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How to Get Government Grants and Funding for Startups in Ontario

Posted by SRJ on

If you’re trying to start a business or attempting to grow an existing one, there are many different grants that are available from the Ontario Government from early-stage startup funding to small business grants. A grant is one of the best places to start looking for funding no matter what point you are in the growth of a company. Here is some useful information to learn more about getting a Canadian government grant for your businesses.

Finding Grant Options for your Business

A grant is any sum of money given by the government in order to fund an individual’s goals that do not need to be paid back. These can vary depending on the requirements of each grant and are only given to people who fit certain qualifications (the application criteria). As such it is necessary to read thoroughly through the requirements of each grant as to not invest time applying for funding grants you are ineligible for.
The Government of Canada provides an online tool to search for grants but for ease of access here we have listed some of the different types of groups that may be eligible for grant funding.

Business Expansion

Business expansion can range from a variety of things such as expanding your product and service lines within your area or expanding your business into another country. In general, business expansion is the act of growing a business by expanding it within or outside of a country. People attempting business expansion are also able to access varying government grants depending on the qualifications. Some of these include:

  • Business Scale-up and Productivity Program (BSP) Southern Ontario
  • Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream
  • Canadian International Innovation Program (CIIP)
  • Canada Small Business Financing Program (CSBFP)
  • CanExport
  • CDMN Soft Landing Program
  • Dairy Processing Investment Fund (DPIF)
  • Eastern Ontario Development Fund (EODF)
  • IESO Conservation Fund
  • MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund
  • Northern Ontario Heritage Foundation Corporation Programs
  • OCE Market Readiness Program
  • OCE Voucher Programs
  • Regional Innovation Ecosystem (RIE)
  • Rural Economic Development (RED)
  • Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF)
  • Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)

Research and Development (R&D)

A lot of business owners aren’t often aware of how much R&D goes into the growth of a business. Research and development play a large role in the quality of a product or service and how effective it will be at the job. Here we have a list of government grants for small business programs related to research and development:

  • Alberta-Ontario Innovation Program
  • Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) WinterTech Development Program
  • Business Scale-up and Productivity Program (BSP) Southern Ontario
  • Canadian International Innovation Program (CIIP)
  • Canada Media Fund: Experimental Stream
  • Dairy Processing Investment Fund (DPIF)
  • ENCQOR 5G SME Technology Development Program (5G SDP)
  • Health Technologies Fund (HTF)
  • IESO Conservation Fund
  • Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC)
  • Interactive Digital Media (IDM) Fund
  • Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit (OIDMTC)
  • IRAP Accelerated Review Process (ARP)
  • IRAP Mid-Size Projects
  • MaRS – Investment Accelerator Fund
  • MaRS – Regional Innovation Centres
  • MITACS Accelerate
  • MITACS Elevate
  • Northern Ontario Heritage Foundation Corporation Programs
  • OCE Customer Demonstration Program
  • OCE Voucher Programs
  • Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)
  • Scientific Research and Development (SR&ED)

Ontario Business Grants for Hiring and Training Employees

When running a business, having a system for recruiting and hiring the right talent is important for long term growth. Although it can be costly (but well worth it) to invest in human resources, grants can help alleviate some of the pressure.

Here are some notable grants related to human resources such as hiring and training:

  • Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit
  • Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG)
  • Connect Canada Internship
  • FedDev Ontario Training Program
  • Mitacs Accelerate
  • Northern Ontario Internship Program
  • Youth Employment Program (IRAP)

Capital investment grants in Ontario

Capital investments are investments in long term assets. This may include machinery, technology, real estate and land. Capital investment is a large part of small businesses in Ontario, so it’s definitely worth looking into grants related to it.

  • Business Scale-up and Productivity Program (BSP) Southern Ontario
  • Dairy Processing Investment Fund (DPIF)
  • Eastern Ontario Development Fund (EODF)
  • Northern Ontario Heritage Foundation Corporation (NOHFC)
  • Ontario Automotive Modernization Program (O-AMP)
  • Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF)
  • Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)

Other options to finance your business

Apart from using grant funding to grow our business, there are many other incentives as well:

  • Tax credits allow you to reduce costs rather than directly providing funding. Reducing costs is always beneficial for a business, so taking advantage of any systems that allow you to free up cash flow in your business is well worth it.
  • Loans are another viable option that is less dependent on the type of business you are operating. Loans focus more on whether your business will succeed and whether or not you will be capable of paying back the amount required on schedule. As part of some government programs, a loan may even be forgivable!

Wage subsidies allow you to have a percentage of wages covered for your employees allowing for more diverse companies hiring practices. This is a good way to keep the cost of human capital down for your business.

Is your business set-up for a financing/loan?

When deciding on a business loan, it is best to first decide whether your business is set-up for financing. Surprisingly, many businesses have not taken the right steps to be considered good candidates for external funding. Fortunately, there are some ways to check if your business is ready, including:

  • Having a plan for financing: You have to be prepared to pay back the loan and have a plan for when you will be able to pay it back if you aren’t prepared at the time. If you do not have the ability to pay off a loan at a moment’s notice then your business may not be best for this type of monetization yet.
  • Measuring the quality of your product/service: The product or service you are trying to sell should be fully functioning. This includes having a prototype to show that your business is worth giving a loan in order to build your business on. It’s important to prove the capability of what you are selling to your lender.

Canada small business financing program

Start-ups and existing businesses are eligible to apply for loans under this government program. Your business must be based in Canada and must generate less than $10 million in revenue annually to apply. However, there are some notable restrictions that come alongside this requirement such as:

Funds from the loan can only be used for any of the following:

  • Equipment
  • Business vehicles
  • Renovations
  • Commercial property

Funds from the loan cannot be used for any of the following:

  • Working capital
  • Inventory
  • Labour
  • Advertising


As shown there are many options and opportunities for funding small businesses and startups in Ontario through grants, loans and other incentives (some that you don’t need to repay). It’s valuable to consider what type of business you are trying to create and grow when deciding which financing option is best for you and your business.

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