Introduction to Government Funding for Innovation in Ontario

With more than 2500 government funded programs across Canada, finding the right resources for your business can be challenging. If you are an entrepreneur, here is a roadmap to help you navigate the funding programs available in Ontario. At the top, there are three major funding entities for innovation and job creation – Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, FedDev Ontario and FedNor.
In order to trace the money, first we need to know the basics of government policy direction. In the first chapter of Ontario’s 2019 Budget, the provincial government laid out its business and job policy focus; highlighted below:
  1. Provide tax savings for Ontario businesses
  2. Reducing cost in the manufacturing sector
  3. Driving the prosperity of the automotive sector (Ontario Automotive Modernization Program (OAMP) and the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN))
  4. Other four economic priorities including Investment attraction, Talent, R&D and commercialization; entrepreneurship and growth.
While the Ontario Government indicated a focus on R&D and entrepreneurship growth, it is still not clear whether the government will increase investment in these areas. Refer to Ontario Budget and SR&ED implication 2019 and 2019 June news on Ontario Cuts funding to start-ups, innovation programs for further analysis.

At federal level, FedDev Ontario and FedNor are the entities focused on Ontario’s development.

They are part of Canada’s Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) that is governed by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. In 2018, federal government allocated $ 911 M into RDAs and Community Futures Network (CFN).  In early 2020, the Prime Minister announced $962 million in new capital to RDAs and CFN. 
To date, FedDev Ontario has dedicated over $1 billion in the region through non-interest repayable business loans and grants. There are 6 programs under FedDev Ontario including:

  1. Business Scale-up and Productivity – for companies
  2. Regional Innovation Ecosystem – for non-profit, ecosystem builders
  3. Community Economic Development and Diversification – for non-profit in small & rural communities
  4. Women Entrepreneurship Strategy
  5. Canadian Experiences Fund
  6. Regional Economic Growth Through Innovation
FedNor offers services to communities across north-western Ontario. At the moment, there are 5 active programs dedicated for regional development.
  1. REGI – for company business expansion
  2. NODP – for community initiatives
  3. CFP – for community futures development corporations (CFDCs)
  4. EDI – for francophone communities
  5. Women Entrepreneurship Strategy – Ecosystem fund; Entrepreneurship fund

 “So, who should I speak with to get funding?”  you might ask.

The distribution of funding is very easy to understand. Simply put, there are two major approaches: directly distributed to the company versus indirectly distributed to the company through Non- Profit organizations (NPO).  These funds can be distributed in the form of Loan, Grant or Equity Investments.
In summary, entrepreneurs should understand the major policy trend of provincial and federal government, as well as have a clear business plan and funding needs in mind. It is recommended that you reach out to FedDev representative for funds that are distributed directly at the FedDev or NedNor level. Alternatively, visit one of the 17 regional innovation hubs (NPOs) to inquire about programs that are sponsored by both the provincial and federal governments.
Map of Regional Innovation Centre Ontario

Disclaimer: Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only.

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