Canadian Support Programs

Last updated August 27

Back to School and Be Secure.

1. My view on Online Learning:

This current epidemic has accelerated the transition from on-premise learning to more on-line learning. Even before this, and in any case, all types of education (K-12, post-secondary, industry, life-long) should consider various modes of delivery (lecture, interactive, individual self-paced, group work, etc.).  Consider the particular subject matter details that are to be experienced and learned, and the locations of the professors/teachers/instructors/presenters and learners, and then decide on the over-all style of a class, a course, a conference, a training experience, a semester, and your overall mix of programs. Not all education needs to be in person. Not all education will work well online. We are currently in an emergency-forced transition period. I see 2020 as the MVP. 2021 will be a more well-designed beta.

The growth of digital online learning is faster than the growth of on-premise learning and I predict that eventually more learning will be delivered online, than on-premise.  The World is getting even Flatter.

2. SME Access to Cybersecurity Certification:

IRAP is funding a pilot for a number of SMEs to be reviewed on their cybersecurity posture and if they pass those tests being awarded the CyberSecure Canada certification. Fee firm side is a token $250.

CyberSecure Canada tests compliance to 13 baseline cyber security controls. These controls have been developed by federal entities including Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and Communications Security Establishment (CSE).

The 13 baseline controls are comprised of basic actions (inventory hardware and software assets; assess potential threats; develop an incident response plan) to the technical (install and securely configure anti-virus/anti-malware software as well as firewalls, change administrative passwords, use multi-factor authentication; have a data backup and encryption policy etc).

They are detailed here (read the page and download the PDF):

The 13 controls are relatively easily achievable by Canadian SMEs and will give you a good cybersecurity baseline.

IRAP will pay for you to receive cybersec guidance on attaining CyberSecure Canada certification. IRAP will pay for your CyberSecure Canada test.  If you past that test, you will be CyberSecure Canada certified for two years. The testing needs to be conducted every two years ($1,500 fee) to maintain your CyberSecure Canada certificate.  IRAP will not cover subsequent years.

If you are interested, please contact me:  There are limited spots in this initial pilot.

Have a secure future and learn something new every day.

Last updated June 5

Sending out a second update this week as there are some time-sensitive opportunities.

Collision from Home June 23-25

Probably Canada’s largest technology/innovation conference, Collision was relocated from New Orleans to Toronto in 2019 and is now online for 2020.  General information is here:

The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service has set up the following opportunities:

  • Virtually Connect with Global VC or Corp. Investors – 61 global investors scouting Canadian startups
  • Virtually Connect with Global Tech Buyers – 83 international buyers looking for tech solutions
  • Meet a Trade Commissioner – Canadian or from around the world

The deadline to apply for one-on-one meetings is June 10, 2020 at midnight EST.  If you are interested, let me know and I’ll send you more information.

Canadian Export Challenge

Are you interested in fast‑tracking your global business growth?

This September, the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS), along with Export Development Canada (EDC), UPS, Mastercard and Scotiabank, are collaborating with Startup Canada to present the third annual, and first fully‑digital edition of the Canadian Export Challenge (CXC) for Canadian startups and scale‑ups.

The call for applications to register for CXC participation opened on June 1, 2020. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply and submit their video pitches until September 9, 2020.

Be kind to one another. Have a peaceful weekend.

Last updated June 3

I haven’t updated in a while as many Covid-19 emergency programs that were announced in March and April were being put into place and delivered in May.  Now, I’ll post some post-emergency programs and initiatives related to Covid-19 and economic and social recovery:

1. New Creative Destruction Labs program: Recovery

CDL Recovery cohort focuses on information-based solutions. Successful teams will participate in a series of objective-setting online sessions . CDL is a non-profit organization. There are no fees for participation and CDL does not take any equity. CDL Recovery follows the traditional CDL program structure at twice the regular cadence.

