Securing Top Government Funding; A Guide for Canadian Mining-Sector Companies
As you know, mining and the mining supply chain, including goods, services and technology used by mining companies, are highly capital-intensive. Growing your business in this sector may be challenging from a financing perspective. This is why wise business owners, executives and employees in the mining sector must be aware of the government funding sources that can help businesses achieve their goals faster and more cost-effectively.
In this guide, Igor Chigrin, a business funding expert from Fair Grant Writing and the author of a new book Get Funded!, will walk you through the steps to find the right government funding programs for your business and to secure funding.
Step 1: Defining the project(s) to be funded
The government does not grant money just because your business meets eligibility criteria. The money is only available for use on specific business-led projects, like product development or productivity improvement, skills training, export marketing, etc. The project must have clear goals, deliverables and measurable benefits. The project must have human, financial and other resources assigned. The project must have start and end dates, and milestones. The roles and responsibilities in the project must be clearly separated and well-defined.
Step 2. Selecting the government grant or loan program
Study all government grant and loan programs applicable to your project; for example, all grants for research and development. Study their goals, funding priorities, eligibility criteria, and a list of eligible and ineligible costs carefully. Match this information to your project’s scope and expected outcomes and decide whether it meets the word and the spirit of the government programs you selected. Then, choose the most fitting program. It is better to find a grant program to fit your project, rather than try to create a project to match a government grant or loan program.
Here are some recommended government funding programs for Canadian mining companies and the mining supply chain:
- Canada Job Grant Programs. These programs provide, in most cases, two-thirds of the third-party training costs up to a maximum of $10,000 per trainee. If your business commits to hiring an unemployed individual upon successful completion of the training, you can get 100 per cent of the training costs reimbursed up to a maximum of $15,000 per trainee. At the time this post was written (September 2017), the program was available in all Canadian provinces and territories except Quebec.
- CanExport Program is designed to support your export marketing and sales activities at your new export market. If you have not sold your mining products, services or technologies to your target export market in the past 24 months, you can get a grant equal to 50 per cent of your trade show, trade mission or conference fees, translation, marketing materials, samples shipping, certification, travel and other relevant costs.
- Strategic Innovation Fund is a large funding program with four streams, two of which are focused on assisting in research, development or commercialization of Canadian technologies. Mining technologies are eligible too. Another two streams support business expansion, including plant construction and expansion of R&D facilities, as well as Canadian and foreign investment into the Canadian facilities.
- Scientific Research & Experimental Development Tax Credit is the funding program for research and development available to Canadian-controlled private corporations of all industries provided they do research and development.
- Regional incentive programs are also available for the mining sector in Northern Ontario, Quebec, Northern Territories and Western Canada. Explore the funding programs provided by local development agencies such as Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor), FedNor, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, the Western Economic Diversification Fund, etc.
Step 3. Researching the selected government grant or loan program
Further study the selected program, including its application forms, application timelines, process and evaluation criteria. Scope out the grant writing project: define goals and deliverables, set the timeline and assign resources. As mentioned, grant writing takes time, so don’t leave the application until the last minute. Ideally, apply two to three months before the submission deadline and plan your grant writing activities accordingly. Work with your favourite project management and calendar tools to keep track of the grant writing.
Step 4. Gathering information
You will most likely need input from sources both inside and outside your organization to complete the proposal or application. You may need information from your engineers, accountants, customers, or service providers, so allocate enough time to secure the feedback from these parties.
Step 5. Gathering supportive documentation
Like information gathering, this phase typically involves gathering quotes, estimates, or proposals from third parties, as well as internal documentation, such as business plans, financial statements, and sales forecasts.
Step 6. Budgeting for the project
Typically, each government program has a template for the budget. Follow it carefully. If it is not available, use a common-sense approach and group the costs by capital, operational, management (administration) cost, and in-kind (volunteer) contributions, if the latter is applicable.
Step 7. Writing, reviewing, and proofreading the proposal or application
Once the information has been collected, put the proposal or application draft together. Just write. Don’t worry too much about grammar or spelling at this time – you can correct it later before the submission. Use the templates and forms provided by the funder’s (or funders’) or online application portal, if available.
Don’t exceed the word or character limit if specified by the funder. Once the draft is complete, go through it yourself, then share it with your team, your colleagues, business owners, or anyone else who can make a positive impact and provide feedback on the application. Brainstorm with others on the questions in the application. Incorporate team feedback and ideas right away if they make sense. Then, proofread and make sure that all questions have been answered, and attach supportive documentation if required. Ensure that you have all references, cites, tables, graphs, and pictures in place if they are required.
Have someone who is unfamiliar with the project read the application and tell you whether it makes sense or not. Read the final version of the application aloud if it helps you catch any missing information. Use the application checklist (if provided by the funder) to make sure that you submit the complete application. Sign and date the application. Save a copy of the application and all supportive documentation in case they get lost on the way to the funder.
Step 8. Submitting the application and incorporating feedback
Submit the application the way the funder has specified: by email, via online application forms, by mail, in person, etc. Seek receipt acknowledgment for the application from the funder. If submitted early enough, you have a chance to get good quality feedback from the grant or loan program administrators. They will advise if there’s anything you need to do to strengthen or improve your proposal. Respond to their feedback right away if they have indicated that they have time to talk to you.
Step 9. Executing the funded project
By this phase, you should receive the approval of your application, and in some cases, even a lump sum of government money upfront. It is now time to deliver what was promised. Failure to do so may result in the government’s money-back request. If the circumstances change and you can no longer achieve your goals, you must immediately inform the program administration and seek resolution of the situation together.
Step 10. Writing the report or claim
Keep track of all project activities, achievements, and costs in a separate folder. Keep proof of payments, such as cancelled (stamped) cheques, bank statements, or money-transfer slips. All government grant and loan programs require a final report at the end of the project, while the number of intermediary reports or claims may vary from one-time to monthly submissions.
This step-by-step guide is an exert from Igor Chigrin’s book “Get Funded!” You can order it by clicking here. Learn more about how you can properly identify your organization’s funding needs and navigate the universe of the government and non-government funding options available for businesses in Canada.
The book also includes tips from the funders and writers on how to increase the chances of getting funding, examples of the best answers to questions on the application forms, little-known details about term loans, lines of credit, mortgages, government grants, tax credits, customs duty drawback, angel & venture capital funding, leasing, asset-based lending, factoring and much more.