There are literally hundreds of grants available for Ontario entrepreneurs (which you can search in our grants database).
But there are some grants that we consider the best.
What do we mean by “best” grants?
In our list we’ve tried to include grants that target a range of industries and demographics.
Note #1: this is an evergreen list. We’ll be assessing the grants on the list from time-to-time and making changes when we feel they’re warranted.
Note #2: we’re open to suggestions! Leave your recommendations for good grants in the Comments section at the end of the article.
Best Business Grants for Ontario Entrepreneurs
1. Starter Company Plus
Here’s your chance to get some free money from the provincial government. Starter Company Plus provides a grant of up to $5,000 to start a new company, expand an existing company or buy a business in Ontario. You’ll also get training and mentoring as part of the package.
If you’re 18 or older, an Ontario resident and Canadian citizen, not in school full time, and can make a cash or in-kind contribution of 25% of the grant amount, you’re in! You’ll even get an e-business toolkit.
2. Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJC)
Skills development is valuable, so the provincial government will grant money to any Ontario business that wants to give their employees more training.
As long as you have a definitive plan to provide short-term skills training for your employees, you qualify, whether you’re big or small or incorporated or not. But you do have to be licensed to operate in Ontario and ensure the training is to be delivered in Ontario and related to jobs also located in Ontario.
3. Save on Energy Retrofit Program
Regardless of which sector your organization fits in or whether it’s for-profit, nonprofit, or public, you can take advantage of Save on Energy’s Retrofit program to improve your energy efficiency. And you should do so for both your long-term profitability and sustainability and to do your part to reduce your carbon footprint.
4. Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP)
The Canada Digital Adoption Program provides businesses with financing, tools and resources to adopt e-commerce platforms and implement digital transformation plans.
The Grow Your Business Online grant will provide micro-grants of up to $2,400 to small businesses to help with the costs related to adopting digital technologies.
The Boost Your Business Technology grant offers support to Canadian-owned small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) who want to adopt new digital technologies. Support will be in the form of grants to offset the cost of retaining digital advisors who will develop digital adoption plans tailored to the business.
(Although this stream is a bit restrictive considering the minimum annual revenue threshold of $500,000, there’s more to it. Besides the grant, eligible businesses can apply for a 0% loan of up to $100,000 to implement the digital plan.)
5. CanExport SMEs Program
Is increasing your international market opportunities on your wish list this year? Does it seem like expanding your export capacity is just too daunting?
If you’re a Canadian SME with an exportation project in mind, then you’re in luck. This is the program for you.
If you’re an LLP or are incorporated, have a CRA business number, less than 500 full-time employees, and claimed between $100,000 and $100 million in revenue last year, get your application in for this program.
You could get funding from $15,000 to $75,000 for eligible international market development projects expected to cost between $20,000 and $100,000. You can even choose up to 5 international markets to expand into that you currently have little or no presence in. Total funding for this program will cover up to 75% of total project costs.
There are plenty of costs associated with international market development that are deemed eligible, such as travel, expert advice, market research, and taking part in trade fairs, so give this program a shot.
6. Mitacs Accelerate Program
Mitacs Accelerate helps build a win-win research partnership between Academics and companies. Canadian for-profit and not-for-profit corporations in all sectors can solve their research challenges with academic expertise, leveraged funding, and one-to-one support from Mitacs. Internships start at four months and can scale up as much as you need — your financial contribution starts at $7,500.
7. ISED’s Strategic Innovation Fund’s Stream 2: Firm Expansion and Growth
The Strategic Innovation Fund provides incentives designed to help businesses of all sizes invest in R&D, attract talent, and make capital investments. It provides repayable and non-repayable contributions to firms of all sizes across all of Canada’s industrial and technology sectors.
Repayments are required with some aspects of the fund. For non-repayable contributions, the project must have a significant benefit to the public or the economy.
Strategic Innovation Fund’s Stream 2 facilitates the growth and expansion of firms in Canada. Funding is up to 50% of the costs for eligible activities and the amount of the contribution is based on the minimum amount required to allow an eligible activity to proceed.
8. IRAP Financial Support for Technology Innovation
The NRC IRAP Financial support for technology innovation provides funding for small or medium‑sized Canadian businesses to support research and development projects.
Through a broad range of international activities, the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) also provides direct support to small and medium-sized businesses with international interests. The international programs connect companies with the funding, advisory, export, and innovation services they need to access new markets and global value chains.
9. Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI) Collaborate 2 Commercialize Program
Collaborate 2 Commercialize (C2C) supports the collaboration between Academia and Industry to solve an industry‐based problem and drive the commercialization of Intellectual Property (IP). The institution will leverage the unique skills and specialized infrastructure that is instrumental to streamline internal innovations and commercialization needs.
Eligible C2C applicants can also leverage funds from several federal co-funding partners, through a streamlined, single-application process. Current co-funding partners include: