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Grow Your Business Online: Application guide

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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Table of contents

Section A – General information

1. Introduction

This application guide has been developed to assist in the completion of a project application form for the Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) – Grow Your Business Online. It provides information on how to submit the application as well as the criteria against which the project will be assessed.

It is important to read this guide before you begin filling out the application form so you clearly understand the objectives of the CDAP - Grow Your Business Online and determine if you are eligible to receive funding.

Your application must be complete and have all of the required information as outlined in this guide to be considered for funding.

If you have any additional questions, please visit the Quick Facts page or contact us at digitaladoption-adoptionnumerique@ised-isde.gc.ca or at 1-800-328-6189.

Confidentiality, proactive disclosure and transparency requirements

Any information in the application that, in the applicant's opinion, is of a proprietary or confidential nature must be clearly marked by the applicant as "Proprietary" or "Confidential" on each relevant item or page or in a statement covering the entire application. No commercially confidential information which is submitted will be disclosed unless otherwise authorized by the applicant or required to be released by law.

Information provided by applicants may be accessible under the Access to Information Act.

ISED may share information in an application with provincial and territorial governments or other federal funding partners to improve national coordination and bilateral decision-making related to the Canada Digital Adoption Program.

Once projects are approved, as part of the Government of Canada's policies to ensure transparency and accountability, ISED is required to proactively disclose project information when it is in the public interest to do so. This may include but is not limited to open access pricing, work progress and the like. Additional disclosure, milestone reporting and transparency requirements can be found in recipient contribution agreements, Canada Digital Adoption Program templates, and on the Treasury Board of Canada website.

Although information remains confidential under the above-mentioned conditions, any document or content submitted as part of the Canada Digital Adoption Program application process shall be deemed and remain the property of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

2. About the Canada Digital Adoption Program – Grow Your Business Online

In Budget 2021, the government announced that, to fuel economic recovery, jobs, and growth, ISED will be launching the Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP), with a $1.4 billion investment over four years, starting in 2021-22. This investment will allow ISED to:

This program will provide businesses with two streams of support:

The Government of Canada is issuing this Call for Applications for Grow Your Business Online funding to provide funds to interested applicants whose role will be to support small businesses in developing and implementing their e-commerce strategies. The organization must provide the following essential requirements:

CDAP - Grow Your Business Online will provide up to $336.8 million funding for:

Distribution of funds by province or territory
Province/Territory Percentage of Canadian Small businesses Micro-grant FundingFootnote * Student FundingFootnote *
Newfoundland and Labrador 1.39% $3,014,431 $1,138,575
Prince Edward Island 0.53% $1,150,460 $434,538
Nova Scotia 2.49% $5,414,486 $2,045,094
New Brunswick 2.09% $4,542,217 $1,715,631
Quebec 20.80% $45,250,902 $17,091,624
Ontario 36.67% $79,797,520 $30,140,155
British Columbia 15.60% $33,936,047 $12,817,913
Manitoba 3.28% $7,135,102 $2,694,985
Saskatchewan 3.42% $7,431,960 $2,807,110
Alberta 13.40% $29,163,847 $11,015,416
Yukon 0.15% $336,548 $127,117
North West Territories 0.13% $278,735 $105,280
Nunavut 0.06% $129,581 $48,944
Total 100.00% $217,581,837 $82,182,381

Successful proposals under this Call for Applications will be awarded a 4 year, non-repayable Contribution Agreement with a maximum value of $45 million.

3. Submission details and deadline

To be considered for funding, applications must provide all the required information, as stated in this application guide. Applicants with additional questions are encouraged to visit the website or are invited to contact Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) at digitaladoption-adoptionnumerique@ised-isde.gc.ca.

A complete application package for the Grow Your Business Online fund must be submitted by August 6, 2021 at 17:59 Pacific Daylight Time, and must include:

  1. The Canada Digital Adoption Program Application - Grow Your Business Online Form; and
  2. Required supporting documents (see Attachments section below).

Application intake

Applications should be submitted by the August 6, 2021 at 17:59 Pacific Daylight Time deadline. Receipt of your application package will be acknowledged within two business days. Applications will be reviewed as they are received. If your application package is incomplete, your application will be rejected.

