Companies in Canada have the opportunity to apply to numerous government funding options, with $5.2 billion spent on R&D in 2021, including grants and loans, but many businesses struggle to gain access to this funding due to long, complex application processes and rapid application deadlines. However, with some advanced planning, a funding strategy can facilitate the application process through proactive project identification and application preparation, and ensure the development of competitive proposals within tight deadlines.

How does government funding work in Canada?

Typically, government funding programs provide program guidelines and/or eligibility checklists to allow potential applicants to assess their own eligibility prior to beginning the process which often includes limitations on the country or province of incorporation, company size, annual revenues, type of corporation, amount of operating experience, and sometimes industry. Programs also often have objectives or priority areas which projects must align with in order to qualify for funding. Once eligibility is determined, you can begin the application process. Many applications have a multi-step process, with less comprehensive initial applications to confirm eligibility, followed up by a full-length application once accepted. 

How do I prepare to apply for funding?

You will want to identify any programs you’re interested in and eligible for prior to intake opening, if possible. This will ensure that you can prepare any relevant information based on the application, and can apply as soon as intake opens. Keep in mind that retroactive costs are often not covered.  Usually, you will want to apply for funding well before costs are incurred, as program applications can take months to process, and it can potentially be years before funding is delivered. Most matching funding is also delivered on a reimbursement basis, meaning you will need to have financial sources secured prior to beginning your project.

In terms of information preparation, most programs will require comprehensive project budget to be as accurate as possible (often requiring recently dated vendor quotes). Securing the quotes ahead of time will ensure you’re prepared once intake opens. You will also want to develop your project plan ahead of time, with a rough idea of the timeline, personnel required, and the key milestones you hope to achieve.

When will I receive my funding?

Many programs have deadlines once per year or periodically throughout the year, with intake windows ranging from a few weeks to several months. Some programs have no deadlines at all, with applications being accepted on continuous intake. However, this usually means that applications are assessed on a first-come, first-served basis, and applicants should aim to get applications in quickly, so that it can be reviewed before funding is fully committed.

With any type of deadline, speed is key to ensuring that your application will be reviewed, and that funding will be received in a timely manner. Having your application information prepared in advance of funding announcements will enable you to apply and receive funding as quickly as possible and maximize your chances of receiving funding.

How can I get my application in on time?

Researching programs, determining your eligibility, and reading application questions ahead of time will make applying for government funding a quicker, easier process. Keep notable programs in mind while planning projects, and stay updated on intake openings to apply as soon as possible. Although some application questions are similar across different programs, each application will have its own unique requirements, and the complex process is oftentimes a barrier for companies seeking to obtain funding. Attending webinars and speaking with program facilitators directly is often a good way to better understand the expectations prior to beginning an application.

Need help identifying your options, strengthening your company strategy, or developing your application? Contact our experts at NorthBridge for a consultation and gain access to insider knowledge of federal and provincial funding opportunities.