The Government of Canada has announced $4 billion in funding for the Canada Digital Adoption Program. $1.4 billion is available in grants and advisory services to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and up to $2.6 billion in interest-free loans from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to help cover the cost of implementing digital transformation plans.

This funding was designed to help businesses upgrade or adopt digital technologies, digitize their operations, and leverage e-commerce opportunities to stay competitive and meet their customers’ needs in the digital marketplace.

There are two streams of funding available:

Grow Your Business Online
Boost Your Business Technology

*You may only apply for one, and cannot apply for both streams of funding.

STREAM 1

GROW YOUR BUSINESS ONLINE

The Grow Your Business Online grant will help up to 90,000 small businesses take advantage of the adoption of digital technologies to enables them to serve existing customers more effectively and to attract new customers in the digital marketplace.

Who can apply?

Applications can only be submitted by a small business that meets all of the following criteria:

  • Is a for-profit business (including for-profit social enterprises and co-operatives)
  • Is a registered or incorporated business
  • Is a consumer-facing business
  • Can be accessed by consumers or provides in-person services to consumers
  • Has at least one employee
  • Must commit to maintaining digital adoption strategy for six months after participation in the program
  • Must consent to participating in follow-up surveys, sharing information with the Government of Canada (ISED and Statistics Canada), and having the name of the business published as a recipient of funding

How much money can I get?

Eligible businesses will receive a micro-grant of up to $2,400 to help with the costs related to adopting digital technologies.

  • Grants will be available through local and regional service providers across Canada
  • The service providers will also support a network of e-commerce advisors who will advise and help small businesses adopt e-commerce

What can I use the money for?

Eligible costs include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • implementation of a digital e-commerce plan (ex. online reservation/booking tools, online ordering systems, electronic payments)
  • website search optimization
  • installation of an e-commerce platform (including subscription fees/costs)
  • back-office solutions to support an e-commerce strategy
  • website development
  • social media advertising
  • creation of customer databases

Are there any ineligible costs?

Ineligible costs include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Costs of connectivity
  • Costs related to the shipping of goods purchased through the e-commerce platform

How do I apply?

Businesses will be directed to their local service providers in their home province or region for details on how to apply for the grant, and your service provider will ensure that your business meets the eligibility requirements.

STREAM 2

BOOST YOUR BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY

The Boost Your Business Technology grant offers support to Canadian-owned small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who want to adopt new digital technologies. Eligible businesses will have access to grants to pay for digital adoption experts to help them develop a digital adoption plan, and they can then also secure a 0% interest loan from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to implement the plan.

Who can apply?

Before applying, your business must meet all of the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be incorporated federally or provincially, or be a Canadian resident sole proprietor
  • Be a for-profit, privately owned business
  • Have between 1 – 499 full time equivalent employees
  • Have at least $500,000 of annual revenues in one of the previous three tax years

How much money can I get?

STEP 1 Grant - For developing a digital adoption plan

The grant will cover up to 90% of the eligible costs of developing a digital adoption plan and retaining the services of a digital advisor, up to a maximum grant value of $15,000 per SME.

These advisors will work with companies to recommend digital pathways and strategies that will help them achieve their business goals and increase their competitiveness in the digital economy.

STEP 2 Interest-Free Loan - For implementing the digital adoption plan

After completing STEP 1, businesses then have the opportunity to secure a 0% interest loan of up to $100,000 from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to facilitate the acquisition of new technology and implement the digital adoption plan from STEP 1.

  • Business revenues between $500,000 and below $5M can request a loan between $25,000 and $50,000
  • Business revenues $5M and more can request a loan between $25,000 and $100,000
  • 5-year term with 12-months capital postponement (total of 6 years)
  • No fees
  • You have 1 year from the completion of your approved digital adoption plan to make a loan request

In addition, applicants can also leverage the help of talented post-secondary students and recent graduates through subsidized work placements.

What can I use the money for?

Eligible costs include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • customer relationship software (CRM)
  • digital inventory management systems
  • network security software
  • artificial intelligence
  • machine learning
  • robotics

How do I apply?

You will be asked to provide basic information in the initial application and be asked to assess your business' digital readiness by completing a digital needs assessment.

  • The digital needs assessment tool will generate a report outlining your company's digital maturity and compare it to an industry-specific benchmark. You may share this report with your digital advisor later in the process

Once you've completed your digital needs assessment, you will be able to find a digital advisor to develop your digital adoption plan

  • You will access CDAP's Digital Advisor Marketplace and select a digital advisor you would like to partner with to develop your digital adoption plan
  • You and your digital advisor will then agree on the terms of work, and final cost for creating the digital adoption plan
  • When your digital advisor has completed your digital adoption plan, you will then submit it to process the grant payment

A complete Program Guide for the Boost Your Business Technology is also available on the Government of Canada website.

Don't know which stream to apply for?

The Government of Canada provides a Grant Assessment Tool on their website to help you figure out which grant is right for you.

Can Avail help me with these strategies and services?

Yes we can. From Business Advisory to Online Accounting, and HR Consulting to Bookkeeping, Avail is well-positioned to help your business implement a vast array of digital solutions. We can even help advise you on how best to leverage and maximize your grant or loan funding.

Some examples include:

  • creating a digital transformation plan
  • converting your paper-based bookkeeping to online and cloud-based
  • developing online advertising campaigns
  • implementing search engine optimization
  • developing process automation
  • aiding in hiring of new digital experts for your business
  • providing website development and upgrades
  • reviewing costs and purchases for digital adoption upgrades
  • setting up website analytics
  • creating real-time financial reporting dashboards

Questions?

If you have any questions about this article, the Canada Digital Adoption Program, or how Avail can help you plan for and implement these strategies, please contact the Avail CPA Help Desk using the form below.

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Obed Maurice

If there is a way to automate something, Obed will make it happen. He is the online accounting partner and is relentless about finding the best solution for clients.

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