Northern Ontario Business Grants: 11 Funding Programs for Entrepreneurs in Northern Ontario

If you’re looking for Northern Ontario business grants, you’re in the right place! Because this is the most comprehensive guide to funding for Northern Ontario entrepreneurs on the web.

In this guide we cover not only grants for Northern residents, but also loans and rebates!

What is a Northern Ontario Business Grant?

The Government of Canada defines a grant as:

a transfer payment subject to pre-established eligibility and other entitlement criteria. A grant is not subject to being accounted for by a recipient nor normally subject to audit by the department. The recipient may be required to report on results achieved.

So, a Northern Ontario business grant is:

  • A non-repayable transfer payment that is available to residents of Northern Ontario;
  • Subject to specific eligibility criteria; and
  • May or may not need to be reported on.

What Can Northern Ontario Business Grants Be Used For?

Northern Ontario business grants can be used to pay for many aspects of starting or running a business. Here are some of the uses that are covered by programs in our grants database:

  • Starting a business in Northern Ontario
  • Expanding a business in Northern Ontario
  • Training your Northern Ontario business’ employees
  • Hiring employees for your Northern Ontario business
  • Working capital for your Northern Ontario business

And that’s just a sample! See the section below with a complete list of the business grants available.

How Much Grant Money Can I Get for My Business?

In our database we currently have grants ranging from $15,000 to $5,000,000.

Am I Eligible for a Northern Ontario Business Grant? Common Eligibility Criteria

Two of the most common questions we get asked at Ontario Business Grants are “Am I eligible?” and “How do I qualify?”.

We analyzed the Northern Ontario business grants in our grants database, and these are the most common qualifications we identified:

  • Be businesses in Northern Ontario
  • Be businesses expanding their operations in Northern Ontario
  • Be Northern Ontario entrepreneurs

Note: these are just the most common eligibility criteria – there are many grants with different requirements.

Northern Ontario Business Grants: Current Grants Available

In the table below we list the grants currently available to Northern Ontario businesses.

 To learn more about each program, just click the program name and you’ll be taken to a web page that provides detailed information on the program, including eligibility, the dollar amount of the program, and how to apply for the grant:

Grants for Northern Ontario Businesses

How to Apply for Northern Residents Business Grants: Follow These 10 Steps

While the application steps for Northern Ontario grant programs vary, here are some common steps:

  1. Gather a comprehensive list of all current grants. In Canada, hundreds of business grants are available for different industries, demographic groups, and purposes. Learn what is out there and cast a wide net when you apply to maximise your chances of securing funds.
  1. Focus on grants related to your industry. Review the application requirements to find out whether your business is eligible. When your business goals fit a particular type of grant, you have better chances of getting matched to it. You want to devote your time and energy to grants where you have the highest potential of winning.
  1. Reach out to the grant agencies directly. If you want to gain more understanding on what qualities the agencies are looking for in their grant applicants, there is no better way than to go right to the source. If possible, ask the agency questions and look for areas where you can stand out from the rest.
  1. Make a plan for your grant application. This plan should include a one-page draft of your grant application statement.
  1. Organise your documents. Grant organisations often ask their applicants to provide a business plan and other pertinent documents. If you organise your documents in advance, you’ll be ready to submit them when the grant agency requests them.
  1. Submit a well-thought-out application. If you follow the five steps above, your application will have a good chance of getting approved.

Bonus Tip:

  1. Don’t miss other types of funding. Grants represent just one type of funding, but there are many other types of funding suitable for business owners. These include low-interest loans, wage subsidies, tax incentives, competitions, incubators and accelerators, and many more.

Other Types of Funding for Northern Residents Businesses

Our goal is for this guide to be a complete source of funding information for Northern Ontario businesses. So, in this section you’ll find all the other money programs (besides grants) that are available to Northern Ontario businesses:


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    Loans for Northern Residents Businesses

    • Government Loans for Northern Ontario Businesses

    A loan might not sound as good as a grant, but many loans for Northern Ontario businesses have a low interest rate. While they might not be free money, if you don’t qualify for a grant, a low-interest loan is probably the next best thing.

    The programs below include government loans:

    Government Loans for Northern Ontario Businesses

    • Rebates for Northern Ontario Businesses

    A rebate is a partial refund made to a business by a government, utility company, etc. Common rebates include tax rebates, energy rebates, etc.

    In the table below you’ll find rebates currently available for Northern Ontario businesses:

    Rebates for Northern Ontario Businesses

    Best Northern Ontario Business Grants, Loans & More

    While there are lots of good programs available, below we highlight some of the best grants, loans, tax credits & more for Northern Ontario businesses:

    Best Government Grants for Northern Ontario Businesses

    Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) – National Housing Co-Investment Fund: Indigenous and Northern Housing

    CMHC’s Indigenous and Northern Housing option of the National Housing Co-Investment Fund provides low-cost and forgivable loans to housing providers serving Indigenous people, and housing providers building and renovating housing in northern communities.

