Archive for the ‘Startups’ Category

Made in Canada: Sustaining a Global Competitive Advantage in Cannabis Technology

Last month marked the one year anniversary since Canada became the first G7 country to legalize cannabis. On October 17, 2019, the Canadian Cannabis Regulations were updated to establish rules for the legal production and sale of three new classes of cannabis including edibles, extracts, and topicals, which are expected to become available for purchase in physical and online stores beginning in mid-December 2019.

With Canada currently representing the second-largest legal cannabis market in the world, innovation is now more vital than ever to maintaining a sustainable competitive Canadian advantage in the global cannabis value chain.

While legalization has attracted unprecedented levels of investment and has paved the way for accelerated research, clinical Cannabis research remains in its infancy with limited and often conflicting open-source information requiring heavy R&D investments to distinguish companies in this oversaturated market. Additionally, with the expansion of the market in terms of volumes and formats, much research is needed in harvesting/ processing technologies and product development.

Fortunately, costs of innovation in the cannabis industry can be offset with non-dilutive funding which can critically extend a company’s runway, bridge the funding gap to commercialization, and reduce the risk for investors.

Funding Cannabis R&D in Canada

The SR&ED tax credit program is the most lucrative source of non-dilutive funding for companies performing R&D in Canada, providing up to 68% back on eligible R&D expenditures for Qualified Canadian Controlled Private Corporations (CCPC’s) and 43% for Foreign-owned or public corporations depending on the province.

Examples of SR&ED in Cannabis include:

1. Edibles, Beverages, Extracts, and Topicals

  • Enhancing nutrient content or eliminating allergens.
  • Increasing product quality, yield, or shelf-life.
  • Overcoming ingredient interference (i.e. chocolate) with potency testing.
  • Maintaining formulaic stability, solubility, and dispersion
  • Developing terpene-based organoleptic profiles.
  • Scaling up and improving process efficiency.
  • Overcoming limitations of processes that utilize reagents (ethanol, CO2, propane).
  • Improving/developing extraction sequences and process parameters, and new isolation methods.
  • Reducing water consumption, or improving heating/cooling processes.
  • Developing innovative sustainable cannabis packaging solutions.

2. Medicinal & Pharmaceutical

  • Developing novel cannabis treatments and medical procedures.
  • Clinically assessing patient response to different doses, strains, and cultivation practices. 
  • Developing new, innovative methods to assess cannabinoid concentration.
  • Developing methods to test medicinal ingredient accuracy for consumers and industry professionals.

3. Cultivation/Harvesting

  • Testing the effects of climate/growing conditions (temperature and humidity, mineral composition of soil ph., and light exposure) and relative cultivation sequences on yield/ potency and the resulting product quality (yield, potency, terpenes profile).
  • Assessing growth conditions relative to processing parameters and product efficacy.
  • Developing new bio-stimulants for disease resistance, new fertilizer blends for boosting yield or developing biological pest controls.
  • Performing gene editing and breeding studies.
  • Integrating automation processes and equipment.  

4. ICT

  • Improving diagnostic and data analytics.
  • Developing cloud biology platforms and software applications.
  • Developing Smart Farming, IoT, and security systems.  

Bridging the Funding Gap

SR&ED funding can be combined with other sources of non-dilutive financing at various stages of growth to bridge the funding gap from product development to commercialization. 

Advanced SR&ED Financing: While the SR&ED tax credit program is critical for the viability of Canadian companies, it often takes over one year to receive the funding, which can be challenging, particularly for early stage companies. Advanced SR&ED accrual debt financing helps to bridge the financing gap by enabling companies to gain access to up to 80% of their SR&ED refund as soon as six months pre-filing.

Agri and Regional R&D funding: The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) is a five-year, $3 billion, federal-provincial-territorial agreement, that will replace Growing Forward 2 (GF2), and provides cost-sharing funding for processors and other agri-related businesses. The FedDev Rural Innovation Initiative (RII) regional stream is a non-repayable grant for SMEs operating in rural Southern Ontario within priority sectors that covers up to 50% of eligible project costs for a maximum of $100,000.

