Clean Growth Hub facts for Canadian businesses

The Clean Growth Hub supports innovative Canadian cleantech businesses with their growth plans. In this blog you can learn more about this vital resource and how CCC supports Canadian cleantech businesses by supporting them in their pursuit of contracts with foreign governments.

Focused on business growth

The Government of Canada launched the Clean Growth Hub (Hub) in 2018 to drive innovation and support the growth of Canadian cleantech companies.

The Hub is made up of 17 federal government departments and agencies that support Canadian cleantech innovation and business growth. CCC joined the mix of Hub partners to support the Canadian government’s whole-of-government service model and to open opportunities for Canadian cleantech businesses to gain access to government procurement markets around the world.

There is so much interest among governments now in environmental sustainability, and Canada is in a great position to increase its share of the global cleantech market. Canadian companies are advanced in environmentally sustainable offerings, and Canada is committed to helping them grow through successful contracts with foreign governments.

What Cleantech qualifies for support?

The Government of Canada defines clean technology as any process, product or service that reduces environmental impacts through:

  • Environmental protection activities that prevent, reduce or eliminate pollution or any other degradation of the environment.
  • Resource management activities that result in the more efficient use of natural resources, thus safeguarding against their depletion.
  • The use of goods that have been adapted to be significantly less energy or resource intensive than the industry standard.

Companies and projects looking to participate in the Clean Growth Hub must meet the above criteria.

Services offered

While the Clean Growth Hub  doesn’t provide project funding, it does provide:

  • an online inventory of clean tech-focused funding programs, services and opportunities;
  • resources and tools to help plan and access support for cleantech projects; and
  • free advisory services to help connect cleantech initiatives with appropriate federal supports.

The CleanTech Growth Hub also offers a current listing of federal, provincial and industry programs available to Canadian cleantech companies. Types of support programs include:

There are many programs listed on the site but here is a small sample of some of the programs available at the federal level (updated August 2022).

Partnering and collaboration opportunities

Canadian Technology Accelerators

This program offers support for small technology firms. Project eligibility varies with target sector but participating companies will have access to:

  • coaching and mentorship from industry leaders
  • support to refine international business and market-entry strategies
  • introductions to potential partners and clients
  • introductions to investors and venture capitalists
  • access to a vast network of trade commissioners
  • a collaborative workspace (where available).

U.S. DoD Prime Contractor Program

This free program is designed for Canadian companies who are looking to sell their products and solutions the U.S. military, the largest government buyer in the world. The U.S. DoD is seeking solutions to lessen its environmental footprint and is always looking for solutions to introduce innovation in their operations.

Any Canadian company with a sales opportunity with a U.S. DoD procurement office can participate in the program. For contracts greater than USD $250,000, CCC must act as the prime contractor.

Canadian companies that participate in the program receive:

  • Help with interpretation of bid documents
  • A technical and financial proposal review
  • Price review to ensure that the price is fair and reasonable which eliminates the need for the Canadian company to present cost and pricing data that conforms with U.S. accounting standards.
  • Advocacy for any disputes or export challenges
  • Assistance with navigating the payment system.

International Prime Contractor Program

This program is like the U.S. DoD program in that it offers Canadian businesses support to sell to foreign governments. CCC supports contract opportunities at the national, state, and municipal levels and participating companies will:

  • Get an opportunity to access to high-level government buyers
  • Gain a competitive advantage as the buying government will be purchasing the solution from the Canadian government
  • Obtain advice and support to navigate the complex government procurement market
  • Reduce political, corruption and payment risks
  • Have an opportunity to present unsolicited proposals and reduce the sales cycle time that is often seen in the traditional procurement process.
Winning contracts with foreign governments

Every year we help Canadian companies win millions in contracts with foreign governments. Download our guide to learn more about our approach, how we prepare you, and priority sectors.

Grants and contributions programs

CanExport SMEs

The program covers up to 50% of costs for export marketing of your products and services in international markets where you have little or no sales. Access up to $50,000 in funding.

CanExport Innovation

The program covers up to 75% of costs to pursue and sign collaborative R&D agreements with international partners and investors for the purpose of co-developing, validating or adapting a technology. Access up to $75,000 in funding.

