Government Grants For Startups in Canada: Best 4 Categories

government grants for startups in canada

Are you a budding entrepreneur and looking for government grants for startups in Canada? If you are, you have arrived in the right place. This article covers all about the government grants for startups in Canada.

Startup funding is essential if you are about to start a new business or grow an old business. Even to set up a small business, you need to make some capital investments. People today are mostly going towards entrepreneurship, and it is a leading country like Canada; it is an excellent career choice.

However, before running a new business, one should explore their available government funding options. There are plenty of ways to find funding for your startup ideas. But the most preferred one would be choosing the government grants as it offers more added benefits.

Canada’s government offers many funding programs to support Canadian small businesses, non-profit institutions, research works, or large corporations. But the key to your success is knowing which grant fits the best for your organization or idea.

The problem entrepreneurs or small business owners usually face tracking down these government grants for startups in Canada. The grants issued by Canada’s government are not commonly referred to as “small business grants.” And that is why researching the grants in detail is important.

So to help you easily track things down, we have put together the top government grants for startups in Canada. And also how you can get it, and other such necessary details.

However, if you are looking for government grants for startups in Canada city-wise, then please click here.

List Of Government Grants For Startups Canada

The top or most preferred government grants for startups Canada can be classified into four categories:

A. Hiring & Training Grants

Anything works best when done in teams. As it is truly said, “our strength lies in our unity.” Similarly, a business works better with a strong team. Developing the workforce is the first step when planning to expand a business.


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There are many Canadian government grants for workforce development or small business recruitment needs. Such grants and wage subsidies are made available across Canada to support your ideas. Here are a few hiring and training grants to look up to:

i) Connect Canada Internship:

Connect Canada Internship is a national internship program. It links up graduate students or post-doctoral fellows with Canadian companies or private sectors in Canada.

ii) Mitacs Accelerate: 

Mitacs Accelerate is a program that supports all business research-related issues. It provides up to 50% of stipends.

iii) IRAP Youth Employment Program (YEP): 

This is a small business funding program that helps the funding of hiring postgraduates.

iv) Canada Job Grant:

It is a government training grant to minimize the cost of providing skills training to any employee.

v) Skills catalyst fund: 

The skills catalyst fund is specifically designed to support and build strong employment for participants. It helps promote innovative ideas and solutions. It provides about 80% of training expenses.

B. Capital Investment Funding

Capital Investment Funding is designed to help & support Canadian businesses based on technology and software projects. It provides business and funding consulting solutions. And the grants or funds are to support spends that directly help improve or build business performance and innovative technologies.

Some of the popular capital investment funding grants are:

i) Canada Cultural Spaces Fund: 

The government of Canada offers the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. It is made to contribute towards improving the physical conditions of arts and heritage in Canada. It promotes access for Canadians towards performing arts, media arts, or visual arts. The grants are offered for infrastructure projects.

ii) Dairy Processing Investment Fund: 

The Dairy Processing Investment Fund is to help provide funding to dairy processors. It is done through capital investments in equipment and infrastructure to improve manufacturing technologies and processes.

iii) Strategic Innovation Fund: 

The Strategic Innovation Fund supports technology development projects. It also promotes the growth & expansions of firms and large-scale ecosystems.

C. Research and Development Funding

research and development

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There are many different programs to support research and development works in organizations or large-scale firms. Research and development are the basis for strong business ideas. And without proper research & development, competing against international firms or other businesses in demand is quite difficult.

So Canadian research and development funding is to help companies expand their research budget. The popular government grants for startups Canada under this category are:

i) Agriscience:

It is a Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) program. It provides funding to research and development activities in Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sectors. It is specifically designed to improve support for minor commodities.

ii) Alberta-Ontario Innovation Program: 

The Alberta-Ontario Innovation Program is a popular funding program. It is jointly handled by Alberta Innovates and the Ontario Centres of Excellence. It helps boosts applied research and development and solve industrial challenges.

iii) Industry R&D Associates Program: 

This program helps support innovation and creative problem-solving in small and large-scale businesses. It also helps improve outcomes and develop more in-house research and development capabilities.

D. Business Expansion Funding Grants & Loans

Expanding your business is a key step for proper growth. To take a business into a globally competitive environment takes a good amount of financial resources. And for that, applying for funding provided by the government is the right choice to make.

The business expansion funding grants and loans offer the costs of hiring the employees, market research, and international trade shows. Some of the popular grants under this category are summarized as below:

i) CanExport:

CanExport helps businesses prepare for international markets. It helps to fund travel and other related activities. Such as when there is a  requirement of physical presence in foreign countries for trading and expansion. It provides up to $75,000 to help small enterprises enter international markets

ii) Creative Export Canada: 

Creative export Canada is a government-funded program that supports international marketing projects related to export revenues. It also helps creative industries get a better reach. It offers up to $2.5M in non-repayable contributions.

iii) Rural Economic Development Fund: 

This program specifically supports regional and rural development activities in communities of Southern Ontario.