Commercialization: The Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) supports companies that are investing in new technology projects that lead to new products, processes, or services in Canada, with an emphasis on commercialization. IRAP will cover labour and subcontractor costs. IRAP can be paired with SR&ED to increase the total funding amounts, provided adequate deductions for overlap are made.

Export: CanExport is a government funding program that provides funding to Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to support new export market development. Previously, the CanExport program excluded the agriculture and food processing sectors, since companies in these industries were already eligible for export funding through the AgriMarketing program. However, as of August 22, 2019, the program will also be expanded to include supporting companies from Canada’s agriculture, agri-food and agri-products industry, including fish and seafood. CanExport’s funding limit for SMEs will also increase to $75,000 to cover up to 75% of eligible expenses.

Having a first mover advantage with federal legalization, Canada is poised to lead the world in cannabis R&D and evidence-based cannabis policy; however, this will require continued investment in R&D and the commercialization of ‘Made in Canada’ innovations in cannabis.  

Contact us today for a free assessment of your funding eligibility

Redefining Medical Technology in the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor

As the second-largest technology supercluster in North America, the Toronto Waterloo Corridor is a global hub of research, innovation, and talent with over 5000 tech startups, 16 universities and colleges, and 81 innovations hubs and accelerators.

The Toronto-Waterloo Region ranked in the top 20 global ecosystems for Artificial Intelligence and Life Science and one of the top six ecosystems for talent in Life Science, as per Startup Genome’s 2019 report, representing a growing competitive advantage in AI-powered medicine that was highlighted during two major innovation events, Toronto’s Elevate Tech Festival and the Waterloo Innovation Summit     

#Moonshots: Elevating Canadian Tech Startups to the Global Stage

For the third year in a row, Elevate Tech Festival hosted a global audience of technology leaders, policymakers, disruptors, celebrities, and media in celebration of the Canadian innovation ecosystem.

This year, the festival was focused around the theme of ‘Moonshots’ in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing, which had inspired a shift toward science and engineering that ushered a revolution in technology.

Highlighting this year’s theme, astronaut, Founding Fellow at the Creative Destruction Lab’s Space program, and Elevate festival Co-chair, Colonel Chris Hadfield, took the main stage. Col. Hadfield’s presentation focused on humanity’s history of setting and achieving moonshot goals and encouraging the continuation of this ideology in business. 

The festival’s theme carried through to the annual ElevateR pitch competition where 32 of Canada’s top startups pitched their moonshots ideas in a March Madness style competition. This year, the ElevateR pitch competition featured an all-female panel of world-class investors and celebrity judges. The competition showcased a diverse range of advanced new and emerging technologies, from microsatellite-enabled quantum key distribution network being developed by Qeynet, to hardware and software solutions being developed for real-time online information in the construction industry by ElevateR pitch finalist, Exact Technology Corporation. Canadian AI-powered medtech startups maintained a dominant presence throughout the pitch competition this year, highlighting Canada’s strengths in these high impact fields. This includes companies such as Conversation Health, who are innovating conversational AI solutions, Animo who are using AI to quantify and predict psychological well-being, MedStack who are delivering automation-powered developer-flexible cloud hosting, VoxNeuro who are commercializing the world’s first objective cognitive health assessments, Braze Mobility, who are developing blind spot sensors for wheelchairs, and Elevate Pitch winners, Village Technologies, with their AI-powered app for tracking infant speech development.

ElevateR Pitch Competition Winner Maryam Nabavi, Co-founder & CEO of Village Technologies pitching to the judges.

