“There’s gold in them thar hills” — finding government incentive money.

I’m not sure who said it (maybe Humphrey Bogart in “The Treasure of Sierra Madre”), but “There’s gold in them thar hills” comes to mind when I think of government grants and incentives.

The most common government incentive programs that Canadian companies employ are NRC/IRAP (http://www.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca) and SR&ED (http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/txcrdt/sred-rsde/menu-eng.html).  If you are a technology company and are not availing yourself of these programs, you should look into them — now.   The government is trying to promote innovation and employment via these programs, and your competition is probably already benefiting from them.

The situation with SR&ED and IRAP reminds me of university scholarships.  We tell our kids to apply because they’ll never get a scholarship unless they do.  And the application process is not that hard!  It’s exactly the same situation with these government incentive programs for business.

SR&ED and IRAP are not the only government programs available to Canadian companies.  A good place to look for government funding opportunities is “Canada Business Services for Entrepreneurs” (http://www.canadabusiness.ca).  This is a government run web site, and there is a search page for government grants, loans and financing at http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/search/sof/.  On that page you can search by province, industry, etc..  If you need financing, this is a good place to start.  One of my clients, for instance, was able to secure Telefilm Canada (http://www.telefilm.gc.ca) funding for their technology venture last year.

Other countries have similar sites to the search page just mentioned.  For instance, Australia has a government run “grantfinder” web site at http://www.business.gov.au/Grantfinder/Grantfinder.aspx.  I had a look at this recently.  (NB: I think the Canadian SR&ED program is better than similar programs in Australia).  In the United States, there is a federal government site at http://business.gov/finance/financing/.  Interestingly it says “The [United States] federal government does not provide grants for starting and expanding a business. Grants from the federal government are only available to non-commercial organizations…”.  There are many programs available from the states, however, so if you’re doing business in the U.S., you may want to look at http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/smallbusiness/a/stategrants.htm as a place to start.

All in all, Canada provides generous funding to businesses.  It is one of the things that can give you a competitive edge if you’re operating a Canadian technology business.

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