NEWS & ARTICLES

Startup Success Secrets: Leveraging Grants to Grow Your Business

May 15, 2020

Launching and growing a business, especially in the capital-intensive world of cleantech can sometimes seem like you are walking a cash flow tightrope – balancing paying your bills with developing your company and technology.

A grant can be a helpful tool in keeping your cash flow in balance as you grow your business. (A grant is a financial award, usually given by governments, but sometimes by private industry or organizations, that you don’t have to pay back.)

They can also be a strategic part of your growth and operational plans, allowing you to proceed with projects quicker than if you had to wait for your budget to catch up – and grants are available for a wide variety of purposes, from hiring a student, to training grants, to export market development to innovation.

But – here’s the catch – a grant is always for a particular purpose. As you would expect with someone giving you money, the granting organization wants to see their money well spent and spent in a way that advances their goals.

This means that eligibility requirements are strict and program-specific, the application dates come and go quickly, and the application process can also be arduous and time-consuming (with very little room for error or post-application editing).

Here’s a few tips to leverage these programs:

Do Your Homework – make sure you fit all the eligibility requirements and you understand how the process works, including what information you need to supply by what date. Grants launch throughout the year, ensure that you keep up with grant research on new programs or program changes on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Prepare Your Application Ahead of the Deadline – most grant programs require a fair bit of documentation in addition to filling out the application form. Do you need to provide financial documents? Reference letters? Resumes? Project plans or schematics? Don’t add stress to your life (or your accountant’s) by rushing around at the last minute.

Tell a Good Story – Some grant programs (especially with higher dollar amounts attached) are highly competitive. Try to get your message across in a strategic and highly compelling way (while being 100% honest). It’s not easy, but worth the effort. If you are a small company without an in-house communications team, consider outsourcing to a specialized marketing/writing company to help put the story together. (Foresight companies: your EiR can point you in a good direction if you need help formulating your value proposition or market positioning, etc).

Hire a Professional Grant Writer or Grant Consulting Team – Finding the right grants, organizing and writing your grant application, corresponding with the financing entity, reporting – these are all time consuming tasks that require specialized knowledge and skill sets. Professionals are trained in the details, and when you are dealing with the government and money, the details are very important. A decimal point in the wrong place could derail the whole process.

According to grant writing/consulting specialists Granted Consulting, there were $26+ billion dollars of government grants and tax credits provided to businesses last year – and millions left on the table! With another $150 billion in COVID resources, and more to come, it is crucial that you access grants to support business activities.

It could save you a lot of time and money to outsource this work to a trusted specialist and as a growing cleantech startup, your focus should be on building your business, not the minutiae of filling out a government form.

A (Non-Exhaustive) List of Gov’t Grants for Canadian Startups

Here’s a short list of some government grant programs. (Thanks to Floyd Sijmons from Granted Consulting for putting together this list).

Student Hiring

Recent Grad Hiring

Training Grants

Export Grants

Innovation Grants

BC and Canada have a robust innovation and startup ecosystem with multiple funding opportunities. Many of our local success stories can trace back their success to an early-stage grant that they were awarded. So, do your homework, get some help, and apply.

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Are you an emerging or growing cleantech company? Check out Foresight’s industry-leading programs designed to help you learn what it takes to compete and win in emerging markets. And sign up for our newsletter for regular updates on grants and other funding opportunities for cleantech companies.

About the Author

Diane Currie Sam

Content & Research Manager
Foresight Cleantech Accelerator

Twitter:@dianecurriesam
LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/dianecurrie/

Diane is an award-winning writer, a corporate educator, and master storyteller with hands on expertise guiding the business communications of multi-million dollar companies. Diane is a strategic communicator with a broad base of experience in technology and entrepreneurship.

Her ability to combine solid research with good storytelling has helped bring in millions of dollars in investment, tax credits and business opportunities for entrepreneurial and high tech companies across Canada and the US. She has a Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of BC and a Masters of Arts in Psychology from Trinity Western University.