Image Alt Text

Guide to Small Business Grants in BC

Many startup companies or established businesses looking to expand their operations turn to grant programs to help them fund their business activities. Should your start-up or current business require financial assistance, this article can help.

This British Columbia grants guide will explore the funding opportunities available to small businesses within the province. This includes BC government grants and the first-time business owner grants BC and specific funding programs like BC Works, the BC employer training grant, and the Columbia Basin Trust grants.

Do you operate a business in another province? Check out all provincial grants guides.

Applying for BC Small Business Grants

During the British Columbia grants application process, small and medium-sized businesses and young entrepreneurs must provide specific information and documentation necessary to illustrate their credentials for receiving funding. Fully funded grants are only given to businesses that can prove they fit the program’s guidelines.

For that reason, when researching small business grants, business owners should make a list of all documentation they need to successfully apply for financial support. Such information includes:

  • The business’ financial information, including yearly revenue generation
  • The business’s registration and licensing for legally operating within British Columbia, including any other industry-specific licensing requirements
  • The business’ employee list, including the number of full time and part-time workers
  • A business plan covering the business operations of the company, or a proposed project plan including project scope, budget, and timeline
  • Any referrals or letters of support
  • How much funding is coming from other sources outside of the grant program

Who is Eligible for Small Business Grants in British Columbia?

Providing documentation is only part of the grant application process. Businesses and entrepreneurs must meet certain other eligibility criteria before receiving any funding from the provincial and federal government, professional service providers, or participating financial institutions. For example, many BC startup grants can only be applied to British Columbia residents and Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

Other common requirements include the size of the business and how it is structured. Some grants only allow small and medium-sized enterprises, while others are only for incorporated companies. There are also location-specific funding opportunities, like Vancouver grants or the Columbia Basin Trust grants.

Therefore, when researching grants, like first-time business owners grants BC, it is essential to make sure your business or organization matches all eligibility criteria before applying. This ensures you do not waste any time or energy on grants that might not fit your business.

Arts Industry Grants

Vancouver Artist Studio award program

What is it?

The city of Vancouver’s Artist Studio Award Program is aimed at supporting local Vancouver artists in their creative pursuits. The city is offering two work-only studios and five live-work studios to professional artists to allow them to dedicate more time, resources, and energy to their artistic practice.

Dance, music, creative writing, painting, drawing, pottery, sculpture, video, and moving or still photography are all artistic endeavours supported for the studio spaces.

How much is awarded?

This Vancouver grants funding comes in the form of seven studio spaces that are awarded to successful applicants to live and work within for up to two years at a time.

Who can apply?

Applicants that currently work and practice as an artist, have resided in Vancouver for over two years prior to applying, are facing financial challenges, and are Black, Indigenous and/or people of colour can apply for these studio spaces.

  • Under this Vancouver grants program, an artist is defined as:
  • Having an active and established artistic practice for at least five years or more
  • Being recognized by their peers as an artist
  • Having specialized training in their practice
  • Receiving compensation for their work
  • Having a history of public dissemination of their work

How to apply?

Watch the City of Vancouver’s video on how to apply.

It is important to note that the studios are awarded to artists through a juried process every three years.

Economic Growth and Investment Grants

The Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) Business Scale-up and Productivity

What is it?

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) manages this Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP) federal government program. Their funding helps support high-growth businesses that produce innovative goods, services, or technologies and are looking to scale up.

How much is awarded?

This BC government grant can contribute a minimum of $200,000 to a maximum of $5 million per project, or $10 million to any one organization, covering up to 50% of eligible project costs. It is important to note that 50% of funding must come from a non-government source and must be identified when submitting an expression of interest before the grant application.

Who can apply?

Eligible small to mid-sized companies must:

  • Be considered high-growth and are currently scaling up
  • Be incorporated in Canada
  • Have been in business for at least two years before applying
  • Have staff-operated facilities in Western Canada
  • Have identified all funding sources, both government and non-government (at least 50% of funding must come from non-government sources) at the time of submitting an expression of interest
  • Have aims to support or accelerate growth in productivity improvement, business scale up, or technology commercialization
  • Have a maximum project duration of 3 years focused on one or more of the following areas: advanced manufacturing, clean resources, clean technology, digital industries, health/bio sciences, natural resources value-added processing, value-added agriculture

Small and medium enterprises with fewer than 500 full-time employees may be given preference for this financial support.