A true testament of Canadian AI-powered medtech rising to the global stage, Deep Genomics CEO and Elevate AI track panelist, Brendan Frey, revealed that the company’s proprietary AI drug discovery platform has identified a novel treatment target and corresponding drug candidate for Wilson disease, a rare and potentially life-threatening genetic disorder. “This is an important milestone for patients affected by Wilson disease and it represents a significant advance in the drug discovery community more broadly,” said Brendan Frey in a press release. “Within 18 months of initiating our target discovery effort, we identified a genetic mutation that causes the disease, the chemical properties needed in a molecule to target the mutation, and a compound that warrants further investigation. We are delighted to nominate the first ever AI-discovered therapeutic candidate and are eager to move it rapidly into the clinic for the potential benefit of patients.”

Brendan Frey, CEO of Deep Genomics presenting at the Elevate AI Track

On the Elevate AI stage, Frey posed the role of medtech innovators as “custodians of helping the patients” and explained how his company has made strides by taking advantage of the recent exponential growth in genetics data and by integrating heterogeneous datasets to tremendously increase overall performance in drug discovery.

Frey was followed on stage by Vector Institute Chair, Ed Clark, who stressed the need to combine social and economic policies in order to sustain the Canadian tech industry. He argued that while Canada had a first-mover advantage in the AI space, we are now in a race that will require Canadians to be more competitive in order to survive and prosper. 

This was echoed during a panel discussion by Carole Piovesan of INQ Data Law, Natalie Raffoul of Brion Raffoul, and Sean Silcof, technology reporter at The Globe and Mail. Alluding to Canada as an “open-source factory of ideas” the panel noted that while Canada had the first-mover advantage, our adoption rate for AI technology is slow with majority of Canadian patents ending up in the hands of foreign companies, thus stressing the need for increasing commercialization and keeping Intellectual Property (IP) in Canada. Piovesan argued that privacy compliance extends beyond legality as “a democratic value, that we are entitled to preserve our IP” and discussed patenting as part of a company’s risk management, particularly as the growth of AI and big data is spurring a shift from tangible to intangible assets and markets.

#UWBeyond: Seeding the Revolution in Predictive Medicine  

The 2019 Waterloo Innovation Summit showcased some of the leading local minds who are driving the transformation from acute to preventative and predictive medicine by leveraging cutting-edge technologies and sophisticated machine learning data algorithms to reduce healthcare costs while increasing the speed of discovery and improving patient outcomes.

For Alexander Wong, Canada Research Chair in AI & Medical Imaging, professor at the University of Waterloo, and co-inventor of DarwinAI’s Generative Synthesis AI technology, this transformation is about opening the black box of machine learning and providing more information to clinicians through augmented intelligence human-machine collaborations. The by-product of years of scholarship from the University of Waterloo, DarwinAI’s platform uses AI to understand a neural network and then learns to generate new, highly optimized, smaller and faster networks while enabling explainable deep learning. Wong’s team recently created a family of compact deep convolutional neural networks called AttoNets to demonstrate how the new human-machine collaborative design approach can be used for a broad range of tasks including video action recognition, video pose estimation, image captioning, image super-resolution, and image generation. AttoNets are faster than available neural networks and are efficient for edge computing with extensive applications in aerospace, automotive, finance, agriculture, medtech, consumer electronics sector, and more. Wong spoke at the summit about the tremendous potential of AI-enhanced health care to fill in the gaps with predictive and preventative models.

Jodie Wallis, managing director for AI in Canada at Accenture, and
Alexander Wong, Canada Research Chair in AI & Medical Imaging, in a panel discussion at the Waterloo Innovation Summit.

Illuminating the evolution of bioengineering and the future of disease modeling & drug discovery Ron Li, CEO and founder of Novoheart Inc. and a distinguished University of Waterloo alumnus, shared his journey from idea to real-world application. Li founded Novoheart in 2014 and grew it into a global stem cell biotechnology company pioneering an array of next-generation human heart tissue prototypes. Novoheart was the first company in the world to engineer a miniature living human heart pump known as “heart-in-a-jar” that can revolutionize personalized, precision medicine and drug development.

