Business grants Canada

Looking for a Canadian small business grant? We’ve got the resources you need and can help you apply to for more than 200 grants.

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Popular Canadian business grants

The National Research Council of Canada’s (NRC) Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)

Up to $500,000

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Open-ended

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  • Suitable for Canadian small and medium-sized businesses pursuing technology‑driven innovation
  • This program will cover a maximum of 75% of eligible costs
  • Up to $500,000 (the average amount is $94,000)
  • Refunds available for up to 80% of salaries and 50% of contractor costs
  • More information can be found on the Canadian Government’s NRC IRAP page

Idea to Innovation (I2I)

50% of project costs

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27/09/2021

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Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI)

Up to $10,000,000

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Open-ended

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  • Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) is a national funding program that supports the economic growth of businesses and regions through innovation
  • Includes funds such as the Jobs and Growth Fund, Black Entrepreneurship Program in Quebec, Business Scale-up & Productivity, and more.
  • More information can be found on the Canadian Government’s REGI page.

Tax credits

Several programs exist in Canada to support the costs of research & development (R&D) and encourage innovation by offering tax relief/credits. Many companies aren’t even aware they might have eligible spend for these schemes. Are you one of them?

SR&ED (Scientific Research & Experimental Development )tax credits

15% or a refundable tax credit of 35% on the first $3 million

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Open-ended

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  • For Canadian businesses in a field of science or technology
  • SR&ED has no limits on company size
  • Get a tax credit of 15% or a refundable tax credit of 35% on the first $3 million of project expenses.
  • Application deadline: open on a continuous basis
  • More information can be found on Swoop’s SR&ED tax credits page

E-business tax credits

$25,000 per eligible employee

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Open-ended

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  • For businesses in the field of information system design or software publishing
  • Carried out in an establishment in Québec
  • The tax credit is equal to 30% of eligible salaries
  • Annual maximum of $25,000 per eligible employee
  • Application deadline:  open on a continuous basis.
  • More information can be found on Invest Quebec’s development of e-business page

Multimedia tax credits

Up to 37.5%

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Open-ended

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  • Designed to encourage the production of multimedia titles in Québec
  • Up to 37.5% for eligible multimedia titles available in French
  • Up to 30% for eligible multimedia titles not available in French
  • Application deadline:  open on a continuous basis.

Small business grants in Ontario

As Canada’s largest provincial economy, Ontario offers a variety of small business grants and related programs for startups and established business, from downtown Toronto to the far north, including indigenous businesses. For example, there are grants to improve your digital presence, grants to help pay for training costs, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund to support small businesses in northern Ontario, and the Indigenous Economic Development Fund that provides grants and financing for Indigenous businesses, communities and organizations.

Small business grants in Quebec

The Native Commercial Credit Corporation is a Quebec organization with funding services specifically designed for Aboriginal entrepreneurs. Their Aboriginal Business Financing Program in particular offers a non-repayable grant of up to $99,999 to start, acquire or expand a business. This program is open to First Nations and Native Alliance of Quebec members.

Another interesting opportunity for Quebeckers is a set of Industrial Agreement Programs that can provide funding for trips to France and other European economic regions to acquire knowledge or intellectual property or to collaborate on research and development.

Quebec businesses involved in the development of a new product or process or to significantly improve an existing product or process may benefit from the province’s support for innovation projects. Eligible businesses can receive a non-repayable grant of as much a 75% of total project expenses to a maximum of $350,000 per project.

Small business grants in BC

British Columbia has a dynamic economy with an impressively wide range of arts and culture grants covering everything from community groups and heritage centres to theatre, film, literature, visual arts and music.

You’ll also find dozens of BC small business grants available for purposes such as agriculture, export support, research and technology, trades, wage subsidies, and indigenous entrepreneurs.

Small business grants in Alberta

Alberta’s Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant is a timely program that offers financial assistance to Alberta businesses that were ordered to close or curtail operations, and that experienced a revenue reduction of at least 30%, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canada-Alberta Job Grant is another option that allows employers and government to share the cost of training new and existing employees to increase their knowledge and skills and meet the needs of Alberta’s changing economy.

Small business grants in Manitoba

Some of Manitoba’s most innovative small business grant programs are no longer accepting applications – such as a $5,000 grant to help offset work-from-home expenses.

However, for Manitoba businesses looking to expand their reach to international markets, the federal CanExport program can offer generous support. The program offers funding of up to $75,000 for business expansion marketing projects including trade shows, marketing material translation, and market research.

Small business grants in Saskatchewan

The Clarence Campeau Development Fund aims to stimulate the economic development activities of Métis people. The fund leverages relationships with funding partners, industry, and communities to meet the evolving needs of Métis businesses, offering a variety of repayable loans and non-repayable grants to entrepreneurs.