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5 Best Government Grants For Startups Canada

Below are the five most popular government grants for startups in Canada, every budding entrepreneur in Canada should be going after. Some of these grants may or may not be specific to a province or territory.

1. Scientific Research and Experimental Development

First, the most popular government grant for startups in Canada is Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED).

It is a tax incentive or tax credits program. It supports partnerships, individuals, or corporations of all sizes involved in scientific research and experimental development in Canada.

The program is designed to promote corporations of all sizes, especially small-to-medium businesses and firms. It is the Canadian government’s largest single support grant for research & development. The Canada Revenue Agency runs it.

The program provides around $4 billion in investment tax credits each year. It is offered to improve technologically advanced products and services.

Eligibility Criteria: What businesses are eligible to apply for the grant? 

All business organizations operating research and development projects in Canada are eligible to apply for this grant. Or businesses that are engaged in advancing technologies to improve devices, products, or new materials may also fall under this grant.

Mainly there are three categories of businesses that come under this grant, and they are:

i) Individuals, partnerships, or trusts,

ii) Canadian controlled private organizations or corporations,

iii) Other corporations

Apart from these three particular categories, other work can also be included under SR & ED.  Work such as Design, Mathematical Analysis, Computer programming, Engineering, Operation Research, Data Collection, Testing, and Psychological Research.

And for any research & development work to be eligible under scientific research and experimental development grant:

  • the work must be in science and technology, which is not excluded by the definition of SR&ED.
  • The work must be to achieve technological advances
  • the work must be for advancing scientific knowledge.

2. SmartStart

The second grant on the list of most popular government grants for startups in Canada is SmartStart.

SmartStart seed fund is a funding and financing program partnered by the Federal Economic Development Agency For Southern Ontario. The program provides finances for entrepreneurship skills training to startups based in Ontario. It helps and supports grow startups that are less than four years old and make them customer-ready.

The funding is delivered through the Ontario Centres of Excellence. The program’s duration is up to 10 months

Through the program, you can get the following benefits:

i) You can get more access to investment networks and regional business sources

ii) You get up to $30,000 early-stage funding to grow your business

iii) Or you can get up to 5,000 with no matching funds required

Basic Eligibility Criteria: Who can apply?

You can apply for the SmartStart seed fund if you meet the following criteria:

  • if you are a research graduate who is affiliated with a Campus-Linked Accelerator
  • a startup company based in a Southern Ontario Census Division
  • free to use your businesses property with no third-party rights
  • previously not associated with Ontario Centres of Excellence funding
  • a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • has less than $25,000 investment

How To Apply?

For the SmartStart seed funding program, you can apply through the Ontario Centres of Excellence. They have business development managers who will help you through the application process.

3. The Canada-Ontario Job Grant

The Canada-Ontario Job Grant is next on the list of most popular government grants for startups in Canada. Ontario’s workforce and business organizations is a valuable asset to Canada. To help build up training and achieve goals, the government of Canada provides funding through this Canada-Ontario job grant.

This grant helps provide opportunities for employers to invest in their workforce and build a better strength. It directly provides support to individual employers or organizations more willing to purchase skills training for their employees. And it is available to all sizes of businesses.

Eligibility Criteria: Who Can Apply?

Individual and nonprofit sector employees or First Nations and other organizations presenting on behalf of employers are eligible to apply for the grant. However, employees must meet the following requirements:

  • the employee must be licensed to operate in Ontario
  • has made minimum cash contribution towards the costing of training
  • applying for jobs located in Ontario
  • must not be an employment service provider
  • must have appropriate third-party liability insurance

4. Industrial Research Assistance Program

Last but not least, on the list of most popular government grants for startups in Canada is the Industrial Research Assistance Program. It is one of Canada’s leading assistance programs for both small and medium-sized businesses.

It helps & supports Canada’s businesses in growing and increasing their innovation capacity and making them ready for international markets.

It is one of the best funding programs providing non-repayable financial assistance. It covers around 80% of salaries and 50% of contractor costs.

Eligibility Criteria: Who Can Apply?

For the Industrial Research Assistance Program, one must meet the following basic eligibility criteria:

  • must be a Canadian small or medium-sized enterprise
  • have less than 500 full-time employees
  • have objectives towards technology-driven products and services

How To Apply?

To apply for the IRAP funding, the first step is to contact a local IRAP Industrial Technology Advisor. And then discuss your project and objectives.

These are the four most popular government grants for startups in Canada that every entrepreneur should consider applying for. Every grant has its different benefits and eligibility criteria. So, analyze your goals and choose a grant accordingly that fits best.

There are many other grants, both government-funded as well as non-government, which could meet your goals. So do your research and let us know how helpful these grants were for your startup in the comment section.

However, the government grants for startups in Canada have shown to be more promising and beneficial.

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