It is highly recommended that your application be submitted before the deadline to ensure there are no unforeseen issues at the time of submission. Late submissions will not be considered for funding.

Preference will be given to applicants that meet the following criteria:

Application process

Applications will be assessed on a competitive basis and funding will be awarded to proposals that best align with the objectives of the Grow Your Business Online Fund and the assessment criteria. Proposals may be approved on a ongoing basis.

Considerations will be given to any organizations that demonstrate the following capabilities:

4. Program requirements

Applications must meet a number of program requirements to be considered for funding. This section describes these program requirements in greater detail, including eligible applicants, eligible activities and eligible costs.

Applications that do not meet all of the program requirements and parameters will be screened out prior to a formal assessment.

4.1 Eligible applicants

Applicants may apply independently or as a partnership with other organizations to deliver project activities. Eligible applicants must be Canadian incorporated (federally or provincially) not-for-profit organizations and may be:

Collaborations among organizations at the regional level are encouraged.

Please note: The Province of Quebec's M-30 legislation may apply to Québec based applicants. All Quebec based organizations must demonstrate their compliance with the Act prior to entering into a contribution agreement.

For further information, consult the following website prior to submitting your Application for Funding: An Act respecting the Ministère du Conseil exécutif (M-30).

4.2 Ineligible applicants

Ineligible applicants include:

4.3 Eligible activities

Eligible activities must include, but are not limited to, the following:

If your application is approved, you will sign an agreement with the Government of Canada that outlines the conditions of funding. Your project will be publicly disclosed when successful recipients are announced. Any project costs incurred before the signing of the agreement will not be eligible for reimbursement.

4.4 Eligible costs

Eligible costs under the CDAP - Grow Your Business Online are the relevant and reasonable expenses required to carry out the eligible activities to which they relate.

Eligible costs include, but are not limited to, the following:

The administrative costs for an Eligible Recipient will be limited to a maximum of 11% of the total contribution amount. Administrative costs do not include costs associated with capacity building. For example, an organization seeking to support 5,000 businesses and hire 1,000 students can seek up to $2,123,000 (((5,000 x 2,400) + (1,000 x $7,300)) x 11%)

4.5 Ineligible costs

Ineligible costs include, but are not limited to, the following:

Please note – any costs undertaken prior to the signature of the contribution agreement will not be reimbursed.

4.6 Expected results and outcomes

The Canada Digital Adoption Program has established an overarching framework to track performance. This will include key expected results and core indicators, which will inform or be part of the performance obligations of the Recipient(s) in Contribution Agreements.

Agreements will establish specific performance indicators and targets and include a level of detail that supports departmental priorities and accountability, including:

Immediate Outcomes
Outcome

Canadian small businesses and entrepreneurs, including those in equity deserving groups, have access to programs and services to digitize their businesses

GBA+

Performance indicator

Percentage of applicants who receive financial support and/or services from funding from CDAP (Grow Your Business Online) to start, maintain or grow their businesses

Number of youth/students who receive training funded by the CDAP - Grow Your Business Online

Number of engagements (inquiries) from websites, social media, and other points of access about the program

Intermediate Outcomes
Outcome

Canadian small businesses and entrepreneurs, including equity deserving groups, who receive support to digitize and develop ecommerce capabilities.

GBA+

Performance indicator

Percentage/Number of client businesses are satisfied overall with services funded through the CDAP - Grow Your Business Online

Number and value of micro-grants small business receive funded through CDAP - Grow Your Business Online

Number of small businesses who receive training/capacity building/outreach sessions funded through CDAP - Grow Your Business Online

Number and/or percentage increase of recipient small businesses that adopted at least one digital technology

Number of youth that receive a work placement to help integrate a digital technology

Ultimate Outcomes
Outcome

Canadian small businesses and entrepreneurs, including those in equity deserving groups, are able to sustain and grow their businesses.

