12 Must-Know Funding Sources for Tech Startups in Canada

12 Must-Know Funding Sources for Tech Startups in Canada

Starting a tech biz is thrilling, but it also takes a big investment to bring your ideas to life and make your biz a success. You need to cover the costs of gear, software, office space, and staff salaries, which adds up fast.

Thankfully, funding can give your startup the cash infusion it needs to focus on developing your product and growing your biz without stressing about the costs of starting a company.

Luckily, plenty of funding options are available in Canada to help fuel your startup. In this article, we’ll talk about the best funding sources for tech startups.

Futurpreneur Canada

Futurpreneur Canada is a financing program that provides collateral-free loans to startups at a better interest rate than most banks. With the ability to finance up to $20,000 per business (minimum $5,000), the program also offers additional funding of up to $40,000 through its partner, BDC. The program provides funding and two years of expert mentoring support to help startups get started on the right track. The loan is repayable over five years, with interest-only payments required in the first year. There is no penalty for early repayment of the Futurpreneur portion of the loan.

Amount: Up to $60,000

Eligibility: Canadian citizens or permanent residents aged 18-39, who have a business idea and are ready to start a business.

Application Process: The application process is straightforward, with just one application required for both financing options on the Futurpreneur website. The application process involves filling out an online application form, submitting a business plan, and completing an in-person interview.

Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)

The Business Development Bank of Canada provides financing and support to Canadian entrepreneurs. The BDC offers a range of financing options, including loans, venture capital, and equity financing, to help startups grow and succeed.

It’s worth noting that if you’re located in the Peterborough and Kawarthas area of Ontario, the Business Development Bank of Canada has partnered with the Innovation Cluster to provide additional support to startups in the region. 

Through this partnership, entrepreneurs can access expert advice, networking opportunities, and funding to help them start and grow their businesses.

Amount: Varies depending on the financing option selected.

Eligibility: Canadian businesses looking for financing and support to grow and succeed.

Application Process: The application process involves filling out an online application form, submitting financial statements and a business plan, and undergoing an assessment by a BDC financing specialist.

Community Futures Peterborough

Community Futures Peterborough is a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance, business counselling, and training services to entrepreneurs and small businesses in the Peterborough region. The organization offers three types of loans for tech startups:

Inventory Loan: Up to $10,000

Micro Loan: Up to $20,000

Expansion Loan: Up to $300,000

Eligibility: Tech startups must have a solid business plan and a clear path to profitability. Applicants must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents, and the business must be located in the Peterborough and Kawarthas region.

Application Process:

  1. Connect with an advisor to discuss your project and needs.
  2. Complete the application form and provide all supplemental information to Community Futures Peterborough.
  3. The Loan Committee reviews your application, and a decision is made.

The startup must sign a loan agreement and provide collateral or a personal guarantee if the loan is approved. Community Futures Peterborough evaluates each application on a case-by-case basis and aims to decide within a few weeks.

Canada Small Business Financing Program (CSBFP)

CSBFP provides small business loans to help entrepreneurs start or expand their businesses.

Amount of Funding Available: Up to $1 million.

Eligibility: Must be a Canadian-owned and operated small business.

Application Process: Apply through a participating financial institution and provide a detailed business plan and financial projections.

FedDev Ontario: Business Scale-up and Productivity

FedDev Ontario provides funding to support the growth and expansion of businesses in Southern Ontario. 

Amount of Funding Available: Up to $10 million.

Eligibility: Must be a Canadian SME located in Southern Ontario.

Application Process: Fill out an online application and provide a detailed project proposal and budget.

National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP)

NRC-IRAP funds small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to support research and development projects. The program also provides access to expert advice and support from industrial technology advisors. 

Amount: Varies depending on the project

Eligibility: Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) engaged in research and development projects.

Application Process: The application process involves filling out an online application form, submitting a research and development proposal, and undergoing an assessment by an NRC-IRAP industrial technology advisor.

Kawartha Lakes CFDC

Kawartha Lakes CFDC helps local businesses in the Kawarthas region who are having trouble accessing financing through more traditional channels. Funding is available to entrepreneurs starting out, innovating, or growing their businesses. They don’t compete with other financial institutions but instead focus on forming collaborative partnerships that benefit everyone involved.

Amount: up to $300,000 

Eligibility: You will need evidence of commitment to your business and its viability, such as:

  • Showing that you have enough financial resources to carry out your operations
  • Having collateral in support of your loan request
  • Proving that you have the necessary skills and experience when it comes to running your business
  • Presenting past success stories, if applicable

Application Process

  1. Complete the application
  2. Fill out your personal net worth statement
  3. Provide any additional documents (business plan, cash flow projections, financial statements)

Innovative Solutions Canada

Innovative Solutions Canada helps Canadian businesses test their innovative products and services within the federal government before bringing them to market.

Amount of Funding Available: Up to $500,000 per contract to cover eligible costs, with no limit on the number of contracts a company can be awarded.

