Archive for the ‘Startups’ Category

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.

What Every Canadian Startup Needs to Know About Non-Dilutive Financing

When it comes to starting a Canadian business, especially one with expensive R&D aspirations such as those in the high tech industry, it’s of crucial importance that a startup leverages government funding to extend the runway of its venture.  

A startup that doesn’t capitalize on the wide range of government funding opportunities is putting itself at a huge disadvantage, which can not only limit profitability but also undermine innovation and relinquish equity that would otherwise remain centralized.

In order to maintain the vast majority of control in a company during the startup process, it’s important that funding leverages non-dilutive financing when possible. While dilutive funding can be advantageous to get over fiscal hurdles requiring a quick injection of revenue, dilution will affect executive discretion and detract from long-term profits as financers exercise their power as shareholders or seek high returns on their investments. Venture capital and angel investors should, therefore, be tentatively used during the startup process until after the risk surrounding commercialization has been surmounted and any leverage held by financers is obviated. The SR&ED tax credit program, in combination with the other sources of non-dilutive government funding, can maximize a startup’s potential for success by reducing the risk of research and development.

Maximizing Profits and Mitigating Risk with SR&ED

Canada’s Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program provides an amazing means of funding a business every fiscal year with tax incentives. That means small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can start collecting substantial returns up to 35% on qualified expenditures following their first year of research and experimentation, as long as program criteria are met. The Canadian government’s commitment to supporting innovation ascends beyond almost every other industrialized nation in the world, as demonstrated by the more than $3B paid out each year to participating companies. A startup that structures their business to meet SR&ED requirements from the start will be all the more prepared to save countless dollars that can accelerate business growth and product development as the money is reinvested into further project innovation.

To qualify for SR&ED, first and foremost a company must be a Canadian-controlled private corporation with a total net income below $800k and taxable capital employed in Canada not exceeding $50M. A company can claim expenditures related to experimental development, applied and basic research, and support work by ensuring that these expenditures meet the three criteria of SR&ED’s assessment on scientific or technological eligibility. That is, a company must establish that their claimed project (1) has technological uncertainty that can only be overcome through (2) systematic investigation and that hypothesis formulation and experimental analysis during development (3) generates information that advances understanding of the underlying technologies.

Another critical requirement to claiming SR&ED is ensuring that the necessary information is collected throughout the year to comprehensively file a claim, which is why structuring a startup to track experimental development, employee labor, material expenditures, etc. is essential for maximizing business efficiency. With a practical tracking system in place, claiming SR&ED tax credits can be a lucrative strategy for financing prototype and minimal viable product (MVP) development, as well as funding clinical trials (in the medtech industry for example), because it affords a company the opportunity to take risks in their experimentation to improve new technologies and approaches, and ultimately help form and articulate patents/IP to garner further investment.

Combining Sources of Early-Stage Funding

Depending on the size of a startup and the stage of business development, companies can also avoid dilution by applying for multiple government loans and grants. Loans bear the cost of interest in return for less operational oversight, while grants serve as a non-repayable contribution that is contingent on meeting various qualifications.

The National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) offers an especially rewarding means of financing SMEs qualifying in technology innovation. IRAP funding typically ranges between $50k-250k, making it a great opportunity to subsidize research and experimental efforts without diluting shares or falling beholden to acquisitive creditors. The Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) is another great source to receive innovation funding through industry-specific programs with special emphasis on digital and software work within the information and communications technology (ICT) sector.

Acquiring Private Sources of Funding

Whenever a business does decide that private investment is the best way forward or bridge funding is required to overcome particular fiscal restraints, SR&ED financing can help to fill the funding gap in a non-dilutive manner, prior to subsequent funding rounds.

While the SR&ED tax credit program is critical for the viability of startup companies in Canada, the main challenge with the SR&ED program is that it often takes over one year before the funds can be received by the applicant. SR&ED financing helps to facilitate and alleviate existing cash flow issues in early-stage businesses, as startup companies often have difficulty commercializing their concepts after exhausting their previous rounds of funding. In this way, accrual debt financing in the form of SR&ED financing allows early-stage companies to bridge the funding gap and extend the runaway until the next funding round, thereby bolstering their business plans.

Moreover, a successful track record of securing government funding, such as SR&ED tax credits, can appeal to private investors by reducing the perceivable risk for funding product development.  

All of this funding information is sometimes a lot to process, but NorthBridge Consultants is here to help. If you have any questions or want to learn more about SR&ED for startups, please contact us.

