Whether you’re growing your customer base, entering new markets or adding new products, it’s no secret that growth costs money for many businesses. Learn how government funding can help you achieve your growth goals.
When companies are looking to move beyond “business as usual” and explore growth opportunities, one of the first steps is to determine how growth will be generated. Will it be achieved by increasing an existing customer base or by boosting the engagement or usage of existing customers? Will growth come from introducing new products and/or services or entering new markets with the current offering?
However you’re planning to grow, expansion of any kind takes investment, which is often a barrier for businesses with limited cash flow. Fortunately, government grants and incentives can provide much-needed funding for businesses with growth plans, particularly if they align with Canada’s economic priorities. As GrantMatch Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Mike Janke, explains, “The recently tabled “mini-budget” by Canada’s Finance Minister’s plans for an additional $30.6 Billion in program-based spending aimed at positioning the country for future economic growth.”
GrantMatch is Canada’s leading grants & incentives management firm, offering a range of software and service-based solutions to assist Canadian businesses maximize funding attained from government incentive programs. Janke adds that these programs signal an upcoming opportunity for businesses to expand and grow through capital investments that are grant eligible in areas such as job creation, training, innovation, technology, and ecological efficiency.
“One way to improve your chances of securing government funding is to create a grant strategy that aligns with the most prominent funding program themes for the year ahead. This way, you can plan investments that are most likely to receive grant funding support.”
Here are five ways government grants and incentives can help you grow your business in 2023.
1. Grants for Hiring and Training
Whether you need to grow your workforce to boost production or upskill existing talent to drive innovation, a commitment to create new jobs and develop current employees can position your business for grant and incentive programming. This is because both federal and provincial governments have a hearty commitment to job creation, particularly as it relates to the country’s transition to a green economy, our competitiveness on the world stage and the economic vitality of local communities.
Businesses can tap into tomorrow’s workforce with the help of the Government of Canada’s Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) that provides employers with wage subsidies up to $7,000 to hire post-secondary students for paid work experiences.
Hiring and training to support Canada’s pursuit of a net-zero economy is a key federal priority – in the November 3rd Federal Fall Economic Update, $250 million was earmarked for green skills training over five years, including:
Sustainable Jobs Training Center: This new initiative is designed to assist in the training of up to 15,000 workers in low-carbon jobs such as the sustainable battery industry.
Sustainable Jobs Stream under the Union Training and Innovation Program (UTIP): Adding onto UTIP’s two existing jobs streams that support apprenticeship training and innovation, this recently announced stream focuses on green skills training in trades, impacting up to 20,000 apprentices.
There are also several open funding programs from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), which support jobs, training, and social development across a range of industries. Further, provincial and territorial governments offer funding opportunities for job creation and upskilling to address regional priorities.
Grant in action:
Walpole Island Algonac Ferry Ltd. received $82,000 from the Canada-Ontario Job Grant for a Ferry Captain Training program to train up to 12 participants. Training is provided through Georgian College’s Marine Studies Program and will take place at their Owen Sound campus and onsite at the Walpole Island Ferry facility in southwestern Ontario. Upon completion of the course, trainees will receive an industry-recognized certificate of Master Limited over 60 Tonnes and will have the opportunity to work as part of Walpole Island Ferry’s expanded ferry service between Canada and the U.S. on the St. Clair River.
2. Grants for Technical and Digital Innovation
In order to compete and grow in today’s market, businesses of all types and sizes need to add technology to their business or apply digital innovation to be competitive. Whether it’s scientific research and development, new product design, digital tools to support client engagement, improved industrial processes or supply chain enhancements, adding technology and digital innovation are essential levers within a business’ growth strategy.
Grants and incentive programs designed to boost regional and national economies — and make them more competitive — can help businesses tap into the technologies that can help them thrive. For instance:
The Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) offers grants to help owners add technology to get online, reach more customers, operate more efficiently, and propel their businesses forward.
The National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) – The primary role of NRC-IRAP is to help small and medium-sized Canadian businesses with mentorship and funding so they can grow and develop innovative technologies. The program offers grants to fund R&D project costs from $50,000 to $500,000.
What’s more, the 2022 Federal budget includes the development of the $15 Billion Canada Growth Fund – a fund designed to make it easier for private companies to spend on research and technology.
Grant in action:
Canadian ingenuity advancing global wastewater treatment solutions
Recently, the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) provided advisory services and funding to Vancouver – based Axine Water Technologies to help the company to develop high-efficiency, advanced industrial wastewater treatment systems.
These systems can treat highly toxic, concentrated pharmaceutical wastewaters on site instead of being transported to remote specific locations for treatment. The technology not only helps solve environmental pollution in Canada, but the company sees export opportunities for a worldwide market.
3. Grants for Infrastructure, Equipment & Facilities
If the growth of your business relies on new or improved manufacturing infrastructure, equipment and facilities, there are grant and incentive programs dedicated to enabling necessary construction and expansion. Because these projects can be capital-intensive, it’s important to note that is recommended to apply for the grant well ahead of starting the project as there are differing terms and conditions for each grant.