How to apply?

Interested applicants must submit an expression of interest before applying directly for financial assistance. Check out the BSP EOI help guide before submitting. Once the expression of interest has been received, only those businesses that have made it to the next round will be invited to apply.

Columbia Basin Trust Region Grants

What is it?

Columbia Basin Trust grants are available for small businesses within the Columbia Basin Trust region in British Columbia. These grants and business loans are available in two funding streams:

  • Career Internship Program: This program offers financial assistance for businesses looking to hire full-time interns on a permanent basis. Funding is provided to support employers with hiring and training emerging professionals.
  • Impact Investment Fund: This fund provides loans to businesses and organizations looking for financing that can’t otherwise secure conventional funding streams. The loan is meant to support their credible business opportunities that can positively impact the community.

How much is awarded?

The Career Internship Program covers up to 50% of an intern’s salary when hired for full-time, permanent work by eligible employers, up to a maximum of $25,000 over a 7 to 12 month period.

The Impact Investment Fund comes in the form of a repayable loan, with flexible financing salutations and payment terms, in the amount of $10,000 to $250,000, depending on the applicant.

Who can apply?

The Career Internship Program is split into two eligible classes – employers and new graduates looking for work. Eligible employers include businesses, registered non-profit organizations, First Nations communities, and local governments within the Columbia Basin Trust region. In addition, employers must illustrate their fiscal and organizational need for an intern and wage funding.

Unemployed graduates that have graduated from a post-secondary institution within the last five years prior to the internship will be eligible to partner with employers accepted by this Columbia Basin Trust grants program.

For the Impact Investment Fund, First Nations organizations, social enterprises, nonprofits and businesses established in the Columbia Basin Trust region are all eligible to apply for this loan grant. The business or organization must illustrate that their investment opportunity can provide a significant positive impact to the local economy.

How to apply?

Apply for the Internship program through the Trust’s online application site.

First Nations organizations, nonprofits, or social enterprises can apply for the Investment fund by contacting, while businesses must contact their nearest Community Futures Office or Heritage Credit Union.

Employee Share Ownership Program

What is it?

The Employee Share Ownership Program (ESOP) encourages employees and employers to work together for the business’s long-term success by motivating employees to invest in the companies they work within. Retiring business owners can use this program to sell shares of their company directly to their employees. ESOP is meant to promote succession planning, employee engagement, and employee recruitment and retention.

How much is awarded?

BC government grants like this Employee Share Ownership Program come in the form of a tax credit. Employees will receive a 20% tax credit for investing in their employers’ businesses, with up to $2,000 in tax credits annually.

Who can apply?

Eligible employees include those that are BC residents, are not existing major shareholders in the company, and who work 20 or more hours per week. Eligible companies include Canadian companies that pay at least 25% of their wages to BC residents and have less than $500 million in total assets.

How to apply?

To apply for this business credit availability program, call the toll-free number 1-800-665-6597, or email your inquiries directly to

Innovative Grants

Innovate BC’s Ignite Program

What is it?

Innovate BC’s Ignite Program supports businesses looking to commercialize their research and development through the Research and Development Grants. Chosen business projects will be those that are driven by industry needs and promote significant benefits to British Columbia. Funds will be used to accelerate innovations towards commercialization in the natural resources and applied sciences and engineering sectors.

How much is awarded?

Funding comes in the form of a maximum contribution of $300,000 per project over a 3-year duration. Projects must secure matching funds from other industry or government sources at a ratio of 2:1 to the Ignite program’s contribution. This means that a project that receives the full $300,000 from Innovate BC must also have an available $600,000 from other sources.

Who can apply?