Shedding further light on the revolution in personalized medicine, Roderick Slavcev, CSO of Mediphage Bioceuticals and Cody Shirriff, co-founder and CEO of Serenity Bioworks addressed current challenges and opportunities for aligning the safety and efficacy of genetic therapies. Mediphage is currently developing world-class genetic medicines utilizing its core platform technology, Ministring DNA, to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from chronic genetic diseases. Ministring DNA is a unique and novel gene delivery vector with the potential to cure genetic diseases for which treatments are currently limited or unavailable. Shiriff is the co-inventor of Serenity’s CargoTek™ platform technology, which improves gene therapies by inducing a state of tolerance and dampening adverse pro-inflammatory reactions. Slavcev addressed further challenges related to high risk aversion with initial funding in medtech, urging for higher investor risk tolerance and praising programs such as the Canadian Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credit program as strong incentives for doing research in Canada.

This was echoed by Armen Bakirtzian, CEO and co-founder of Intellijoint Surgical, in a panel discussion on scaling up in a highly competitive sector with panelists Alexa Roeper, CEO and co-founder of Penta Medical, and Chris Wormold of Veramito. Bakirtzian noted that while early-stage grants and the SR&ED program make it easier for companies to get started in Canada, customer acquisition can be challenging. The gap that emerges after product development and before commercialization presents an adoption risk. As a result, Canada has become known for “selling too early” and there is an urgent need to build skill to scale. “There is a great startup scene when it comes to medtech and healthtech in KW,” Bakirtzian said. “I think where we could do better is investing in them and investing in them to stay and scale in Kitchener-Waterloo.”

Catherine McIntyre, Author at The Logic, Armen Bakirtzian, CEO and co-founder of Intellijoint Surgical, Alexa Roeper, CEO and co-founder of Penta Medical, Chris Wormold of Veramito in a panel discussion at the Waterloo Innovation Summit.

Intellijoint recently launched a med-tech hub in Kitchener, The Medical Innovation Xchange (MIX) that will help local medtech companies to grow their business. The purpose of MIX is to connect and unite the local medtech community, provide access to state of the art lab, manufacturing and office space, provide mentorship, and facilitate partnerships. “We wanted to focus on creating an infrastructure that really makes KW attractive for companies when they graduate from startup to scale up,” Bakirtzian explained. “There is a different set of challenges when you are scaling a company versus when you are starting a company. Intellijoint Surgical is 9 years old, we have gone from 0 employees to now 70 employees, we have done over 10,000 hips all around the world, so we want to be able to pay it forward and help the younger companies in town to build their own knowledge on how to scale up a medtech company.” 

The Waterloo Innovation Summit went behind the scenes of Waterloo’s booming medtech community with a series of pulse checks on some of today’s most promising startups.

Moazam Khan, co-founder and CEO of Curiato Inc., revealed a new skin data platform and smart technology designed to collect skin data in real-time and predict patient risk. Curiato is a Kitchener- based startup developing smart healthcare solutions to help prevent life-threatening pressure injuries. One of the initial applications of their AI platform is to manage and prevent the silent epidemic of bedsores with further applications in injury management, pain management, infection control, and even robotic surgery.

Hendrik Walther, CEO and co-founder of OcuBlink, developed an artificial eye model that is assisting research centers and pharmaceutical and medical device companies to test and develop better ophthalmic products. OcuBlink began as an initiative of the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) and now operates as an affiliate. OcuBlink’s versatile model provides a physiological blink with controllable speed/rates, similar wettability to real corneas with an artificial tear film and clinical tear break up time.  

Michael Reimer, assistant professor at the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC), discussed the integration of quantum computing in medicine and explained its pivotal contribution to the next evolution of health care. This includes real-world applications being developed at the IQC such as the development of control electronics around sensors, fabrication of indium-gallium-arsenide (InGaAs) sensors that can detect in the infrared for dose monitoring in cancer treatment, as well as the development of multipixel nanowire arrays to integrate in a charge-coupled device (CCD) camera for ophthalmic imaging detection of blinding diseases.

