In this comprehensive guide to small business grants for Ottawa entrepreneurs, we cover 16 programs that you and you alone can take advantage of to start, grow, or operate your business.
Depending on your needs and industry, there’s sure to be something here that works for you, from energy-efficiency incentives to investor groups!
City of Ottawa Mandate
The City of Ottawa’s vision for the future is that it will become the most liveable mid-sized city in North America. Ottawa is well positioned to achieve this vision due to its:
- High quality of life supported by strong neighbourhoods and cultural communities;
- Incredible parks and greenspaces;
- Stable and increasingly diverse economy, and
- Extensive educational and health systems.
The City will promote accountable and transparent municipal governance to respond to significant new challenges:
- A more diverse population and an aging demographic,
- A changing climate,
- Crises – be they health, environmental or economic, and
- Rapid technological changes.
City of Ottawa Priorities
You can learn about the City’s priorities by reading its New Official Plan.
What Can Ottawa Business Grants Be Used For?
Ottawa 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:
And that’s just a sample! See the section below with a complete list of grants available for Ottawa small businesses.
How Much Grant Money Can I Get for My Ottawa Business?
In our database we currently have grants ranging from $500 to $5,000,000.
Am I Eligible for an Ottawa Business Grant? Common Eligibility Criteria
We analyzed the Ottawa business grants in our grants database, and these are the most common qualifications we identified:
Note: these are just the most common eligibility criteria – there are many grants with different requirements.
Best Ottawa Business Grants, Loans & More
While there are lots of good programs available, below we highlight some of the best grants, loans, investment & more for Ottawa small businesses:
Best Government Grants for Ottawa Small Businesses
City of Ottawa – Brownfields Redevelopment Program
To qualify for the Brownfield Redevelopment program, you’ll need to submit several technical documents to determine if you’re eligible for the grant and estimate the eligible costs. The program specifies that the maximum grant amount is limited to 50 percent of the total estimated costs, with a caveat that eligible items 7 to 12 cannot exceed 15 percent of the total eligible items being submitted for a grant.
The program provides a list of 12 eligible items, with items 1 to 6 related to the remediation costs of the contaminated site, and items 7 to 12 focused on other on-site improvement and site development expenses. You can review the program to learn more about the eligible items and their associated costs.
The program funding operates through the incremental increase of property tax as a result of the brownfield site redevelopment.
City of Ottawa – Heritage Grant Program for Building Restoration
If you’re the owner of a heritage building designated under Part IV or Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act and need assistance with restoration work, you may be eligible for a heritage grant. The grant is offered on a matching basis, up to $10,000 for small-scale buildings and up to $25,000 for large-scale buildings. It’s important to note that an owner can only apply for grant funding once every two years.
The availability of funding for the grant program is subject to approval by the City Council as part of the annual budget. Therefore, it’s important to check if the grant is currently available.
City of Ottawa – Ottawa Rural Clean Water Program (ORCWP)
If you’re a rural landowner in Ottawa, you can take advantage of the Ottawa Rural Clean Water Program (ORCWP) to safeguard the city’s streams, rivers, wetlands, and groundwater. The ORCWP provides cost-share grants to farmers, rural landowners, and even rural villages, with the aim of encouraging and supporting projects and practices that promote water quality.
The Program assists landowners in completing initiatives that prevent pollution from uncontrolled sources such as soil erosion from cropland, manure pile runoff and leaching, fuel, chemical and fertilizer spills, and improperly abandoned water wells. If left unchecked, these pollution sources can lead to the addition of sediment, nutrients, bacteria, and chemicals to Ottawa’s waterways and groundwater. To promote best management practices and other rural land stewardship, the ORCWP offers cost-share grants and educational initiatives.
Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) – Save on Energy – Retrofit Program
Get even more money to make your business more energy efficient and save you money with this program from IESO’s Save on Energy.
This one has 2 options: the prescriptive track and the comprehensive track. The prescriptive is your best bet for quick projects and upgrades such as improved lighting, though the minimum incentive amount is $500. The comprehensive track is a better fit for larger, more comprehensive projects with lots of components. This one will get you an incentive of up to 50% of project costs.
Chances are you qualify since most buildings are eligible: commercial, industrial, food services, agricultural, and more.
Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) – Save on Energy – Energy Performance Program
Sign up to continually improve your energy usage and you could be rewarded for it with this program.
As long as you’re not an industrial or manufacturing business, you could receive a pay-for-performance financial incentive, plus a modelling incentive of $1,500 for each enrolled building, up to a maximum of $15,000 for 10 approved buildings.
You get to choose which improvements and investments to make to achieve your improved energy efficiency, and your payments end up equal to 20% of the annual baseline electricity consumption of your building(s).
Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) – Save on Energy – Small Business Program
The Save on Energy Small Business program is designed to help small businesses across Ontario make equipment improvements to reduce their energy consumption, at no cost. Leveraging the success of the former Small Business Lighting program, this new and improved program offers small businesses direct-install incentives on an expanded range of equipment – both lighting and non-lighting.
Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) – Save on Energy – Industrial Energy Efficiency Program (IEEP)
IESO’s Save on Energy Industrial Energy Efficiency Program (IEEP) supports industrial customers across Ontario in improving their industrial processes and implementing system optimization projects. The program offers organizations up to $5 million in financial incentives for each large, complex industrial energy-efficiency project accepted into the program.
Best Rebate for Ottawa Small Businesses
City of Ottawa – Volume User (HVU) Program
You can save both water and money by taking advantage of the City’s High Volume User (HVU) Program. The program provides rebates to property owners who install eligible water-efficient toilets, urinals, spray valves, and commercial dishwashers and washing machines. You can check if you’re eligible for the program and apply to receive the rebates.
Best Non-profit Grants for Ottawa Small Businesses
Ottawa Tourism – Destination Development Fund
Ottawa Tourism’s Destination Development Fund assists tourism businesses and organizations in developing quality tourism products and experiences that encourage the competitiveness of its tourism sector, stimulate increased destination visitation and visitor spend, and encourage private sector tourism investment in Ottawa.
Best Non-profit Loans for Ottawa Small Businesses
Fondation Franco-Ontarienne – Micro-credit Funds
With support from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and in partnership with the Prescott-Russell Community Development Corporation (SDCPR), the Franco-Ontarian Foundation (Foundation) supports Francophone entrepreneurs girls from Southern Ontario (Windsor to Hawkesbury). The micro-credit program provides borrowers with repayable financial assistance, offered in the form of loans.
Ottawa Community Loan Fund (OCLF) – Small Business Loans
Ottawa Community Loan Fund (OCLF) offers eligible applicants support including business plan and cash-flow development when they apply for the Alterna Savings micro-finance program. The program provides loans of up to $ 15,000 to small and developing businesses
Ottawa Community Loan Fund (OCLF) – Youth Small Business Loans
A special focus on Youth has been made possible through a partnership with Futurpreneur Canada. The Youth Small Business Loans is designed for young entrepreneurs aged 18 to 39.
Best Non-profit Investment for Ottawa Small Businesses
Capital Angel Network (CAN) – Investment
Capital Angel Network is an angel investment group only interested in working with Ottawa-based entrepreneurs.
They hold 9 meetings a year, and before each meeting, 6 successful applicants are invited to pitch to a screening committee. After that, only 2 or 3 entrepreneurs are asked to pitch their business plan to the members.
Best In-kind Support Programs for Ottawa Entrepreneurs
Have a look at the in-kind support programs below! Some of them provide both in-kind support and funding.
Innovation Hub (Carleton University) – Hatch
Hatch, a three-month pre-incubator program, is a place where student entrepreneurs, creative minds, and people with different skills meet to leverage each other’s knowledge and expertise. It is a home for out-of-the-box thinkers and its goal is to help students build their businesses from the ground up.
Innovation Hub (Carleton University) – Launch: Ventures
Launch: Ventures is a program for students looking to grow their existing business/company in an incubation-style environment. The program is sector-agnostic and focuses on preparing student-led ventures to progress towards achieving impact and experiencing rapid business growth.
Innovation Hub (Carleton University) – Breakthrough
Breakthrough is a program for students looking to scale and expand their existing business/company in an accelerator-style environment. The program is sector-agnostic and focuses on preparing ventures to expand to new markets, achieve investment and experience rapid business growth.
Invest Ottawa – IO Ignition
The IO Ignition (formerly known as the IO Pre-Accelerator) is a 10-week boot camp created for entrepreneurs who want to validate a tech startup idea and create a solid business foundation to build upon.
Other In-kind Support Program
The Bottom Line
So you started out wondering just how you were going to find money for your business needs, whether you’re just starting out, expanding, or simply trying to operate.
Now you know that not only can you find a mittful of financial incentives of all sorts at the provincial and federal levels, but there’s plenty to choose from to add to your list at the municipal level.
And beyond that, you’ve learned an often forgotten but advantageous step you can take to improve your odds of entrepreneurial success is to join your local Business Improvement Area, Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Enterprise Centre, and Regional Innovation Centre (if that’s on option for your business).
They may not directly provide funding, but they do offer some sizeable benefits such as discounts to save you money, training opportunities, and networking so you can make new connections. You never know if the next connection you make could be the one that makes all the difference!