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Navigating Canada’s Public Funding Landscape: Five Tips to Keep in Mind

Posted on May 25 2016 | Author: Jessica Taylor

Public funding is unchartered territory for many, especially entrepreneurs starting their first venture or entering a new market. Often times program guides are littered with unfamiliar vocabulary and requirements can be unclear and confusing. So where do you start? Whether your next steps are contingent on securing funding or you are looking to leverage a private investment, there are few things to keep in mind when navigating the public funding landscape. This blog aims to provide you with tips that will increase your likelihood of receiving public funding:

1. There are different types of public funding; understand what makes the most sense for your project.

Most public funding can be categorized as one of the following:

  • Grants, contributions and financial assistance
    • These programs run on a cost-share basis and require that you report the outcomes of the project; however, most do not require you repay the funding body.
  • Loans and cash advances
    • When dealing with loans and cash advances it is critical that you understand the terms of your specific agreement. Ask questions of the funding partner and seek out a mentor who can review the agreement.
  • Loan guarantees
    • A government guarantee can attract creditors, providing a sense of security in providing financing to an early stage company.
  • Tax refunds and credits
    • Certain activities, such as research and development, are eligible for tax credits and the government offers a number of tax incentives that can help reduce your overhead costs.
  • Wage subsidies
    • Hiring grants and wage subsidies are available for a variety of different roles. In particular, a number of programs focus on new graduate hiring incentives that can make onboarding a new employee or position more feasible.

Canada Business Network provides a great overview of the types of funding that are available in Canada.

2. Demonstrate the benefit beyond your organization.
It is important to show the funding organization that the project will benefit the rest of your industry through increased revenues, job creation or other economic means such as providing equipment or services to other ventures. This can be illustrated by providing letters of support from other organizations or collaborating with an industry partner or academic institution for a project that is mutually beneficial.

3. Know when to apply for government funding.
Timing is critical when applying for government funding. Public funding programs operate in one of two ways:

  • Continuous application intake:
    These programs receive, review and approve applications on an ongoing basis until the program is fully subscribed or the government’s commitment has ended/is completed. This has a “first come first serve” mentality and timing of your submission may be more crucial to success.
  • Application intake period:
    Other programs set a “call for proposals” or intake period, which is a specific period of time where applications will be accepted. Once the intake period ends, all of the applications are reviewed and funding decisions are made. If a company does not get their application in during this time, they must wait for the next intake period.

4. Different levels of public funding
In Canada, public funding is available at all levels of government including federal, provincial, territorial, regional and municipal. As a small business it’s a good practice to be aware of the various funding organizations and their programming. A few of the key funding organizations are identified below:

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)     
Agriculture Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)
Farm Credit Canada (FCC)
FedDev Ontario
Western Economic Diversification Canada

Innovation PEI
Investment Agricultural Fund  
Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE)      
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture,
Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)
Regional Innovation Centres 


* Check your city’s economic development website for information about locally available funding. 

Caution: Stacking (using multiple sources of funding for one project or application) is possible, but there are a number of considerations and rules. It is recommended that entrepreneurs seek counsel from an organization or consultant that has experience in this space.

5. Collaborate.
Partnering with an industry member or academic group can make you eligible for new programs. As well, certain programs provide a higher cost-share for collaborative projects, some of which are only open to industry who have partnered with academia. For example, the Growing Forward 2 Program has a funding stream called Organizations and Collaborations run through the Agricultural Adaptation Council and NSERC runs various funding programs that businesses partnered with academics are eligible for.

Businesses of all stages can benefit immensely from the support of government funding. Keeping yourself informed about what is available and connecting with consultants and organizations that can assist with the application process will make accessing public funding a much easier process. When considering a new project or venture be sure to keep these tips in mind and reach out.


Jessica Taylor 
Senior Analyst, Food & Food Systems


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Starting With Social Media

Posted on May 13 2016 | Author: Admin

Social media can be a valuable resource for marketing your company affectively and affordably. There are numerous channels and resources to utilize, which could be intimidating if you’re new to many of them. But the potential growth and business exposure could be significant, even for the smallest of marketing budgets.

