By Alena Barreca, February 28, 2023 Reading Time: 4 minutes
Innovation is essential for businesses to continue growing. R&D (research and development) is one way for businesses to advance. It is possible for Canadian businesses to gain competitive advantages over domestic and international competitors when they adapt and adopt new innovative strategies. Small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMEs) can also gain market advantage by investing in R&D activities, which are not limited to research-oriented companies and large companies with extensive budgets.
Government funding programs can support Canadian businesses in their innovation goals through grants, loans, and tax credits by offsetting the cost of research and development activities. Read this blog to discover federal programs currently available that can help your business access funding for research and development projects.
You can apply for federal funding for eligible R&D projects through the following five government programs. A listed funding program may not be available if you read this article at some point in the future. View our Research and Development Funding Directory to find out which programs are currently accepting applications.
Research and Development Grants and Tax Credits from the Government of Canada
Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) Challenges
Government grants and procurement contracts are provided through Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) to stimulate technology R&D and commercialization. A Challenge Stream and Testing Stream in the program can assist startups and SMEs in overcoming technology testing and development hurdles.
- Funding Amount: There is a funding limit of $150k for proof-of-concept projects and a maximum of $2M for prototype development, and SMEs may also be awarded a government contract.
- Applicant Eligibility: For-profit Canadian corporations with <500 employees are eligible to apply. 50%+ FTEs and senior executives must be in Canada.
National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP)
Canadian innovators can take advantage of the Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) of the National Research Council of Canada to accelerate the development of their research and development projects. Research funding through NRC IRAP is primarily directed toward businesses who develop and implement process improvements. However, large-scale technology adoption projects leading to new capabilities may also be funded.
- Funding Amount: Eligible applicants can access up to 60%-80% of internal technical labour and subcontractor expenses.
- Applicant Eligibility: Incorporated and financially stable businesses with 1-500 employees are eligible to apply.
Mitacs Accelerate Program
To overcome innovation challenges, Mitacs Accelerate funds SMEs that bring on interns. They use their expertise to develop tools, models, technologies, or solutions to solve small business challenges using their Masters, Ph.D., or postdoctoral fellowships.
- Funding Amount: The program provides support up to $15,000 for each four- to six-month internship with a financial contribution of $7,500 from the partnering organization. Businesses that offer 6+ internship periods to 3+ interns are eligible for the cluster stream. Research costs and intern stipends are included in the funding.
- Applicant Eligibility: Incorporated, for-profit businesses and select non-profits across Canada. All industries and sectors are supported with preference is given to R&D projects in innovation.
Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)
An important part of Canada’s industrial and technology sector is the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF). In order to promote investment in activities that drive sustained productivity and economic benefits, it provides financial contributions (both reimbursable grants and non-repayable loans) valued at up to 50% of project costs.
- Funding Amount: The SIF program focuses on projects requesting at least $10 million in contributions, which means a minimum project size of $20 million.
- Applicant Eligibility: Although the SIF program is open to all businesses, potential applicants should keep in mind that this is a very competitive program. While your company may be eligible for funding, successful applicants must demonstrate high growth potential and the ability to drive innovation.
Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED)
Canadian businesses can receive tax credits for research and development projects through the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program. A total of over $3 billion in tax incentives are claimed each year by over 20,000 SR&ED applicants.
- Funding Amount: Tax credits can cover up to 69% of labour and overhead costs, 36% of contractor costs, and 45% of material costs. The expense must be related to the activities needed to resolve a technological uncertainty, obstacle, or challenge
- Applicant Eligibility: The federal SR&ED program is offered Canada-wide combined with provincial funding. In addition to individuals, trusts, partnerships, Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPCs), and other corporations, SR&ED is one of the largest tax incentive programs.
Learn More About Canadian Funding Programs
SME businesses are eligible for the Canadian government’s research and development funding programs listed in our government funding directory. Access our free Canadian Startup Business Resources if your business does not meet the requirements of a given program.
Get in touch with Mentor Works, a Ryan Company team, to learn which active program could fit your business’ needs and subscribe to our Weekly Funding Newsletter to keep up with the latest government funding news if your company is interested in accessing funding for R&D.
Register for our upcoming webinar to learn more about government funding opportunities for Canadian businesses, which will offer exclusive details about the programs listed in this blog.