Top Small Business Grants in Canada 2023

Small businesses in Canada are the backbone of the country but it’s not always easy for Canadians that run them. The pandemic had a major effect on how people spend their money now as many people lost their jobs or were laid off. This has caused many small businesses to lose customers and reduced the amount of money made. The good news is the Government of Canada understands how important small businesses are for every community. This is why there are various government grants to support small business owners.

The government grants across the country are available for all business types and may vary depending on the province and specifics. For example, in isolated areas of the country, you’ll see special grants that promote business and services for the area. These grants are non-repayable and can help your business grow and recover for long term stability.

Canada Job Grant (CJG)

This grant is through the Canadian government funding program. The main function of the program is reduction of costs for offering third-party skill to employees you already have or new employees you’re bringing on. The Canada Job Grant is available in every province and territory in the country, working to create systems that are suited towards the specific work force in the area.

There are grant contributions of 50-100% for training costs, which includes exams, textbooks, software, and courses. The contributions ranges from $5,000-$15,000 per trainee. Eligible small businesses include those with $2M liability insurance. Eligible trainees have to be a permanent resident or have been granted refugee status.

You can submit an application for the Canada Job Grant by visiting this website!

Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC)

ISC is specifically set up as a government grant to stimulate technology research including the development and commercialisation of the industry. Small to medium-sized businesses that need technology to power their products and services are going to benefit from this grant, allowing them to produce on a global level.

Grants can be up to $150,000 in Phase 1 while Phase 2 offers grants up to $1M. If it’s a government procurement contract however, there is no maximum amount. Eligible businesses are for profit that have less than 499 full-time employees.

To apply, please visit the following website: and complete the application process.

Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED)

The federal government puts aside a lot of funds for scientific research. This is to encourage research and development for business. There are around 20,000 participants that are approved to get tax incentives under the SR&ED every year. The total funding in the program is over $3 billion.

  • Any labor or overhead costs can be covered 69% in tax credits.
  • Contractor costs are covered by 26% and material costs by 45%.

To qualify, applicants have to be doing basic research, applied research, or experimental development. They must also be working on new products or processes. Lastly, eligibility includes improving any products or processes.

If you are a Canadian business owner engaged in scientific research and experimental development activities, make sure to visit this link to learn more about the SR&ED investment tax credit and how you can claim it to receive valuable tax incentives for your innovative work.

Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)

IRAP is a program that gives out funding for technical or research projects that are served to solve an internal innovation challenge. The funding supports any software needed, improvements on productivity, production design, or marketing. It’s not considered a training project.

The amount is up to $10M in non-repayable grants where they’ll pay 80% of direct labour and 50% of sub-contractor expenses.

To be eligible, the company has to have 1-500 people on the payroll and be incorporated for 2 years with internal technical expertise in research and development.

Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen)

This program funds those who are in collaborative technology development and application projects, which will support Canadian manufacturing companies compete globally. Their belief is that through the use of digital development, companies will be able to have more advanced manufacturing, allowing Canadian businesses to offer products and services globally.

They must be large scale projects that costs between $1M and $20M with offsets of up to 44.4% for eligible expenses. Non-payment grant funding can be from $444,000 to $8,880,000.

All industries and sectors are eligible but they have to have at least three private-sector project partners, lead partner and participants as well as being NGen members.

To register for NGen’s programs, you can fill out an application form on their website.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Alliance

This program offers funding for long-term research projects that last between 1-5 years. The research has to be a collaboration between an innovation partner and Canadian university. Funding is administered through NSERC. The grants aren’t given to the partner directly but offsets a portion of university research fees to reduce contributions the partner would have to pay for the research.

Small businesses can get up to 66% while larger businesses get up to 50% in offset funds. The maximum amount is $1 million per project per year. That, or up to 90%-100% of eligible project costs with a maximum of $100,000/year. Any public, private, or non-profit company that’s able to collaborate on research is eligible. It’s expected that the company will be able to act on any research findings once the project is completed.

Ontario Creates’ Interactive Digital Media Fund (IDMF)

IDMF is a government grant offered in Ontario designed to offset costs that are related to production projects and defining concepts. For those in digital media development, funds through the Ontario government can leverage the growth of these projects. Up to 50% of expenses can be offset with a maximum non-repayable grant of $250,000.

