Despite COVID-19 challenges, many SMEs are focused on growth

Over $464 million in funding awarded to more than 200 SME projects in July

Small and medium businesses (SMEs) make up the bulk of the Canadian economy, with nearly 99% of Canadian companies falling into the SME category. Canada’s economic reliance on SMEs has led to the government investing funds into helping them bounce back from COVID-19 hardships as well as plan for development and expansion.     

Although many SMEs struggled with demand, supply chain and employment issues due to COVID-19, the outlook is positive when it comes to recovery and growth. This has led to businesses not only adapting to current conditions, but also to launching projects aimed at commercialization, expansion, R&D and hiring. Governments at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels are helping SMEs fund these projects through various programs across many industries.

Ontario most funded province, agri-food and agriculture most funded industry

Fundingportal’s AI-driven data indicates that July 2021 saw 233 SME projects funded for a total of more than $464 million.

Ontario had the most projects funded with 18 per cent of the total, while Quebec came in second at 14.5 per cent. British Columbia and the Yukon Territories were third and fourth, with 10 and 7 per cent respectively. New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories tied for fifth place with 5.5 percent each, and the remaining 40% of funded projects were distributed between Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan.

The top five SME industries to receive funding in July were agri-food and agriculture ($11.9 million across 12 projects), technology and digital media ($9.5 million across 17 projects), tourism and accommodations ($8 million across 5 projects), healthcare and life sciences ($7.6 million across 5 projects) and business and finance ($7.8 million across 6 projects).

Infrastructure projects a strong focus for SME funding

In terms of purpose, infrastructure projects received the most funding at $288 million across 95 projects. $90.4 million was awarded to 33 technology projects as SMEs continue to add digitization to their adaptation and escalation strategies.

26 innovation and R&D projects received a total of $85.2 million, and 57 expansion projects received more than $82 million, indicating a focus on future growth for SMEs. 25 job creation projects were awarded $75.6 million, demonstrating a need for small and medium businesses to ramp up employment capacity in preparation for a strong recovery.

The rest of the funding was distributed among commercialization, export, green, and operations initiatives.

SME programs we’re watching

There are many programs available across most industries aimed at helping SMEs invest in their development as well as make valuable contributions to the Canadian economy. Here is a small sample of the thousands of existing public programs, in addition to private funding opportunities.

SD Tech Fund: SDTC’s mandate is to fund projects that support Canadian small and medium size enterprises advancing innovative technologies that are pre-commercial and have the potential to demonstrate significant and quantifiable environmental and economic benefits in one or more of the following areas: climate change, clean air, clean water and clean soil. Maximum funding per applicant is $4 million.

Scale AI: Encourages the adoption and scaling of existing supply chain solutions through the development of foundational intelligent supply chains building blocks across five AI-based technology platforms: operations, data, AI research, device management and infrastructure. Promotes responsible usage and development of AI-related technologies. Maximum funding per applicant is $5 million.

AgriScience Program: Aims to support specific shorter-term research activities to help industry overcome challenges and address fiscal barriers experienced by small and emerging sectors. Also seeks to mitigate high risk opportunities that have the potential to yield significant returns. On the innovation continuum, project activities range from applied research and development to technology and knowledge transfer. Maximum funding per applicant is $5 million.

Quantum Leap: Pharma-led funding program for drug discovery research. Helps SMEs or Canadian universities achieve innovative translational biopharmaceutical research projects. Maximum funding per applicant is $1.2 million.

To access more programs for SMEs, subscribe to Fundsearch for 11,000 funding sources and more than $30 billion in funding at your fingertips.

Melanie Tabet

Melanie Tabet

Melanie Tabet is chief marketing officer at Fundingportal. Her marketing and communications career spans nearly two decades, and includes leadership roles in software, travel and government funding organizations. In addition to driving strong marketing, branding and communications results, she has published numerous thought leadership articles on the topics of branding, customer experience, customer centricity, technology, and finance in industry magazines such as Forbes. She holds a degree in Commerce (Marketing) from Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business in Montreal, and is a passionate marketer, effective communicator, analytical thinker, and strong leader.

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