    FedNor – Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP) Stream under the Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) Program

    This could be the program for you if the project you have planned not only requires a capital expenditure to pull off but also allows you to adopt or adapt an innovative technology so you can be more competitive in markets both at home and abroad. 

    You could get up to 50% of your project costs, including the necessary equipment or infrastructure, up to $500,000. However, all government funding from all levels must come to no more than 50% of eligible capital costs. At the same time, they may—rarely—consider funding more if you’re lucky.

    You’ll also have to make sure you’ve already secured no less than 50% of your costs, whether from investors, partners, commercial financing, other sources, or some combination thereof. SMEs of all kinds and nonprofits could all qualify for this financing program, but if the project results in profits, you should be prepared to pay the funding back with the generated revenue. Your organization must also be a legal entity able to enter into legal agreements, and the project must benefit Northern Ontario in some way. Nonprofit groups will be given priority.

    Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) – INVEST North Program: Investment – Launch Stream

    The Investment – Launch Stream provides a conditional contribution of up to 50% of total eligible project costs to a maximum of $200,000 for businesses starting-up operations in Northern Ontario.

    Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) – INVEST North Program: Investment – Grow Stream

    The Investment – Grow Stream provides financial support to businesses expanding existing operations in Northern Ontario.

    Ontario Arts Council (OAC) – Northern Arts Projects

    The Northern Arts Projects program supports the creation, production and presentation of artwork; professional development; and community arts engagement initiatives that benefit communities in Northern Ontario. The program has four categories:

    • New works: to help cover the costs of creation and production of new works in all artistic disciplines;
    • Presentation: to help cover the costs of presenting artistic work;
    • Skills/Career development: for artists to undertake skills and career development projects and for groups presenting projects that will benefit northern Ontario artists;
    • Working with community: to help cover the costs of community-engaged arts projects.

    Best Government Loan for Northern Ontario Businesses

    FedNor – Targeted Manufacturing Initiative for Northern Ontario: Productivity Improvements under Regional Economic Growth through Innovation program (REGI)

    For manufacturing companies in Northern Ontario with fewer than 500 employees, the Targeted Manufacturing Initiative for Northern Ontario (TMINO) offers funding for creating enhanced, modernized, or more efficient manufacturing capability to increase sales and profitability. This funding will be repayable. Businesses can apply for contributions of up to 33% of the project’s eligible capital costs and up to 50% of the project’s eligible non-capital costs.

    Best Government Rebate for Northern Ontario Businesses

    Ministry of Northern Development – Northern Energy Advantage Program

    The Northern Energy Advantage Program (NEAP) supports Northern Ontario’s largest industrial electricity consumers with competitive, stable and predictable electricity price rates. The program helps them improve their competitiveness and their ability to secure investments, while continuing to create and sustain good jobs in Northern Ontario.

    Best Government Subsidy for Northern Ontario Businesses

    Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada – Nutrition North Canada (NNC) Program

    Nutrition North Canada is a Government of Canada program that helps make nutritious food and some essential items more affordable and more accessible.

    NNC subsidizes a list of nutritious eligible foods, as well as certain non-food items such as diapers and soap, hand-sanitizers and personal hygiene products, sold by registered retailers, suppliers, and country food processors.

    Best Tax Credit for Northern Ontario Businesses

    Ontario Ministry of Finance – Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit

    The Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit is a 10% refundable Corporate Income Tax that supports business investment, economic growth and job creation in designated regions across the province that lagged in employment growth between 2009 and 2019.

    Best Non-Profit Grants for Northern Ontario Businesses

    Innovation Initiatives Ontario North (IION) – Triple-P Program

    The Triple-P Program is designed to spur economic development by offsetting the cost of purchasing equipment or software related to the innovative commercial product, process, or service of the for-profit company in three categories: productivity, prototype, and process improvements.

    This support could be applicable, but not limited to, projects that have the following outcomes:

    • increased efficiency;
    • added production capacity;
    • reduced waste;
    • strengthened competitiveness;
    • entered a new geographic or product markets;
    • new product development.
    Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre (NOIC) – Sustainable New Agri-Food Products & Productivity (SNAPP) Program

    The Sustainable New Agri-Food Products & Productivity (SNAPP) Program provides up to $10,000 at 50% cost-share designed to support Northern Ontario agriculture and food producers, businesses, collaborations, and communities to create new products, enhance productivity, and adopt clean technologies. There are three project streams, as follows:

    • New Products;
    • Productivity Enhancement; and
    • Clean Growth in Agri-Food.
    Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre (NOIC) – Next Level Program

    The Next Level program provides funding for Northwestern Ontario businesses with an innovative product or service and looking to expand. The support may be applicable to contracted expertise, services or direct costs in any of the following areas: equipment purchase, expansion to new markets, conference & tradeshows costs ($1,000 max), training & certification costs.

    Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce – Economic Development Fund: Project Support Stream

    The Economic Development Fund provides Chamber members direct financial assistance toward specific initiatives that support the growth or strengthening of small businesses in Thunder Bay. The Economic Development Fund Project Support Stream is designed primarily for projects that accomplish these goals:

    • Enhance economic benefits and opportunities;
    • Provide infrastructure to support future economic activity within the city;
    • Attract new investment;
    • Create long-term employment opportunities.

