If you’re running a new business, you know that startup funding is a worry that never quite leaves your mind. While there are plenty of different ways to fund a new company, some entrepreneurs decided to take a crack at government grants in order to take advantage of some free cash.
The problem is, small business and startup grants can be difficult to track down in Canada. Part of the problem is that the Government of Canada is careful about actually using the phrase “small business grant.” Rather, phrases such as awards, subsidies, rebates, or non-repayable loans are far more likely to pop up on official government pages. While they may not be called grants, these types of financing are still great sources of startup funding—you just need to keep your eyes peeled for opportunities that fit your business.
To help you narrow things down, we’ve put together a list of 80+ grants and other sources of startup funding that can give your small business a much-needed financial boost. Better yet, it’s organized by province/territory, to save you time trawling the Innovation Canada online directory.
- Alberta Export Support Fund – Funding to reduce the cost of attending trade shows in new export markets.
- Alberta Innovates: Industry R&D Associates Program – Funding to employ a Level 1 or Level 2 R&D Associate on a full-time basis for the project term, up to a maximum of two years.
- Alberta Innovates: Product Demonstration Program – Funding to work collaboratively with partners to showcase a prototype in the marketplace or a complete technology to a strategic customer.
- Alberta Innovates: Export Readiness Micro-Voucher Program -Funding for Alberta companies to conduct an export market readiness assessment for entry into a specific country.
- Alberta Innovation Voucher and Micro-Voucher Programs – Funding to support innovation and creative problem-solving for Alberta small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
- Alberta-Zhejiang Global Partnership Program – Funding to cover half of the costs of a strategic innovation partnership with a company in Zhejiang, China.
- Alberta Entrepreneurship Incubator Program – The Alberta Entrepreneurship Incubator Program is a two-stream initiative funded over two years. The purpose of this Program is to offer support for individuals with innovative ideas, Recent Graduates seeking employment, and anyone who has the opportunity to create new products/concepts.
- Canada-Alberta Job Grant – The Canada-Alberta Job Grant is a training program where an employer applies on behalf of their employee(s) for eligible training costs. Employers decide who gets training and what type of training may be needed for their employees.
- Coast Funds Economic Development Fund – Economic development fund for participating First Nations for projects that have positive direct or indirect environmental or social impacts.
- Tale’awtxw Aboriginal Capital Corporation (TACC) Business Equity Program (BEP) – The BEP will consider non-repayable contributions to Aboriginal clients for eligible capital and business support to start, expand or acquire a viable business.
- Dragon’s Quest Business Plan Competition – Each year, the Indigenous Business Development Services (previously Aboriginal Business Service Network) sponsors an Indigenous Business Plan Competition, evoking the spirit of entrepreneurship.
- First Peoples Economic Growth Fund: Business Contribution Fund – A non-repayable contribution of up to 30% of eligible costs for start-up, expansion or acquisition of a business that is majority Manitoba First Nation-owned.
- First Peoples Economic Growth Fund – Business Plan Assistance – The program is intended to provide support to Manitoba First Nation individuals or First Nation-based enterprises which have a business concept that, through initial screening, provides excellent opportunity but demonstrates a need for financial assistance with a professional business plan.
- Young Entrepreneurs Program – Funding to encourage Manitoba’s young people to start their own full-time, viable businesses, and in the process pursue self-employment as a career choice.
- Enabling Agricultural Research and Innovation – Funding to encourage the growth, profitability, sustainability, and self-sufficiency of New Brunswick’s agriculture, agri-food, agri-product, agri-science and agri-processing sectors.
- JEDI Aboriginal Development Fund (JADF) – Funding to promote economic development in the First Nation communities of New Brunswick.
Newfoundland and Labrador
- Consultant Advisory Services – The program helps cover the fees associated with hiring a professional consultant to address specific challenges, deficiencies, and opportunities for the business or organization.
- Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Job Grant (CNLJG) – Provides funding to eligible businesses and organizations to help offset the cost of training for their existing and future employees.
- Innovation Rebate Program – Funding to cover the costs of projects that enable a company to increase innovation capacity through private-sector capital investments or the adoption of new technologies and business processes.
- Workplace Innovation and Productivity Skills Incentive (WIPSI) -WIPSI supplements employer contributions to train full-time staff.
- TalentEdge Internship Program – Companies can tap into talent coming out of Ontario’s publicly-funded post-secondary institutions and strengthen their capacity to develop new products, services, and processes while interns receive hands-on industry experience and mentorship opportunities.
- ENCQOR 5G Demonstration Program – The program supports standalone small- and medium-sized enterprise projects in testing and validation activities using the ENCQOR 5G Innovation Platform as a Service (iPaaS) testbed in order to develop or advance new technologies, products, processes, and services.
