Accelerating the Digitalization of Canadian Businesses

  • By Grégoire Lerendu
    • Jun 09, 2022
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Digitization Grants

Digitalization is a major challenge for Canadian businesses today. Times have changed and Canadians are no longer doing business in the same way. Small and medium-sized businesses must adopt digital tools if they want to remain competitive and grow.

The government recognizes this challenge and has put in place the Canadian Digital Adoption Program (CDAP).

The goal is to help businesses go digital, increase their online presence and digitize their business operations. To this end, the Government of Canada has committed $4 billion to this program in the 2021 budget. CANP provides funding and support to businesses, as well as training and work opportunities for young Canadians. It has two distinct components:

Growing Your Business Online: allowing businesses to apply for a micro-grant and access e-business advisors to help them go digital and take advantage of e-business opportunities.

Enhance Your Business Technology: applying for a grant to help develop a digital adoption plan, and taking advantage of paid internships to help with your digital transformation.

Grow Your Business Online Grants

“Grow Your Business Online” grants will help up to 90,000 small businesses take advantage of e-commerce. Eligible businesses will receive a micro-grant of up to $2,400 to alleviate the costs of adopting digital technologies. The grants will be delivered through local and regional service providers across Canada who will also support a network of e-business advisors who will provide advice and assistance to small businesses in moving to online commerce.

To apply, small businesses must meet all of the following criteria

  • Be a for-profit business (this includes for-profit social enterprises and cooperatives)
  • Be registered or incorporated;
  • Be consumer-oriented;
  • be accessible to customers or provide in-person services to customers
  • Have at least one employee;
  • Commit to maintaining the digital adoption strategy for six months after the intervention;
  • Agree to participate in follow-up surveys, have their information sent to the Government of Canada (ISDE and Statistics Canada), and have their company name published as a funding recipient.

Eligible costs include, by way of example:

  • Costs related to implementing a digital e-commerce plan (e.g., online booking tools, online ordering system, electronic payments);
  • Costs associated with optimizing the website’s search engine;
  • Note: the plan cannot be strictly website search engine optimization, it must be tied to the overall e-business implementation plan, not a stand-alone item
  • Costs associated with the installation of an e-commerce platform (including fees and subscription costs);
  • Costs of support service solutions to support an e-commerce strategy;
  • Social media advertising costs.

E-commerce consultants will help local small businesses assess their digital needs, develop their e-commerce strategy, and implement their new digital technologies.

Eligible e-commerce consultants must fall into one of the following categories:

  • Individuals who have graduated from high school and plan to pursue post-secondary education;
  • Individuals currently enrolled in a post-secondary program;
  • Individuals who have recently graduated from a post-secondary institution.
  • Counselors will receive training from their service provider, including
  • Understanding the Grow Your Business Online grant;
  • Become familiar with various e-business solutions and tools;
  • Understand the basics of cyber security
  • Enhance their communication skills;
  • Be able to identify business needs and values.

Enhance Your Business Technology Grants

The second facet of the program, entitled “Enhance Your Business Technology,” will be of interest to small and medium-sized Canadian businesses that wish to adopt new digital technologies. This grant offers its recipients a multitude of benefits to implement their digital transformation.

The following eligibility criteria must be met:  

  • Be federally or provincially incorporated, or be a sole proprietor residing in Canada
  • Be a private for-profit company
  • Have between 1 and 499 full-time equivalent employees
  • Have annual revenues of at least $500,000 in any of the three previous fiscal years

You will then be asked to assess your company’s digital maturity by completing a digital needs assessment. This will result in a report, which will be compared with a benchmark related to your sector. 

This assessment will serve as a basis for developing a digital adoption plan. The grant offered by this program allows you to hire the services of a digital advisor -within the PCAN pool- whose role will be to help you implement this digital adoption plan. With the help of this advisor, you will be able to agree on the terms of work, and final cost details for the creation of the digital adoption plan, and then submit it to process the grant payment.

The grant covers up to 90% of eligible costs to hire a digital consultant, up to a maximum value of $15,000 per SME, to develop a digital adoption plan.

Your company will also be eligible to receive a wage subsidy of up to $7,300 to hire talent through paid internships to help these businesses achieve their digital adoption goals.

Finally, recipient companies also have the opportunity to obtain a 0% interest loan from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to facilitate the acquisition of new technologies.

The funding you can use to implement your digital adoption plan is a loan of up to $100,000 based on company revenue, at 0% interest, which can be applied for online:  

  • Business revenues between $500,000 and less than $5 million: you can apply for a loan between $25,000 and $50,000.
  • Business revenues of $5 million or more: you can apply for a loan between $25,000 and $100,000

Want to learn more about the Canadian Digital Adoption Plan?

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