2. Federal Challenges


There are new challenges for innovative solutions posted regularly.  See here for current and past challenges:


  • Rapid Response: Real-time insights for pandemic decision-making
  • Scrubbing you scrubs: Finding ways to re-use COVID-19 protective gear
  • Super sanitize: Cleaning sensitive equipment and workspaces

Details here:

3. International: EUREKA Network call for proposals – Solutions for post-COVID-19 – Next high-impact human pandemic

This call for proposals for joint research and development (R&D) projects addressing medium-term solutions which will prepare society for the post-COVID-19 world and for combatting future pandemics is now open to Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who wish to collaborate on R&D projects with partners in Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany (to be confirmed), the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.

Sectors of focus: all industry sectors with a response to highly contagious human infectious disease pandemics which inflict a high impact on society, such as

  • technologies enabling local resilience or self-sufficiency
  • education technologies and digital workplace
  • Govtech/Open data and Big Data
  • infection prevention and protection
  • prevention of antibiotic resistance
  • sanitation technology
  • diagnostics and testing
  • therapeutics, vaccines and medicines
  • medical intervention robotics
  • disease-tracking technology
  • smart technologies for critical production and supply chains under lockdown

The Canadian SME must be committed to pursuing growth and profit by developing and commercializing innovative, technology-driven new or improved products, processes or technological-based services.

The Canadian SME must be ready, and have the resources to make a serious new market entry push, generally measured by having more than 20 full time equivalent employees and $2 million CAD in annual revenue.

International consortium project proposal submission deadline: July 15, 2020
call for proposals web page

4. CyberSecurity

This is not exactly Covid-related but is important for all businesses any time. Find out about two free tools available through CyberSecure Canada – the Government of Canada’s Cyber Security Certification program for Small and Medium Sized Organizations:

  1. Baseline Cyber Security Controls for Small and Medium Organizations – these are the controls that companies are measured against when they go through the certification process. Everyone doing business online should look them over as there may be some quick and easy changes you can make that you may have never thought of.
  2. Cyber Security for Small and Medium Sized Organizations – interactive online learning tool to help:
  • Identify enterprise cyber security risks and threats
  • Identify applicable cyber security best practices that support their risk tolerance
  • Determine a pathway to improved cyber security posture for their enterprise

Welcome to June 2020. The leaves are out, the birds are singing, Mother Earth in Canada is waking up. Find a positive path forward. Talk to your colleagues, your network, your IRAP Advisor to help you adapt and grow your business.

Be kind to one another.

Last updated May 6, 2020

I’ll make this short as I don’t have a lot of new programs or information to convey. I’ll give an update on programs to support Youth Employment for technology-based companies, but there are not a lot available at this time.  Programs that are currently open:

ICTC Work Integrated Learning – 50% subsidy, $5-7K, for 4-month positions

Career Launcher – new grads, new full-time hire, $15-$20K, only Green stream currently open

Venture For Canada – internships in Startups, job board for Employers

The “IRAP Regular” program is available as usual. Discuss with your ITA. Funds for 2020/21 are almost completely committed already.

Applications for the emergency IRAP Innovation Assistance Program (IAP) are being assessed separately and do not involve your ITA.

As a reminder, IRAP provides Advice, Networks, technical and business Expertise, and sometimes Financial Contributions to highly-innovative technology-based companies that have a high-potential to return Benefits to Canada in terms of Employment, Revenue and Profit growth. Often advice and networks are the most valuable role that IRAP plays in a company’s growth.

My advice for today: Ironically, the WFH situation – leading to the pervasive use of videoconferencing – now allows you to attend events and meet with anyone anywhere. You can attend an investment Meetup in Silicon Valley, have a virtual face-to-face meeting with your partner in Europe, talk to a customer in Asia, attend an Accelerator in Boston – all from your home office. Use this new reality to connect with a new network or person who will help you grow your business.

I encourage you to keep in touch with your IRAP Advisor to help you navigate through this unprecedented challenging period.

