CanExport SMEs Funding Program

February 22, 2024
By Julia London, Paul David Blizzard, and Isi Caulder

Global Affairs Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service, in collaboration with the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP), is  set to begin accepting applications in February 2024 for their CanExport SMEs funding program.

This program targets financial assistance to Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in international business development endeavours. It supports both exploratory activities and initiatives contributing to long-term internationalization strategies, including the development of international IP strategies and portfolios.

The program operates on a cost-sharing basis, allowing applicants to submit budgets up to $100,000 CAD, with a minimum set at $20,000 CAD. Upon approval, the program covers up to 50% (up to $50,000 CAD) of eligible expenses, while the applicant covers the remaining 50% (in-kind contributions are not accepted).

Eligible projects can span up to two Government of Canada fiscal years, with costs to be detailed by fiscal year in the application. The costs of the requested activities must be broken down by fiscal year and financial assistance cannot be transferred from one fiscal year to another.

Applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis and are expected to open in February 2024 for projects beginning on April 1, 2024.

Applicant Eligibility

CanExport SMEs is open for all industry sectors except for projects that have a focus on recreational cannabis and recreational substance inhalation (even in jurisdictions where its use is legal). To be eligible, applicants must satisfy the following criteria:

  • Be for-profit;
  • Be an incorporated legal entity, limited liability partnership (LLP) or cooperative in Canada;
  • Have a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) business number;
  • Have fewer than 500 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees;
  • Have $100,000 to $100 million in annual revenue declared in Canada during the last complete tax reporting year (or during the last 12 months for monthly and quarterly filers); and
  • Have been in operation for more than 12 months.

Target Markets

The program supports market diversification by helping Canadian SMEs introduce their products and services in up to 5 new and eligible target markets.

A market is deemed new and eligible if sales in the previous tax year were less than $100,000 or less than 10% of total company sales. Activities described in the application must be directly linked to the target market.

Eligible IP Expenses

CanExport SMEs funding can be used for a variety of IP-related expenses such as:

  • Filing a patent or industrial design application in the target market;
  • Application for the registration of a trademark or copyright in the target market; and
  • IP professional services from a consultant and/or legal firm, which can include: the development of an international IP strategy, database search, drafting of formal IP documentation, and filing of IP documentation.

The funding cannot be used for IP strategy and protection within Canada, nor can it used to cover any maintenance or renewal fees.

In addition to the IP expenses, the program may cover fees related to travel for meetings or events, trade shows, marketing, regulatory services, and market research.

Other Considerations

Applicants who receive other Canadian government assistance (including federal, provincial, territorial, or municipal governments, or Crown corporations) for the same project should be aware that CanExport SMEs’ stacking limit restricts the total amount of funding from all government sources to 75% of the proposed project budget. Accordingly, CanExport SMEs funding will be adjusted to comply with this limit.

How to Apply

To apply for CanExport SMEs funding, applicants should visit the online portal. Applicants must update the information under My Profile and complete the Application Basic Eligibility section. An email confirmation of Basic Eligibility should be received within 7 business days. If eligibility is confirmed, or you are a previous CanExport SMEs recipient, a completed application should be submitted at least 60 business days prior to the state date of the first proposed activity. CanExport SMEs strives to provide a funding decision within 60 business days.

Applicants may find CanExport SMEs’ Applicant’s guide helpful throughout the application process. It is important to note that once an application has been submitted, it cannot be edited or changed.

For Canadian SMEs looking to expand into foreign markets, the CanExport SMEs funding can offer a funding boost, and help multiply the size of your IP portfolio. Our team of professionals is happy to help you plan your IP portfolio and assist with preparing a CanExport application.

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