The National Research Council of Canada has opened applications for the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) COVID-19 Innovation Assistance Program (IAP), which saw an injection of $250 million from the federal government.

“It’s about development of talent and retention of talent. And that’s what this $250 million is all about.”

Applications officially opened at 7 am EST on April 22, with the National Research Council of Canada’s (NRC’s) website noting that the financial assistance is for small and medium-sized Canadian businesses unable to secure funding under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Business Credit Availability Program (CERB).

Notably, the new IRAP IAP is not additional funding for current or future IRAP projects, and acts differently than most IRAP sub-programs, which provide non-repayable financial assistance covering 80 percent of salaries and 50 percent of contractor costs depending on the sub-program. IAP will provide a wage subsidy for up to 12 weeks to employers (the wage subsidy amount is not listed online).

Related: Apply for the Innovation Assistance Program (IAP)

To qualify, Canadian businesses must:

  1. Be an incorporated, profit-oriented small or medium-sized business in Canada
  2. Be a company with 500 or fewer full-time equivalent employees
  3. Plan to pursue growth and profit by developing and commercializing innovative, technology-driven new or improved products, services or processes in Canada
  4. Lack sufficient financial resources to sustain operations during the COVID-19 downturn period
  5. Have a Canada Revenue Agency business number
  6. Be incorporated by no later than March 1, 2020
  7. Be unable to qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

With applications now open, the program will be accepting applications until April 29. An IRAP FAQ notes that applicants will know the status of their applications as early as the week of May 11, with payment beginning the same week.

On Friday, the federal government revealed plans to make an additional $250 million of financial support available through IRAP, with Minister of Innovation Navdeep Bains noting the assistance is meant specifically for pre-revenue and highly-skilled, innovative companies.

“We heard from the startup community that some of these early-stage firms don’t qualify” for the wage subsidy and liquidity measures, Bains said last week. “We heard the call for help.”

RELATED: Federal government’s updated work-sharing program more open to startups amid COVID-19

In an interview with BetaKit, the innovation minister explained that the idea behind adding money to IRAP is about retaining top tier talent in Canada. “In order to drive innovation and drive these businesses with unique people and ingenuity it’s really about the skills component,” Bains said. “It’s about development of talent and retention of talent. And that’s what this $250 million is all about.”

The additional capital is designed to support more than 1,000 companies beyond IRAP’s current portfolio, with Bains estimating that more than 10,000 highly skilled jobs will be retained. The $250 million is available for companies that are already receiving IRAP support as well as new applicants.

During a webinar with CCI late on Friday, Bains clarified that companies receiving the 75 percent wage subsidy will not be eligible for IRAP. He noted, however, that companies could receive wage subsidy support for one employee and IRAP support for a different employee, but not ‘double-dip.’

StartUp HERE Toronto is a publishing partner of Betakit and this article was originally published on their site.