Shak Lakhani, founder and head of R&D at AVRO Life Science, discussed how a polymer skin patch revolutionizes the delivery of medications. Avro is a Waterloo-based, preclinical stage pharmaceutical company developing OmniDerm™, a platform transdermal technology for the passive delivery of small drug molecules.

Morteza Ahmadi, co-founder and CEO of Qidni Labs, described a reality where renal replacement therapy is available anytime, anywhere. Qidni Labs is a Kitchener-based startup developing an artificial kidney and portable dialysis machine to help improve the lives and survival rates of kidney failure patients.

2019 Waterloo Innovation Summit Pulse Checks.
Top left to bottom right: Hendrik Walther, CEO and co-founder of OcuBlink; Shak Lakhani, Founder and Head of Research and Development at AVRO Life Science; Morteza Ahmadi, co-founder and CEO of Qidni Labs; Michael Reimer, Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC); Moazam Khan, co-founder and CEO of Curiato Inc.

The Summit wrapped up with a HealthTech pitch competition featuring very-early-stage startups from Waterloo’s Velocity incubator. Pitching companies included Insula Medical, developers of a  novel insulin delivery system with seamless smartphone integration, SheCycle, which is working to end the cycle of poverty for women in developing countries with a focus on menstrual hygiene management, Watermine Innovations, which uses a proprietary machine learning and AI algorithm to develop new therapeutics, and pitch competition winner, Bloomry, which is developing AI software to help coach educators work with their student’s mental health issues.

Velocity director and pitch competition moderator, Jay Shah, spoke about the impact of Velocity for local startups in providing the infrastructure, financial support, mentorship, and lab access to budding local companies. Shah invited the local tech and investment community to Canada’s largest seed investment event, Corridor Demo Day, where over 50 of Canada’s most investment-ready Seed to Series A startups from the Toronto Waterloo Region will be pitching to more than 150 potential investors. Corridor Demo Day is a collaboration between Corridor based organizations including Communitech, Velocity, OneEleven, Accelerator Centre, DMZ, Techstars Toronto, MaRS, NEXT Canada, Innovation Factory, RIC Centre, CDMN and more.

These accelerators and innovation hubs represent long term private and public investments in Canadian technology that are particularly critical for local medtech startups, who typically face average path to market that can exceed exceeding five years before a product sees a return on investment.  

The ability of early-stage startups to scale to the global stage, therefore, remains contingent upon the level of investment in the region with recent provincial government funding cuts to innovation hubs across Ontario threatening the future growth of the Toronto-Waterloo innovation ecosystem.

In discussion with Nora Young at the Summit, professor and Nobel Laureate in Physics, Donna Strickland, spoke about increasing dialogue and long term vision in research and encouraged the adoption of a national model where industry is willing to make long term investments together with government and academia.

Professor and Nobel Laureate in Physics 2018, Donna Strickland, in conversation with
Canadian broadcaster and writer Nora Young at the 2019 Waterloo Innovation Summit.

Alluding to the laser, which began with Einstein’s equations in 1917 but didn’t actually exist until 1960, Dr. Strickland emphasized, “There has to be time for science to keep going because it’s the body of knowledge we have that we can use to always come up with new solutions.”

Capitalizing on the Growing Demand for Alternative Proteins

Alternative proteins are proving evermore propitious in the AgriTech and FoodTech sectors of Canadian industry as traditional meats lose favorability under the rising tensions brought on by climate change, population increase, and greater demand for healthy and sustainable living.

Meat poses a unique challenge to the future given the environmental limitations of land and water required to support livestock capable of feeding a global population approaching 10 billion, at which point the current North American dietary standard will no longer meet sustainable development goals. With inordinate greenhouse gas emissions and health concerns connected to excess meat consumption also to consider, there has been burgeoning investment to develop alternative plant-based proteins in Canada.

