COVID-19 caused manufacturers to quickly enact their business continuity plans – and has stretched company leaders to innovate and revise these plans in unprecedented ways to meet the many challenges of the pandemic.
Now, as COVID-19 restrictions ease, manufacturers can turn to their next steps for achieving strategic growth.
Government grants and incentives are a critical source of funds that manufacturers can leverage to make strategic investments. In Canada, more than $32 Billion is available to manufacturers through numerous provincial and federal incentives, grants and programs designed to fuel business growth.
However, many manufacturers lack awareness about the existence of these programs or don’t have the time and resources to devote to investigating which programs align with their strategic plans. Moving forward, strategic planning is critical to maintain or build global competitiveness and to meet evolving customer demands – and at the center of every strategic plan is innovation.
Manufacturers must continually invest in innovation (research, product development, infrastructure, new technology like IoT, and so on) because they understand that the longer obsolete or inefficient manual processes and technologies are in place, the longer they hinder efficiency and growth. The pandemic has shown us how delaying digital transformation initiatives and the adoption of new technologies can cause companies to fold.
Those manufacturers that have succeeded so far – and will continue to succeed and grow – are agile and ready because of their investments in technology and innovation.
Funding your growth
A funding injection offers manufacturers the stability they need to reach the next stage of their evolution. It helps defray the considerable costs required to take a company through a critical growth period.
Funding can help achieve growth objectives through:
- Equipment purchases or upgrades, especially Industry 4.0 applications;
- Business expansion, including retrogrades and investment in new facilities;
- Market development, including export sales and marketing;
- Research, development & commercialization of new or improved products;
- Machine learning, AI and IoT technology implementation;
- Recruitment, training and skills development of employees.
It’s important to investigate the numerous available Federal and Provincial government funding programs now, as grants are:
– usually distributed on a first-come-first-served basis;
– offered only for a limited time and with limited budgets.
Some examples of new funding programs
- Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters Technology Assessment Program – Supports companies to invest in new productive assets and technology. Over 40% of manufacturers identify uncertain return on investment as the main reason holding them back from investing in new technology. This program helps company leaders clarify which technologies are best suited to their goals and are therefore worth the purchase.
Program recipients (SME manufacturers in southern Ontario) pair with qualified experts who will provide customized technology assessments (up to $25,000 in reimbursable funds). These experts will work on-site to analyze how the manufacturer can improve productivity by 1) capitalizing on existing assets and 2) implementing the latest advanced manufacturing technologies, including hardware, software, and cloud computing. The expert will provide a detailed action plan, allowing company leaders to make informed decisions on purchase, implementation, training, and maintenance of new technologies.
- NGen Manufacturing Supercluster Projects – This program supports the development of technological capabilities that hold the potential to confer a significant global competitive advantage and to generate significant long-term commercial and economic benefits. Approved projects will also attract the participation of industry partners and leave a lasting legacy in skills development, tools, testbeds, intellectual property, and business knowledge for the advanced manufacturing ecosystem in Canada. Types of projects funded:
- Supercluster projects – help companies develop and commercialize manufacturing-related technologies.
- Pilot Projects – involve two or more SMEs with a great NGen project idea, but that doesn’t yet have the data, resources, or partners to prepare a project proposal.
- Feasibility Studies – are for SMEs with advanced technology prototypes that need to be developed for full-scale production.
- Cluster Building Projects – are awarded to groups of SMEs in geographical proximity where forming a mini-cluster offers benefits for collective business growth.
- IRAP Accelerated Review Process (ARP) program aims to provide support to manufacturers who are looking to solve internal technical challenges. It supports innovative research and development projects which can lead to productivity and process improvements, such as covering the costs associated with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) projects. Determining which ERP is the best fit for your business is arguably one of the most important decisions your company will ever make. The funding is available Canada-wide from April 1 to March 31 each year. Applicants must have been incorporated for at least two years and have 1 to 500 employees.
To learn more, check out SYSPRO’s webinar Money for Manufacturers – 2020, which covers the latest grants, who qualify to receive government funding, and how to apply to increase your chance of securing funds.
Investigate the services of grant writing companies that specialize in finding the most appropriate funding programs for individual manufacturers and working with them to submit applications as soon as possible. Working with a professional partner to help access funding saves time, costs and stress. Most importantly, it also increases your chances of success. Before choosing any partner, get recommendations from the vendor of the equipment/software you are interested in and do your due diligence.
By accessing available funding now, smart manufacturers enable themselves to keep investing in whatever is needed to achieve their growth objectives and secure long-term competitiveness.