The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”) was intended to provide assistance to Canadian enterprises during the COVID-19 crisis, but unfortunately many innovative start-ups did not qualify. The Innovation Assistance Program (“IAP”) under the National Research Council’s (“NRC”) Industrial Research Assistance Program (“IRAP”) is intended to change that with $250 million dollars pledged for financial assistance targeting pre-revenue highly skilled technology start-ups. Successful applicants can receive a wage subsidy for up to 12 weeks (the amount of the subsidy is not indicated on the NRC’s website).
Canadian corporations must act quickly to apply, as all applications must be submitted before April 30 (i.e. by 11:59pm on April 29, 2020). The program aims to complete the assessment of applications and notify successful applicants as early as the week of May 11, 2020, with funding targeted to begin the same week.
To be eligible, an applicant must be a Canadian corporation that:
- is not eligible for the CEWS;
- is an incorporated, profit-oriented small or medium-sized business in Canada;
- is a corporation with 500 or fewer full-time equivalent employees;
- plans to pursue growth and profit by developing and commercializing innovative, technology-driven new or improved products, services or processes in Canada;
- lacks sufficient financial resources to sustain operations during the COVID-19 downturn period;
- has a Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) business number; and
- was incorporated on or before March 1, 2020.
Applications will be evaluated against program assessment criteria (there is no further elaboration), and verified against CRA’s records. All information provided will be shared with the CRA and used to conduct diligence investigations and to assess the merits of the application.
While the IAP falls under the NRC’s IRAP program, it appears to be open both to existing IRAP beneficiaries and to new applicants.
The NRC has a number of other programs relating to the COVID-19 crisis that may be of interest to innovative start-up companies and individuals. More information on the NRC’s COVID-19 programs can be found here and information on NRC COVID-19 community support can be found here.