during this time, they must wait for the next intake period.

4. Different levels of public funding

In Canada, public funding is available at all levels of government including federal, provincial, territorial, regional and municipal. As a small business it’s a good practice to be aware of the various funding organizations and their programming. A few of the key funding organizations are identified below:

FederalTaylorJessica_Blog_Money

Provincial

Municipal

Check your city’s economic development website for information about locally available funding. 

Caution: Stacking (using multiple sources of funding for one project or application) is possible, but there are a number of considerations and rules. It is recommended that entrepreneurs seek counsel from an organization or consultant that has experience in this space.

5. Collaborate.

Partnering with an industry member or academic group can make you eligible for new programs. As well, certain programs provide a higher cost-share for collaborative projects, some of which are only open to industry who have partnered with academia. For example the Growing Forward 2 Program has a funding stream called Organizations and Collaborations run through the Agricultural Adaptation Council and NSERC runs various funding programs that businesses partnered with academics are eligible for.

Businesses of all stages can benefit immensely from the support of government funding. Keeping yourself informed about what is available and connecting with consultants and organizations that can assist with the application process will make accessing public funding a much easier process. When considering a new project or venture be sure to keep these tips in mind and reach out