Co-authored by Philip Finkelstein, Technical Writer, and Ela Malkovsky, Technical Writer/ Editor–in-Chief at NorthBridge Consultants.

Health Innovation Week Showcases Canadian Medical Technology Advancements

This year marked the 6th annual MaRS Health Innovation Week (HIW), Canada’s largest gathering of health startups, investors and the health ecosystem, as over 4,000 attendees collected to network, secure funding, and learn from industry experts.  HIW events were focused around three key conferences this year including HealthKick Adopt, HealthKick Investment, and HealthKick Focus.

Health Innovation Week 2019, Healthkick Invest

HIW kicked off with HealthKick Adopt, where health institutions, decision-makers and entrepreneurs came together to drive the adoption of the latest health solutions in local and foreign markets. The HIW Healthkick Focus events explored “How AI Will Transform the Pharma Industry” and “The Intersection of Innovation and Aging.”  

Next came HealthKick Invest, which is the largest early-stage health investment conference in Canada.  It provided a platform for attendees to connect with global venture capital funds, family offices, angel investors and other capital partners through a series of investment panels, networking events, one-on-one meetings and the HealthKick Challenge pitch competition.

Medical technology startups pitched to Canadian and U.S VCs, other investors, c-suite leaders and industry partners for a chance win up to $25000 in cash prizes as well as in-kind services valued up to $10000 at the Healthkick Pitch competition. The competition showcased 16 Medical devices, pharma & biotech, and digital health companies, and three finalists were then chosen from each industry category.  The pitch competition prize was awarded to Nanology Labs, a pharmaceutical company that harnesses advanced nanotechnology to detect and treat cancers at the early stages. In kind services were awarded to the runners up, Managing Life, an industry-leading digital pain management solution, and ImmunoBiochem Corporation an oncology biotechnology company that is innovating the targeting of heterogeneous solid tumors.  

Healthkick Pitch Competition Finalists (Top left: Christopher Jones, Partner at Blakes. Top right: Mohammad Ali Amini, CEO at Nanology Labs. Bottom left: Tahir Janmohamed, CEO at Managing Pain. Bottom right: Anton Neschadim, CEO at ImmunoBiochem)

Fundraising panel discussions provided attendees with the opportunity to gain investor insights on deal making, raising capital, expectations following investment, and the effects of public markets on private health investing. The panel emphasised the importance of startups having alignment with the investor, understanding what value the investor brings to the table other than just money, and maintaining trust and transparency with investors after the close.   

Investing panel discussions ran in parallel with the Fundraising panels and addressed digital health, medical device and therapeutics investing, multinational partnering and corporate venture capital investing, as well as Angels and family offices investing in Health. The investing panels wrapped up with a discussion on “Why Invest in Canada,” which identified Canada’s medical technology infrastructure and talent arbitrage as major advantages amidst current political and economic volatility. But the panel also highlighted a lack of Canadian aspiration, emphasizing the need for a change in mindset to dream bigger in order to create anchor companies and advance medical technology commercialization.  

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Medtech startups will compete for up to $50,000 at SNG’s Hawk’s Nest competition

Logo

On November 22nd 2018, four medical technology startups will pitch live to an all-star panel of judges and a 300+ person audience at the second annual Hawk’s Nest.   

Sunnybrook Next Generation’s Hawk’s Nest is a medical technology pitch competition and fundraiser that showcases Canada’s most promising local medtech startups as they compete for a chance to win non-dilutive financing for their company.

It starts with dozens of startups. Numerous pitch applications from the city’s most promising emerging medtech companies are screened and interviewed. Four medtech startups are selected and invited to pitch live to an expert panel of “Hawks.” The pitches are followed by tough Q&A from the panel and scored across a set of categories. At the end of the night, the winner is selected by audience vote to receive 50% of the net proceeds from the event in non-dilutive funding, up to a maximum of $50,000. The remainder of the proceeds raised from the event are donated to the Sunnybrook Medventions Program.

The first SNG Hawk’s Nest competition in 2017 raised $38,000 in support of the Sunnybrook Research Institute and another $38,000 in support of the 2017 Hawk’s Nest winner, Tréxō Robotics.

Founded in 2016 by University of Waterloo Mechatronics Engineering graduates Manmeet Maggu and Rahul Udasi, Tréxō Robotics developed the first human exoskeleton device for children with walking impairment conditions such as cerebral palsy, brain and spinal cord injury, stroke, neuromuscular conditions, and various genetic conditions. In its first year, the company took home the prestigious Lacavera Prize at the University of Toronto Hatchery Demo Day. By 2017, Tréxō was nominated as one of the best new startups at the 7th annual Canadian Innovation Awards.