Product2Market: Value-Added is an innovative grant program with two streams: a Prototype and Product Development stream that supports the creation and launch of new products, and a Market Development Stream that helps Saskatchewan companies expand their domestic and international markets through promotional and marketing activities. Successful applicants will receive 50% of eligible expenses to a limit of $100,000 per company per year.

Small business grants in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s Innovation Rebate Program is unique. Although the assistance it provides is often in the form of free or inexpensive support and services rather than cash grants, it is quite creative in its style and scope.

In addition to supports and rebates for European and Asian market development, export growth, and technology innovation, the program also provides a digital asset marketing program and scale-up hubs that can situate promising startups from Nova Scotia in Cambridge, New England and Atlanta, Georgia.

Small business grants in New Brunswick

The province of New Brunswick offers a number of resources for businesses, ranging from tax credits and market research to venture capital – many of which are delivered through an economic growth agency known as OpportunitiesNB. For those seeking non-repayable business grants in New Brunswick, one of the better options is to explore the hundreds of federal government options, which may be searched using the Government of Canada Business Benefits Finder.

Start up grants for new Canadian businesses

If you have a business idea but need some initial funding to get it off the ground, there might be a government grant for you. A great way of searching for options is the Government of Canada Business Benefits Finder. This tool lets you input details about your business and your needs and scans nearly 1,400 different programs across Canada to recommend potential options for you.

Business grants for women

The Government of Canada reports that women own fewer than 16% of businesses and are underrepresented in the economy. There are now a number of initiatives underway to address women’s economic empowerment, including black, minority, and Indigienous women, that together have the potential to add $150 billion in incremental GDP by 2026.

One recent initiative was the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, which allocated $30 million to 300 projects, including $2.5 million for Indigenous women entrepreneurs. Here’s a directory of some current business grants for women in Canada.

Pros & cons of business grants

It’s fair to say that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to small business grants.

On the positive side, a business grant is essentially free money. Unlike a loan, it never needs to be repaid. That makes it a business funding option that’s pretty hard to beat. On top of that, once you qualify for a grant, there’s some evidence that you’ll have an easier time qualifying for more grants in the future, as other organizations will see you as a reliable candidate.

On the negative side, winning a small business grant can involve a lot of work and uncertainty. You first must find an appropriate grant to apply for, then create a detailed and compelling proposal, and finally be selected from what could be a large pool of hopeful applicants.

So, while receiving a business grant is not always easy, it is certainly desirable.

How do I write a grant proposal?

When writing a business grant proposal, it’s worth keeping the following points in mind:

  • Write in plain English. Avoid industry jargon and flowery language.
  • Be specific about your plan. Be able to clearly explain how the funds will be used and exactly what results you expect to achieve.
  • Show how you’re aligned. Most grants are created to promote specific social or economic goals. Make sure it’s clear how your business supports the funder’s goal.
  • Demonstrate your capability. Provide evidence that you and your team are capable of delivering the work you are promising.
  • Know your numbers. Make your budget as detailed as possible

Writing a successful grant application is no easy task. It’s well worth spending time to get it right. You may wish to engage the services of a professional grant writer, whether that’s a local professional or a relatively low-cost online freelancer.

How do I apply?

One of the challenges of applying is the potentially dizzying range of options out there – each with their own criteria and processes. Join Swoop today and we can help you narrow down the best possibilities in no time.

Frequently asked questions

A business grant is a sum of money given to a business by a government, charity or other organization. Usually, business grants are designed to promote certain social or economic goals, such as strengthening or developing certain industry sectors or creating opportunities for underrepresented groups in society. Unlike business loans, grants are non-repayable.

Interested? Join Swoop to start seeing the best business grant options in minutes.

Yes, it is possible to get a grant to start a business, but it may not be easy. In general, grant providers prefer to support businesses that already have at least a modest track record. From a risk-management point of view, grantees might be reluctant to hand out free money to unproven entrepreneurs. They may have more confidence providing it to those who have demonstrated their determination by first risking their own resources.

No, you almost never have to pay grant funds back. Rare exceptions may occur if an entrepreneur has received or used the grant funds improperly.

Yes, business grants are usually considered taxable income. It is important to take this into consideration when planning your business finances.

Written by

Michael David

Michael David is a financial writer and former investment advisor. Writing for Capital Group, Dimensional Fund Advisors, Franklin Templeton Investments, HSBC, Invesco, PIMCO, Vanguard, global insurance companies, major Canadian banks and others, he has educated professionals, business owners and consumers about strategies for investing, insurance, banking and corporate finance for more than 20 years.

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