Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Funding opportunities for technology adoption and development

June 1, 2021
By Alena Barreca

Thinking about new tech? Government grants and loans for manufacturing companies can help to offset costs of capital investment

Photo: Sorbetto/Getty Images

Did you know that Canadian manufacturing and technology sector businesses are in a key demographic to benefit from government funding?

With a substantial range of programs available, government grants and loans for manufacturing companies can help offset costs of important capital investment, technology adoption, and research and development projects.

By investing in a funding strategy to obtain assistance for strategic innovation projects, organizations can leverage financial support to help meet their goals at a faster, and oftentimes, more successful rate.

Eligible organizations can access funding for technology adoption projects such as installing new software, equipment and/or machinery to improve systematic and everyday processes. Similarly, research and development funding programs are available to support strong technology development projects that can highlight Canada’s position as a global leader in innovation.


Delivered through the federal and provincial governments, the following are five of the top government funding programs available to help Canadian manufacturing businesses with high growth-potential projects focused on technology adoption and development.

1. Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP) Program

There are two BSP streams that are separated through the regional agencies FedDev Ontario and Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD). Offering slightly different levels of support, both focus on helping Canadian businesses with high-growth-potential projects to adopt and/or adapt innovative processes in advanced manufacturing, digital technology, value-added agriculture and clean technology that support productivity, grow operations and increase exports to global markets.

The FedDev Ontario BSP program provides southern Ontario businesses with expansion loans of up to 35 per cent of project costs to a maximum $10 million. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis with no submission deadlines.

The WD BSP provides up to 50 per cent of eligible project expenses to a maximum $5 million per project and $10 million per applicant for businesses located in Western Canada. The next application period has yet to be announced, but there are typically at least two intakes per fiscal year.

2. Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)

The National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) exists to accelerate the research and development projects of Canadian innovators from all industry sectors. The primary targets to receive research funding support through IRAP are Canadian businesses that are developing and implementing process improvements for their operations.

Additionally, IRAP often also supports large-scale technology adoption projects that lead to new capabilities such as advanced operations systems.

Incorporated small or medium-sized business with 500 or less full-time employees that plan to pursue growth and profit by developing innovative products, services or processes can receive up to 60-80 per cent to a maximum of $10 million per application for internal technical labour and subcontractor expenses towards a specific technology innovation project.

3. Next Generation (NGen) Manufacturing Program

The Next Generation (NGen) Manufacturing Supercluster provides support for collaborative technology development projects that help Canadian manufacturing businesses compete globally. As administered by NGen Manufacturing Canada, the program supports groups of businesses that research and develop high potential, innovative technologies to generate groundbreaking process transformation to de-risk the adoption of new technology.

Through the NGen Manufacturing Program, innovative partnerships, comprising of an eligible business working with at least three private sector partner companies, can receive up to 44.4 per cent of eligible costs for projects valued between $500,000 and $20 million.

Eligible projects typically span 18-36 months and are complete upon the successful implementation of a new, technology-based manufacturing innovation.

4. Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) Program

The Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) is a program uniquely targeted to support Canadian industrial and technology sector businesses. The program offers financial support (both grants and loans) of up to 50 per cent of project costs for activities that drive sustained productivity and economic benefits. SIF focuses on large-scale projects that request at least $10 million in contributions, meaning the minimum project size must be at least $20 million.

There are five streams of funding provided through SIF, and applicants can align their projects to address one of the following areas: (1) Research, Development and Commercialization, (2) Business Growth and Expansion, (3) Investment Attraction and Retention, (4) Collaborative Technology Development and Demonstration, and (5) National Ecosystems.

The SIF Program is open to businesses from all sectors across Canada, but potential applicants should keep in mind that this is an extremely competitive program. While an eligible company may qualify for funding, it must also demonstrate high growth potential and the ability to drive innovation in a strong technological development project.

5. Supply Chains and Logistics Excellence AI (SCALE.AI) Program

Canada is quickly progressing in artificial intelligence (AI) advancement as it is home to many of the world’s most advanced AI organizations and businesses. The Supply Chains and Logistics Excellence AI (SCALE.AI) Program enhances Canada’s existing supply chain practices by boosting economic development through faster technology adoption and integration of artificial intelligence (AI).

The program seeks to connect researchers and innovative businesses from a range of sectors to establish Canada as a global leader in AI innovation.

Eligible applicants can access up to 40 per cent of costs for projects that accelerate the technology adoption and commercialization of AI for supply chains.

There is no minimum or maximum investment allocated per project, but there must be a minimum 2:1 cash match from the applicant and/or private sector partner contributions.

Alena Barreca is a marketing coordinator at Mentor Works, a business support organization specializing in Canadian government funding. She helps business owners by creating educational awareness content about government funding. 

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