Launch Academy presented a webinar on everything you need to know about the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)—a cross-Canada network of 255 industrial technology advisors, with $300 million in support for more than 3,000 development projects annually—and having gone through the process myself, it was a good refresher on how to acquire financial support for technology innovation. While I ran into roadblocks with my own startup, the odds can lean in your favour if you focus on creating a novel business with adequate customer validation, a sizeable market, and steady revenue growth.
Only one in ten companies get funded through the program, yet they are open all year round with a rolling deadline to allow the opportunity for businesses to become eligible. IRAP covers 50-80% of project costs, yet unfortunately does not fund the founders’ salaries. Some of the requirements are as follows:
- The SMB must be incorporated and for profit.
- There must be innovative Research & Development.
- You must have a business plan.
- There is sufficient customer discovery.
- Key team members have to be all in.
- Solid management is a must.
- 500 or fewer employees.
- There has to be matching cash.
An Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA) will be working with you along the way (likely on Zoom for the next while), with periodic meetings to determine what stage you are at. In 2018/19, IRAP was mandated to increase the funding threshold to $10 million for larger research and development projects, which is supposed to make it easier for SMBs to access the support they need.
One thing that’s necessary for any sort of idea to come to fruition, is a prototype with likely IP. Ideas are as we all know useless, but if it’s evident time was dedicated toward executing on an idea and realizing your vision, the better your chances at getting your foot in the door.
You can find more information on the Government of Canada’s website.