- Social Enterprise Ontario – Funding to start or expand a fracophone business with social or environmental objectives in Ontario.
- Eastern Ontario Development Fund – Grants of up to $1.5 million for projects that encourage innovation, collaboration, cluster development, job creation and private sector investment in eastern Ontario.
- Southwestern Ontario Development Fund – The Southwestern Ontario Development Fund gives money to businesses, municipalities and not-for-profit organizations for economic development in southwestern Ontario.
- Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation’s Applied Research & Technology Development Projects – NOHFC assists Northern Ontario businesses in the undertaking of applied research or pre-commercialization activities required to further develop their new technologies and move them to market.
- Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation’s Pilot Demonstration & Commercialization Projects – NOHFC assists Northern Ontario businesses with reducing the technical and financial risks associated with scaling up and demonstrating their new and innovative technologies and to support them as they ramp up for commercial production.
- Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation’s Northern Ontario Internship Program – The program provides recent graduates who are interested in launching and building their careers in Northern Ontario access to internships.
- Northern Ontario Development Program – Youth Internships -FedNor provides support for youth interns under the Northern Ontario Development Program (NODP) and the Economic Development Initiative (EDI).
- Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation’s Opportunity Assessment Projects – NOHFC assists Northern Ontario businesses with identifying opportunities for new technology development projects.
- Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation’s Business Expansion Projects – NOHFC assists existing businesses in Ontario that intend to expand and or retain their operations within Northern Ontario to improve competitiveness, increase productivity, export, grow revenues and create jobs.
- Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation’s Small Business Start-up Projects – NOHFC assists new businesses in Northern Ontario that intend to commence operations in existing and emerging priority economic sectors.
- Digital Transformation Grant Program – The Digital Main Street Program funded by the Province of Ontario in partnership with the Ontario BIA Association seeks to help small main street businesses across Ontario improve their adoption of technologies to better promote themselves online, sell online and even run back-office processes online.
- Digital Service Squad Grant Program – The Digital Main Street – Digital Service Squad Grant Program, is a program funded by the Province of Ontario in partnership with OBIAA, focused on creating a Service Squad program that provides one-on-one assistance to small businesses in any region of Ontario.
- Export Market Access Program – Export Market Access: A Global Expansion Program (EMA) is designed to assist small to medium size organizations (SMEs) to access and expand their growth in foreign markets.
- Export Manager Program – The Export Manager Program supports hiring an Export Manager to help develop your company’s international revenue streams.
- Canada-Ontario Job Grant – Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG) provides opportunities for employers, individually or in groups, to invest in their workforce, with help from the government.
- AV Research and Development Partnership Fund – An Ontario government grant program offered through the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) to develop, prototype, and validate innovative autonomous vehicle technologies.
- OCE Customer Demonstration Program – Ontario government grants to support technology demonstrations between two or more Ontario-based businesses.
- OCE Market Readiness Program – Supports academic spin-off companies, OCE accelerator (CLA/OCEA) graduates, and SmartStart Seed Fund awardees with Ontario government grants to further their early-stage commercialization and support scalable business growth.
- OCE Voucher Program – A collaborative funding program offered through the Ontario Centres of Excellence. The three funding opportunities provide Ontario businesses with financial support to work with academic partners to solve industry problems, develop new products & services, and to create online tools that support market expansion and exporting opportunities.
- Ontario Creates: Interactive Digital Media (IDM) Fund – Funding to support the conceptualization and production of interactive digital media (usually software and gaming products) with the intent to inform, educate, and entertain.
Prince Edward Island
- PEl Product Development Assistance – Funding for Prince Edward Island companies to access professional and technical help when creating or improving a new food product or process.
- Product and Market Development Program – Funding to expand domestic and international competitiveness by supporting small and medium-sized agricultural producers, agri-businesses and agri- processors to expand their product base or markets.
- Innovative Technologies Sub-Program – Funding to support implementation of agricultural technologies that are leading edge, potentially high-risk and first of their kind to the province or region.
- Technology and Science Adoption Sub-Program – Supports the adoption and/or implementation of best practices, new technologies, and processes that will improve efficiency and profit margins in PEI’s agri-industry.
- Strategic Industry Growth Initiative Program – Funding to increase the competitiveness, productivity, and profitability of the agriculture industry through a coordinated effort to accelerate the development and successful commercialization of food products from PEI.
- Professional Services Assistance – A non-repayable contribution towards the cost for a Prince Edward Island small business to hire a professional for business development services.
- Quality Improvement Assistance – The Quality Improvement Support contributes to the cost for Prince Edward Island companies to hire a professional to create or improve a system for quality improvement within the company or provide a certified quality education program for management and employees.