To be eligible, you must be based in Ontario with a company that is Canadian owned. There has to be at least one owner or a full-time employee that has at least 3 years experience in distribution creation or digital media content. The company needs to prove they have stable financial status.

Skills Development Fund

This program offers funds for the development of innovative workforce projects that addresses issues in the Ontario labour market. If you have a business that offers training or training delivery agents, you can get unlimited funding. However, this fund will prioritize projects that are $150K+. Eligible companies include Ontario for-profit and non-profit in the industry associations and unions.

Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)

This is a Canadian government funding program that offers support for companies that offer technology development and projects that help boost productivity. SIF is primarily for large-scale investments that encourage technology transfer and development/commercialization of products or services that are disruptive. The funds are meant to reduce costs by 50% with government grants.

This fund is eligible for small, medium, and large-sized businesses that want to do business in Canada and do the project within the country.

Southwestern/Eastern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF/EODF)

The SWODF and EODF are funding programs to help businesses expand by helping you invest in new facilities and equipment. It’s good for large-scale projects that will have an impact on the productivity in a business. Through these two programs in Ontario, applicants that are approved will get different grants and repayable funding to offset the costs of the project. Companies can get up to 15% of their project expenses paid to a maximum of $500,000-$5M.

To be approved, the business has to be established for at least 3 years, have 10 or more full time employees, and be looking to create at least five new jobs. Businesses have to be located in southwestern or eastern Ontario.

Export Development Canada (EDC)

This is part of Canada’s Women in Trade service, which is meant to help women who own and lead businesses to succeed on a global scale. There are resources as well as grants that are under this umbrella, including the Inclusive Trade Investments Program. This helps women to diversify their business by providing equity capital.

PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise

This is a not-for profit that focuses on offering women in Ontario support through a microfinancing program. There are many different funding programs that offer grants.

PARO is a provincial representative for the Canada National Loan Program, offering loans of up to $50,000.

PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise is dedicated to empowering women entrepreneurs in Canada through training, mentorship, and financial support. If you’re a woman looking to start or grow your business, don’t hesitate to apply for PARO’s programs and take advantage of the resources and community available to help you succeed.

The Canadian Food Innovation Network (CFIN)

This program is specifically intended to support smart product and process development, as well as promoting food ecosystem sustainability, and trustworthy safe supply chains. The Canadian Food Innovation Network is able to provide up to $2M in cost matching funds per application. Funding amounts vary according to each unique stream and the booster stream grants up to 50% of eligible expenses for all projects which range between $20K-$200K in total costs.

Successful applicants must pay a project management fee to CFIN, accounting for 5% of project costs if approved.

Women Ecosystem Fund (WEF)

Available countrywide, this initiative concentrates on projects that will provide continuous business support for female entrepreneurs and focus on strengthening the entrepreneurship ecosystem throughout Canada. They provide up to $3M in funding for any Canadian not-for-profit organization or association. Eligible applicants will be Canadian not-for-profit organizations or a local, regional or national association, with other stipulations including research, innovation, and entrepreneur support organizations.

Eligible activities include, but are not limited to, mentoring, networking, innovative business development, establishing or strengthening inclusive networks and partnerships that specifically identify and share best practices and knowledge.

Women Entrepreneurship Strategy – Ecosystem Fund

The goal of Women Entrepreneurship Strategy is to increase women-owned businesses’ access to financing, talent, networks and expertise required to begin a start up. Scaling up and accessing new markets are a priority and applicants can receive a non-repayable contribution of up to $3 million.

The grant is defined purposefully based on scope and impact of the project, and those applying should simply demonstrate that they either have an established mandate focused on supporting women or an existing program targeting or focused on Female Entrepreneurship skills development.

Youth Employment Program (IRAP)

This program is intended to assist in the funding of hiring young Canadian post-secondary graduates and grants up to $30,000 per graduate for a period of between 6 and 12 months. Graduates can apply to numerous areas from business development to technical as well as customer service and administration.

