Exciting 2015 funding opportunities for small and medium-size businesses

MRSB Senior Consultants Brenda Wedge and Cathy McPhail review some current government funding options that might boost your business this year.

If you are a business in PEI seeking government financing, funding, advisory services or other assistance there is good news, and what we’ll call a ‘word to the wise’. The good news is there are a lot of business assistance programs available. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, NRC’s Industrial Research Assistance Program, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Export Development Canada, Business Development Canada, Innovation PEI, Skills PEI and Finance PEI (to name just a few!) offer various types of repayable and non-repayable assistance to eligible applicants. Some programs focus on recruiting and training your human resources, some on enhancing your ability to export and achieve export success, some on improving your company’s productivity, efficiency and use of innovation, some on acquiring new equipment, some on expanding your business and some on starting a new business. 

This takes us to our ‘word to the wise’: With so many programs and types of programs available, finding the one that is the right fit for your business can mean more research and planning than the average owner or manager has time for. This is where an experienced business consultant can help. For instance, our team stays abreast of new programs and services and are knowledgeable of program guidelines, eligibility criteria and application and approval processes. We also know who to talk to for further information on the various programs. 

If we’ve piqued your interest and you’d like to learn more about potential funding for your organization, below are introductions to a few newer programs, as well as details on changes to a couple of programs that have been around for a while. One of them might just be the right fit:

Are you involved in commercializing bioscience-based products and services?

EMERGENCE, an initiative of the PEI BioAlliance, provides multi-stage assistance to entrepreneurs and businesses. Emergence staff assess your business and the program helps you obtain the skills and resources you need.

Are you an entrepreneur with a product and/or service with potential to be sold outside of PEI?

IGNITION, an initiative of Innovation PEI awarded through a competitive process, provides seed capital of up to $25,000 for start-up funding. 

Are you an export-ready company willing to collaborate with others?

The BUSINESS CLUSTER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM, an initiative of Trade Team PEI, provides support to groups of export-ready companies located within close geographical proximity to one another. Support is provided to establish ways of collaborating to improve companies’ collective ability to pursue international market opportunities.   

Are you a small business having difficulty obtaining financing?

The PEI ENTREPRENEUR LOAN PROGRAM, administered through Finance PEI, may be able to assist and has increased the maximum loan amount from $50,000 to $100,000. 

Do you have a research and development (R&D) initiative with strong commercialization potential?

The ATLANTIC INNOVATION FUND, managed by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), has changed from a call for proposal approach at a specified time to a year-round intake process. They have also lowered the threshold for eligible projects from $1 million in AIF request to $500,000.

Government recognizes that small- and medium-sized businesses are critical to PEI’s economy and demonstrates this recognition with various business assistance programs and services. With lower energy prices, a strengthening US economy and a lower Canadian dollar, and with consumer confidence remaining steady, now may be the best time for you to leverage available programs and start, grow or expand your business.