Eligibility: Canadian innovators with pre-commercialized, innovative products or services that have the potential to meet federal government needs. Eligible businesses must have fewer than 500 employees and less than $100 million in annual revenue.

Application Process: Interested businesses can submit their product or service for evaluation through the Innovate Canada website. If the product or service is deemed a good fit for government needs, a contract will be awarded for a testing period of up to two years.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) 

SDTC funds Canadian cleantech companies to develop and demonstrate new technologies that reduce environmental impacts.

Amount of Funding Available: Up to $50 million per project, with a maximum of $100 million per company. Projects can receive up to 33% of eligible project costs in funding.

Eligibility: The program is specifically looking for Canadian cleantech companies that have developed innovative technologies with the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the environment. To be eligible, companies must be client supported and nominated by a designated accelerator. Innovation Cluster Peterborough and Kawarthas is one such designation, and interested startups should check their website for more information. Companies must also be incorporated in Canada and have a technology that is at or beyond the demonstration stage.

Application Process: Interested companies can submit an expression of interest on the SDTC website. If the project is deemed a good fit, the company will be invited to submit a full application. The application process involves several stages of review, including a technical assessment, financial review, and due diligence.


CanExport provides funding to Canadian small and medium-sized businesses to expand their international markets through trade missions, business-to-business meetings, and other activities.

Amount of Funding Available: Up to $75,000 in funding for travel and business development expenses associated with exporting to a new market. Companies can receive up to two funding contributions per year.

Eligibility: Canadian small and medium-sized businesses that have been operating for at least one year and have less than 500 full-time employees. Eligible companies must be exporting or planning to export to a new market.

Application Process: Interested companies can submit an online application through the CanExport website. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis and can take up to eight weeks to be processed. Companies are required to provide detailed information on their export plan and the expenses they are seeking funding for.

Women Entrepreneurship Fund (WEF)

The Women Entrepreneurship Fund provides funding to support women entrepreneurs in Canada and help them grow their businesses.

Amount of Funding Available: Up to $100,000

Eligibility: Must be a Canadian women-owned and led business.

Application Process: Fill out an online application and provide a detailed business plan and financial projections.

Black Entrepreneurship Loan Program

The Black Entrepreneurship Loan Program provides low-interest loans to Black entrepreneurs and business owners in Canada to help them start, grow and expand their businesses.

Amount of Funding Available: Up to $250,000.

Eligibility: Must be a Canadian Black entrepreneur or a business owner.

Application Process: Apply through a participating financial institution and provide a detailed business plan and financial projections.

The Innovation Cluster can help! 

Starting a tech biz in Canada can be tough, but don’t worry, there’s funding out there to help you get the cash you need to reach your goals. The funding sources we talked about here are just a few of the options you have.

To get the scoop on all your funding choices and take your biz to the next level, reach out to our experts at the Innovation Cluster. Don’t wait, check out our programs today and see how we can help you succeed.

Pro tip:

NRC-IRAP and FedDev Ontario have their office at Innovation Cluster, and Community Futures Peterborough is located pretty close to our office at Venture North Building. Just thought you should know!

How to grow your startup business

How to grow your startup business

Entrepreneurship is becoming more attractive and popular. In fact, two million Canadians launched startup businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. But not all one-of-a-kind ideas turn into successful companies; they need to grow to stay alive, remain healthy, and meet customer needs. Determining how to grow your startup business can be a challenge, especially when a one-size-fits-all strategy does not exist. 

Although every business’ journey is different, we have chosen our top 6 pieces of advice for startup entrepreneurs that should be taken into consideration when trying to grow a business.


6 Tips to Grow Your Startup Business


1. Identify a real market need

New inventions and technologies are fantastic, but even the most innovative idea or product will not succeed if there is no demand from consumers. Discovering what consumer needs are not being met, and then offering a solution to their problem, will put you on track to quickly grow sales.


2. Be the tortoise, not the hare

We have all seen headlines about startups that found overnight success. This is not your typical success story. Almost always, slow and steady wins the race. Some startups want to sprint right from the start and begin allocating funds across a variety of channels in hopes of landing big customer acquisitions. However, spreading your resources too thin will not attract quality leads. Slow down and begin strategically focusing on smaller, qualified audience segments by applying low-cost marketing strategies.


3. Quality before quantity

Startups need to make money quickly, but the quality of your product or service should not take a hit in order to do so. If you cut corners to save on costs, your customers will notice and your brand will lose credibility. In the beginning stages of your company, the quality of your product is what will attract customers to buy, become repeat customers, and recommend your product to others.


4. Remember your purpose

It is normal in the beginning to develop tunnel vision when you are focused on achieving growth. However, creating a successful business involves connecting all decisions you make back to the reason or purpose for launching your startup. Strong brands are able to connect with customers because they have never lost sight of who they are, their mission, or their reason for existing.


