Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our content.

Business startup grants in Canada

Find out how to fund your startup without paying interest on a loan.

Looking for a grant? Compare 9 startup grants
Looking for a loan instead? Compare business loans

Competition between businesses for grants can be fierce. Private organizations and different levels of government offer grants as long as the criteria are met, but there is going to be competition to secure those dollars. Business startup grants are just one of the types of grants offered to emerging companies. Some have specific requirements that must be met, while others are available for anyone to apply for.

Before applying for a grant, keep in mind that most startup grants are specific to a certain province or territory, so it’s best to search the Innovation Canada website to see what you’re eligible for since you’ll need to take your business goals, size, sector and location into consideration before applying for a grant.

1. SD Tech Fund

Running a clean technology business? The SD Tech Fund caters toward businesses that are looking to support the green industry. Grants are offered to businesses working in the clean energy, air, water and climate change space. Offering a 33% contribution, the SD Tech Fund will continuously fund a project that has 4-6 milestones. Funding is continuous as each milestone is met.

Highlights

  • The focus of this fund is clean energy that will result in a cleaner environment
  • Continuous funding means the money does not come all at once

Where is it available?

  • Across Canada

Eligibility requirements

  • Must be a Canadian company with a specific project
  • Potential to attract business partners
  • Proven environmental and economic benefits to Canada

How to apply

  1. First, read the how to apply booklet that goes over the steps necessary for making a full application
  2. Download the application template and fill in your information
  3. After review and if approved, you will be invited to present your idea via video chat
  4. If approved after that, your project will be reviewed by another team and passed onto the board of directors for approval

2. SD Tech Fund – Seed Fund

The Seed Fund is another SDTC fund focusing on environmental aspects of business. Early-stage Canadian entrepreneurs with ideas in clean-tech can apply for one-time grants of $50,000 to $100,000 for projects with environmental benefits.
This grant differs from the SDTC Clean Fund grant in that potential applicants must be nominated by one of SDTC’s partners.

Highlights

  • Must be focused on the environment and clean-tech
  • Innovations in food, water, energy and clean communities are being looked at

Where is it available?

  • Across Canada

Eligibility requirements

  • Must be nominated by an SDTC partner
  • Have an idea that brings new technology to a significant environmental problem
  • Must be finished the R&D phase of the planning and working on commercialization

How to apply

  1. You must be nominated by an SDTC partner
  2. Contact your local accelerator and they can help you with the next steps of the application process

3. Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)

One of the larger grants out there, the Industrial Research Assistance Program IRAP provides startups with funding between $50,000 to $500,000. Larger businesses tend to get more funding, however many small businesses are eligible for smaller grant amounts. IRAP supports the development and commercialization of technology-driven products, services or processes in Canada. Technology can be new or improved, giving a wider range of applicants the chance to receive grant funds.

This grant is available Canada-wide and in order to be eligible, you’ll need to have at least one full-time employee. The grant money will be issued before you incur the expenses, so if you’re thinking of applying, head online before you begin developing or advertising products or services.

Highlights

  • Funding between $30,000 and $10 million, depending on the size of the business and the use of the funds
  • Focused on research and development of new technologies
  • Small to medium-sized businesses may apply

Where is it available?

  • Across Canada

Eligibility requirements

  • Must be a Canadian business
  • Fewer than 500 full-time employees
  • Must focus on the development of tech-driven products

How to apply

  1. Contact IRAP to discuss your project
  2. IRAP will determine if you’re eligible and assist with submitting a proposal

4. Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED)

The SR&ED is not actually a startup grant, but rather a refundable tax credit. Claimed on your yearly taxes, this credit is geared toward startups and businesses conducting research and development toward products, services and processes.

Highlights

  • The SR&ED is a tax credit, not a grant
  • As much as 35% of your research and development costs could be refunded
  • Geared towards research and development for products, services and processes

Where is it available?

  • Across Canada

Eligibility requirements

  • Your company must work to gain “new knowledge” that helps resolve a problem or reach your goal
  • Must be involved in a science or technology field, conducting experiments or analysis

How to apply

  1. When tax season comes, include form T661 and form T2038, investment tax credit in your tax return
  2. Fill out your personal information
  3. Include details about the scientific or technological aspects of your business
  4. Include financial details such as deductible expenditures, overhead expenditures and the costs for each project you claim

5. Canada Job Grant (CJG)

The Canada Job Grant offers up to $10,000 toward training and developing your workforce. The funding can be used for a variety of purposes such as hiring and training programs that develop skillsets and enhance employee performance on the job.

