Innovate BC partnered with Pocketed to conduct a research project to explore grant funding trends in B.C. and across Canada. The goal of this partnership was to gain a better understanding of the availability and acquisition of grant funding by businesses in B.C. and provide a comparative analysis with other provinces in Canada during the 2022 fiscal year.
The report is based on $9.5B in funding data collected through Pocketed's platform. By analyzing this data, Innovate BC and Pocketed are hoping to shed light on grant funding trends in B.C. and Canada, enabling businesses to have a clearer understanding of the funding landscape and potentially benefit from available opportunities. We sat down with Brianna Blaney, CEO + Co-Founder of Pocketed, and Radwa Saad, Director of Data + Policy at Innovate BC to dive deeper into the report.
Q: How did Innovate BC and Pocketed collaborate on this research project? What was the motivation behind conducting this study, and what are your primary objectives in sharing this information?
Radwa: Innovate BC works closely with businesses across the province and we were so pleased to learn about a home-grown business doing work that could improve our understanding of the innovation ecosystem. By tapping into Pocketed’s database of grant funding, tax credits and incentives across Canada, we saw an opportunity to get a better idea of the availability of grant funding and how much of it is actually being secured by businesses in B.C. We also wanted to see how B.C. stacks up against other provinces and identify areas of opportunity and growth.
Brianna: Pocketed enables business owners to maximize their potential for growth and success with access to non-dilutive funding. Since 2021, we have helped more than 10,000 businesses access over $100M in grants, tax credits, and incentives through our intelligent matching platform and funding solutions. Collaborations with key innovation ecosystem partners like Innovate BC play an important role in accelerating our mission of eliminating financial barriers for businesses.
Our collaboration with Innovate BC centers around empowering B.C. businesses. Combining Pocketed's proprietary data, including our extensive database of Canadian funding programs, with Innovate BC’s deep roots supporting businesses across the province, we’re able to deliver unique funding insights. Our goal is to provide actionable information about what funding exists, where there are funding gaps, and how businesses can successfully access funding.
Q: Can you provide an overview of the key findings from the report? What were the most surprising or notable trends in grant funding availability and acquisition for businesses in B.C. and across Canada?
Radwa: One of the most notable takeaways was the fact that businesses in Ontario and Quebec secure more than 50% of federal funding available. Size of our economies aside, there is room for our ecosystem to pursue and secure more federal funding opportunities.
Brianna: We wholeheartedly agree with Radwa's observations from the report. The data shows a clear opportunity for British Columbians to pursue and secure more federal funding, especially in the areas of cleantech and sustainability, where the province's growing environmental ecosystem holds such great potential. Pocketed is committed to actively supporting and encouraging access to these crucial funding opportunities in the cleantech sector.
At Pocketed, we believe in fostering inclusion, supporting diverse businesses and individuals. We continue to advocate for increased funding and visibility for programs that address the needs of all demographics, promoting equal opportunities for growth and success. Through our matching technology, we connect businesses with a wide range of eligible funding opportunities, ensuring that they can explore and access grants that align with their goals and objectives.
Q: What types of businesses or industries were the most successful in securing grant funding, based on the data? Were there any patterns or sectors that stood out as particularly advantageous?
Brianna: A common misconception is that there is a magical pool of money you can spend at your discretion, especially to start a business. Most grants – especially the ones people get really excited about – aren’t “turn on the lights money”, they’re “turn on more lights money”; money to accelerate your existing growth trajectory. Grants also work on a reimbursement structure, which means you have to spend the money before you receive the award. This innately excludes many early-stage businesses from accessing larger funding programs.
The data shows that incorporated businesses with T4 employees, access to capital (equity, debt, founder funds, etc.), and demonstrated traction are most successful securing grant funding. Based on the data, certain industries also show significant success. Unsurprisingly, the cleantech sector and businesses focused on environmental sustainability have a particular advantage securing grants. Governments are placing a strong emphasis on funding projects that drive innovation in cleantech, renewable energy solutions, sustainable agriculture, and climate resilience. This prioritization has led to increased funding support for organizations contributing to environmental advancements.
Finally, the technology sector remains successful in securing grants. Projects that incorporate artificial intelligence, blockchain, and clean technology have attracted substantial funding. Governments recognize the potential of technology in catalyzing breakthroughs and driving progress in various industries, making it a favourable area for grant funding.
Q: Can you discuss any specific success stories or case studies of businesses that have benefited from using Pocketed's platform to access grant funding? How has it impacted their growth and operations?
Brianna: From $7,000 wage subsidies to help pre-revenue start-ups hire their first employees to multi-million-dollar research and development grants for well-known scale-ups, we have helped more than 10,000 businesses access over $100M in grants, tax credits, and incentives.
We have helped well-known B.C. scale-ups secure tens of thousands of dollars in hiring grants through our software; $65,000 in wage subsidies for a large established trucking company in the first 60 days; and over $3M (and counting) in research and development, market expansion, hiring, and commercialization funding for a fast-growing auto-tech start-up.
Each funding award is a celebration of job creation, innovation, growth, and benefit to Canada – and the world. The success stories that stick with me most are the ones that create a ripple effect of impact. A recent feel-good win was a $500,000 award for a volunteer-run Vancouver-based non-profit, secured through our Pocketed Concierge subscription and grant writing solutions.
The variety in these case studies illustrates that grants are for every business. Pocketed’s proprietary edge is our intelligent software which powers our unparalleled ability to determine the programs most relevant to your business goals. The results speak for themselves.
Q: What advice would you offer to businesses in B.C. and Canada that are looking to secure grant funding? Are there specific strategies or best practices they should consider?
Brianna: As business owners, money has kept us up countless nights – and we know we’re not alone. If you’re wondering whether grants are a fit for your business, the answer is probably yes. In the past two years, we have been fortunate to help thousands of businesses across Canada access millions in grant funding. Money to make key hires, expand to new markets, and develop new innovation.
For businesses looking to secure grant funding, knowledge is power. Success starts by understanding the grants landscape and where you can best capitalize on funding opportunities to achieve your goals. Stay disciplined in pursuing programs that are relevant for your business – we often see businesses distracted by eligible funding programs that look exciting, but ultimately don’t contribute to achieving their goals. With thousands of programs available across the country, we get it. Grants, tax credits, and incentives are ephemeral – they come, they go, and they change. It’s hard to understand where to put your energy to optimize your return on investment.
That’s why we built Pocketed. Identify the best-fit programs with our intelligent matching platform, navigate the complex grants landscape with our team of grant specialists, and submit winning applications with our funding solutions. Plus, you can start your journey with Pocketed totally free.
Q: How does the partnership between Innovate BC and Pocketed contribute to the overall mission of supporting innovation and economic growth in the region?
Radwa: The benefits are two-tiered. From a policy perspective, it gives agencies like ours better insights that could drive how innovation programs are designed or where funding is directed. We are constantly looking at ways to improve and extend the reach and impact of our programs so that we are better able to support businesses.
For businesses, I think it provides a factual snapshot of the state of public funding. We often come across anecdotal information or hear from the experience of a small group of businesses. When a study like this, looking at over $9.5B worth of funding, shows that there are opportunities for B.C. companies to tap into, especially for cleantech and sustainability, it arms businesses with data that could help support their funding strategies or just simply bolster their funding applications. The more funding we can attract to B.C., the more competitive we become on a national and global scale, both as an ecosystem but also as a business community.
Brianna: Driven by our mission to eliminate financial barriers for businesses, this partnership with Innovate BC was a no brainer. Data tells a powerful story. We believe that data can be the fuel needed to drive effective innovation programs and guide funding allocation in the province and across the country. Together with Innovate BC, we can amplify the message that there is significant funding available for businesses in sectors with strategic importance to our province: cleantech and sustainability. This funding has the power to accelerate B.C. businesses and our ability to compete on a larger scale.
This partnership also has potential to extend beyond us, involving the business community we proudly serve and policy makers from across Canada. We want to play a role in fostering innovation, growth, and success for all B.C. businesses, and actively contribute to creating a brighter future in Canada.
Q: Moving forward, what are your plans for further research or initiatives related to grant funding and business support?
Radwa: Every study opens the gates to new questions so it is important to continue having our finger on the pulse of the rate in which B.C. businesses are securing grant funding over the long-term and ways the ecosystem can support.
Brianna: We're just as eager to continue exploring and analyzing the funding, support, and incentives available to B.C. businesses. Our commitment to empowering businesses with opportunities and data remains steadfast. We are always expanding our database, delving deeper into the ephemeral funding landscape. By analyzing trends and insights, we'll continue to refine our platform and be even more effective in matching businesses with relevant grant opportunities.
For more information beyond Pocketed, please visit Innovate BC’s resource page to access Capital Compass BC and other supports for your business.
If you’re interested in exploring what Pocketed is offering to businesses and around grant support, you can receive a free Pocketed Basic subscription here using code ‘InnovateBC’.
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