Despite substantial scientific progress in this area over the last decade, ever-increasing demand for plant-based food and beverages and meat-alternative solutions continuously strains the ability of Canadian companies to stay competitive. It is thus critical that a business leverage all possible avenues of funding to maximize their innovative potential and development capabilities when pursuing advancement in alternative protein technologies.

Innovation, Science and Technology

From the release of Canada’s 2019 dietary guideline promoting plant-based proteins to consumer interest in plant-based foods and beverages rising by 25% in Q1, there is real incentive to boost R&D efforts in areas such as clean meats, meat-alternative technologies, and non-dairy milk formulations. The work being done to formulate new plant-based products and design advanced manufacturing processes are key examples of where a company’s everyday business objectives can translate into funding opportunities.

Attempts to deliver simulated meat products to market using only plant ingredients while achieving comparable qualities in texture and taste to that of real meats should not go unrewarded. Methods, such as high-moisture extrusion (HME), to adjust substrate properties like fiber structure and density, whether through recipe design or alterations in temperatures and pressures, are riddled with uncertainty, and can thus often qualify for funding support.

Presenting itself as an even newer technique than HME is shear-cell technology, which claims to have a smaller carbon footprint while yielding higher quality analogues more closely resembling real meats. With synthetic meat products derived from this form of processing soon to reach our shelves, there are future funding guarantees as innovation works to keep up with excited consumer demand.

Development of brown algae and kelp culture techniques, such as the artificial induction of sporogenesis or gametophyte culturing in vitro, are other exemplary applications within the plant-based protein field where novelty is being wholly encouraged through a myriad of funding options.

Lab-based methods of developing self-reproducing animal cells of various proeins, strategized to reduce land and water utilization, and improving stem cell extraction and growth capabilities are other areas where experimentation presents a ripe opportunity for funding given the potential these areas have for improving meat consumption sustainability. Similarly, the engineering of methane-based proteins is another clear case of where innovation has the potential to accrue substantial backing in funds.

Additionally, innovation in the field of cellular agriculture serves to address food security and environmental concerns by providing a means of replacing traditional livestock with technologies capable of growing meat from living or once-living cells in the form of its own cell culture media. Acellular agriculture, too, is an area proving highly innovative as new and improved methodologies are being devised to efficiently grow and harvest products from cell cultures to produce alternative proteins and agricultural items such as milk and egg whites.

Insects are also becoming a growing trend for meat alternatives as manufacturers have started using crickets and mealworms raised at scale to make protein-rich flour. Not only does raising crickets produce 100x less greenhouse gas emissions relative to cattle production, but crickets also have a higher concentration of protein than either beef or chicken. Hence, any endeavors to create insect-based products with desirable organoleptic qualities will likely make a business a prime candidate for funding.       

Non-Dilutive Funding Options to Support AgriTech Innovation

When dealing in AgriTech innovation, Canadian companies have a variety of non-dilutive funding options, such as tax credits, SR&ED financing and grants/programs, to support project development across stages of growth from R&D to commercialization and export.

SR&ED Tax Credits and Financing: The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program provides one of the most lucrative sources of non-dilutive funding to Canadian companies, with an average of over $3 billion in funds allocated each year. However, one of the main challenges with the SR&ED program is that it can often take up to a year to receive the refund. Companies can gain advanced access for up to 80% of their estimated refund through SR&ED accrual debt financing to accelerate the rate of funding when there are cash flow issues or government returns are delayed. This is particularly beneficial for early-stage companies as it allows them to obtain an advance on funding up to six months before filing to bridge the funding gap.