5. Set your priorities (and follow them)

Let’s face it, as a startup business owner you always have a lot you want to accomplish. This is why defining a clear priority list will keep you on track with what matters most. After launching your business, your top priority is to drive growth and you do not want to get distracted by projects that will not directly aid in this goal. Creating a priority list also prevents you from getting overwhelmed so you can maintain good mental health while being a busy entrepreneur. 


6. Build a team that supports your culture

One of the most effective ways to achieve growth is for every member of your team to be an ambassador of your brand and someone who enhances your business culture. Customer perception accounts for a whole lot, and they can easily detect when a brand is not authentic. If your messaging is happy-go-lucky but your company culture is not, this will seep through to consumers. 



Startup incubators help grow your startup business 


One of the most effective ways to grow your business is to join a startup incubator that offers support, knowledge, business expertise, skills training, workshops, networking opportunities, and mentorship. When you are unsure of what steps to take next, startup incubators provide guidance to help you make decisions that will be best for your business.

Innovation Cluster Peterborough and the Kawarthas have helped hundreds of startups launch, grow, and scale their businesses successfully. Learn more about its programs and apply at innovationcluster.ca.


5 Top Tips for Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth

5 Top Tips for Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth

By Emily Woodman

In today’s business environment, it literally doesn’t pay to stick to tradition and go with the old motto, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” Because, unfortunately, many organizations don’t realize that something is indeed “broken” until it’s far too late.
Such was the case with well-known companies, like Blockbuster, the former king of movie rentals, for example. There was a time that they could have implemented changes that would have pushed them ahead of Redbox or maybe even Netflix. Think about it — consumers tend to put their trust (AND money) into household names, rather than taking a chance on their loyalty. So, it stands to reason that customers would have flocked to Blockbuster to rent their favorite flicks without the confines of a brick-and-mortar store. And they did eventually come to this realization, but they had missed their chance at pivoting toward innovation.
Whether your company is a global corporation or a brand-new startup, it’s important to look within your organization to begin to implement change, to create disruptions and, ultimately, to continue to grow. Let’s take a look at a few tips that should put you on the path toward a variety of inspiring new ideas!

1. Identify Your Intrapreneurs

An intrapreneur is an employee who completely understands and embraces the goals and the culture of a business, and will function just like an entrepreneur. Every company has at least one and, if luck is on your side, perhaps more. They are the perfect people to have by your side as you begin to get creative and spread the seeds that will grow your business.
But how do you identify an intrapreneur on your team? They are typically:

  • Extremely self-motivated
  • Energetic team players
  • Always willing to take initiative
  • Not afraid to think outside of the box
  • Eager to step up to a leadership role
  • Phenomenal mentors
  • Ready to spring to action
  • Fully responsible for their work

2. Schedule Brainstorming

Now that you’ve identified the intrapreneurs who can help you take your company to the next level, what’s the next step? Begin brainstorming immediately! Set up a time at the office that will not take your newly found intrapreneurs away from their work, and give them an open floor to discuss ideas and feel inspired.
Be very clear about the fact you’re not after the ordinary, but you’re looking for something to shake things up. If a business strategy hasn’t worked for other organizations, don’t think that it will work for yours just because you have a better team. Instead, pick up suggestions that are a little risky and will require a lot of input. Remember, there is often no reward without risk!

3. Research and Discover

Once you have a gameplan on the table, it’s time to move into what many refer to as the “discovery stage.” This requires extensive, thorough market research so that you can see where your competitors may have failed and which changes you can make to achieve a positive outcome.
Often, large corporations become too eager to begin utilizing new plans and ideas, without first researching and exploring customer-related evidence that may be imperative to success. In short, you’ll need real-world data to ensure that the best methods are being implemented.

4. Test Your Ideas

And of course, testing your ideas after research may be the most important step. If you execute a strategy without the proper planning and testing, chances are good that it will soon fail or, worse yet, begin to unravel when it will affect the bottom line the most.
It’s best to select a number of test samples, so that you may more accurately ascertain which outcomes will serve both you and your customer base. Whether you’re testing a new product line or an innovative business model, knowing in advance how your customers will respond can allow you to pivot and make changes before doing so is no longer cost-effective.

5. Create an Innovative Culture

Finally, once a system has been established and put in place, maintaining it is a large part of the process. Therefore, creating a culture that fosters innovation is imperative, as the ideas will keep coming, and your intrapreneurs will continue to grow and perhaps even inspire other team members.
Innovation can be contagious. Who wouldn’t want a workplace environment that is always brimming with excitement, always on the brink of the next big thing?
Once this culture becomes a way of life, it can spread beyond the organization and bring fulfillment and creativity to your team outside of their nine-to-five. Once this is set in motion, the stale, standard way of doing things will be left in the past — exactly where it belongs.

Interested in joining the Innovation Cluster and its community of startups?

Check out our incubation programming today!

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