Necessity, the mother of invention – George Farquhar
At Small Business BC, we often get queries regardiing support for developing business innovation. In BC there are a number of offices that can help with this. Small Business BC has organized a series of free webinars on funding innovation available at the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST)website. If your business is innovative and you are looking for information on financing, tax considerations, networking, and commentary on innovative BC businesses, read on!
The most frequent question on innovation is financing. Any program offering financing to start a business requires a viability or business plan. The National Research Council offers the Industry Research Assistance Program (IRAP) that can help finance innovative business ideas. Your idea does not have to be scientific nor technological to qualify for this program but it does have to be innovative and viable. Contact an Industrial Technology Advisor for more information. I have spoken to two clients recently that have received funds from IRAP that were not scientific nor high-tech. One company manufactured an innovative folding stage called SMARTSTAGE while another was a groupon website called ethicalDeal. Whether your business qualifies for innovation funding will be determined by the IRAP industry officials. For more information on how other offices can help you with financing your innovative busiiness, watch the October 7th “Funding Innovation” webinar.
There are a number of offices that support development of innovative sustainable technologies. Sustainable Development Technology Canada has an SD Tech Fund and a NextGen Biofuels fund to support the funding gap between testing and the market place. The SD Tech Fund supports clean technology solutions: products and processes that contribute to clean air, clean water and clean land, and address solutions on climate change. The Province of BC offers funding under the Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) program to encourage development of clean energy sources and technologies. Since 2008, forty-one projects have been approved in thirty-seven communities across BC.
The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) offers working capital for businesses that are developing and launching new products, adding ecommerce, or upgrading marketing and promotional strategies. BDC offers loans that can be repaid over an eight year period, customized repayment schedules, analyze marketing strategies, and review your financial management to maximize business profitability.
Another important resource for your business is the BC Innovation Council (BCIC) website. This organization provides networking opportunities, mentorship for technology companies, conference videos on entrepreneurship, case studies on innovative start-up companies, and resources that you’ll need to commercialize your idea.
A second important topic for innovative businesses is taking advantage of available tax breaks. You can claim up to 68% of your testing and experimenting dollars through a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) program called Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED). You will have to track your development expenses and submit them with your annual tax return when your innovation is market-ready. For more information on this topic watch the September 10th webinar “SR&ED”. My experience with companies using this tax break come from the SMARTSTAGE company mentioned above and a video enthusiast who created Singular Software, a low-cost program to handle a number of video and audio tracks to produce videos from weddings and other memorable events. Watch the October 14th webinar on “Opportunities in Innovation” for more information on this and other innovative companies.
Thirdly, networking and learning from another’s experience is vital in developing your innovative business. The BC Inventors Society is an important centre to learn from other successful inventor’s experience developing their innovations and getting them to market. This office provides information on monthly meetings with other inventors, speakers that have successfully brought their idea to market, a website that provides notes from previous speakers, and news related to inventing.