Grants/Programs: There are numerous grants and programs offered like the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP), the FedDev Rural Innovation Initiative (RII), and the Climate Action Incentive Fund (CAIF) SME Project Stream. Take the CAIF for example, which focuses on SMEs operating in building, transportation, industry, waste, and agriculture sectors within Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario or New Brunswick; if eligible, a company can receive a rebate covering up to 25% of project costs for a maximum of $250,000 to support reducing energy usage, costs and greenhouse gas emissions. The application intake period is open until October 15, 2019, or until funding is exhausted. The Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) and CanExport are other funding sources to help with commercialization and export, which can then be combined with SR&ED tax credits to maximize funding potential. With $950 million in funding awarded to five high tech superclusters, including Protein Industries Canada, yet another means of funding an AgriTech business is available. Focusing on enabling agri-food technologies, Protein Industries Canada investment will be matched 50:50 by the private sector with the aim of making Canada a leading source for plant proteins.

Learn more about the specific details of each of these non-dilutive funding options here.

Canada’s strong appetite for change is a funding dream for those dishing out the next round of alternative protein solutions. To learn more about funding your AgriTech business, please contact us for a free consultation.


Authored by Philip Finkelstein, Technical Writer at NorthBridge Consultants.

Non-dilutive Financing Strategies for AgriTech Projects

It is envisioned that by 2025, Canada will be a leader in Agricultural technology, recognized globally as a reliable and competitive supplier of safe, sustainable, high-quality agri-food products.

In order to successfully realize this vision, significant obstacles must be overcome in relation to increasing demand for clean and sustainable farming practices as well as increasing food supply for anticipated population growth of up to 9 billion by 2050. To find solutions to these obstacles, modern agricultural operations are leveraging cutting edge technologies such as precision agriculture, remote monitoring of crops and livestock, machine learning techniques, agricultural robots, and IoT-based smart farming systems with cloud-based data analytics.

Canadian companies developing agritech solutions can turn to a variety of non-dilutive funding options such as grants, tax credits, and SR&ED financing to support their projects at various stages of growth, from R&D to commercialization and export.

Research and Development

  • SR&ED tax credits

The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program is one of the most lucrative sources of non-dilutive funding, providing an average of over $3 billion to Canadian companies each year.

Qualified Canadian Controlled Private Corporations (CCPCs) can receive up to 35% back of eligible expenditures incurred in the development of new or improved products or processes. Foreign-owned or public corporations can qualify for a 15% tax credit on eligible expenditures.

Most Canadian provinces offer additional tax credits on qualified SR&ED expenditures. Depending on the province, SR&ED claimants can earn additional provincial SR&ED tax credits. Read more about provincial tax credits to find out your province’s rate of return.

  • SR&ED Financing

The SR&ED tax credit program is critical for the viability of Canadian companies. However, it often takes over one year to receive the funding, which can be critical, particularly for early stage companiesSR&ED financing helps to alleviate existing cash flow issues in the form of accrual debt financing. Thereby, companies can obtain advanced funding to gain access to the SR&ED cash refund up to six months before filing. This enables early stage companies to bridge the funding gap and extend the runaway until the next funding round.

  • CAP

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) is a five-year, $3 billion, federal-provincial-territorial agreement launched on April 1, 2018, that will replace Growing Forward 2 (GF2). CAP provides cost-sharing funding for processors and other agri-related businesses.

Provincial programs under the partnership are tailored to meet regional needs through various streams. Federal programs under this partnership include AgriScience and AgriInnovate, which are focused on enhancing competitiveness through R&D and adoption of innovative products/practices, with an emphasis on sustainable and clean growth in the agricultural sector.

  • RII

Other government funding sources may be specific to provinces, such as the FedDev Rural Innovation Initiative (RII). SMEs operating in rural Southern Ontario within priority sectors could receive a non-repayable grant to cover up to 50% of eligible project costs for a maximum of $100,000 through the FedDev RII Regional stream. Priority sectors include advanced manufacturing, clean technology, digital industries, food processing, and Agtech. The current application intake started on May 21, 2019, with project activities to be completed by December 31, 2020.