Successful business applicants should be incorporated and financially stable as well as being a Canadian business with less than 500 employees. Successful youth applicants should be post-secondary graduates and aged between 15-30 years old.

If you’re interested in supporting youth employment and innovation in Canada, check out this link to learn more about the NRC-IRAP funding program for hiring young graduates and discover how your organization can benefit from financial assistance while contributing to the growth of the next generation.

Canada Growth Fund

This new fund aims to help Canada secure the significant private capital required to accelerate the deployment of technologies needed, in order to reduce carbon emissions and develop the economy. Eligible applicants should be ecological and climate-friendly companies. Projects that sit within the low-carbon or climate-tech value chain, are also to be considered. Funding amounts are yet to be released, however, some of the tools Canada Growth Fund expects to have, are the abilities to offer innovative concessional financing instruments.

This is inclusive of those that combine above-market risk while maintaining the flexibility to earn below-market returns. The specific areas of focus are; reducing emissions, carbon capture, utilization, storage, and hydrogen and biofuels.

Zero Emission Transit Fund

This Fund delivers on the federal government’s promise to aid in purchasing 5,000 zero emission buses during the next five years and constructing supportive infrastructure, including upgrades to facilities. Split into two categories which are Planning Projects and Capital Projects, the contributions are non-repayable and offer grants of up to 80% and 50% respectively. Capital Projects offer up to a maximum of $350M providing they support zero emission buses deployment and include procurement of buses.

Eligibility for planning projects include studies, modeling and feasibility analysis that can support the development of large scale capital projects.

The Creative Export Canada (CEC)

The Creative Export Canada (CEC) is a program funded by the government which offers up to 75% of funding for projects that generate export revenues and assist Canadian Creative Industries to reach more global citizens. Eligible expenses are available up to a maximum of $2.5M in government non-repayable contributions. A project should cover a single fiscal year and have a minimum budget of $150K. Canadian applicants can be either for -profit or non-profit organizations with minimum 1 FTE and maximum $500M in annual revenues. A new intake period for applicants will be announced soon.

If you’re looking to expand your creative business abroad, be sure to apply for Creative Export Canada funding available at this link, and take advantage of the opportunity to receive financial support for your international endeavors.

Quantum Leap Funding Program

The Quantum Leap Funding Program is designed to aid small-to-medium-sized enterprises as well as Canadian Universities with funding to work on new and innovative pharmaceutical research projects with the ultimate objective of finding better and cleaner drug options with optimal efficiency. Funding can be up to 50-66% of costs with a maximum of $1.2 million for each eligible project. There are numerous eligible activities, which include the technologies of interest (TRL) , that can be at any stage of the drug development process. Another activity is Drug discovery research, which is expected to significantly improve, as well as facilitating and accelerating the drug discovery process and the production and safe development of more effective drugs.

For scientists, the funded research creates new collaboration opportunities with globally-recognized stakeholders in the industry.

The Quantum Leap program, which provides funding for research on drug discovery, is open for applications – apply here!

Hiring Grants

There are a variety of grants that a small business can take advantage of for hiring new employees and training them. Your funding will depend on the type of candidate you hire and how long the contract is. When hiring interns, you get less funding while hiring recent graduates will give you more funding. Interns and co-op students can offer funding between $5,000-$7,000. Graduates can offer you funding of $12,000-$15,000 for every hire.

A business that is for-profit or non-profit that can offer meaning work in industry fields are eligible for funding. Candidates you hire should be in the or recently graduated from a business or educational program.

There are so many opportunities for small business owners to receive money from the government. This can help Canadian businesses grow, creating greater success and stability. If you fit into any of the categories for a grant, it’s a shame to not apply. Grants indicate that you don’t have to pay the money back. You will still need to be held accountable for where you invest the money into the business in many cases but that’s in the best interest of your business growth and success.

Smarter Loans connects small business owners in Canada with reliable lenders, offering easy access to funding for marketing campaigns, new locations, with favourable rates and flexible repayment options. Apply for a business loan here.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Loraine Couturier

Loraine Couturier is a Canadian that has been working as a freelance writer for the past ten years, specializing in topics that include personal finance, medical journals, and the online gaming industry. She is a published author, digital marketing expert and an authority in the fields in which she writes about.