Accelerate Three Export Strategies with Government Grants

Information provided by Mentor Works

Canadian businesses often express that finding new clients or partners is a pressing challenge facing their company. This issue can be especially unnerving since unused production capacity results in lost profits and ultimately poorer performance, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Often, gaining access to new clients and partners comes down to expanding your market reach. Exporting products or services to foreign countries and establishing international partnerships could have profound benefits to your organization, but it also brings a degree of risk that must be overcome.

Luckily, Canadian government grants are available to help businesses reduce the cost, and therefore risk, of market expansion projects.

There are several ways that Canadian businesses can tap into international markets, and the federal/provincial governments extend support for many of these activities. Whether your business is planning to begin exporting, or you’re an established exporter who is evaluating new markets, small business grants may accelerate market penetration and reduce the amount of time it takes to realize profits from the new market.


Why Use Government Grants for Export Expansion Projects?

Successfully pulling off your business’ expansion into new or existing markets relies on two factors – the strategy behind your expansion, and financing to confidently implement the plan. When both conditions are met, companies stand a good chance of their project being successful.

The problem is that many companies misjudge the cost of export expansion projects, especially the costs to travel to/from the market, generate marketing materials, participate in trade shows, adapt products to conform to new regulations, and find partners to help gain market share.

While these strategies may be good in theory, without access to financing, it’s almost impossible to accomplish them. That’s why government grants are the essential link towards export success for businesses. If you have the right strategy and plan for export success, the government will reimburse a large portion of the expenses, therefore removing the burden of expansion and making the project less risky.

Companies should consider applying for government grants to implement any of the three following export market strategies:

  1. Establishing a foreign partner to commercialize the market;
  2. Participating in trade shows; and
  3. Training Canadian employees to identify/respond to the requests of international clients.


Finance Export Operations in New International Markets

Canadian government funding is available to support a wide range of projects related to expanding market reach. This includes the Going Global Innovation (GGI) and CanExport programs.

Below, learn how you can use these grant funding programs to drive the greatest return from your export expansion project.

Establish Strategic Partners to Commercialize Innovations

Companies can grow quickly by expanding the number of customers they reach. But in order to be introduced to as many global customers as possible, it makes sense to regularly partner with organizations who are fully integrated into the market already. Working with others to establish market share supports accelerated success, with less time and money required.

Developing international partnerships can be complicated. Securing commitment from an international partner often requires meals, travel, meeting expenses, and accommodation, and all these expenses need to be incurred prior to the partnership’s solidification. This implies risk; there’s a chance that businesses can go through all of these steps and still not come away with a profitable partnership.

If your business could profit from the international commercialization of technologies, through the Going Global Innovation program, businesses can access up to 75% of eligible project costs to a maximum $75,000 in non-repayable business grants.

Grants can be used towards costs required for international travel and meetings. Funding is meant to help potential collaborators meet and secure the partnership agreement through three to four international meetings.

Participate in International Trade Shows

A popular choice for those who are assessing their business’ opportunities abroad, trade shows provide exceptional access to consumers and strategic partners across the world. Companies can participate in trade shows themed around a specific product/service, or access industry trade shows to broaden this audience.

While not as big of an issue for medium and large companies, trade show participation can be quite costly for small businesses. Developing booth marketing materials, purchasing trade show passes and booth space for employees, and traveling to and from the show are all expenses that may ultimately avert businesses from participation. Thankfully, these are also expenses that can be offset by applying for Canadian government grants.

CanExport grants offer up to 25-50% of eligible project costs to a maximum $50,000 per project. Up to two applications can be submitted per government fiscal year to a maximum $99,999.

This is a great program especially if your business is considering expansion to markets within Europe or Asia.


Strengthen Operations in Established Export Markets

Government grants are also available to support your company’s operational abilities. This is made possible through the Canada Job Grant, a program where companies may receive non-repayable funding from the government to purchase third-party business training programs, including training for in-demand skillsets.

Train Canadian Workers to Better Serve International Clients

Although new market expansion is an exciting endeavour, growth opportunities may exist within export markets you already sell to. Maintaining a workforce who can communicate effectively with customers will help to exploit some of these opportunities, such as upselling customers or developing new in-demand products.

Unfortunately, third-party training can be costly when implemented across a team or business. Hiring a trainer to conduct specific courses, paying for tuition, and then affording materials can be too expensive for some firms, especially when the financial return on their training is unknown.

If your business is conducting third-party training for Canadian employees, up to 83% of costs may be recovered through the Ontario funding stream of the Canada Job Grant.

Canada Ontario Job Grant (COJG) funding can reduce the cost of training employees by up to 50-83%. This can cover up to $10,000 to $15,000 in training costs per trainee. This training could benefit Canadian employees by helping them learn about supply chain management, international marketing, finance, and other international trade management specializations.


Include Government Grants in Your Market Expansion Plan

Availability of specific government funding programs is largely based on a business’ location and the time of year they’re applying. Understanding the unique requirements of each program is critical to your application’s success, so it’s important to research these programs and apply for those that best fit your upcoming projects.

Business owners and executives interested in learning how to prepare for export expansion initiatives are encouraged to register for an upcoming funding webinar or event.

These free government funding sessions will cover trends in government funding programs, identify specific grants and incentives worth applying for, and explain how to optimize the funding identification and application process.

Mentor Works is a business support organization specializing in Canadian government funding. The Ontario-based business has helped hundreds of businesses build and execute their funding strategy through a mix of federal and provincial government grants, loans, and tax credits. Mentor Works offers free online resources, funding webinars, and news via their website at

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