No, but a terrible pun!
As an entrepreneur, money is your life line. And although it is better to have some starting capital, you have to go for maximum financial help. In addition, entrepreneurship is a team sport and even the best player needs help on improving his shot or skating. It is in this spirit that IRAP was founded.
This blog post is the first in a serie on finding capital and help for entrepreneurs. You will learn what the IRAP is, what it is for and it is meant for you.
1- What is the IRAP
IRAP or Industrial Research Assistance Program is a program from the National Research Council of Canada. It helps small and medium-sized businesses innovate with financial support and technical support. Indeed, one must never leave money on the table, especially if it is specifically dedicated to technological innovation.
2- IRAP – Technical Advisory Service and Youth Employment Program
After a call to IRAP, here are the answers I got about Technical Advisory Services and the Youth Employment Program
IRAP – Technical Advisory Service
- It’s free. I like free stuff!
- The Technical Advisory Service guides the entrepreneur to the appropriate resources through the extensive IRAP advisor contact network. For example, a company that wants to validate the mechanical properties of a new material but is not equipped to do so can contact one of the advisors who will find the right resources.
- The advantages of proceeding so are:
Let the system work. Rather than searching Google, then evaluating multiple companies and meeting many Sales Representatives without always being successful, IRAP does this job for you.
Enjoy the filtering. IRAP must be impartial and guide you to the best resources. There is nothing more frustrating than realizing that you have lost time looking in the wrong place. Or that the service does not meet your needs.
Effortlessly build a strong network of partners. Although business networking activities are essential, they do not always provide the expected contacts. Knowing that you can build a strong network without having to attend every after hour gathering, lunch and learn, Meetups and golf tournaments is worth its weight in gold!
IRAP – Youth Employment Program
- The youth employment program provides financial support for salaries. This amount can go up to several thousand dollars. For more info, I encourage you to contact a advisor.
- Here are the benefits that I have identified:
Applicable for start-ups, even when the entrepreneur is alone. Perfect for the entrepreneur looking for a trainee who can become an employee, or even a partner.
Great way to give a chance to a young person with significant work experience. No mocha latte experience here!
- Here are the hiring requirements from the NRC-IRAP website
- Between 15 – 30 years of age (inclusive). The intern, not you!
- A post-secondary graduate
- A Canadian citizen, permanent resident of Canada, or person who has been granted refugee status in Canada
- Legally entitled to work according to the relevant provincial legislation and regulations
- A first-time participant in a Youth Employment Strategy work experience program targeted at post-secondary graduates
- Internships are available anywhere in Canada and must last a minimum of six months, and a maximum of twelve months.
3- IRAP – Financial Assistance
Here are IRAP financial assistance criteria from the NRC website:
- be a small and medium-sized enterprise in Canada, incorporated and profit-oriented;
- have 500 or fewer full-time equivalent employees; and
- have the objective to grow and generate profits through development and commercialization of innovative, technology-driven new or improved products, services, or processes in Canada.
In addition, you have to show that the project has potential and demonstrate the following:
- the business and management capabilities of the firm and the company’s potential to achieve the expected results and outcomes associated with the proposed project;
- the financial capabilities of the firm and its plan to commercialize the developed technologies; and
- the technical aspects of the project and its potential impact on the firm.
Thus, IRAP financial assistance is intended for entrepreneurs who have already started their business, rather than start-ups at the preincubation stage.
I will discuss incubation and business preincubation in another blog post.
Pro Tip: Register for the Business Launch Training offered by Emploi-Quebec for free. You will learn how to use the Business Model Canvas or BMC to quickly review all of your product and business ideas, rejecting the majority and keeping those with the most potential. Believe me, it’s better to find out from the get go that you have a bad idea and cut your losses, rather than spending time and money on a product that people will not buy.
More info on Business Launch training and the BMC in another blog post!
The IRAP Financial Assistance component is intended for established SMEs wishing to innovate, rather than preincubation start-ups. We must look for capital elsewhere.
More info on looking for financial help in another blog post.
IRAP Technical Advisory Service provides guidance to the entrepreneur by letting IRAP advisor do the heavy lifting. Better than that, this service is free and will allow you to learn more on the ecosystem of entrepreneurship. Since you have to bootstrap from the get go, this is a resource that all entrepreneurs must use.