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The food & ag processing industry is driven by innovation. After all, it’s innovation that keeps costs down, excites the market and positions your business for success. However, sometimes a lack of financial resources can be the thing that stands between your great ideas simply being ideas or actually coming to life. One source of funding to move your business forward are government grants.
Grants come in a variety of types and sizes and chances are, there is a grant that will meet your organization’s needs. Whether you’ve had a profitable track record and are looking to expand or you’re hoping to bring that next great idea to fruition, there are plenty of funding opportunities. However, the competition for grant funding is fierce – and the application process can be complicated.
The first step to securing a grant is to to identify what grants are available to your business. The Government of Canada’s Canada Business Network website identifies a wide variety of national and regional grant programs, including ones tailored to R&D projects, marketing and more.
While the Canada Business Network does include some province-specific initiatives, there are still a wealth of other grants available on a province-by-province basis. For example, the Ontario government offers a range of incentives to encourage a vibrant business community as part of their Invest in Ontario program. In addition, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs offers a variety of grants.
There are several programs that have benefitted food & ag processing businesses in particular. While there are no guarantees that your project will be funded – or be a runaway success – the following examples demonstrate how grant funding can help your business prosper.
The Growing Forward 2 program is aimed at encouraging innovation, competitiveness and market development within Canada’s agri-food and agri-products sector. With grants of up to $350,000, this popular program is scheduled to run until 2018. One success story already realized from this program is through the Canadian Livestock Genetics Association (CLGA), which has received a $1.7 million investment.
Both Eastern and Southwestern Ontario are full of agri-food processing businesses, making these economic development funds valuable resources to tap into. The goal of the Eastern and Southwestern Ontario Business Development Funds are to create jobs, encourage innovation and attract private sector investment. Up to 15% of your project cost may be funded (up to a maximum of $1.5 million), but 50% of total costs must be contributed from your own resources.
To cite one success story, a Spanish company called Natra opened up a 100,000 square foot chocolate factory in London, Ontario, with $2.8 million in support from this fund. After investing $16.3 million of their own funds, the factory is expected to produce 12,000 tonnes of product and employ approximately 60 Londoners.
The above examples demonstrate the range and wealth of funding opportunities available – but it can be challenging to identify which programs best align with your proposed project or how to maximize your chances at getting your project funded. Working with a professional experienced in grant applications can help streamline the process and increase the potential for success.
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