    Best Non-Profit Loans for Northern Ontario Businesses

    Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund (NADF) – NADF Loans

    Northern Ontario Indigenous businesses can also access up to $500,000—in some cases up to $1 million—with this loan to start, expand, or even buy another business.

    You just have to be over 18 and have either 10% equity if you’re under 35 or 15% equity if you’re over 35.

    Thunder Bay Ventures – Term Loans

    Thunder Bay Ventures’ Term Loans provide financial assistance to startups and existing businesses in the Thunder Bay CMA.

    Waubetek Business Development Corporation (Waubetek Business DC) – Business Loans: Term Loans and Bridge Financing

    The Waubetek Business Development Corporation has numerous financing options available for Indigenous entrepreneurs on or off reserve in Northeastern Ontario. It offers a variety of business loans to establish, expand or purchase a business in North Eastern Ontario.

    Funding can take the form of Term Loans or Bridge Loans (temporary loans to carry or bridge projects until receipt of confirmed funds from third party lenders or government agencies).

    Best Non-Profit Subsidies for Northern Ontario Businesses

    North Claybelt Community Futures Development Corporation (North Claybelt CFDC) – Northeastern Ontario Youth Internship Program

    The Northeastern Ontario Youth Internship Program provides a wage subsidy of up to $31,500 to businesses for the eligible costs of salary, employee benefit expenses, training and training related travel costs for professional and business skills development for a period of 12 months in a full-time position.

    Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) – Career-Launcher Natural Resources Internships

    Any organization in the natural resources sector can apply for this program provided it’s offering a 6-12 month green job. You could get up to $15,000 or up to 50% of the intern’s salary when you apply. You could even get up to $20,000 if you either hire an Indigenous youth or hire a youth in Northern, rural, and/or remote communities.

    Best Investment Programs for Northern Ontario Businesses

    ArchAngel Network – Axion Fund

    The AXION FUND is a vehicle to assist in two primary areas:

    • First, its Canadian IP focus is to assist in the commercialization and growth of ideas and research-based companies, generated within universities and other innovation centers across Canada. The funding helps inventors with scalable intellectual property to protect their work and navigate through the investment and funding landscape.
    • Second, its Northern Ontario focus, with a primary directive being to attract, mentor, coach, fund and commercialize early-stage start-ups and later scale-ups that have a plan to be partly or entirely settled, or desire to locate in some form in Northern Ontario.
    NORCAT – Sudbury Catalyst Fund (SCF)

    NORCAT’s Sudbury Catalyst Fund (SCF) is an unique $5 million venture capital fund designed to accelerate the growth of scalable tech start-ups. SCF brings together a variety of partners and angel investors eager to build Northern Ontario’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by investing in and supporting a diversified portfolio of high-growth companies.

    Northern Ontario Angels (NOA) – Investment

    Northern Ontario Angels (NOA) is a not for profit corporation that facilitates essential business connections between Northern Ontario’s entrepreneurs and accredited angel investors. Their  investment is meant to take Northern Ontario businesses to the next level.

    Best In-Kind Support Programs for Northern Ontario Businesses

    Have a look at the in-kind support programs below! Some of them provide both in-kind support and grant money.


    NORCAT – Innovation Acceleration Program (IAP)

    NORCAT’s Innovation Acceleration Program (IAP), funded by FedNor, is designed to fund early-stage technology startups in the City of Greater Sudbury with the development and commercialization of new innovations and to promote economic prosperity in the region.

    Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre (NOIC) (formerly NWOIC) – Costarter Program

    The Costarter Program is a three-month, build-by-doing accelerator program to start a business or assist with a business. At the end of this program, you will have your new business launched or have your current company vaulted into success.

    Other In-Kind Support Programs

    Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre (NOIC) – Kenora and Rainy River District Business Accelerator Fund

    Kenora and Rainy River District Business Accelerator Fund invests $5,000 into new and existing manufacturing or technology-focused businesses and provides them hands-on support, access to mentors, and potential access to investors. This fund is offered in two streams:

    • Business Start-up Stream; and
    • Business Expansion Stream.
    Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre (NOIC) (formerly NWOIC) – ProtoZone Program

    The ProtoZone Program supports innovative product development and commercialization by providing the right technical and business support, ensuring product-market fit throughout the product development process, and assisting innovative entrepreneurs and small businesses with the costs associated with successful product development.

    There are 3 stages of the program:

    • Stage 1: Interactive Product Development Workshops,
    • Stage 2: New Product Assessment Service (NPAS),
    • Stage 3: Prototype Funding Assistance.

    The Bottom Line

    There are many great programs to start (or grow) a business in Northern Ontario, including some attractive grants.

    But remember that grants are just one type of funding that is available to Northern Ontario entrepreneurs.

    Make sure to check out the loans, rebates, and other types of support that are available not only to Northern Ontario residents, but also for different demographic groups, industries, and purposes of funding.

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