Highlights

  • Each province and territory, excluding Quebec, has its own version of the Canada Job Grant; be sure you apply to the right one for your business
  • This grant is primarily used for training costs for new hires
  • Companies with more than 100 employees will still need to contribute half of their training costs
  • Companies with fewer than 100 employees will only need to contribute one-sixth of their training costs

Where is it available?

  • Province by province, except Quebec

Eligibility requirements

  • Must be used to purchase training for employees in your area
  • Training must be done by a third party

How to apply

  1. Go to your area’s CJG website and fill out your company’s information
  2. Add your personal information such as name, job title and the date you started at the company
  3. Some provinces require businesses with fewer than 25 employees to fill out a specific form that must be requested

6. CanExport

If you’re working in the export business, you could be in luck with the CanExport grant. As much as 75% of costs for marketing and exporting your products can be covered by the CanExport grant, provided the product is going to a market where you currently have little or no sales.

The CanExport grant helps to fund research and competitive analysis, product certifications, translations of marketing and packaging supplies and professional development and marketing tools such as attending conferences and trade shows.

The CanExport SMEs grant is not currently accepting applications, but the CanExport innovation grant is.

Highlights

  • Helps fund research and competitive analysis, product certifications, translations of marketing and packaging supplies, and more
  • Assists as many as 1,000 businesses each year

Where is it available?

  • Across Canada

Eligibility requirements

  • Be registered in Canada
  • Have a CRA business number
  • Own, co-own or have decision-making ability over the rights for the technology
  • Intend to commercially launch your technology within the next 5 years

How to apply

  1. Contact the CanExport Innovation team to ask for an up-to-date application form
  2. Complete the budget form
  3. Supplementary documents such as travel and non-travel expenses may be needed as well
    Canadian registration documents are also required

7. Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)

Provided by the Government of Canada, the SIF focuses on advancing innovation across a number of sectors in Canada. This fund looks to help businesses and startups simplify and accelerate processes and technology, as well as provide assistance that is focused on results.

Highlights

  • Stream 1. Encourages research and development that focuses on accelerating the current and new production of technology transfer, as well as the commercialization of new products, services and processes.
  • Stream 2. Focuses on facilitating the growth and expansion of businesses across the country.
  • Stream 3. Aims to attract and retain large-scale investments into the country.
  • Stream 4. Encourages the advancement of industrial research, development and technology through collaboration between the private sector, researchers and non-profit organizations.
  • Stream 5. National ecosystem proposals focus on the development of early-stage technologies that are designed to support Canadian ecosystems.

Where is it available?

  • Across Canada

Eligibility requirements

  • Streams 1, 2 and 3
    • Must be a for-profit corporation in Canada
    • The recipient is responsible for managing the project
  • Stream 4
    • May include universities, colleges, research institutions, for-profit corporations or not-for-profits
  • Stream 5
    • Either a not-for-profit or a for-profit in Canada working with a university, college or research institution submitting a proposal to SIF that aims to benefit the ecosystem

How to apply

  1. Submit a detailed overview of their project, including how it will meet the objectives of the SIF
  2. Develop a full application if approved after step one
  3. There are different requirements for each stream, so be sure to check out the program guide.

8. Proof of Concept Program by Natural Products Canada

If you’re a researcher or startup, you can get repayable financing for up to $250,000 to cover up to 50% of the costs to demonstrate the business viability of innovative natural products and technologies. The program does not support basic research or early product development. If you’re a startup company, Natural Products Canada’s contribution will be 50% non-repayable grant and 50% repayable loan.

To be eligible, you must have an innovative natural product or technology with the potential to achieve $10 million to $15 million in annual revenue within a reasonable time period. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.

Highlights

  • This is for products that are biologically based and will be used to help people, animals or the environment
  • These include food production, sustainability, health and wellness, and water or waste management

Where is it available?

  • Across Canada

Eligibility requirements

  • Must be a Canadian incorporated SME, startup or academic research institute.
  • Products being developed must address an industry or sector challenge that has market potential
  • Technological advancement and benefits to that natural products ecosystem in Canada
  • Companies must have the potential to reach $10 million to $15 million in revenue within a reasonable amount of time after the product hits the market

How to apply

  1. Those interested in applying should reach out to programs@naturalproductscanada.com
  2. A team member will follow up with you to discuss eligibility requirements and the size and scope of the project
  3. Approved applications will be sent further application details

9. Lab2Market

The Lab2Market Program is a 16-week program to help researchers explore innovative ideas related to science or technology in order to find business value. The maximum grant amount is $15,000, and you will have access to mentors, advisors and workshops. Lab2Market encourages graduate students, PhD students or post-doctoral fellows to apply.