Last updated April 29, 2020

By now, I hope you have adjusted to Work/Learn/Play/Keep Well From Home (WFH).  I find it a bit monotonous yet at the same time, very busy. I am looking forward to the eventual relaxing of the physical isolation.

The one thing I suggest most companies do now is some scenario planning.  What do you expect your world to look like in September 2020? January 2021? What should you do to be successful? How will you know if you are making good progress/results?  It may be difficult to think about, but it will help you develop some possible business roadmaps though this new territory.

There are now many good summaries of government programs, so I won’t detail any more here, but list some good resources below.

Survey Results

20 companies responded to the informal survey from this site.  Results are interesting and can be found here:

Companies with Existing IRAP Projects

If you have an existing project receiving funding from IRAP and receive funding from any of the Wage Subsidy programs (CEWS or IAP) then talk to your ITA about how this will be handled. Basically, you must note in your monthly report to IRAP that you are accessing other government funds and IRAP will ensure that you get the maximum benefit allowed when combining the two programs.

Good summaries of emergency government programs



Good information for helping your company strategize, plan and execute

(Note these are commercial site blogs, but there is enough free information presented that can get you started.)

Scenario Planning

Startup Survival Strategy

Have a great week. Get on with it. Never Stop Learning. Keep well. Help each other.

Last updated April 22, 2020

***Survey REMINDER***

If you have not already, please take this quick survey so that I and my colleagues at IRAP can get a sense of how our client companies are adapting:

More than one month in “crisis mode” is not sustainable personally or for a business.  No matter whether your situation is relatively good or particularly bad, these are stressful times, as so much is uncertain and there are so many decisions to be made. I hope that by this time you have found a place of balance. If you haven’t yet, talk to someone, take some time to refresh your batteries, take a step back to look at the bigger picture, take a deep breath, calm yourself, then move forward in a positive direction.

New NRC IRAP Innovation Assistance Program (IAP)

On April 17, 2020 The Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains, Minister of Innovation Science and Industry, announced a new program specifically for early-stage and high-growth innovative companies.

In order to access the program go to:
The call for applications for IAP closes Wednesday, April 29, 2020 at 11:59 pm EDT.

One of the criteria for accessing IAP is “Your company must … be ineligible for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy“. Companies should go to CEWS site and use the eligibility tool before applying to IAP. A company does not need to apply and get rejected, just to use the tool to determine eligibility.

NOTE: I highly recommend that you keep your ITA informed about specific programs that you are applying for (especially IRAP, NRC, BDC, RFPs, Challenges, CEWS).

There were many other programs announced this week, including a number of Youth and Student programs announced today (April 22, 2020). Many charts and statistics.  Lives saved and lives lost. I think that’s all I’ll report on this week. Keep strong. Help each other. Be thankful. Appreciate. Life.

Find someone who has already optimized for the reality you’re about to enter and learn from them. – Seth Godin blog, April 22, 2020

Last updated April 15, 2020

It has been more than one month since I first really appreciated the seriousness of the pandemic when they shut down the major league sports in North America on March 12.  That sounds a bit frivolous now, when so much more business and life is on pause. Many of us are now getting settled into the new normal for a while and adjusting.  We are learning how important communications and social networks are. How much we miss our freedom and casual connections. Let’s continue to care, help and share our information and our resources.


Please take this quick survey so that I and my colleagues at IRAP can get a sense of how our client companies are adapting:

New Federal Government Links

RFP: Calling all suppliers – Help Canada combat Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Are you a business that can supply products and services in support of Canada’s response to COVID-19?  (primarily medical supplies and services)

RFP: COVID-19 Research & Development Call for Proposals for Innovative Solutions Canada Testing Stream (including: Prevention and Protection; Testing and Diagnostics; Patient Monitoring, Tracking and Wellness; Surveillance, Tracking, Situational Awareness and Critical Response; Sanitization)

Volunteering: Wondering how to help with Canada’s COVID-19 effort? Here are some concrete, meaningful ways to contribute and make a real difference in the lives of fellow Canadians. (volunteers for case tracking, contact tracing)

Community Communication Channel

Council of Canadian Innovators Covid-19 Slack Group

This channel is for Canadian innovators to communicate and share specific company supports they can offer the government and other Canadian companies.

