- Can’t miss conference: SPARK Nov 6-7
- The grant mystery explained
- Growing Forward 3 (known as Canadian Agricultural Partnership)
As we are just over halfway through the government fiscal year, I want to give my grant readers an update on some important grant information.
Winning grants is a three-step process. You find the grant, meet the grant agency, then write your application.
The most important step is meeting the grant agency, and coming up next week you have an event you can’t miss: SPARK.
Spark is being put on by the Alberta grant agency HEAVY WEIGHTS: Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) and Alberta Innovates (AI). I define heavy weights as a grant that is greater than one million dollars.
Here is how ERA and AI describe the event. I’ll give you the governmentese translation right after.
“Emissions Reduction Alberta and Alberta Innovates are proud to host this conference that will inspire, motivate and support researchers and innovators by connecting them with others working to advance innovative technology—including bioindustrial solutions. We are providing opportunities for knowledge extension, with a “complete solutions” approach to accelerating the development of new products and technologies that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or advance Alberta’s bioindustrial sector along the path to commercialization.”
“The largest grant agencies in the province are holding an open house. You have to pay to get in (Regular: $425.00 | Student: $250.00), but if you come and we like you and your technology, we’re going to give you a huge grant. We have took a lot of flack from the bioindustrial sector, so we’re going to be especially interested in meeting anyone in that field.”
By the way if you’re wondering what “bioindustrial” means, I don’t know. But I’ll give you an update after the conference. Follow our facebook page, I’ll put an update there: https://www.facebook.com/albertabusinessgrants/
The government describes bioindustrial on this site: http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/bt14861
HERE IS WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM EXPERIENCE: GRANT AGENCIES WILL HOLD AN EVENT AND MOST SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS WILL NOT SHOW UP!!!
If you are developing a technology that improves our environment or creates -value added products from forestry, this event will be like shooting fish in a barrel with the water drained. Inevitably someone from the SPARK podium is going to say, how many small business owners do we have here? And few people will stand up. At least that has been my experience in the past, and I’m sure it will happen next week.
BUT THE GRANTS ARE FOR THE SMALL BUSINESS OWNER, SO YOU SHOULD GO!
Grants are a mystery. I can’t think of any other industry where someone holds an event called “Free money for small business,” and few business owners will come. The entrepreneurs are usually too busy or don’t even know the event is going on.
This mystery is a classical government problem: getting its message out.
Just think about the names of these grant agency heavyweights: Emission Reductions Alberta (environment grant agency) and Alberta Innovates (technology grants).
No wonder business owners can’t even find them. They google “environment grants” or “technology grants” and struggle unless they call me, then all the pain goes away. Shameless plug but it’s true. Haha.
Wouldn’t this event be fun if the private sector was running it?
Think of the names for this conference: “BIG GRANT BLOWOUT” this Tuesday!
“GET YOUR FREE MONEY BEFORE IT’S ALL GONE!”
It would be hilarious.
But that’s not how grants work or ever will work.
Grants will always look something like how the people at SPARK describe who is coming to its event:
If you’re an entrepreneur or an aspiring one reading this sentence, you need to pay attention to the above word “Enablers.” And it’s not the term used in toxic relationships (come on, that’s funny, admit it).
Don’t walk into the SPARK conference and say “I’m looking for an enabler,” they’ll likely say something like, “I don’t sell what you are looking for.”
“Enablers” in this case are grant staff – the people with the $$ for your invention. And meeting all of them in one place is an absolute dream, so you should go for sure.
Okay I’m going to move on to two other important announcements, but that was the most fun I’ve had writing this blog to date. You can register for SPARK here: http://spark2017.ca/index.php/register
Growing Forward Three (Canadian Agricultural Partnership)
What’s that you ask? Growing Forward Three (GF3), which will be know as CAP, is the next five-year wave of agriculture grants. The program starts April 1, 2018.
GF3 is the umbrella for all the agriculture grants, so you need to be watching it closely.
According to my research, the news has been quiet lately. You can learn more about the future of agriculture grants here: https://www.canada.ca/en/agriculture-agri-food/news/2017/07/new_canadian_agriculturalpartnershiptohelppositioncanadaasaleade.html
2019 UPDATE – the new program is rolling!
Government Fiscal Year
The government fiscal year runs April 1 to March 31. That means you need to be on your toes when it comes to grant funding.
Some grant agencies will open and close competitions throughout the year, others are first come first service.
Given that we are in November at the time of this writing, you need to speak to the agency before you meet.
If you decide to go to SPARK, I want to leave you with the six key questions you should ask a grant agency before you write:
1. AM I ELIGIBLE?
2. ARE FUNDS STILL AVAILABLE THIS YEAR?
3. ARE YOU STILL ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS?
4. WHAT IS THE DEADLINE?
5. HOW COMPETITIVE IS THE PROGRAM?
6. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE?
If you go to SPARK and you see me, please come and say hi.
Have a great week!