- Rental Incentive Assistance – The Rental Incentive Assistance contributes to rental costs for Prince Edward Island companies to establish a new business or to expand existing production capabilities.
- Business Website Assistance – You may apply for financial assistance to establish a website if your business or industry association does not already have a web presence.
- Equipment Purchase and/or Renovations Assistance – Funding to help Prince Edward Island businesses in getting the infrastructure needed from start-up to international exporting.
- Human Resources Implementation Assistance – Funding to help new, existing and growing PEI businesses to train, optimize and add to their workforces.
- Marketing Support Program – The Marketing Support Assistance helps Prince Edward Island businesses with their marketing costs from start-up through to international exporting.
- Productivity Improvement Assistance – The Productivity Improvement Assistance supports Prince Edward Island businesses to improve productivity in order to pursue trade and export opportunities more competitively in the global marketplace.
- Aboriginal Business Financing Program (ABFP) – A non-refundable contribution of up to $99,999 for business start-up or expansion, marketing, project management, professional advisory services, and development of a business plan, marketing plan or feasibility studies.
- Export Program: Business Stream – The Export Program is intended for Quebec companies wishing to: be better prepared to export or strengthen their export capacity, or consolidate and diversify their markets outside Quebec.
- CréAvenir – This program, offered jointly with Desjardins, is intended for entrepreneurs aged 35 or less and who are just starting out.
- Industrial Agreement Programs (IAPs) – Funding for trips to France and certain other European regions to acquire knowledge or intellectual property or to collaborate on R&D.
- Technoclimat Program – The goal of the program is to support innovation in energy and greenhouse gas emissions reduction in Quebec.
- Technology and Business Demonstration – Get financial assistance to cover 50% of the costs of testing the technical and commercial viability of innovative energy-saving or power-demand optimization measures.
- SME Program in Action: SME Productivity Support Component -This program aims to increase the level of productivity of Québec businesses, in order to enhance competitiveness and accelerate business growth.
- Fonds Jeunes Entreprises (Young Business Fund) – Supports viable businesses by offering them financial assistance to help with startups and growth.
- Immigrant Investor Program – The interest on investments made by immigrant investors, managed by Investissement Québec, is distributed as a non-repayable contributions to Québec businesses.
- Support for Innovation Projects – Funding to support businesses and business combinations at different stages of an innovation project to help them build their innovation capabilities.
- Economic Diversification Fund of Center-du-Québec and Mauricie – The program aims to encourage the start-up and development of business projects and to develop new industries looking to the future.
- Adjustment and Reduction of Working Time Program – Get expert advice and a contribution of up to 50% of expenses relating to creating an alternate work arrangement and work hour reduction plan for your business.
- Workforce Training Measure – The workforce training measure for businesses is designed to support the skills development of those at risk of losing their jobs.
- Métis Assistance Program (MAP) – Funding for Métis entrepreneurs or Métis community business enterprises to help with business start-up and expansion.
- Clarence Campeau Development Fund (CCDF) – The objective of the Fund is to stimulate economic development activities of Métis people and communities.
- Product2Market: Value-Added – A two-stream program that promotes the development and expansion of small to medium-sized enterprises by supporting agri-business product development and the marketing of value-added products.
- Business Development Project Fund (BDPF) – Core BDPF can be used to help fund start-up expenses, expansion, raw materials (for arts and crafts production) and short-term projects that create employment.
- Business Scale-Up and Productivity – Funding offered under this program stream helps businesses at various stages of development, including high-growth firms, to accelerate growth and adopt innovative technologies that support scale-up, commercialization, productivity, and market expansion to become more competitive globally.
- Entrepreneur Support (SEED) – Funding for NWT entrepreneurs and small businesses, which includes startup funding capital assistance, market and product development, operational support, and film support.
- Sivummut Grants to Small Businesses – Funding to assist Inuit in the Qikiqtani Region in investigating, planning, establishing, managing, and expanding their own businesses.
- Nunavut Employers Grant – The Grant encourages employers to provide training or professional development to Nunavummiut, leading to a new position, a promotion, increased pay within the organization, or regular employment.
- Small Business Support Program – This program is primarily focused on providing up-and-coming small businesses, community organizations, and individuals with support to grow.
- Enterprise Trade Fund (ETF) – The Enterprise Trade Fund (ETF) encourages business development and market expansion beyond Yukon.
- Yukon Business Incentive Program – The Business Incentive Program gives rebates to businesses working on eligible Government of Yukon contracts. Rebates are for Yukon hires—youths, apprentices and adults—or Yukon-made goods and services.
- Regional Economic Development Fund – The Regional Economic Development Fund (REDF) provides funding for economic planning, opportunity identification and capacity development at the regional and community level in Yukon.