Commercialization

The Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) supports companies that are investing in new technology projects that lead to new products, processes, or services in Canada, with an emphasis on commercialization. IRAP will cover labor and subcontractor costs. 

Applicants are allowed to apply to both IRAP and SR&ED as expenditures are not double-claimed.

Export

CanExport is a government funding program that provides funding to Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to support new export market development.

Previously, the CanExport program excluded the agriculture and food processing sectors, since companies in these industries were already eligible for export funding through the AgriMarketing program. However, as of August 22, 2019, the program will also be expanded to include supporting companies from Canada’s agriculture, agri-food and agri-products industry, including fish and seafood. CanExport’s funding limit for SMEs will also increase to $75,000 to cover up to 75% of eligible expenses.

Eligible subsectors

Agri-tech subsectors that are eligible for the above non-dilutive funding include, but are not limited to:

  • Precision agriculture            
  • Agricultural machinery and robotics              
  • Agricultural biotechnology
  • AI-based Agritech and predictive analytics      
  • IoT-based smart farming, remote sensing, and advanced monitoring
  • Foodtech and supply chain management including food safety and traceability
  • WasteTech
  • Sustainable/alternative protein development and culturing
  • Irrigation and water management systems
  • Aquaculture

Agri-tech is poised to revolutionize food production and export practices by providing new opportunities and innovative solutions to imminent challenges such as climate change and food security. With increasing prioritization of the agri-food industry, an abundance of natural resources and access to various funding options, Canada is set to become a frontrunner in paving the way for an agricultural revolution.

NorthBridge Consultants has been assisting companies in accessing government funding for over 25 years. As one of the largest independent government funding consulting firms in Canada, our objective is to maximize the government funding potential for your company. Contact us today to find out how much funding your company could receive.

Co-authored by Rebecca Galicha, Technical Writer and Ela Malkovsky, Technical Writer/ Editor-in-Chief at NorthBridge Consultants.

Federal SR&ED Legislative Proposal Status Update


on June 21, 2019, Bill C-97, an Act to implement certain provisions of the 2019 federal budget received royal assent and became law.

The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Incentive Program provides a  basic 15%, non-refundable credit to all businesses performing SR&ED in Canada. Eligible small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can qualify for enhanced 35% refundable tax credit rate of qualifying SR&ED expenditures up to $3M per fiscal year.

Eligibility for the 35% rate was determined by a business’ level of taxable capital and income from the prior fiscal year. 

  • The taxable capital threshold is between $10M and $50M.
  • The taxable income threshold begins at $500,000 taxable income in the prior year and reduces current fiscal year eligibility for the enhanced credit on a sliding scale until $800,000 taxable income in the prior year.

Budget 2019 proposed to eliminate the income threshold to qualify for federal enhanced (refundable) SR&ED investment tax credits for taxation years beginning on or after March 19, 2019, for SMEs, in order to increase support for SMEs that are scaling up their R&D efforts or have variable income from year to year. The capital threshold will continue to apply.

The new law will allow CCPCs with taxable capital of up to $10M to access to the enhanced refundable SR&ED investment tax credit regardless of their taxable income.


Example of Calculating tax credits for CCPCs
in Ontario above the small business limit


The table above presents an example for calculating SR&ED tax credits for a CCPC in Ontario that qualifies for the federal ITC and provincial ORDTC, with less than $10M in taxable capital and more than $500,000 in taxable income. In some cases, companies may also qualify for the Ontario Innovation Tax Credit (OITC) at a tax credit rate of 8%.

Contact us today to find out how the new legislature will impact your business or if you would like to learn more about various government funding sources to innovate and grow your company.

  • Subscribe to our feed
  • NorthBridge Consultants' Government Funding Blog is dedicated to bringing businesses news and information to help them identify and access the most appropriate government funding programs.

    We offer opinions and insider information that can provide a pulse on government initiatives, the health of the Canadian economy, and firsthand thoughts from Canadian business owners.

Most Recent Entries

Upcoming Events