Thursday, October 16, 2008

After Venture Capital: Other Sources of Money

For the next 12 months at least in Canada, the largest pool of seed and growth capital that businesses can directly access is in the hands of the government. You already know about SRED, but have you considered how other government initiatives might be used to accelerate your business? Take a look at the following and consider how you might follow the example of other emerging businesses and partner with larger players (channel partners, customers, suppliers) to access some of the larger opportunities:

Second Career Program (Ontario):
offers up to $28,000 to laid off workers for tuition, education and other training costs incurred in job retraining. A potentially great a venue for laid off high tech workers to upgrade skills or add new ones while forming a new business.

Next Generation of Jobs Fund (Ontario): Announced in 2007, the program has $1.15 billion earmarked for grants to businesses in bio-economy and clean tech, advanced health technologies and digital media and communications. The fund provides grants of up to 25% of the total eligible costs of projects of up to $25 million over 5 years, which means matching funds will be needed once the grant is approved. Those funds may be easier to get for later stage companies, given the size of the grant. For earlier stage businesses, creating an eligible project in tandem with a larger channel partner or strategic partner could be an effective channel to this cash.

Recipients: VC-backed 6N Silicon was recently granted $8 million as part of a proposed $50-million expansion that will see the company opening a new manufacturing plant in Vaughan and creating 84 new jobs over the next five years.

Automotive Innovation Fund (Canada):Announced as part of the last federal budget, this program earmarks $250 million over five years to support strategic, large-scale research and development projects in the automotive sector in developing innovative, greener and more fuel-efficient vehicles. The first investment, announced last month, puts $80 million in Ford's Renaissance Project for Windsor, Ontario. The Renaissance Project will include the establishment of a new flexible engine assembly plant in Windsor, as well as the creation of a new North America Centre for Diesel and Advanced Powertrain Research and Innovation, which will perform research into engine efficiency and new fuel technologies. Is there an opportunity for emerging companies to participate in eligible projects put forth by Ford or others?
Sustainable Technology Development Canada: Still the granddaddy of grant programs for new and emerging technologies in the area.

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