Take advantage of expanded government funding to enter new global markets

01/11/2018

Pointing at a world map with pins - government funding export

Pointing at a world map with pins - government funding exportIf you’re thinking of taking your business to global markets, be sure to look into CanExport and Export Market Access (EMA). These two government funding programs offer grants to support market expansion projects. Both programs focus on reducing the costs of trade show participation and other market development activities; the most notable difference between the two is that EMA funding is solely for Ontario-based businesses while CanExport is a federal program for businesses across Canada.

Upgrades to CanExport and Export Market Access

This past year, both CanExport and EMA have received notable upgrades to improve the value they can bring to businesses.

Mid-2018 program updates for CanExport include vital changes to the limit of funding that businesses can access per application and expanding the export markets criteria for where projects can take place. Likewise, Export Market Access’ updates include an increase in potential funding per application, additional project/expense areas, and the merging of Early-Stage Exporters (ESE), a funding program for startups that offered grants for smaller exporters.

CanExport Funding: Program Updates in 2018

CanExport is a Canadian government funding program that supports export development projects. Through the program, Canadian businesses can offset costs associated with marketing activities in undeveloped or under-developed markets where opportunities for growth exist. The program allows Canadian businesses to obtain funding to obtain translation services, perform market research, participate in an international trade show, and adapt marketing materials for foreign audiences.

CanExport offers up to 50% of eligible project expenses to a maximum $50,000 per application. Companies can submit multiple applications to a maximum of $99,999 per government fiscal year.

Recent changes to the program include:

  1. Adjusting the amount of funding provided per project; and
  2. Expanding the eligibility of export markets considered for funding.

CanExport: Amount of Funding Provided

Previously, CanExport applicants could receive up to $99,999 per application. This was also the maximum a company could receive per year, and if necessary, companies could submit multiple applications to access this amount. A limited amount of companies reached this maximum, however, since it required project expenses of over $200,000 and most businesses used the program exclusively to offset trade show expenses.

After the program’s recent changes, CanExport will now support applicants with up to $50,000 per application. Companies can still apply multiple times per year to reach the annual maximum of $99,999 in grants for export market development.

CanExport: Eligibility Criteria of Export Markets

Prior to the 2018 enhancements, CanExport applicants were required to choose a target market where they had not exported or generated profits within the last 24 months. This restricted the possibility of expanding into high-growth-potential markets, which is why the rule has been revised to allow under-developed export markets to be included.

CanExport will now support projects focusing on markets where the applicant had less than $20,000 in annual sales, or derived less than 10% of their total international sales, in the last 24 months. Several target markets can be included in a single application, however, each application included for government funding consideration must be either a new or under-developed market as defined by the assigned criteria.

Export Market Access (EMA) Funding: Program Updates in 2018

The Export Market Access program is an Ontario government grant uniquely positioned to help companies enter or grow in global markets. Through the program, businesses can exhibit at trade shows, execute marketing campaigns for foreign audiences, upgrade e-commerce capabilities, secure temporary in-market office space, and perform market research.

Export Market Access offers up to 50% of eligible project expenses to a maximum $50,000 per application. Companies can apply twice per 12-month period.

Recent changes to the program:

  1. Changing the amount of funding provided per project, per year, and per company;
  2. Updating eligibility criteria support for early-stage businesses; and
  3. Expanding and clarifying support for new eligible project activities.

Export Market Access: Amount of Funding Provided

The Export Market Access program has increased its maximum funding request per application to $50,000, up from its prior maximum amount of $30,000. Ontario companies can apply up to twice per year until they reach their lifetime maximum contribution of $250,000.

Export Market Access: Eligibility Criteria

Export Market Access and Early Stage Exporters have merged into one program to streamline the funding administration and application process. The updated EMA program now supports both early-stage businesses that can show established revenue models, as well as mature companies that are exploring international opportunities. Prior to the merging of the two programs, EMA had focused only on mature companies.

In addition, accessing EMA grants for export development now requires companies to be incorporated for a minimum two years, have 3-500 employees, and generate $300,000+ in annual revenue.

Export Market Access: Supported Project Activities

Revised EMA program guidelines have expanded to include additional eligible activities such as securing temporary in-market office space, conducting in-market research, and upgrading e-commerce capabilities.

Applicants can include up to three activities per application. This includes exhibiting at foreign trade shows where company representatives can develop new leads and gain brand exposure with a physical presence.

Apply for CanExport and Export Market Access International Expansion Grants

If your business is ready to develop new markets or expand existing ones, consider using the CanExport or Export Market Access (EMA) program. These government funding programs accelerate export projects by offsetting a portion of project expenses and allow companies to strengthen their market development plans.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the contributing author, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forum for International Trade Training.

About the author

Author: Jeff Shepherd

Jeff obtained his Honours Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Guelph-Humber. He has developed a passion for helping small business owners through leveraging Canadian government funding, which he utilizes in his role as Marketing Analyst at Mentor Works. To read more of Jeff’s government funding content, view Mentor Works’ blog.

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