The Ontario Scale-Up Vouchers Program was created to offer small business funding support to high-growth businesses in order to fuel further growth and scalability. The goal of the program is to support the development of globally competitive firms that expand revenue, exports and employment. Through the program, businesses can access Ontario government funding to consult a business growth coach who can mentor business leaders through the process of global expansion.
Scale-Up Vouchers provide Ontario-based businesses with up to $150k-$250k in government funding. This directly offsets the costs of expansion projects defined by Growth Coaches.
To be eligible for this small business expansion funding, businesses must have a physical operating facility within Ontario, maintain annual revenues of $1M-$50M, employ at least 20 payroll employees, have an annual growth rate of at least 20%, and/or secured at least $2 million in private investment over the last two years. Other eligibility criteria apply; continue reading to further understand if this program provides a good fit for your business/project.
Ontario Scale-Up Vouchers Program: Business Expansion Funding
Technology and innovation-based companies have the potential to drive long-term economic benefits. Ensuring these companies have the resources and expertise needed to grow is a primary focus for the Government of Ontario, which is why the Scale-Up Vouchers Program was created. The program is specifically for high-growth, export-ready firms that are ready to drive exponential growth.
Ontario’s Scale-Up Vouchers Program pairs businesses with a growth coach who has sector expertise and can mentor firms to create actionable ‘growth plans’. These industry experts can also introduce firms to valuable networks to further support growth. Companies may then access financial ‘vouchers’ that offset the costs of various direct and indirect project expenses.
In addition to mentorship opportunities, businesses may be able to access up to $150k to $250k in Ontario government funding to support growth projects.
To learn more about the program’s focus and how vouchers are awarded, read our Scale-Up Vouchers Program overview blog.
Scale-Up Vouchers Program: Applicant Eligibility
To be eligible for the Ontario Scale-Up Vouchers Program, applicants must:
- Earn annual revenues of $1 million to $50 million;
- Maintain a minimum of 20 employees;
- Have an annual growth rate of 20% (revenue, sales, or employment) and/or secured at least $2 million in private investment over the last two development years.
- Be an Ontario-based company (at least 50% of wages, full-time employees, and senior executives must be Ontario-based); and
- Be a member of a technology or innovation-focused industry (including information and communications technology, advanced materials/manufacturing, clean technology, and life sciences).
Project Eligibility for the Scale-Up Vouchers Program
Projects are driven by the business growth coach and upper management who can best strategize a plan for global growth. All strategic projects developed in accordance with growth coaches may be considered for vouchers, however, funding is not guaranteed for all projects.
To access project funding, businesses must apply for vouchers (stage two of the program). This requires a presentation, or ‘pitch’, to be made to a selection committee who will evaluate the reasonability of the project and award funding if there is a good fit. Funding decisions are generally made based on how the project will lead to incremental boosts to revenue and employment, and eligibility of expenses (noted below).
Expense Eligibility: OSUVP Business Expansion Funding
Some of the costs that can be offset through Scale-Up vouchers include:
- Talent costs to support the hiring and placement of a senior-level ‘embedded’ executive, International Sales Development Executive/Manager, In-Market International Sales Manager, or Embedded Product Development Executive;
- Development of technology prototypes;
- Leadership training;
- Sales and marketing training;
- Domestic and international recruiting;
- Intellectual Property (IP) protection;
- Productivity audits;
- Technology/innovation management training;
- Marketing and international sales plan development;
- Updating products or services to launch in export markets;
- Market and customer intelligence services; and
- Supply chain and channel partner development.
Expenses Ineligible from Ontario Government Funding Contributions
Certain costs cannot be included in Scale-Up Vouchers Program funding applications. These include (but are not limited to):
- Application writing costs (either external or internal);
- Capital costs;
- Entertainment expenses;
- Travel costs;
- Costs of activities or operations outside of Ontario;
- Legal, accounting, or consulting fees; and
- Passport and immigration fees.
Apply for the SUVP Ontario Government Funding Program
To access government funding through the Ontario Scale-Up Vouchers Program, companies must complete a two-stage application process. The first stage will enroll companies into the program where they can begin working with a growth coach. Businesses may then submit their ‘growth plans’ and participate in a pitch competition to access up to $150k-$250k in funding.
Would you like to discuss the program in greater depth, talk about eligibility, or begin the application process? Contact Mentor Works, the Government Funding Planners ™.
This post originally appeared on Mentor Works. Mentor Works helps established for-profit companies find and leverage Canadian business grants and loans.