GBA +

Performance indicator

Survival rate of recipient small businesses

Percentage of recipient small businesses reporting revenue growth

Number and percentage of recipient small businesses reporting employment growth

Percentage of client businesses reporting an increase of satisfaction overall with their e-commerce presence

New skills and new expertise acquired around technology adoption

The successful Applicant will also be required to:

5. Project funding

Applicants must clearly indicate all sources of funding for a project and demonstrate that these funds are required to support total project costs. In preparing the project budget, applicants must fully cost their entire project to include all relevant eligible and ineligible project costs, as described above.

Canada Digital Adoption Program funding

Funding under the Canada Digital Adoption Program must only be used to support eligible costs, as outlined above, that are reasonable, measurable, needed and necessary to complete the project.

The maximum amount of funding that an applicant can request for a project is up to 100% of the total eligible costs.

Other funding

Applicants are encouraged, but not required, to submit financial plans that include additional funding partners, such as provinces, territories, municipalities,  other federal agencies and departments, or the private sector to ensure that projects are well-financed. Other sources of funding could include financial  assistance (e.g., grants, forgivable loans), as well as applications for financial assistance which are still  pending. The level of funding from other sources is an element that will be reviewed when assessing comparative criteria.

Note: The program reserves the right to determine the amount of funding for each project. Even if an application is selected by the Minister, an applicant may not get the full amount requested from the program. The program will take into account overlap with other applications or projects selected by other federal or provincial programs, needs and financial capacity of the applicant, value for money and consideration of the impact on the overall budgetary envelope for the Canada Digital Adoption Program.

6. Assessment criteria

Applications will be reviewed in a four-step process as follows:

Step 1: Initial Screening: All application packages will be screened to make sure that they are complete and meet the eligibility criteria.

At the screening stage, the assessment will determine whether:

If an application package is incomplete or fails to meet the eligibility criteria, applicants will be notified in writing that their application will not be considered further.

Step 2: Review: Eligible application packages will be assessed. The criteria in the evaluation grid below will be used during this process.

Step 3: Applications with demonstrated experience to deliver an initiative of this scale will be the first to be evaluated.  If gaps in service remain and/or funding remains, projects with lower experience levels will be assessed.

Out of transparency, it is unlikely that the government will fund organisations with no experience in delivering digital adoption services. Such organisations may wish to partner with organisations with experience as part of a consortium. 

Step 4: Decision: Funding will be based on application packages' evaluation results, government priorities and available funding. 

Criteria for assessing proposals will include:

Experience
Suitability
  • Knowledge of digital adoption, including an in-depth understanding of the digital ecosystem in Canada;
  • Experience working with small businesses; and,
  • Experience working with under-served Entrepreneurship groups such women, racialized persons including Black Canadians, , Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs), people with disabilities, LGBTQ2, and other groups who are marginalized.
Capacity
  • Demonstrates effective management structure and team;
  • Experience in effectively managing projects of a similar size and scope;
  • Experience in administering grants and management of projects of similar size and scope;
  • Demonstrated capacity to stand up a reporting and monitoring system to provide accurate reporting on all ultimate recipients (small businesses and students);
  • Demonstrates adequate financial controls and systems; and,
  • Ability to safely and accurately collect and securely transfer confidential data.
Implementation
Reach
  • Activities have at minimum a regional reach;
  • Ability to ensure that services and activities will be provided in both official languages; and,
  • Strategies will be implemented to ensure under-served Entrepreneurship groups such as women, racialized persons including Black Canadians, Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs), people with disabilities, LGBTQ2, and other groups who are marginalized.
Delivery
  • Proposed project activities effectively meet the objectives of the CDAP - Grow Your Business Online and demonstrates how benefits will be achieved;
  • Proposal outlines clear and feasible timelines;
  • Activities are relevant and support the overall project objectives; and,
  • Information is given on how the work will be done and who will do this work.
Performance Measurement
  • Identifies outcomes that align with the Canada Digital Adoption Program Objectives; and,
  • Clearly indicates how organization will achieve project outcomes
Risk Mitigation
  • Risks are identified
  • Reasonable mitigation measures are outlined
Budget
Budget
  • Provides adequate details and description of eligible costs in budget
  • Provides detailed justification of the eligible costs required to carry out the project activities
  • Demonstrates value for money.