Cleantech Fund

This program is designed for projects with Technology-Readiness Level of between 3 to 8 and demonstrate the potential for greenhouse gas emissions reductions, reductions in water consumption and/or the reduction of water, soil or air contamination. Available funding is bon-repayable contributions of $2 million to $4 million, on average, to cover up to 40% of eligible costs.

Net Zero Accelerator Initiative (NZA)

This initiative supports Canada’s net zero goals  and will provide up to $8 billion in support of projects that will enable Canada to reduce its domestic greenhouse gas emissions. The initiative will support projects that promote decarbonisation of large emitters, supporting the green transformation of key industrial sectors, such as automotive, aerospace, agriculture, and agri-food.  The NZA is a part of the Strategic Innovation Fund, and accepts applications on an on-going, non-competitive basis.

Agricultural Clean Technology Program: Research and Innovation Stream

Designed for the agriculture industry, this program provides support for piloting and evaluating clean technologies, demonstration and knowledge and technology transfer activities, commercializing and scaling up clean technologies and/or other activities that support the Research and Innovation Stream as determined by the program. The maximum amount payable to a recipient will generally not exceed $2 million per project and $5 million for a recipient with multiple projects.

Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)

If you’re a small or medium‑sized Canadian business pursuing technology‑driven innovation, you may be eligible for financial support from NRC IRAP.

The program provides up to $10 million to support research and development projects at various stages of the innovation cycle. Minimum eligibility includes:

  • you are an incorporated, profit-oriented small or medium-sized business in Canada
  • you have 500 or fewer full-time equivalent employees
  • you plan to pursue growth and profit by developing and commercializing innovative, technology-driven new or improved products, services or processes in Canada

Be prepared to provide:

  • a business plan or pitch deck
  • a copy of your company financials
  • resumes or biographies for each member of the management team and technical team on staff

Investments and loans

Business Development Bank of Canada Cleantech Practice

BDC offers equity and commercial loans for high-potential Canadian cleantech companies that meet the following qualifications:

  • A commercially validated IP-protected technology demonstrating a positive environmental impact
  • Proven market traction with significant potential for revenue growth and commercial contracts
  • The ambition to scale beyond $100 million in annual revenue
  • A clear pathway to profitability

Business Development Bank of Canada Industrial, Clean and Energy (ICE) Technology Fund

This fund targets entrepreneurs bringing novel Environmental, social and governance (ESG), energy and electrification, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) solutions to market. Focus of the fund includes early-stage investment and beyond, lead investments and reserve capital for follow-on rounds and broad networks and alliances to help companies grow.

Strategic Innovation Fund: Collaborations and Networks (Stream 5)

This program is targeted towards industrial research projects and technology demonstration projects that are done in collaboration with Canadian universities, colleges, research institutes, for-profit corporations (including SMEs) and/or not-for-profit entities.

The fund provides non-repayable contributions for up to a maximum of 50% of eligible project costs. Recipients that are academic institutions could receive contributions that may cover up to 100% of eligible project costs.

Strategic Innovation Fund: Semiconductor Challenge Callout

This program is for large-scale ideas or technologies that address how Canada can position itself as a critical global supplier of specialized semiconductors manufacturing in sensor and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), compound semiconductors, and/or advanced packaging.

Tax benefits

Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance for Clean Energy Equipment

This program enables enhanced Capital Costs Allowance (CCA) deductions for capital costs of specified clean energy generation and conservation equipment in the year they become available for use.

Atlantic investment tax credit

This program provides tax credits for investment in qualified energy generation and conservation property/equipment in the Atlantic region.

Qualified property may include new energy generation and conservation property (prescribed in Income Tax Regulation 4600), if it was acquired by the taxpayer after March 28, 2012. Qualified property can also be used primarily to produce or process electrical energy or steam in a prescribed area (as described in Income Tax Regulation 4610).

Canadian Renewable and Conservation Expense (CRCE)

This program provides federal tax deductions related to start-up costs of eligible clean energy generation and energy conservation projects. Eligible expenditures may include engineering and design work, and feasibility studies. Most of the tangible property in the project must be eligible for inclusion in Classes 43.1 or 43.2 of depreciable property.

Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Incentive Program

The federal program provides income tax deduction and investment tax credit for R&D activities. Eligible work categories includes basic research, applied research and experimental development.

Eligible applicants can be Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPC), other private corporations, individuals and trusts, and members of partnerships. Foreign companies can apply for the Canadian SR&ED tax incentives indirectly by forming a Canadian subsidiary company to perform eligible R&D work in Canada for itself or on a contractual basis on behalf of the parent company.

Eligible R&D projects must address a technological or scientific uncertainty, address, or attempt to address, a technological advancement, and use a systematic investigation or search.

Wage subsidies

Science and Technology Internship Program – Green Jobs

This federal wage subsidy provides funding to eligible employers across Canada to hire and mentor youth in the natural resources sector, including in energy, forestry, mining, earth science, and clean technology.

Eligibility requirements for employers include:

  • Organizations in the natural resources sector who can offer youth full-time (min. 30 hours/week, some exceptions may apply) work experience for up-to-12 months
  • Legal entities incorporated or registered in Canada, including for-profit and not-for-profit organizations
  • Indigenous organizations and groups
  • Provincial, territorial, regional and municipal governments and their departments and agencies.

There are multiple delivery organizations that support this program including the ones listed below. Visit their websites to learn more about each and to submit an application.

Check out the funding opportunities page of the Clean Growth Hub site for information about these and other funding projects available.

How to successfully apply for funding

When applying for government funding, it is important to be thorough in your grant and contribution funding applications. The Hub provides a 6-step process on how to successfully apply for funding, including:

Other Cleantech growth resources

In addition to listing of funding sources, the Clean Growth Hub provides several business resources to help cleantech companies plan and access support for projects. Here is a list of 9 interesting resources that are available in the Hub and other Canadian sites:

  1. Information about grants, contributions, and how to prepare funding applications
  2. 16 ways way to get capital, according to development stage
  3. ExploreIP: An online database to explore licensing and collaboration opportunities with public sector patent holders.
  4. Information about required permits and licenses through BizPal
  5. The Trade Commissioner Service Step-by-Step Guide to Exporting
  6. Summary of support provided by EDC to help Canadian Cleantech go global
  7. CCC’s Guide to Selling to the U.S. Military for bidding on U.S. DoD’s cleantech projects
  8. Export Help Hub: Get free professional guidance from EDC on how to grow your business.
  9. Discover sales opportunities with governments around the world on Canada’s Global Bid Opportunity Finder.

One-stop for all government services

If you are looking to understand how else the government can support your cleantech project, the Business Benefit Finder and the Canada Business App are one-stop shops to find all the services relevant to businesses, including federal cleantech funding. The Canada Business App is available for iOS and Android mobile devices and you can download it from the Apple Store or Google Play.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada

Aside from the Clean Growth Hub, there are other organizations that help Canadians companies looking to launch cleantech solutions. Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) helps Canadian start-ups or scale-ups develop and deploy competitive, clean technology solutions.

SDTC has been supporting entrepreneurs looking to seize the opportunities of the Net Zero economy and to support their efforts, the Government of Canada invested $750 million in SDTC as part of its A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy plan.

Qualifying projects

SDTC looks for projects where the technology is beyond proof-of-concept stage but is pre-commercial.

The technology must demonstrate the potential for greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions reductions, reductions in water consumption and/or the reduction of water, soil or air contamination. The project must also include some further development of the technology, mitigate existing technology risk and include validation of the economic viability of the technology.

Example companies

SDTC is currently funding over 140 of companies across Canada. Here is a small sample of companies that have received funding through SDTC:

  • Pegasus Imagery, remote sensing forestry company based in Sturgeon County, Alberta, has developed an onboard aircraft detect-and-avoid system which enables its aerial drones to replace planes and helicopters when collecting data about forest fires and search and rescue missions. This start-up will receive $2 million for their project. 
  • Panevo, an energy conservation company based in Vancouver, British-Columbia has been approved for $1.5 million. Panevo’s energy and process optimization solutions to big industrial facilities help them to better manage energy performance, reduce GHG emissions, and costs.  
  • Summit Nanotech, a seed funding graduate from Calgary, Alberta has been approved for $1.8 million, enabling them to further develop a more sustainable lithium extraction process using less natural gas, diesel and chemical reagent.    
  • Entosystem, an agriculture and food company from Sherbrooke, Quebec receives $4.7 million in funding. Entosystem is a great example of circular economy, producing nutrient-rich insect protein flour from grocery store organic waste to feed their larvae.  
  • Nexus Robotics, a machine-learning agriculture company based in Saint-Bruno de Montarville, Quebec, has developed an AI-powered weed picking robot for veggie farms that not only reduces herbicide use but can also identify and prevent insect damage and fungal disease. They have been approved for $2.6 million. 

