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The federal government is incentivizing small and medium sized Canadian businesses to get digital with the Canada Digital Adoption Program (the “CDAP”). The CDAP, provides grants to eligible businesses who are willing to pursue digital avenues to boost their online sales and digital capability.

While originally announced by the Feds in budget 2021, applications to access a piece of this 4-billion-dollar program were launched on March 3, 2022.

The CDAP is comprised of two streams:

  1. The Grow Your Business Online stream; and,
  2. The Boost Your Business Technology stream.

Grow Your Business Online – Micro Grants

This stream is aimed at consumer-facing businesses who are looking to develop and implement e-commerce capabilities to remain competitive and to attract new customers in the digital marketplace.

Eligible businesses will receive a micro-grant of up to $2,400 to help with the costs related to adopting digital technologies. Grants will be available through local and regional service providers across Canada.

Businesses will also gain access to a network of E-commerce advisors who have been tasked with assisting businesses to assess their digital needs, develop their e-commerce strategies and deploy new digital technologies.

The grant can be used to finance the initiatives set out below (but this list is by no means exhaustive): 

  • Costs related to the implementation or improvement of a digital e-commerce plan (e.g. online reservation/booking tools, online ordering systems, electronic payments);
  • SearchEngine Optimization (SEO);
  • Costs of social media advertising;
  • Costs related to the creation of customer databases;
  • Upgrading existing eCommerce site for added functionality (i.e., new plugins, or features); or
  • Cyber Security software or certifications.

Eligibility

Applications for the Grow Your Business Online Stream can only be submitted by a small business that meets all of the following criteria:

  • Is a for-profit business (including for-profit social enterprises and co-operatives);
  • Is a registered or incorporated business;
  • Is a consumer-facing business
  • Can be accessed by consumers or provides in-person services to consumers
  • Has at least one employee
  • Must commit to maintaining its digital adoption strategy for six months after participation in the program
  • Must consent to participating in follow-up surveys, and sharing information with the Government of Canada (ISED and Statistics Canada), and having the name of the business published as a recipient of funding

The following types of small businesses are ineligible:

  • Corporate chains, franchises or registered charities
  • Representatives of multi-level marketing companies
  • Real estate brokerages

Boost Your Business Technology

This program is for larger businesses that are looking to undertake transformative digital upgrades that will improve their bottom line such as artificial intelligence, digital inventory management systems, network security software, machine learning and robotics.

The funding through this stream comes from three branches:

  1. Development of Digital Adoption Plan
  2. Applications for a grant to cover 90%, up to a maximum of $15,000, of the cost of developing a digital adoption program, which will be provided from a roster of expert digital advisory service providers.

  3. Implementation of Digital Adoption Plan (Part 1)
  4. To support the implementation of this plan, these businesses will be able to apply for an interest-free loan of up to $100,000 from BDC.

  5. Implementation of Digital Adoption Plan (Part 1)
  6. Additionally, eligible businesses may also apply for a $7,300 wage subsidy to retain a post-secondary student or recent post-secondary graduate to help implement the digital adoption plan.

To access the funding branches, eligible businesses will be asked to participate in a digital needs assessment which will help companies better understand their digital readiness. The assessment will generate a report outlining your company’s digital maturity and compare it to an industry-specific benchmark.

Eligibility

Before applying, your business must meet all of the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be incorporated federally or provincially, or be a Canadian resident sole proprietor
  • Be a for-profit, privately owned business
  • Have between 1 – 499 full time equivalent employees
  • Have at least $500,000 of annual revenues in one of the previous three tax years

NOTE: Applications for the Boost Your Business Technology Stream can only be submitted by an owner or a director of a business (listed in the articles of incorporation.) If you are not listed in the articles of incorporation, your application is likely to be rejected automatically.

CDAP Additional Information

For more information regarding the CDAP program, or for help with other Federal Government programs or business advisory assistance, please contact Tanya Kuzman at Mills & Mills LLP.

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