Tréxō’s unique device, the Trexo Plus, can convert any passive walker into a fully-powered exoskeleton that can be used anywhere, anytime, and at a fraction of the price of currently available competitor devices. “With our device we see a future where kids can be given an option to be able to walk more and more” said Trexo CEO, Manmeet Maggu in an interview. “Whereas normally a child will be walking 50 steps in a day, with the Trexo we envision that would be over 1000 steps per day” Maggu explained. The company recently rolled out a second generation device to improve on its previous exoskeleton’s design.

Since winning Hawk’s Nest competition last year, Tréxō launched its first clinical trial at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre, the largest pediatric rehabilitation centre in North America and the first clinic to introduce the Lokomat, a computer-powered treadmill that gives Children with neuromuscular conditions the opportunity to learn what it feels like to walk.

While the funding they received has enabled Tréxō to reach their first clinical trial, the company plans on conducting multiple additional trials in order to continuously evaluate and grow their understanding of the benefits and the impact that their device provides. They recently received a Letter of Intent for a second trial at the St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in New York City and are currently in discussion with many top tier hospitals in Canada.

“The most important thing is to be relentlessly resourceful in your pursuit and finding support can be hard but it’s out there.”   

– Manmeet Maggu, CEO Trexo Robotics

Named as the ‘Company Most Likely to Change The World for the Better’ at the 2018 MIT Enterprise Forum Startup Spotlight Awards, Tréxō sees a future where their device can be in the hands of every child with a disability, giving them the opportunity to walk around freely. “Every time we have a child coming in to try the device, the response we get from the family about how they can’t wait to get their hands on this device for their kids just multiplies the motivation we have as a team and pushes us forward, and that is how we manage to uphold the values at Tréxō.”

The Medtech scene in the Waterloo-Toronto Tech Corridor is booming, but access to capital continues to be a major hurdle for growing companies.      

Tréxō financed their innovation through multiple different sources, including venture capital and government funding in addition to pitch competitions. “It is a tough space that can have fairly limited resources,” said Maggu.  “It’s a matter of leveraging your network and also creating a network and finding the opportunities that are out there. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to be relentlessly resourceful in your pursuit and finding support can be hard but it’s out there.”  He also recommends looking at grant programs that are available in Canada, and advised that companies “should not take the competitions lightly as they provide much more value than just the prize money.”

The success of Hawk’s Nest 2017 helped accelerate the growth of SNG and generated publicity for both Sunnybrook and the finalists Tréxō, Retispec, Acorn and VivaVax.

Toronto based Retispec is developing a non-invasive retinal scanner that detects biological markers of Alzheimer’s pathology years before the onset of symptoms, when patients are typically much more responsive to intervening therapeutics and other forms of treatment. Retispec recently announced a collaboration and a licensing agreement with the University of Minnesota with the goal of expanding the company’s technological knowledge base and accelerating time-to-market for a commercially viable screening tool for Alzheimer’s.

Acorn Biolabs has developed a mail-in non-invasive cell collection kit to cryopreserve and sequence human cells, while VivaVax is making biosafe formulations to protect sensitive medications from breaking down during transport and storage.

The 2018 Hawk’s Nest will host pitch finalists Steadiwear, KA Imaging, MIMOSA Diagnostics, and Cyclica  as well as over 25 booths from other Canadian Medtech companies.       

Toronto-based Steadiwear is a medical device company that has developed cutting-edge damping technology to improve wrist stability and tactile functionality in Parkinson’s Disease and Essential Tremor patients.Waterloo start-up KA Imaging has created a revolutionary 2D X-ray detector retrofit solution that can “see” different X-ray energy levels, enabling clear lung tissue visualization. A leading mHealth innovator, MIMOSA Diagnostics is building AI driven and cloud based patient monitoring and assessment tools. Cyclica is Toronto-based Biotechnology company developing a cloud-based and AI-augmented platform to enhance how scientists design, screen, and personalize medicines.

Hawk’s Nest 2018 will be held on November 22nd from 6-10pm EST at Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District and will be proceeded by an open bar reception.

CLICK HERE to get your ticket and join a high profile panel of “Hawks” and large audience of professionals in selecting which of these promising companies will take home the winning prize.

 

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