The Government of Canada has launched a series of new business initiatives intended to support southern Ontario’s economy.
Managed through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), the Southern Ontario Prosperity Initiatives (SOPIs) are programs aimed at retaining, attracting and growing businesses in southern Ontario to increase the region’s global competitiveness.
FedDev Ontario has dedicated more than $530 million in funding to the SOPIs. As part of the initiative, the “Investing in Business Innovation” (IBI) program is designed to provide mentorship, entrepreneurial support, and financing to help new businesses transform ideas into globally-competitive products and services, and increase access to private sector investment and advice. “The plan for this initiative is to strengthen angel networks and encourage partnerships between early-stage businesses and investors, giving entrepreneurs the tools and capital to become world-leading innovators,” FedDev Ontario said in a statement.
Funding for IBI is available through three streams:
- Not-For-Profit Organizations
Incorporated not-for-profit organizations (NFPs) such as Regional Innovation and Commercialization Centres, incubators, accelerators, angel networks and Community Futures Development Corp. in southern Ontario are eligible to apply for projects related to providing entrepreneurial skills development, education, and seed financing to new entrepreneurs and businesses to help them become “investment ready.” Eligible applicants will be considered for a non-repayable contribution to a maximum of $20 million per project for up to 100 per cent of eligible costs. Funding of up to $10,000 per new entrepreneur may be provided for business training, and matching funding to new start-up entrepreneurs will cover up to 50 percent of eligible costs to start a business, up to a maximum of $30,000.
- Early-Stage Businesses
Canadian incorporated companies in southern Ontario with funding commitments from angel/venture capital investors, employing fewer than 50 full-time equivalent positions, and whose projects meet the initiative’s requirements are eligible to apply for a repayable contribution to a maximum of $1 million per project for up to one-third of eligible costs.
- Angel Networks
Incorporated NFP network associations representing angel investors in southern Ontario and located in southern Ontario whose activities support the growth of investment funds in the region, may apply for a non-repayable contribution to a maximum of $500,000 for up to 100 per cent of eligible costs. Multi-year projects will be considered, however, all project activities must be completed prior to December 31, 2018.
A second initiative, called “Investing in Business Growth and Productivity” (IBGP), focuses on established southern Ontario businesses that have the potential to be global players that support job creation. Funding over the next five years will target projects that assist established businesses grow through market diversification and expanding facilities; or projects that increase adoption of new technologies and processes to improve productivity.
Under the IBGP program, established small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can apply for a repayable contribution towards eligible costs to a maximum of $20 million per project for up to 25 per cent of eligible project costs. NFPs will be eligible to apply for a non-repayable contribution towards eligible project costs to a maximum of $20 million. In projects involving collaborations between NFPs and SMEs, the SMEs must commit to a minimum 50 per cent cash contribution to cover half of project costs. There is a limit of $100,000 per SME under a project with a NFP organization. “These are business-led partnerships with a focus on developing globally-competitive products and services through technology transfer between research and business to help bring new ideas to market,” FedDev Ontario said. “This initiative supports large-scale collaborations between the private sector, post-secondary institutions and NFP research organizations.” Post-secondary institutions, including publicly-funded colleges and universities and incorporated NFPs, including research institutions, and industry associations located in southern Ontario, are eligible to apply under this initiative for non-repayable contributions of up to $20 million per project covering half of eligible project costs, FedDev Ontario said.