Highlights

  • World-class mentors and advisors that help you develop your ideas
  • Partners with top universities such as Ryerson and Dalhousie
  • Teaches you how to go further in the field as well as providing funding

Where is it available?

  • The next cohort is set to start in Halifax in February 2022. Applications close on October 18, 2021.

Eligibility requirements

  • Applicant must be a graduate student or a postdoctoral fellow
  • Tech must be proven to be feasible

How to apply

  1. Fill out your personal information online
  2. Add details about your product idea, what industry you plan on improving and how it is solving a problem
  3. Add financial details such as potential customer base, market size and the tech required to deliver your product to market

Looking for a loan instead? Compare business loans for startups

Looking for a small business loan instead? To apply for a business loan, you’ll typically need to be in business for at least 100 days and meet a minimum monthly revenue requirement.

Name Product Interest Rate Loan Amount Loan Term Minimum Revenue Minimum Time in Business Loans Offered
SharpShooter Funding Business Loan
Prime pricing from 9.00%
$500 - $250,000
6 - 120 months
$10,000 /month
100 days
Unsecured Term, Merchant Cash Advance, Invoice Factoring
To be eligible, you must have been in business for at least 100 days with a minimum of $10,000 in monthly deposits.

SharpShooter provides capital to small businesses that are underserved by banks and credit unions. It measures overall business health and potential rather than focusing strictly on traditional metrics. Fill out a simple application and get pre-approved in minutes. Receive your funds within 24 hours.
Loans Canada Business Loan
Prime Pricing from 9.00%
$2,000 - $350,000
3 - 60 months
$4,166 /month
100 days
Unsecured Term
To be eligible, you must have been in business for at least 100 days, have a credit score of 410+ and show a minimum of $4,166 in monthly deposits ($50,000/year).

Loans Canada connects Canadian small business owners to lenders offering financing up to $350,000. Complete one simple online application and get matched with your loan options.
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

Dos and don’ts: How to get approved for a grant for a small business startup

  • Tailor your application for a specific grant. Each has different eligibility criteria and is designed for a specific purpose. Your application needs to specifically address all of these.
  • Address all eligibility criteria and answer every application question. Be succinct, yet thorough, and answer all questions. If you are unable to answer a question on the grant application, then you’re probably not ready. Get informed rather than guessing or leaving the section blank.
  • Have a grant strategy. Plan ahead. Map out an application timeline, and systematically review each grant’s eligibility criteria and submission requirements.
  • Consider specific projects instead of the business as a whole. Most grants are given to businesses that are engaging in specific activities like product development, importing/exporting and recruiting or training staff. If you can’t get grants for your business as a whole, consider grants for individual business projects or departments.
  • Apply for grants you’re unlikely to get. A proper grant application takes time and effort, so you don’t want to waste your time on an application that likely won’t get approved.
  • Assume that a startup based on a good idea is good enough. Grants are awarded for fulfilling specific requirements and meeting certain business goals. “Having a good idea” isn’t enough to convince financiers that their money is safe with your company — you need real evidence that your business is solid and has a bright future.
  • Fail to follow up. Think about the long-term success of your business, and follow up on grant applications even if you think your chances aren’t high. Find out which factors weren’t favourable, and find out where you can improve for next time.
You can also use a professional grant writer to give your application some extra polish and identify mistakes or errors. Grant writers can also help save you some time, so you can focus on other business activities or look for more financing opportunities. Check out freelance websites and online job boards such as Upwork or Fiverr to find the best candidates. Look for people with extensive writing experience and, ideally, some exposure to the field in which your business operates.

Bottom line

Free money is out there to help your startup business navigate through those first few difficult years. Even though applying for startup grants can take valuable time, receiving a grant can make a difference in the day-to-day operations of your business – especially if you’re granted a large one or get access to free advertising.

If you’re unsure where to start or are wondering if your business is eligible, there are plenty of resources out there like Mentor Works that can help you get acquainted with different grants and guide you in the application process. You can also learn more in our guide on loans for startups.

More guides on Finder

Go to site