The IRAP Program: How Canadian Businesses Can Get Free R&D Funding

The National Research Council is the primary research and development agency in Canada. It is mandated by the federal government to deliver the Industrial Research Assistance Program or IRAP – one of the most impactful initiatives of its kind in the country and throughout the world.

IRAP Canada is designed to stimulate economic growth in the country through technology innovation. Its strategy is to provide a combination of services and funding for small and medium sized businesses to increase their research capabilities.

Do you own a small business and need research funding? The IRAP grant offers a great solution. It accepts applications from all Canadian SMEs engaged in various innovation activities. If you need to know more about how it works and how you can maximize it, EVAMAX can help. EVAMAX is a fund finding expert specializing in innovation grants.

Why Should Small Businesses Innovate?

Innovation can be characterized by the emergence of something new. It can be anything from an original product, a better way of doing things, or even a novel idea with the potential for practical applications. Without anything new, there is no innovation. And without innovation, there is no progress.

In essence, the future of the country depends on it. It allows small businesses to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive market, at home and abroad. It solves critical problems and removes barriers to economic growth.

Why is Research Important for Innovation?

Research is important in the above paradigm because innovation grows naturally out of it. Research turns a new idea into something concrete and actionable. Companies at the forefront of their respective industries invest heavily in R&D activities. Those that do not get left behind.

What is the IRAP Program?

Along with SRED, the Industrial Research Assistance Program IRAP is one of the most effective funding programs initiated by the government. It has allowed the National Research Council of Canada to help SMEs across the country for over 70 years, offering financial assistance, mentorship, and access to R&D experts.

What Makes IRAP so Effective?

As a Canadian government program, IRAP funding accessed by eligible companies does not require repayment. It is referred to in the industry as “free money.” If your business is not getting any, you are missing out. It allows even small businesses to pursue R&D activities and challenge bigger companies.

It is important to note that chasing after IRAP funding involves a fair amount of paperwork. To optimize your chances of making a successful claim, you must prepare all the necessary requirements. This is where EVAMAX can help. EVAMAX is among the industry leaders in terms of approval rate and turnaround time.

What Can You Get from IRAP Grants?

IRAP funding can cover up to 80% of salaries and 50% of contractor costs for qualified projects. This comes in the form of non-repayable government funding assistance. The grant amount to be awarded is determined by an Industry Technology Advisor ITA.

IRAP funding amount is generally capped at $150,000, but more can be given after thorough review by the ITA. Funding can be accessed through four streams, each with a specific objective and its own funding specifics.

Stream 1: Small Technology Innovation Projects

This stream is also known as the Accelerated Review Program or ARP. It is designed to speed up the commercialization of new technology through R&D. Eligible businesses could get up to $50,000 to cover 80% internal labor costs and 50% of contractor costs.

Stream 2: Mid-Sized Technology Innovation Projects

In line with the core values of program, this stream aims to remove the barriers that prevent the commercialization of new products. It offers a larger grant of up to $10 million to qualified businesses. This money should be used for internal R&D projects, covering 65% to 80% of eligible labor costs. It can also be used for other activities, such as creating original software.

Stream 3: Youth Employment Strategy Program

This stream focuses on young students or graduates between the ages of 15 and 30. It is designed to enhance the skills of young people and prepare them for a fruitful career in the technology industry. Eligible companies can hire up to two students or graduates. They will receive a budget of $30,000 for each hire, and the expected duration of employment is six to 12 months.

Stream 4: Digital Technology Adoption Pilot Program

Also known as DTAPP, this stream is managed by IRAP as a standalone program. It targets small and medium sized enterprises struggling to adopt new technology. Its end goal is to make Canadian SMEs more competitive against their foreign counterparts.

DTAPP helps small and medium sized businesses in three ways:
⦁ Provide funding and mentorship to Canadian businesses for projects involving digital technology adoption
⦁ Collect data and generate best practices for digital technology adoption
⦁ Promote the benefits of using digital technology for SMEs across Canada

Businesses that qualify for the program will get $100,000 worth of non-repayable funding to cover 80% of internal labor costs and 75% of contractor costs.

Many programs have been launched to address digital technology challenges faced by SMEs in Canada. However, most of them operate at the regional level.

DTAPP is trying to address the issue at a national level. IRAP Edmonton is the same as IRAP Canada, and a network of over 130 offices across the country offer the same level of financial support.

What is the IRAP Funding Criteria?

For your business to qualify, it must meet the following basic requirements:

⦁ Canadian small and medium companies incorporated provincially or federally
⦁ Profit-oriented companies
⦁ Have no more than 500 full-time equivalent employees
⦁ Have long term plans to make a positive impact on the economy by developing, improving, and commercializing technology-driven products or using technology to improve productivity.

What are the IRAP Application Requirements?

Aside from the above criteria, an applicant will be asked to submit the following requirements:

⦁ Leadership team capable of managing an approved project
⦁ Financial capability to cover additional expenditures from approved projects
⦁ Company skills relevant to product development and marketing
⦁ Overview of the technology involved, including potential barriers to project completion
⦁ An estimate of the project’s economic impact upon completion, including potential market share and proposed marketing strategies
⦁ Detailed plan or funding proposal, including timelines and project costs for each milestone

For a more streamlined application, you should prepare the above requirements before approaching a local ITA.

When is the Best Time to Apply?

IRAP follows the fiscal year cutoff of April 1 to March 31 of the following year. Funded projects must be carried out within this period. The program does not specify a deadline for any of the streams, and the application is an open-intake, but it is best to start applying as the fiscal year begins when funding support is replenished.

To maximize your chances at a successful application, talk to our experts here at EVAMAX. We can help you complete your IRAP application form, submit a successful claim, and significantly reduce the turnaround time.

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