In this first post of a three-part series, we’ll focus on types of funding opportunities that exist in Canada, how to qualify and apply, and where to find resources. Throughout the series, we will discuss how you can use funding programs to your advantage depending on the unique situation of your company.

Government funding offers numerous opportunities for businesses to receive compensation for different purposes, including salaries, capital equipment, research and training, innovation and development, and commercialization.

Government funding programs can be challenging to navigate, due to the various types of funding offered, differing requirements for each program, and strict deadlines for most opportunities. Complicating this is the concept of ‘stacking’, which refers to receiving funding from multiple sources to cover project costs. This is typically permitted in specific amounts, although it’s critical to compare the guidelines for each program application, to eliminate potential errors which could result in a loss of funding. Understanding the different types of funding available and how to access them will ensure that you take advantage of the programs available to assist your business.

Types of Funding

Several types of funding, including direct funding such as grants and loans, and indirect funding such as tax credits, are available through government funding bodies, both federally and provincially. These funding types differ in terms of refundability, method of payment, timelines for applications, and types of expenses covered, and cover a certain percentage of project costs.

Grants and Loans


Grants are generally non-repayable, meaning you keep the entirety of the allotted funding and are not expected to repay it at any point. Grants may be delivered prior to a project starting, during the project, or after a project has ended. However, when applying before the project, it is important that you track how funds were spent and ensure that money was spent for the specified purposes, or else you may risk having funding rescinded.

Examples of business grants in Canada include:


Loans are repayable, and typically paid out before a project begins (or while a project is running). Loans may or may not be interest-free, and usually have repayment deadlines tailored to the financial situation of the specific company. Some programs offer both loans and grants, such as the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), FedDev Ontario, PrairiesCan, PacifiCan, and CED.

Tax credits

Tax credits lower the amount of taxes your company will be required to pay to the CRA for the given tax year. Tax credits can be refundable or non-refundable, depending on the program. Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) is a major source of tax credits in Canada, although other programs offering tax credits exist, including the Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit (OIDMTC) and the British Columbia Digital Animation or Visual Effects (DAVE) Tax Credit.

Depending on the tax situation of your company, tax credits can either be refundable, non-refundable, or a combination of both.

Requirements for Funding

To receive funding, your company will be required to have a specific project (or projects) in mind which you intend to fund. Depending on the funding being sought out, this might be a completed project, an in-progress project, or it might be in the early stages of planning. You should ensure that you have a detailed idea of the project plan, containing project objectives, a timeline of project development, and a cost analysis. You need to justify your project costs by demonstrating the value that you are adding to the sector, and explaining why the project was conceptualized and how you achieved/will achieve the objectives. Additionally, you must be able to prove that funding is funneled to the correct places.

Your business may have to meet other requirements to apply for specific funding, such as:

  • Business size requirements
  • Sector focus requirements
  • Regional requirements
  • Year of establishment requirements
  • Economic benefit requirements

Most government funding programs cover only a percentage of project costs, meaning you will need to have existing funds or else be able to procure funding from other sources.

Funding Timelines

Application deadlines depend on the specific program you will be applying to. Due to the variety of timelines for different funding types, you may have to apply for funding once, or you may have to re-apply periodically throughout your project.  You may qualify for multiple opportunities, so researching different programs and keeping track of deadlines is key to maximizing your funding.

Regardless of what program you are applying to, begin researching funding opportunities as a project is early in the planning stages. This ensures that you will have enough time to apply for programs and provides a basis for how to keep track of the project timeline and expenses. Giving yourself time to prepare also ensures that you will be meeting the requirements of the funding program, applying well before deadlines, and applying only for money you are eligible for.

Stay up to Date

Program deadlines and requirements can change from year to year, making it important to check back on program websites even if you’ve successfully applied in previous years. The Government of Canada grants and funding search tool can be used to locate federal funding opportunities, while the Business Benefits Finder can be used to find a range of funding programs, including provincial grants and loans.

To assist in the application process, NorthBridge provides full-service consulting, meaning we will identify and provide advice on what funding you qualify for and prepare application materials. We can ensure you are maximizing your funding opportunities through stacking, while avoiding the risk of applying to overlapping programs. Contact us to learn more about funding programs and eligibility and stay updated on new funding opportunities.