The Government of Canada reserves the right to accept a proposal, in whole or in part, and give consideration to factors such as government priorities, geographic coverage and diversity.

Input may be sought from other federal government partners to benefit from their expertise in project assessment and selection.

7. Submission details

Application submission – Deadline  - August 6, 2021 at 17:59 Pacific Daylight Time

The application form should include your project contact information and confirmation that you are in agreement with the declarations required for you project submission.

In addition, a proposal  should be submitted with your application form. The proposal should provide an overview of key aspects of the project, how the project will meet overall objectives, as well as detailing collaboration with key Partners and Collaborators. Specific questions are outlined in the proposal requirement section.

Following the direction below, this package should include:

  1. Proposal (MS Word or PDF document, maximum 5,000 words, i.e. 10 pages);
  2. Financial Statements – 2 years;
  3. Incorporation Document;
  4. Project Budget (ISED Form); and,
  5. Letters of support from Collaborators and Partners.

Applications will be reviewed based on the assessment criteria; only selected projects will be invited to the next stage of project development.

Feedback on concept submissions will be available upon request after all contribution agreements have been signed with successful applicants.

If your project is selected for funding, you will be required to submit additional information, including but not limited to:

8. Approval and contribution agreement

Once the competitive assessment process has been completed, applicants will be informed of the status of their submission.

Following project approval, the Government of Canada may enter into a Contribution Agreement with the successful applicant (who then becomes the recipient). This Government of Canada-prepared document will include the legally binding responsibilities and obligations of both parties.

9. Stacking provisions and other government assistance

Total Canadian government assistance for all eligible costs under CDAP - Grow Your Business Online, including federal, provincial/territorial and municipal governments, cannot exceed 100% of total eligible costs funded. The stacking limit applies to all activities captured in the Contribution Agreement of a successful project.

If your organization receives funding from a provincial/regional or municipal government for a digital adoption initiative, you will need to disclose all Canadian government (federal, provincial, territorial, municipal) financial assistance that you have requested and/or received towards eligible activities under the Contribution Agreement and clearly articulate that no one expense is charged to two levels of government. In the event that the recipient exceeds the stacking limit, the Government of Canada will adjust the Contribution Agreement accordingly to respect the above mentioned limit.

If an applicant received Federal funding through a contribution agreement for another initiative and will receive funding through a contribution agreement for CDAP, the stacking limit requirement applies separately as long as the initiatives are separate project activities.

Section B - Application form instructions

Applicants must ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this form.

The Application Form is an electronic Adobe PDF form and can only be opened using Adobe Reader.  We recommend that you download the PDF, save it locally and open it using Adobe Reader.  The Internet Explorer browser is usually able to open this type of PDF form but other browsers will likely not allow you to see these PDF since specific browser configurations are needed.  These other browsers will still allow you to download the PDF locally where you can work with Adobe Reader.

How to download and open a PDF form

To download and open a PDF form, you need to have Adobe Reader 10 or higher installed (Please note that free versions of Adobe PDF viewers/readers are available). Mobile devices such as iPads, tablets and mobile phones can't be used for the Canada Digital Adoption Program forms.

For PC users

For Mac users

If you can't open the form with Adobe Reader 10 or higher, let us know about your technical issue.

Once the form is completed, attach the required additional documents to it and electronically submit by clicking on the "Submit" button at the bottom of the application form.

Please note the submission of the application form requires a PDF entry. The Government of Canada recognizes that PDF files have limited accessibility and are incompatible with some screen readers. If your organization requires another submission format, please email digitaladoption-adoptionnumerique@ised-isde.gc.ca for assistance. Please ensure you are able to access the application form early in the process.  Exceptions or extensions to the deadline will not be granted and assistance cannot be provided within the last 24 hours. 

Organization information

Organization Information:
This section must be completed by the applicant.

Brief Overview of the Organization (maximum 500 characters):
Please provide a short description of your organization, or a description of the consortium if applicable, including the mandate and history.

Authorized project contact

Please provide a primary and alternative project contact.

Project information

Project Name (maximum 200 characters): Provide a title for your project.

