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The biggest fundraising opportunities for Toronto startups in 2021

February 12

Get the support needed to successfully grow your business with these grants, loans, funds and competitions throughout the upcoming year.

With the end of the pandemic still in the distance for the time being, it’s important to keep businesses operating. During such uncertainty, access to funding can be a real-life preserver and provide innovators an opportunity to grow and thrive as we adapt to the post-COVID world.

Whether you’re launching a new business or looking to expand an established startup, there’s plenty of government supports as well as private grants, loans and pitch competition prizes available.

Here is a roundup of the best fundraising opportunities available to Toronto entrepreneurs this year:

For businesses affected by COVID-19

Ontario Small Business Support Grant

The grant provides eligible businesses with funding between $10,000 and $20,000 to help cover decreased revenue expected as a result of the provincewide shutdown that began on December 26, 2020.

Apply here.

Click here for more Ontario COVID-19 small business supports.

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

CEBA interest-free loans for eligible businesses have been increased from $40,000 to $60,000. Applicants who already received the $40,000 CEBA loan can apply for the $20,000 expansion, and all applicants have until March 31, 2021, to apply for either the $60,000 CEBA loan or the $20,000 expansion.

Contact your primary financial institution to apply.

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)

Eligible Canadian businesses who have experienced a pandemic-related drop in revenue can apply for a subsidy to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses, starting on September 27, 2020, until June 2021. This subsidy doesn’t require landlords’ participation.

Apply here.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

Canadian employers who’ve seen a drop in revenue during the pandemic can apply for a subsidy to cover part of their employee wages, retroactive to March 15, 2020. Applications for claim period 11 (December 20, 2020, to January 16, 2021) are now open.

Apply here.

Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) Guarantee

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that have seen their revenues decrease by 50 per cent or more as a result of COVID-19 can access guaranteed, low-interest loans of between $25,000 and $1 million to cover operational cash flow needs. The HASCAP Guarantee is available until June 30, 2021.

Contact your primary financial institution to apply.

Access to Credit

SMEs with reduced revenues due to the pandemic can apply to the Export Development Canada (EDC) Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to receive up to $6.25 million to help cover their operating costs. SMEs can also apply to the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) Co-Lending Program, which provides eligible recipients with up to $12.5 million for their cashflow needs.

These supports are available until June 2021. Contact your primary financial institution to apply.

Relief measures for Indigenous and Métis businesses

The Government of Canada will provide up to $306.8 million in interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions for First Nations, Inuit and Métis businesses. Up to $40,000 is available for SMEs.

Click here for more federal COVID-19 small business supports. 

Seeking investment to launch or grow your business?

The Canada Small Business Financing Program

Canadian for-profit SMEs with gross annual revenues of $10 million or less can join the federal government’s Canada Small Business Financing Program, which lends up to $1 million for any one borrower through participating financial institutions.

Find a participating lender near you.

CanExport Innovation

Canadian tech SMEs can access up to $75,000 in funding to assist with their research and development (R&D) efforts. The federal government covers up to 75% of costs to pursue and sign collaborative R&D agreements with international partners and investors.

Apply here.

Futurpreneur Startup Program

Canadian business owners aged 18-39 are eligible to apply for collateral-free loans of up to $20,000 from Futurpreneur Canada, and up to $40,000 in additional funding may be available from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).

Apply here.

MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund

This seed fund focuses on early-stage Ontario startups working in IT, health and cleantech. Successful applicants receive investments of $500,000.

Apply here.

Maple Leaf Angels

Toronto SMEs with a maximum valuation of $3 million can receive seed funding of up to $150,000 from the non-profit Maple Leaf Angels investment membership group, with an additional $200,000 reserved for latter-stage investments.

Apply here.

Market Readiness (MR) Co-Investment Fund

Supported by the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and the Ontario government, Market Readiness is a fund that supports early-stage companies that are raising pre-seed and seed investments (total round sizes range from $500,000 to $2 million). Market Readiness selects 20 investments out of 300 companies considered for funding each year.

Apply here.

TD Sustainable Future Program

The TD Sustainable Future Program is committed to supporting Ontario-based startups that align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, with an emphasis on entrepreneurs working in areas such as poverty reduction and digital health innovation.

Apply here.

Toronto Arts Council

The Toronto Arts Council offers several grants to arts organizations, collectives and professional artists, including dance, music, theatre and literature. Grants range from funding for one-time projects and exhibitions to supports covering operating expenses for businesses and independent professionals involved in visual and media arts. 

Apply here and learn more about the application process in the video below.

Toronto Enterprise Fund (TEF) Start-Up Grants

TEF offers grants to support entrepreneurs launching an employment social enterprise (ESE) that trains and employs people facing barriers to the mainstream labour market. The grants provide a maximum of $100,000 over a three-year period.

Deadline: Feb 12, 2021. To apply, contact TEF at [email protected]

York Angels

The GTA’s York Angels invests in early-stage tech startups with valuations of $5 million or less. York Angels typically bankrolls between $75,000 and $300,000 per round in businesses selected for investment.

Apply here.

Notable pitch competitions

Dragons' Den

Applications for the 16th season of CBC’s iconic Dragon’s Den business pitch show are now open and will be held virtually via phone or video calls. Successful applicants get exposure to hundreds of thousands of Canadian viewers, as well as potential financial, distribution and marketing support from the show’s Dragon investors – in exchange for an equity stake. The Dragons’ investments from the most recent season run the gamut from innovative tech and craft distilleries to hot sauces and shampoos.

Apply here.

#PitchIt e2e

A collaboration between Open People Network (OPN), the City of Toronto and StartUp HERE Toronto, #PitchIt e2e allows Toronto’s entrepreneurs to showcase their company in a two-minute recorded pitch for exposure to potential clients, partners and angel investors in virtual events throughout 2021.

Apply here.

Canadian Fintech Summit Pitch Battle Competition

On March 23 and 24, fintech startups from around the world will compete for game-changing investment prizes in the Canadian Fintech Summit’s annual Pitch Battle Competition. Previous participating startups have received more than $10 million in investments.

Apply here.

Are you a female-identifying entrepreneur building your startup?

StandUp Ventures

Toronto’s StandUp Ventures primarily seeds Canadian businesses involved in enterprise software, digital health and cleantech. To be considered eligible, businesses must have at least one woman in a C-level role and an equitable amount of ownership within the company.

Apply here and learn more about the importance of investing in diverse companies in an interview with the managing director of StandUp Venture, Michelle McBane.

The Amber Grant

The U.S.-based Amber Grant gives away at least U.S.$10,000 every month, as well as a year-end grant of U.S.$25,000, to American or Canadian businesses that are at least 50% women-owned. The application deadline for the next U.S.$10,000 Amber Grant is February 28, 2021.

Apply here.

See below for more information on fundraising opportunities and resources:

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