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Innovation Funding and Grants

By: Christopher Heer, Daryna Kutsyna | Last updated: August 13, 2018
Applying for intellectual property rights is an important step for your new business. Innovation funding and grants may be available to help you cover the costs of a patent application and subsequent steps in the patenting process.

We have compiled a list of potential sources of innovation funding, grants, and other financial assistance below that we recommend that you investigate and apply for if eligible:

General Awards

These awards may be a good fit for most aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators who are looking for financial assistance. Other avenues to explore may be personally contacting investors or reaching out to venture capital networks in order to obtain funding. While most of these awards offer a monetary prize to the recipients, some of the opportunities listed below only offer recognition to the broader business community.

BDC Entrepreneurship Awards

Annual awards for up-and-coming and established businesses in Canada. The award is for recognition rather than financial assistance purposes.

Canada Angel Investors

A listing of angel investors by individuals and networks, with contact information provided. This may be useful if you are looking to pitch to individual sponsors.

Ernest C. Manning Innovation Awards

If you have demonstrated recent innovative talent in developing and successfully marketing a new concept, process or procedure, you may be eligible by means of nomination for one of four annual awards ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.

Ingenious Awards

An annual award that recognizes businesses of all sizes that have substantially improved their efficiency or productivity through the use of technology and innovation.

Startup Canada Awards

Recognizes innovators and entrepreneurs provincially and nationally through annual awards in a number of categories (i.e., innovation, business quality, supporting entrepreneurs).

Government of Canada Awards and Funding

The Government of Canada strives to support domestic innovation and entrepreneurship. As such, if you are hoping to operate an intellectual property-based business in Canada or are a Canadian permanent resident or citizen, there are likely multiple sources of governmental funding you may be eligible for.

Canada Business Network—Find Government Grants, Loans and Financing

Use this search tool to find available government grants, loans and financing targeted to your specific purpose, geographic region and industry sector. Research Funding and Awards

Government of Canada portal for funding and awards, organized by category and type of research being done.

Canadian Institutes of Health Research: Funding Opportunities

R&D grants for innovators within the health and wellness sector in Canada. You could get financing for your idea or research proposal through a number of available opportunities.

Canadian International Innovation Program (CIIP)

A funding program useful for innovators working in partnership with individuals or businesses from Israel, Brazil, India, China, or South Korea.

National Research Council of Canada—Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)

Your small or medium-sized business may qualify for financial support to develop and commercialize innovative, technology-driven new or improved products, services, or processes.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada—Idea to Innovation Grants

As a college or university faculty member, you may be eligible for funding to support R&D projects with recognized technology transfer potential.


A Government of Canada aggregator that seeks to connect your business to relevant grant funding, experience, facilities and opportunities.

Governor General’s Innovation Awards

Annual awards to recognize and celebrate outstanding Canadian individuals, teams and organizations for successes in innovation.

Mentor Networks: Canadian Government Funding for Small Businesses

An aggregator search for major government funding grants for research and development and other business initiatives.

Awards for Ontario Entrepreneurs

These governmental and non-governmental sources of funding are targeted specifically at entrepreneurs and innovators who are operating in Ontario or otherwise have a connection to Ontario (place of residence, etc.). Some of these awards may be geared specifically to communities within Ontario rather than residents of the province at large.

Investing in Business Innovation

You could get financing to help commercialize innovations of your Southern Ontario start-up if you have already secured funding commitments from angel/venture capital investors.

Ontario Centres of Excellence

Ontario entrepreneurs and start-ups may qualify for help from a suite of programs which support development of new technologies and ideas with demonstrated commercial potential.

Ontario Tax Exemption for Commercialization

Your start-up may be eligible for a tax exemption if you commercialize intellectual property developed at a Canadian university or college. Early Researcher Awards

Funding for researchers who have an idea they want to develop and are working within an organization/looking to build a larger team to expand on the research potential.

Funding for Initiatives in Social Innovation

If your initiative or innovation is geared toward social justice or social innovation, there are a number of funding and charitable grants that you may be eligible for. This may also include inventions that are aimed at improving quality of life.

Charity Village: Canadian Foundations

A list of non-profit foundations that provide grant and bursary funding for specific causes, including research and development in various sectors.

The McConnell Social Innovation Fund

You may be eligible to obtain funding grants if your business is focused on early stage consolidation (a promising innovation with growth potential), re-tooling growth or collaborations on systemic change.

Mitacs Accelerate Program

Annual global Mitacs Accelerate Program awards recognizing and celebrating the best new innovations that have substantially improved quality of life.

Women in Innovation Funding

There are awards for female entrepreneurs and innovators that your business may be eligible for if you have a female founder or co-founder.

MomPreneur Award

Awards for female entrepreneurs demonstrating excellence and innovation at all levels of business development, with a focus on small and up-and-coming businesses.

Microlending for Women in Ontario Program

As a woman entrepreneur in certain regions of Ontario, you may be able to apply to a local program provider offering business training and microloans to women facing low-income and other challenges.

Startup Canada Women Founders Fund

Seeks to support women starting their own businesses or pursuing innovations through microloans, a mentorship network and institutional support.

RBC Women of Influence

Awards for female entrepreneurs at all levels of business growth (small business at any stage of operation demonstrating successful growth, start-up ready for expansion, and larger categories).

Funding for Young Entrepreneurs

If you are a young entrepreneur hoping to obtain a patent or start a business involving intellectual property, there may be some awards geared specifically toward supporting you. While some of them may be contingent on enrolment in a particular educational institution or program, others may be open to all innovators under a certain age threshold.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Funding

Supports post-secondary research initiatives in the social sciences and humanities fields. You could be eligible for grant funding through three programs: Talent, Insight and Connect.

The Thiel Fellowship

The fellowship provides a $100,000 grant over two years to young entrepreneurs and innovators (under 23) for full-time pursuits of their idea. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

University of Toronto Funding Opportunities for Inventors and Entrepreneurs

A list of funding opportunities for budding and establishing entrepreneurs, some limited to U of T faculty and students and some open to all innovators.

University of Waterloo: International Funding Opportunities

A list of funding opportunities for budding and establishing entrepreneurs, some limited to Waterloo faculty and students and some open to all innovators.

If you are aware of any other sources of innovation funding or other financial assistance which may benefit innovators in Canada, please let us know by emailing Christopher Heer at [email protected].