“An exciting example of a recently announced program to keep an eye on if you are planning capital expenditures is the Canada Growth Fund. Originally announced in the 2022 Federal Budget, this $15 billion-dollar federal program launching in early 2023 is designed to attract and encourage business investments by providing funding to projects that reduce carbon emissions, accelerate the deployment of key technologies such as hydrogen, create new jobs, or capitalize on Canada’s abundance of natural resources and strengthen critical supply chains.” – Mike Janke, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at GrantMatch.
Grant in action:
British Columbia’s Refeed is on a mission to develop programs, best practices, and new products to help fix our broken food system. With the help of funding secured through the BC Accelerating Manufacturing Scale-Up Grant Program, ReFeed was able to pilot their Circular Nutrition™ technology in a new 3,000 square foot custom facility.
The investment resulted in job creation, a scale-up of technology, and the ability to expand into North American and global Cleantech markets.
4. Grants for Environmental & Green Investments
There are several grant and funding opportunities offered by all levels of government that support projects aimed at protecting or conserving the environment. Businesses making investments in processes, technologies or equipment that reduce their carbon footprint may be eligible for grant funding that makes such projects more attractive or feasible.
Tax Credit for Clean Technologies. Clean-tech tax credits are available for businesses that invest in net-zero technologies, battery storage and clean hydrogen.
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) Funding Programs: The government of Canada offers funding through a variety of grants and contributions programs. A complete listing of programs can be found here.
Grant in action
With the help of GrantMatch, Waterloo Brewing secured $414,830 in funding through the CME Smart Green Program for a new canning line pasteurizer that significantly reduced natural gas consumption.
The brewery was also successful in securing funding through the Climate Action Incentive Fund to support an investment in a new compressed air system.
5. Grants for New Businesses and Start-ups
Getting access to funding is one of the biggest challenges new businesses face, and admittedly most of the grants and funding opportunities out there apply to companies that have been up and running for at least a year. But there are grants and other sources of funding that start-ups can qualify for, helping entrepreneurs launch their ideas.
Funding for start-ups:
The National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) – The previously mentioned NRC-IRAP program is a diverse program and includes providing mentorship and funding to start-ups so they can grow and develop innovative technologies. The program offers grants to fund R&D project costs from $50,000 to $500,000.
The Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) funds and provides continued mentorship to Cleantech start-ups that already have a proof-of-concept (POC) yet haven’t commercialized their product or service yet. They offer an equity-free grant of up to 40% of eligible project costs.
The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) is a tax credit program to encourage businesses, including start-ups, to invest in R&D. It’s the largest tax incentive federal program in Canada, offering tax credits in three forms: a tax deduction, a tax credit or a cash refund. Companies can receive up to 35% of qualifying R&D costs as a tax credit and reduce their future corporate taxes.
Funding for young and underserved entrepreneurs
For new and aspiring business owners who have historically faced additional obstacles in obtaining funding, credibility and access to networks, there are new and evolving funding sources designed to enable specific segments of the population.
Futurpreneur: A national, non-proﬁt organization that provides ﬁnancing, mentoring and support tools to aspiring business owners aged 18-39. Further, their internationally recognized mentoring program matches young entrepreneurs with a business expert from a network of more than 2,400 volunteer mentors.
Coralus: Formerly SheEO, Coralus pools money from 500 women and non-binary Activators and loans it at zero percent interest to ventures led by women and non-binary owners. To qualify, ventures must be creating a better world through their business model, product or service.
Black Entrepreneurship Program: The Black Entrepreneurship Program (BEP) is a partnership between the Government of Canada, Black-led business organizations, and financial institutions. With an investment of up to $265 million over four years and providing loans up to $250,000 it is designed to help Black Canadian business owners and entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
How to get started applying for grants
Searching and applying for government grants and external funding can feel like a daunting task. Take these four steps to get started:
- It all starts with your plan for growth – take some time to review and update your business plan >
- There is help out there! GrantMatch is an expert in navigating the grant process and can help boost your chances of successfully tapping into the government funding that is available.
- Start with applying for non-competitive grants and funding opportunities, which are available if you meet the criteria and are eligible for funding.
- Once you’ve chosen a grant to apply for, do your research on its criteria and contact the program representative so that you include the appropriate information in your submission.
One of the most important planning exercises that we practice with our clients is to pause before making a significant capital investment to consider which active grant programs might be available to help cover a portion of project costs. This is an important practice to adopt as many grant funding programs require approval before eligible costs can be incurred. If you have control over the timing of your investments, in some cases it may pay off to delay or accelerate your timelines to align with funding program intake schedules.
When planning future investments in your business, it is also important to keep in mind that grants are designed and administered by governments at all levels in Canada to influence and reward business practices that have positive impacts on society, the economy, and the environment. A business can improve their likelihood of grant success by aligning strategy and growth trajectory with the investment priorities of current governments, which are reliably signaled in Federal and Provincial budget publications.” – Co–Founder and Managing Partner, Mike Janke
While grants and incentives can be game-changing funding sources for your business, the government grant landscape is both complex and dynamic and you may need help in determining grants that apply to your business. Learn more about GrantMatch and other Beyond Banking solutions, offers, and resources available to RBC business clients.
This article was originally published on RBC’s Discover & Learn blog.