Accessing Canadian government funding is incredibly difficult to achieve without proper planning which can allow businesses to align their projects’ timelines with appropriate funding program deadlines. Many business owners face a problem in navigating government funding applications due to a limited amount of internal resources.

Among the strategies we teach business leaders is how to time government funding applications to receive optimal value. Typically, there are a variety of government funding programs to support strategic projects; the key is understanding how and when to access multiple programs simultaneously (known as ‘stacking). A key challenge in this strategy is knowing how to time the submissions for multiple applications so that they are all approved before projects begin (or before and after for some tax credits). Stacking can leverage programs like grants, tax credit programs, wage subsidies, and more to achieve maximum support which can sometimes add up to 100% of a project’s costs covered in some situations.

The application process becomes easier and more valuable once you establish timelines for your project and apply for Canadian government funding programs. Despite requiring more time and resources, this strategy provides a much higher return on investment. In the long run, companies that use this strategy effectively receive more funding.

Understanding Canadian Government Funding Timelines

The timelines for obtaining Canadian business loans and grants dictate how long the application process will take. From application to approval, some Canadian government funding programs may take weeks, while others may take several months. The timelines of grant, loan, and wage subsidy programs are extremely important to take into consideration since most of these programs require applicants to wait for funding approval before beginning their projects. However, tax credit programs will often be retroactive in nature, which means businesses can claim funding for projects that have already been completed. An example of a tax credit program would be the SR&ED funding program for research and development projects.

Typically, small business funding program timelines are formed from the following components:

  • Intake Periods: In some programs, applications are accepted continuously, while in others, there is a specific ‘call for applications’ by which applicants must develop and submit their applications;
  • Review Boards: Program review boards review and approve applications once they have been submitted. It may take several months to complete this process, depending on the program; and
  • Budget Allowances: Funding is allocated to businesses through government funding programs with allotted financial pools. This approach may vary, however, funding may be disbursed until depleted or it may be scheduled and dispersed in stages throughout the program’s entire duration.

How Do Regulations Affect ‘Stacking’ Government Funding Application Timelines?

Having a deep understanding of the relationship between your project and government funding timelines is critical when a business wishes to develop a ‘stacking’ strategy.

Funding programs have their own stacking limitations. In some programs, stacking funding for the same project is strictly prohibited. In other programs, stacking may only be allowed with specific programs or funding sources (e.g., provincial vs. federal) and/or government funding may only be available for a certain percentage of the project budget.

One strategy we recommend for overcoming this challenge is to thoroughly review the Program Guide for each funding program. If your business is unsure if stacking is acceptable for a program, please contact the funding program directly or ask us for an expert opinion.

Looking at a stacking example

For example, an Ontario-based manufacturer may plan an expansion of a production line in their facility to fit new machinery, as well as create new jobs. This business should consider using an Ontario government funding program like the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF) which can support up to 10-15% of project expenses, while a Canadian government funding program like the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) may cover up to 50% of the project’s expenses if it has a high level of innovation. To be eligible for SWODF funding, applicants must contribute at least 50% of project costs either with their own business resources or through private/bank financing, without stacking other provincial funding sources. With SIF, however, governing bodies are limited to assisting a project with 75% of its eligible costs (federal/provincial/municipal/territorial).

Moreover, the SR&ED program can provide a retroactive tax credit for up to 69% of labour and overhead costs, 36% of contractor costs, and 45% of material costs. Using these programs together can provide businesses with a greater financial contribution than if they used just one. To determine what contributions are allowed and what sources are acceptable, consult the program details.

Implement a phased approach for your projects

The development of a phased approach to projects can also be used as a timeline-based strategy. The development of new markets for export is often a multi-stage process with many milestones along the way. Grants and loans are available for most activities; the secret is to break them into discrete phases or projects which are competitive for and relevant to government funding.

In a case like this, if an Ontario-based manufacturer expands into the United States to serve new customers, there are likely to be a few funding opportunities beyond the actual market exploration. This could include:

  • Phase 1: Construction of the building and purchasing machinery.
  • Phase 2: Hiring and training employees to manage increased capacity, innovative equipment.
  • Phase 3: Traveling to export markets to attend trade shows and other international marketing events.

A clear timeline should be provided for each phase of this project in order to ensure optimal funding. If phase 1 starts on September 1, a business should identify grant and loan opportunities and work backwards (based on the program’s timelines) to understand when the project applications need to be submitted.

“Breaking projects into phases will help keep application timelines a priority and will also help recognize opportunities where provincial and federal funds can be stacked together.”

Get started with a government funding plan

It can be challenging to match project timelines to funding deadlines when stacking Canadian business funding programs. Mentor Works, a Ryan company, can help you apply for multiple Canadian government funding programs in order to maximize your project’s funding potential. Our professional application writers save our clients 95% of the time it takes to apply for programs compared to companies that apply in-house. Speak with our funding experts for free to find our what funding programs your business may be eligible for.

Mentor Works is a business support organization specializing in Canadian government funding. The Ontario-based business has helped hundreds of businesses build and execute their funding strategy through a mix of federal and provincial government grants, loans, and tax credits. Mentor Works offers free online resources, funding webinars, and news via their website at

Author: Nathan Chick

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