Brief Description of Project (maximum 1750 characters):
Briefly describe the main activities to be undertaken using the Grow Your Business Online Funding, including the key collaborators associated with these activities, if applicable.

Estimated start and end dates: The start and end dates refer to when incurred project costs are estimated to start and stop. Applicants should submit a proposal with a target start date of early Fall 2021 for ultimate recipients and end by March 31, 2025. Eligible project costs can only begin after the signing of a Contribution Agreement. For greater clarity, no expenditures prior to the signature of the contribution agreement will be reimbursed.

Activities on federal land: From the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 section 2(1), federal lands means:

  1. lands that belong to Her Majesty in right of Canada, or that Her Majesty in right of Canada has the power to dispose of, and all waters on and airspace above those lands, other than lands under the administration and control of the Commissioner of Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut;
  2. the following lands and areas:
    1. the internal waters of Canada, in any area of the sea not within a province,
    2. the territorial sea of Canada, in any area of the sea not within a province,
    3. the exclusive economic zone of Canada, and the continental shelf of Canada; and
    4. reserves, surrendered lands and any other lands that are set apart for the use and benefit of a band and that are subject to the Indian Act, and all waters on and airspace above those reserves or lands.

Project funding sources

Provide any additional funding sources over the three year period, if applicable. To expand the number of rows use the "+" function.

Attachments

Please ensure all requested attachments listed in the Application Form are included, and check boxes are selected. You can attach documents to your pdf application form, by clicking the add attachments button.

Certification

Please read and click "I agree" to certify the Application form

Authorizing Official Contact Information

Authorized Official is an individual who is authorized to legally sign on behalf of the organization. 

Once completed, hit "submit". If you receive an error message, please review to ensure all sections have been filled out correctly and resubmit application.

Section C – Proposal document instructions

The following information should be provided in a maximum ten page Microsoft Word or PDF document. Please use the headings provided when responding to each of the seven (7) elements outlined below.

  1. Organizational capacity and experience:
    • Describe your organization's (or consortiums) experience in managing and financially administering projects similar in size and scope;
    • Describe your organization's governance model and highlight any practices regarding organizational diversity;
    • Outline the experience your organization/collaborators have in providing services to small businesses in the digital adoption realm as well as training and mentoring youth digital advisors;
    • Knowledge of digital adoption, including an in-depth understanding of digital ecosystem in Canada; and
    • Experience working with entrepreneurs.
  2. Project reach:

    Provide details on how your project will:

    • Serve one or more regions (i.e. access to services, including in rural, remote, and Northern regions throughout Canada);
    • Deliver services and activities in both official languages;
    • Ensure under-served entrepreneurship groups such as women,  racialized persons including Black Canadians,  Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs), disabled, LGBTQ+ and other marginalized groups will be served.
  3. Project objectives:
    • Provide a detailed description of how you will meet the objectives of the Canada Digital Adoption Program.
  4. Key activities and description of activities:
    • Provide a detailed workplan and describe each activity you will undertake in this project;
    • Outline how each activity will support the overall objectives of CDAP - Grow Your Business Online and
    • Include feasible milestones and timelines as well as who will be responsible for the work under each activity. If the application represents an alliance of organizations, plainly state each organization's responsibility for each milestone.
  5. Risks and mitigations:
    • Describe the main risks that could have an impact on your organization's ability to carry out the activities proposed or achieve project objectives; and
    • Indicate the probability (low, medium or high) and the mitigation strategies for each risk.
  6. Key collaborators:
    • Outline key Collaborators in the project, what their role will be and how their involvement will help achieve the goals of the proposal; and
    • Include a letter of support for each Collaborator as an attachment to this application. This letter must outline the expected contribution to the project, and how the organizations have collaborated in the past, including role, track record, experience and expertise.
  7. Expected outcomes:
    • Describe how your activities will contribute to the planned outcomes of the Canada Digital Adoption Program.