Social media enables companies to be more engaged, while promoting their business in a very simple and direct manner. Traditional marketing can be pricey in comparison to marketing over social media platforms – which can be as simple as posting a comment that your followers can discuss, and thus generating exposure for your company. You’ll invest in time what you save in dollars.

Steps To Success

1. Do Your Research
With many social media platforms, it’s important to know which is more appropriate to support your company’s goals. For example, if your social media target is to build stronger brand loyalties, Facebook is the best platform. Or if you’d like to develop more business-to-business relationships, than focus your efforts on LinkedIn.

Understanding each platform’s audience and using them correctly can grow your following and minimize your future social media efforts. For a summary on some of the most popular platforms, see the image below.

2. Create Your Accounts
To start, it is most effective to focus on one or two platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter for example. When creating your accounts, ensure that your profiles enable your customers to contact you:

  • Profile Photo: Usually the company logo is the most effective image.
  • Website URL: No matter what platform you use, your website URL should always be accessible.
  • Location: On platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn, including your location can help your customers find your business easily.
  • Contact Information: Including a phone number or e-mail on your account can help facilitate interactions with potential customers.

3. Time To Connect
Once your profile and all relevant information are up and ready, you can begin following and connecting your network. Be sure to connect with your employees as they are usually the most eager and ready to share company information. You should consider following other companies and contacts in your industry, news stations, government bodies and even your competitors.

4. Plan Before You Post
Each social media platform has varying applications and logistics. To explain further, Twitter is much more rapid and quickly consumed compared to Facebook which is more about posting quality over quantity. Every platform needs specific and active attention in order to be utilized successfully. Consider creating a schedule of the type of content and when to post it to help track and organize all the information you are sharing.

A rule of thumb known in social media is the 80/20 rule. It suggests that only 20% of the content you post should promote your company directly and could include posting useful statistics, testimonials, sales promotions and more. For the other 80% of content, you should consider posting interesting information, like relevant news articles, industry trends as well as responding and interacting with your network. The 80/20 rule is a helpful guideline because it encourages you to focus on your audience’s interests, in order to engage with them sufficiently. 

5. Combine Your Efforts
If used effectively, social media has the ability to enhance your online exposure as well as drive more traffic to your website. When appropriate, sharing content from your website (Company or Industry News, Services Offered, etc) can assist with creating awareness as well as drive traffic to your website. Another example of great content to share is the company blog, further promoting the knowledge and expertise within your company.

6. Respond, Retweet, Repeat
Company social media accounts are not all just posting. It is equally as important to be active and responsive with your social media community, which includes responding in a prompt and timely manner, especially in regards to negative comments. A timely response can assist with demonstrating the importance your company places on customer service. Monitor your feeds and be mindful of what your following is discussing as well as industry trends and news. This will help you target your content towards the topics your audience is interested in and help gather a strong following.

7. Keep The Connections
Make sure your network can follow you! Make links to your social media platforms readily available.

  • Place social media icons on your website, either at the top or bottom for your website, ensuring the icons are visible on majority of the pages.
  • Add social media share buttons under your blog posts as well as links in your email signatures
  • Consider adding a live feed from your most active social media platforms to the homepage of your website.

Although this is just scratching the surface, mastering the basics for maintaining and growing your social media network will help make it a more manageable and worth-while time investment for your company.


Rebecca Reynolds
Marketing & Events Assistant 




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What’s The Key Ingredient for Innovation in Food and Agribusiness?

Posted on May 06 2016 | Author: Admin

A recent article in a business publication reported that the most overused business buzzword today is “innovation.” Clearly, everyone is talking about innovation, but how can it be implemented successfully?

The key to unlocking innovation in today’s marketplace is having the right talent in place - leaders with the necessary skills, knowledge, experience, and personal characteristics.

Truly innovative companies look for people with the ability to capitalize on the company’s creative and financial resources all along the supply chain. They recognize the following realities when it comes to their human talent:

Innovation has to be system-wide - across the supply chain, and include finance and marketing.

Paul Miller, Managing Director and Food Sector Lead for Kincannon & Reed, said, “We are seeing the same challenge to innovate across all slices of the supply chain - in large and small companies, ingredient companies, packaging and equipment companies, as well as food processors and marketers.”