Funding structure

On average 33 percent (up to 40 percent) of eligible projects costs are covered by SDTC funding. Twenty-fiver percent of the eligible costs must be funded through private sector contributions (including in-kind) and funding from all levels of government must not surpass 75 percent of eligible costs. At least 50 percent of eligible project costs must be incurred in Canada.

The average contribution is between $2 million and $4 million, with funds disbursed in five years or less. To learn more about this organization, the companies it supports and funding opportunities, visit the SDTC website.

“Climate change is one of the greatest threats to Canadians and our economy, and Canadian innovation will be a key driver in the fight for a greener and cleaner future. Canadian cleantech innovation will be the driving force behind our green economic recovery. It will not only create thousands of good jobs, but also help build a sustainable future. With the investment we are making today, we are supporting the Canadian innovators who are helping to achieve our ambitious goal of a net-zero economy by 2050.”

Federal investment in provincial Cleantech

Aside from federal funding, the Government of Canada has been supporting provincial cleantech initiatives. Below is a sample of some recent announcements.

Investment in Ontario

In July 2022, the Government of Canada announced over $2.5 million to support early-stage cleantech companies in southern Ontario. The non-repayable contribution of over $2.5 million for GreenCentre Canada will help businesses in the cleantech sector commercialize their products, scale-up their businesses and create jobs in southern Ontario. It is expected that GreenCentre Canada will assist up to 30 SMEs, support 650 jobs, 350 during the project period and an additional 300 within two years of project completion, and leverage almost $400,000 in private sector investment.

Participants will also receive business advisory supports from a network of subject matter experts such as chemists, chemical engineers and specialists that will help them with product development and commercialization activities that will help entrepreneurs get their products to market faster.

Investment in Alberta

In January 2022, the Government of Canada announced a federal investment of more than $3 million to strengthen collaboration, advance emerging leadership, and attract private sector investment that will help grow businesses operating in Alberta’s clean technology sector. 

More than $2.1 million of this federal contribution will support an Energy Transition Centre in downtown Calgary which will provide a space where Canada’s largest energy companies can collaborate with clean energy start-ups, innovators, and investors.

The Centre will facilitate access to specialized equipment, energy transition subject matter experts and entrepreneurship programming. This initiative is expected to contribute to creating at least 25 new businesses over the next three years and support the growth of many others operating in the clean energy sector.

Investment in British Columbia

In May 2022, the Government of Canada announced a federal investment of 13.4 million in funding for BC-based clean technology companies, including $9.75 million for Loop Energy Inc. (Loop), based in Burnaby.

Loop is a supplier of hydrogen fuel cell systems, and with this funding, will increase its manufacturing capacity, creating a more sustainable transportation sector in Canada by helping to commercialize zero-emission vehicles.

Acuva of Burnaby is also receiving $3 million to deliver water purification systems using proprietary Ultraviolet Light Emitting Diode (UV-LED) technology. While CORE from Vancouver is receiving $673,050 in funding to commercialize its fuel cell humidifier prototype, a critical part of hydrogen fuel cell systems. With this funding, CORE will increase production and quality control, so that the company can make products for heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles, such as buses and trucks.

Role of CCC in Cleantech ecosystem

Whether you produce smart city technologies, sustainable infrastructure solutions, or other cleantech products and services targeted at government buyers, CCC can help you sell to foreign governments. 

Canadian companies can sell their cleantech solutions to foreign governments through our International Prime Contractor program or to the U.S. military through our U.S. DoD Prime Contractor program.

Are you looking to export your clean technology solution to a foreign government buyer?

This post was last updated on October 6, 2022.

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