Biowork - Building Skills for Canada's Bio-economy

Investment in biotechnologies and innovation is a driving force for the Canadian economy, and many entrepreneurs rely on new technologies to stay competitive. Depending on the project, financing is available through different channels, including government programs and private lenders.

Government-Sponsored Funding and Programs

There are different options to access funding while building key skills for Canada's bio-economy, one being to apply for government grants. There are several types of funding, including business expansion and hiring grants. They are offered to businesses that need financing for commercialization and pilot projects, skill training, equipment financing, and expansion to new markets. Grants are also available to businesses that seek to invest in technology innovation, research, better work productivity, and new operations. Hiring grants are another option to explore and are offered through various provincial and federal programs. They are available to businesses that plan to hire college or university graduates. Some programs are also open to businesses planning to offer employment opportunities on senior positions. There are also collaborative research and development programs whereby academic institutions are offered financing while businesses benefit from the fact that they are offered innovative biotechnology solutions. The Build in Canada Innovation Program is a third option to look into and focuses on a number of priority areas, including material efficiency and energy, alternative energies, greenhouse gases, information management, enabling technologies, and a lot more. Priority areas include the following:

  • Assistive and medical devices
  • Health research
  • Healthy environments
  • Food supply
  • Green materials and buildings
  • Energy conserving systems
  • Component technologies
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Air pollution control
  • Industrial waste management

There are other programs as well, for example, the NSERC Engage Program and the Growing Forward 2 Program, the latter emphasizing the importance of innovative products. Generally speaking, when you apply for grants, take into account factors such as financing needs, type of industry, revenue over the last two years, business status, and others.

Private Lenders

Peer to peer lenders and other private investors also offer business financing - here is a list. You can get a private loan from acquaintances, friends, family, or third parties you already know - here are some tips. In this case, you should try to convince them that there is a market niche for your product. Private investors usually require less control over resources and may be willing to finance a start-up if they are convinced that it is a viable investment. To choose from different funding options, you may want to consider the stage your company is at, size, equipment and machinery required, and amount of investment funding to start or expand your business. Meanwhile, while looking for financing, this is a good time to build skills for Canada's bio-economy. There are different networks that offer knowhow and expertise and organize workshops, conferences, webinars, and seminars.

There are other options to explore, including angel investors, private investors, bank loans, business credit and venture capitalists. If applying for a bank loan, it is a good idea to develop a solid business plan. Your business plan must include key components such as executive summary, information about your management team, financial projections and estimates, market strategy, intellectual property, and market opportunities. Venture capital is one alternative to finance your project. In fact, this is a common funding source for businesses that work in the biotech sector but the downside is that you have to give them control over decision making and everyday operations. Venture capitalists offer financing to start-up companies in the biotechnology sector. VCs usually finance businesses with a potential for expansion and growth. Businesses, on the other hand, benefit from networking and contacts, management expertise, financial support, and more. VCs also help businesses to create a strategic plan and identify and prioritize resources. Basically, they contribute to company growth through experience, knowhow, and financing. A third option for businesses in the biotech sector is to contact angel investors. They invest in start-up businesses and offer larger amounts of up to $500,000. Similar to venture capitalists, they also require some control over the company's resources and operations while start-up businesses benefit from knowhow and expert advice.

The Canadian Bio Economy, Outlook and Perspectives for Sustainable Development

The Canadian bio economy is based on 4 pillars or strategies - energy and bio-processing, agri-environmental products, value-added processing, and food production. The agri-biotech sector specializes in animal and plant genetics, livestock vaccines, and animal supplements and functional foods while the health sector focuses on bio molecules, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices. The energy and industrial sectors specialize in plastics, coatings, solvents, methane, and oils. Read More...

Financing a Business in the Biotechnology Industry

While opening a business in the biotech industry may look like a challenge, there are steps to make to cover the basics and build a profitable business. From developing a sound business plan to finding cheap funding sources, opening a business requires careful planning.

Find Your Niche

To start a successful business, the first step is to find a niche where there is demand and market need for your products or services. The industry includes different subsectors such as white and red biotechnology, green and blue biotechnology, and bioinformatics.

Develop a Good Business Plan

A sound business plan increases your chances of being approved for cheap credit. Include components such as executive summary, financial estimates and projections, intellectual property, as well as and market strategy and opportunity. You may want to include information such as significant product features, type and size of market for your products, business opportunity, and the purpose of your business plan.

Sources of Funding

Loans by private lenders and financing under government programs are two alternatives to consider to cover start-up costs such as licenses and permits, product development, machinery, research, and manufacturing. Angel investors and grants are two other options to look into. The type of loan and lender for your sector and product depend on factors such as financing needs, industry, credit score, and business and personal information and business status. There are several credit options for start-up biotech businesses, including equity financing, conditionally repayable contribution, subsidies, government guaranteed financing, and no and low-interest loans. Government guaranteed loans, for example, are offered under provincial and federal programs, and amounts vary from $1,500 to $10 million. Biotech businesses benefit from competitive interest rates, and in some cases (like grants), funding is non-repayable. Check for funding opportunities designed for different types of businesses, geographic regions, and industries. The Canada Small Business Financing Program is the first place to look for financing to buy new or used equipment and machinery, real estate, buildings, land, commercial vehicles, etc. Applicants meet the criteria provided that they are start-up companies or small businesses, the only exception being farming businesses. Companies with revenue of over $5 million are not eligible. Another option is to apply for a business loan with credit unions or major banks. If you have valuable assets such as commercial vehicles or premises, this will certainly help.