Attachments

Your application package must include the following:

  1. Proposal Paper;
  2. Annual financial statements for the past two years. Acceptable financial statement standards include:
    • audits; or
    • review engagements;
  3. Incorporation documentation;
  4. Project Budget;
  5. Letters of support (a letter of support is required from key collaborators (if applicable)); and
  6. Proof of compliance of M-30 legislation, where applicable (Quebec based organizations only).

Section D – Project budget

As part of the application package, a detailed project budget is required. Please use this section as a guide to assist with its completion. Below are samples, but not limited to, potential costs for consideration. Please refer to eligible costs for further details. All requested costs must be linked to the funding proposal and to project activities.

A: Salary:

B: Project Cost:

C: Participants Costs

* Please incorporate the cost for student / SME support in this section

D: Other Sources of Funding

List any other sources of funding for this project. Including other government (federal, provincial or municipal), not-for-profit or private sector.

E: Other Past Sources of Funding

The Government of Canada will not fund expenses incurred before the signing of a Contribution Agreement. If an organization incurs expenses for the project before receiving written confirmation of funding approval, the organization will be doing so at its own risk.

Section E - Checklist

Your application package must include the following:

  1. Completed Application Form with applicable attachments signed by an authorized representative of your organization (e.g. CEO, CFO, etc.).
  2. Completed Attachments including project proposal, project budget, financial statements and incorporation documents
  3. Letters of Support from Collaborator Organizations contributing to this project. Letters should contain a description of their involvement in CDAP - Grow Your Business Online (role, expertise, reach etc..).

Please note: Information provided may be verified for accuracy and used as part of the assessment of applications.  

Section F - Glossary

Activities:
Activities are undertakings that are eligible for funding under CDAP - Grow Your Business Online and required to complete a project. Activities will be proposed by the Applicants as part of the project proposal and finalized in the Contribution Agreements.
Applicant:
Eligible applicants for the Canada Digital Adoption Program are regional and national not-for-profit organizations that can support small businesses in developing and implementing new technologies, as well as hire, train, and place young people as youth digital advisors in small businesses.
Application:
Refers broadly to the set of documents submitted to ISED in order to participate in the application process for funding from CDAP - Grow Your Business Online.
Collaborators:
In the case of a proposed alliance delivering CDAP activities, collaborators are the participating organizations in that alliance.
Consortium:
A group of separate organizations joining together to complete a project and work toward achieving a common goal.
Contribution Agreement:
A written agreement between the Government of Canada and an eligible Applicant that sets out the obligations and understandings of both with respect to one or more transfer payments. The Government of Canada is responsible for drafting the Contribution Agreements.
Eligible Costs:
The costs to which Grow Your Business Online funding may be applied and which are established in the Contribution Agreement.
Ineligible Applicant:
Applicants that do not meet the CDAP - Grow Your Business Online eligibility criteria to receive funding from Grow Your Business Online.
Ineligible Application:
Applications that do not meet the CDAP - Grow Your Business Online eligibility criteria.
Ineligible Costs:
Costs that are not eligible for reimbursement through CDAP - Grow Your Business Online.
Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs):
Refers to English-speaking communities in Quebec and French-speaking communities in the rest of Canada.
Project:
The combined activities that are required to accomplish a stated objective and the completion of the activities may result in specific outcomes being achieved. The Contribution Agreement includes a statement of work that details the eligible project and related activities.
Recipient:
A legal entity that is a party to the Contribution Agreement and receives funding. Upon approval of a project following Step 2 of the application process and the signing of a contribution agreement, the applicant becomes a Recipient.  
Stacking Limit:
The maximum level of total Canadian government (municipal, provincial/territorial, federal) funding authorized for any one activity, initiative or project of a recipient.
Value for Money:
This refers to achieving economy, efficiency, effectiveness, and equity in project delivery.

Annex 1: Eligibility requirements for ultimate recipients

Eligible ultimate recipients (Small business)

Eligible ultimate recipients must be small businesses that meet all of the following criteria:

Ineligible ultimate recipients (Small business)

Ineligible ultimate recipients include:

Eligible costs

Eligible costs include, but are not limited to, the following:

Ineligible costs

Ineligible costs include, but are not limited to the following:

Student Profile:

Role of students:

Eligible students must be one of the following:

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