Good Articles/Reports


COVID-19: 7 steps to sustain your business through the disruption
You can follow these steps to rapidly forecast your cash flow


How to make it through COVID-19 with your business intact


COVID-19: People, technology, and the path to organizational resilience

COVID-19: Managing cash flow during a period of crisis

Last updated April 8, 2020

Use this time to “Get Caught Up” “Improve your product” “Adapt your product to the current times“.

I am seeing three kinds of companies in my wheelhouse (high potential innovative Digital companies in Calgary):

  • a few are going gangbusters and can barely keep up with demand
  • some have lost or have delayed sales, but are using this time to be in even better shape for the future
  • some are scrambling, adapting, trying to figure out what to do

As of today, I know that the Government of Canada is trying to help as many people and businesses as it can in order to help support our economy and society through this challenge.  It has a number of programs to help individuals who have lost jobs (CERB) and businesses that have lost revenue but want to keep their employees (CEWS).  They are being rolled out now. 

There are also specific challenges at Innovative Solutions Canada – new ones being posted regularly – in areas such as materials, sensors, diagnostics. In particular there is a need for Filtration Material due April 13.

They are consulting on other ways to help technology companies who are either pre-revenue or high-growth, where the current programs may not apply. They have to balance these “edge cases” with getting legislation and processes in place to implement the general programs for the vast majority.  Some changes to the CEWS and Youth support programs were announced today (April 8) and more will come. We know that early-stage tech companies are the seeds of our economic future and may be currently challenged.

This week’s useful links

Covid & Startups — Managing In A Time Of Crisis by Sarah Applebaum
Cash Management; Customer Support; Communication; Leadership

The Help List The Help List is a non-profit initiative committed to curating the most relevant and meaningful resources for the Canadian Technology Sector during this global crisis

Tips for Communicating in a Crisis by Calgary company SPLICE Software
Blog here, 30-min video

Alberta Innovates Covid Hackathon April 10 – May 15

Take stock of where you are. What CAN you do. Realistically. Learn. Resilience. Look for wins. 

Update as of April 5, 2020

Keep calm and stay connected.

Programs are being announced and refined fairly regularly.  At this time, most programs and information are focused on Public Health and Safety for the immediate term, and some now on Income and Business stability for the short-medium term.

The main links for the latest information are below. More commentary and suggested links are at the end.

Canadian Federal Government

Canada’s Overall COVID-19 Economic Response Plan for Individuals and Business

Consolidated page of Information for Businesses:

Public Health Information:

For Innovative Businesses:

NRC and IRAP programs:

NRC IRAP has been tasked by the Government of Canada to work with Canadian industry to address a range of Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada needs.

Typically IRAP programs are for shorter-term development & deployment type projects.

The NRC programs are for larger medium-term research & development projects. The latest is here:

The main page for all NRC and IRAP Covid-19-related programs is here:

BDC and EDC:

Provincial Programs/Information


Municipal Programs/Information



Commentary and Suggested Links

As the world shifts daily, we all have to adapt and make decisions in the midst of uncertainty. There are many programs and people around for assistance during this challenging time.  As more information about the details of programs for business support becomes available in April it will be shared. Stay connected to your local networks for information.  Get comfortable working, learning and engaging remotely. 

Take care of you, your family, your friends, your business and we will get through this. Better. Together.

More links


Ventilator Challenge – deadline March 31, 2020

Covid-19 Open Innovation Challenge  – deadline April 10, 2020

Helpful Resources for Early-Stage Technology Companies

Doing Business During Covid-19 by Alberta Innovates, Platform Calgary, Innovate Edmonton (content starts at 5 mins in)