In April 2014 the Ontario government launched five programs designed to help young entrepreneurs start companies and create jobs. Ontario invested $9 million in the SmartStart Seed Fund to assist entrepreneurs aged 18-29 migrating their companies from product development to market entry. The funding is primarily intended for start-ups in the early validation stage.
An announcement by FedDev Ontario Minister Gary Goodyear on January 21, 2015 ensured Southern Ontario entrepreneurs would continue to benefit from this funding thanks to an additional investment of up to $9 million for the SmartStart Seed Fund. This funding saw adjustments to the eligibility of an entrepreneur aged 30 and above.
Currently a SmartStart Seed funding applicant aged 18-29 may be eligible for a non-repayable contribution of up to $40,000 towards their associated costs. After April 1, 2015, an applicant aged 18-29 may be eligible for up to $70,000 and any applicant 30 and above may be eligible for up to $40,000. This funding is expected to support more than 300 southern Ontario companies, which will help maintain more than 900 jobs and create more than 1,500 jobs.
Current eligible applicants for up to $40,000 in funding must be:
- Between 18-29 years old
- Located in the province of Ontario
- Must be incorporated
- Committed to building an Ontario-based company
- Must be in good financial and reporting standing with OCE
- See further eligibility details on website
The SmartStart Seed funding is open to start-ups linked either with an existing OCE program, Campus Linked Accelerators (CLAs) or their Regional Innovation Centres (RICs – WEtech Alliance for Windsor-Essex).
Meet Andrew. He is the owner and creator of Culture Shock Functional Foods, a company looking to reverse the effects antibiotics and other digestive habits have caused on our guts through probiotic beverage offerings. Andrew joined WEtech Alliance in July of this year, and has since successfully received SmartStart Seed Funding that he will utilize to hire employees and grow his brand, Culture Shock Functional Foods.
“I was on WEtech’s mailing lists for a while,” said Andrew. “That’s where I first found out about the available funding.” Andrew then reached out to Deborah, our Entrepreneur in Residence, and Ashlyn, our Client Portfolio Manager, who, along with Raed Kadri from the Ontario Centres of Excellence, helped Andrew to put together his proposal.
“WEtech was really giving – they [went] out of their way help provide [me] with any business need,” said Andrew.
Andrew will be using this funding to hire an employee(s) to assist in the growth and development of Culture Shock Functional Foods. He understands the importance of having the means for production, and described his dream job as working for his workers. The SmartStart Seed Fund was the first step towards bringing his dreams to fruition. He believes it is an avenue available to young locals looking to build their start-ups.
WEtech Alliance, along with OCE, is here to help such young entrepreneurs through the process.
“Each one of these applications is an opportunity to better your business and better your opportunities growing forward. That’s a very big take-away,” said Andrew.
SmartStart Seed Fund is a discretionary, non-entitlement program with limited funding. All eligible projects are assessed on their merit and undergo a review process where the proposals are assessed against program objectives and assessment criteria. – See more at: http://www.oce-ontario.org/programs/entrepreneurship-programs/smartstart-seed-fund
Follow Andrew @CultureShots to find out more about his start-up and journey.
All of the specific details about the SmartStart Seed Funding program have been taken, verbatim, from the program’s website http://www.oce-ontario.org/programs/entrepreneurship-programs/smartstart-seed-fund