Today we will discuss a new funding program for Ontario small business owners. The Ontario Jobs and Prosperity Fund is a family of funds that includes:

  • New Economy Stream

focuses on building private-sector innovation capacity, productivity and competitiveness, and assisting innovation companies in expanding their market.

  • Strategic Partnerships Stream

will link companies, research institutions, customers and investors so as to help Ontario’s small businesses compete globally

  • Food and Beverage Growth Fund

will support food, beverage and bio-product manufacturers in their efforts to innovate, strengthen supply chains, and increase market access

  • Forestry Growth Fund

will aid small businesses in the forestry sector improve productivity and innovation, enhance competitiveness, access new markets, and strengthen supply chains

The Jobs and Prosperity Fund is intended to stimulate a globally competitive business environment in Ontario by providing $2.5B over 10 years.

How much money is on the table?

Here, the New Economy Stream, Food and Beverage Growth Fund, and Forestry Growth Fund all have similar funding strategies that involve a loan making up a portion of the funding. The Strategic Partnerships Stream involves a grant only. Through the New Economy Stream, Food and Beverage Growth Fund, and Forestry Growth Fund your small business could receive a grant of up to 20%, a loan of up to 40%, or a combination of grants and loans of up to 40%. Thus, if your project is estimated to cost your company $50,000, you may receive a grant for $10,000 and a loan for $10,000, dropping the immediate cost of the project to only $30,000. For the Strategic Partnerships Stream, the minimum amount granted is $5M and the maximum is $25M. Your company must be able to match the funding provided by the Strategic Partnerships Stream grant in cash and/or in-kind.

Who can use The Ontario Jobs and Prosperity Fund?

Eligibility requirements vary slightly depending on the grant you are applying to under the Ontario Jobs and Prosperity Fund umbrella.

To be eligible for the New Economy Stream Fund, your company must have operated for 3 years and your project must have at least $10M in eligible costs. Your project must also contribute to advances in manufacturing, life sciences, information and communications technology, or strategic/anchor investments.

To be eligible for the Food and Beverage Growth Fund your company must already have access to substantial funding and be developing itself financially and technically. Your project must also enhance productivity, increase innovation, or create greater market access for Ontario small businesses.

To be eligible for the Strategic Partnerships Stream your company’s project must have $10M million in eligible costs, the support of 1 or more anchor firms, a partnership coordinator, involve multiple postsecondary institutions, integrate the partnership and its project(s) with existing investments, include members of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE), and benefit firms of all sizes by engaging small- to medium-sized businesses and leveraging the assets of large firms. Now that was a long list! Almost done. Ideally your project will help build innovation capacity; improve productivity, performance and competitiveness; expand export and trade opportunities, and/or increase job creation.

To be eligible for the Forestry Growth Fund your company must already have sufficient funding to complete its existing projects, and be developing itself financially and technically. Your project must enhance productivity, increase innovation, or create greater market access for Ontario firms. Similar requirements to the Food and Beverage Growth Fund. In addition to qualifying for both the Food and Beverage Growth Fund and the Forestry Growth Fund, your project must have at least $5M in eligible project costs.

What I liked most

I like that each funding scheme similarly sought to encourage the competitiveness, innovation, and market access of Ontario’s small businesses, but accomplished this through different means. This is well thought out, organising the Ontario Jobs and Prosperity Fund into streams that allowing tailoring the eligibility requirements and funding provided to the needs of businesses that fall into each category. Far better than a giant blanket fund that misses the diversity of innovation companies’ needs versus food and beverage producers’ needs. I also appreciated that the Strategic Partnerships Stream focuses on bringing companies together, from the start up to the large corporation, to create networks to improve market access and for all Ontario businesses. What was really interesting is the involvement of consumers in the network. I think many businesses make the fatal error of forgetting about the needs of their customers and straying so far afield from what the customers want that they lose clientele. Hopefully including consumers in the network draws start-ups and corporations alike to realign their values and offerings to match the wants and needs of their end users.

Final Thought

“No company can afford not to move forward. It may be at the top of the heap today but at the bottom of the heap tomorrow, if it doesn’t.” — James Cash Penney, founder, JC Penney

Good point made by a successful business owner. Can you afford to wait and see what happens if you don’t take opportunities to grow your business? Keep on the journey small business owners!


ConnexFund specializes in grants and funding for innovative companies and start-ups with focus on technology and manufacturing. Many Canadian businesses are aware that there is some free money available for them. But not so many know where to find it, how to access it and how to prepare a grant application that is successful. And this is exactly what ConnexFund does!