Eligible parties include British Columbia-based partnerships made up of two or more companies, organizations, and academic researchers. The partnership can be formal or informal as long as there is a clearly defined collaboration between the academic and industry parties. Learn more about partnership eligibility here.

Projects must demonstrate that it corrects a significant problem faced by the science or technology industry, specifically the natural resources and applied science sectors. The project must also create a partnership between the industry and academic organizations.

How to apply?

Each year Innovate BC will select six to eight research projects to allocate funding to. Applications can be submitted to​​ Innovate BC Smart Simple application platform.

Workforce Diversity and Development Grants

Innovators skill initiative

What is it?

Innovate BC, and the Government of British Columbia, manage the Innovator Skills Initiative to help businesses in the tech sector diversify their positions and fill talent shortages. Grants funding is provided to employers to help fill tech or tech-related positions with underrepresented people.

How much is awarded?

This BC government funding comes in the form of a maximum contribution of $10,000 per candidate per company as a means to supplement the new employee’s salary. The program provides up to 10 grants for ten different employees each year.

Who can apply?

Eligible employers must check one of the following criteria:

  • Be a BC-based tech company or nonprofit hiring for a business or tech role
  • Be a BC-based non-tech company, nonprofit, or post-secondary institution hiring for a tech role
  • Be a BC-based local or regional authority or Indigenous community hiring for a tech role

Employee eligibility includes individuals eligible to work in British Columbia, have completed training or education on or after December 1, 2019, and self-identify as an under-represented group. Under-represented groups include Indigenous, Black and people of colour, 2SLGBTQQIA+, neuro-diverse, persons living with a visible or invisible disability, women, youth from care, non-binary, or other.

How to apply?

Submit the Program’s application form to Innovate BC to receive grant funding.

BC Employer Training Grant (ETG)

What is it?

The Employer Training Grant (ETG) program, funded by WorkBC, supports British Columbians’ access skill training to adapt to the changing requirements of the job market while encouraging employers to take part in the training of their employees.

Training is divided into five streams: impacted worker training, workforce training, technical training, foundational training, and persons with disabilities training.

How much is awarded?

BC employer training grants funding is provided in the form of a reimbursement which will vary between 60% and 100% depending on the training stream. Eligible employers can receive up to $300,000 per fiscal year for eligible training costs.

How to apply?

Create your own business profile by registering on the BCeID portal to start the application process.

Women in Trades Training Programs

What is it?

The Women in Trades Training Programs put on by the Industry Training Authority (ITA) focus on supporting women and other underrepresented groups entering into trade occupations. With 11 programs offering individualized and group services and support, hands-on training, entry-level technical training, industry certification training, mentorships, job coaching, and employment placement services, women and minority groups can enter into the trades and construction trades industries.

How much is awarded?

Support is provided in the form of technical support, including training and counselling. All programs aim to secure employment for eligible participants.

Who can apply?

Eligibility will differ depending on the chosen sponsored program.

How to apply?

Learn how to apply for all 11 sponsored programs here.

Workplace Accessibility Grant

What is it?

The Workplace Accessibility Grant put on my Small Business BC (SBBC) supports small business employers in British Columbia by providing financial support aimed at creating an inclusive work environment for persons with disabilities.

The grant funding can support building a more inclusive work environment, anti-bias training, policy revision, implementing inclusive technologies, and updating information and communication documentation.

How much is awarded?

The maximum contribution for any one business is $1,000.

Who can apply?

Eligible businesses include those based in British Columbia, are registered with the government to legally operate out of the province, and have between 1 and 50 employees (both full-time and part-time included).

How to apply?

Register and apply for the Workplace Accessibility grant online using the SBBC portal.

Get your BC small business grants application off to a good start when your business uses accounting software like QuickBooks Online to manage your finances. Generate financial reports and manage the books to ensure you get the British Columbia grants funding you need to succeed. Start your free trial today!

Related Articles

Looking for something else?

Get QuickBooks

Smart features made for your business. We've got you covered.

Firm of the Future

Expert advice and resources for today’s accounting professionals.

QuickBooks Support

Get help with QuickBooks. Find articles, video tutorials, and more.