“For example, organic products have had impressive growth and companies see opportunities there. But one challenge in creating these products is determining what the supply line should look like.” Miller said, “For instance, pastures with cattle or fields with corn have to be pesticide-free for three years as a first step to organic certification. As a result, we see some innovative food companies trying new approaches such as buying farmland directly.”

“Meanwhile, the ingredient companies are telling us: ‘We need people who understand consumer insights and can help us create solutions for our customers to satisfy their wants and needs,’” Miller added. “On the Research and Development and Product Development side, many business-to-business clients no longer rely solely on their customers to tell them what consumers are thinking. They are taking the initiative to understand on their own what is driving consumers, so they can innovate earlier.”

Hand in glove with this trend, the large food companies say they are looking to their suppliers not just for solutions, but for ideas. They want suppliers who can say, for example, “We’ve found new ways to take sodium out of products and still maintain the taste.”

Miller said, “Innovation is not just taking consumer insights and creating a new product. It’s looking at how the product fits within the life stages of consumers, then packaging and selling in more sophisticated and ‘honest’ ways.“

As a result, we are doing more searches all along the supply chain for roles with job titles such as Chief Product and Innovation Officer,” Miller said.

Innovation requires leaders who can drive flexibility in a company’s operations and manufacturing.

Smart companies know they can no longer base their manufacturing strategy solely on long production runs to be efficient and hold down unit costs.

Miller explained, “In key operations and supply chain roles, clients talk about the need to be innovative in manufacturing and supply chain processes to allow for more efficient change-overs and short-runs. It’s the same in establishing and securing supply lines. Suppliers say they need to do this for their customers, particularly their clients with cutting edge products or packaging.”

“We see large food companies backward integrating to achieve agility,” said Miller. “They want executives who understand this approach and who have done it.”

Companies are achieving innovation through “co-creation” and “science community,” as well as through mergers and acquisitions.

Michael Whitney, Managing Partner and Region Leader for Kincannon & Reed in Europe, said, “Some large multi-nationals have made huge strides using co-creation. They have assembled a cadre of high-quality innovation managers from both R&D and Commercial to lead their strategic global projects. In parallel, they have increased the level of understanding of science and technology among non-technical people, particularly in Marketing and Sales.”

Whitney continued: “Innovation from Mergers & Acquisitions can be a key growth driver if the companies get it right, but sometimes they struggle to extract the maximum synergies from the integration. There are other challenges. For example, the new entity may give scientists too much free rein or, conversely, because the acquiring firm has a different attitude to risk, there is less freedom to innovate. Others report that although they accessed new value streams, their development and execution strengths have been at risk as they try to harness the new shared capabilities.”

Says Miller: “A key success factor in these mergers and acquisitions is how the larger company manages the smaller ones without stifling creativity or harming the smaller company’s brand.”

How does the demand for innovation affect your talent search?

Miller stated, “We explore innovation as a desired quality in every conversation we have with clients about a potential hire, regardless of the role’s function or level. Food and ingredient companies want people who can identify trends and consumer insights, and move quickly to address them. They want people who can envision using the full capabilities of an organization and understand what a flexible supplier looks like.”

Whitney concluded: “Because so much is riding on bringing in the right person, we engage in a very deliberate process to ensure we present a slate of candidates with the combination of skills, experience, and personal characteristics that will fit with the innovation goals and culture of each particular client.”

Article provided by: www.KRsearch.com

About Kincannon & Reed
Kincannon & Reed recruits leaders for organizations that feed the world and keep it healthy. Their focus is on the interrelated realms of food, agribusiness, and life science. Their clients range from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, as well as investment funds, financial institutions, industry associations, universities, and non-profit and development organizations. This sector knowledge streamlines the search process and enables them to better asses a candidates organizational fit and more compellingly present to them a client’s opportunity. In addition, the principals at Kincannon & Reed are former senior executives from the sectors they serve. This distinctive difference allows them to understand at a personal level, not just at an intellectual level, the environment in which you operate. The result is a quality conversation around your needs and a smoother recruitment process. To learn more about Kincannon & Reed, visit: www.KRsearch.com

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