Early Stage Exporters – Eligibility

Eligible Applicants

Eligible applicants do not need to be a member of the OCC to qualify however they must:
Be an established company directly producing their own products in Ontario
Be incorporated for a minimum of two years and currently operating in Ontario
Have an export mandate
Have a minimum of 3 full time employees
Have annual sales between $300,000 and $500,000
Have products to be sold in export markets that are market ready
Have strong growth potential
Have capacity to meet foreign market demand
Be a company in one of the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure (MEDEI) priority sectors: Advanced Manufacturing; Aerospace; Building Products and Construction; Clean technology (including renewable energy and environmental technologies); Exportable Professional Services (e.g. architecture, engineering, urban planning); ICT including digital media; Life Sciences
Be able to submit financial statements (i.e. Notice to Reader, Review Engagement, or Full Audited statements) reviewed by an external third party Canadian designated accountant for at least one fiscal year and interim statement (prior or current year)
Have $2,000,000 of commercial general liability insurance that includes products and completed operations liability
Be in full compliance with all government laws and regulations
Not be receiving any other contributions from public funds towards the activities contained in the funding application other than support provided through the export development programs offered by MEDEI

Consideration will be given to companies that do not meet eligibility criteria.

Eligible Activities

There are four categories of activities that are funded by the ESE program:
Direct Contacts;
Marketing Tools;
Market Research; and
Foreign Bidding Projects.

The costs of these activities are shared (50/50) between the applicant and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. Non-repayable contributions generally range from a minimum of $5,000 to a maximum of $30,000 (Market Research: $5,000 maximum). Applicants are allowed three events per application.

Eligible expenses are only those incurred directly by the applicant and after the project approval date, the only exceptions being booth and registration costs, and airfare.

Read more about eligible activities costs the Early Stage Exporters Application Guide.

Non-Eligible Costs for All ESE Activities

Individual shipping of product samples other than for trade show purposes
Travel for consultants and/or agents hired by applicants
Applicant officials’ travel within Canada
Web site hosting fees
Salaries and commissions with the exception of consulting fees subject to prior approval
All recoverable taxes
Capital costs such as office equipment, computers, office space, booth purchase, etc.
Entertainment and hospitality
Postage and courier fees
Building web applications targeting foreign customers
Creating content for web site(s) promoting export capabilities
Creating online tools promoting trade potential
Developing e-newsletters, online journals, e-commerce portal
Cost to modify existing products to meet foreign standards, consumer preferences, etc.
Cost to modify or design packaging to meet foreign regulations and local customs
Purchase of generic and/or existing software applications
Product analysis to meet labelling requirements
Costs associated to activities where company officials (salaried employees) are not participating

Conditions of Participation for All Eligible Applicants

Application forms must include all required information and be signed/endorsed by a senior executive of the applicant company certifying that the information is accurate and verifiable
Applicants are required to sign/endorse a “declaration of good corporate citizenship” or a “personal declaration” and be in compliance with all government laws and regulations
Application forms will become the property of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. Information provided by applicants will be made available to a review committee for the purposes of determining eligibility for funding
Contact information (mailing address, telephone and fax numbers, as well as e-mail and web site addresses) will be included in the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s client management system for correspondence purposes
Applicants agree that the Ontario Chamber of Commerce shall have the right to make available and/or to publish in print or electronically, certain analyses, reports or studies which are based upon aggregate data which is derived from information contained in the application forms and results achieved (performance indicators) for those applications which are funded. At the OCC`s discretion, these studies and aggregated data may be released to selected groups including other government entities or to the public at large
Applicants agree that the OCC may publish the names and level of funding for all grant recipients
Once received by the OCC, all applications will be at all times the property of the OCC and none will be returned. The OCC will not be responsible for applications which are lost, misdirected or delayed
All decisions of the review committee are final
Applicants approved for funding are required to enter into and abide by the conditions outlined in the Terms and Conditions. The Terms and Conditions will be signed/endorsed by an authorized officer of the applicant company

Evaluation Criteria for All Eligible Applicants

Applications will be reviewed on a continuous basis. Funding decisions will be subject to a 30 business day turnaround time providing the application for funding is complete when submitted and all requirements have been met. The turnaround time is not applicable, if applications are incomplete.

The review committee will consist of representatives from the OCC, select members of the OCC Board of Directors and external representatives. The review committee will assess applications using the following criteria:
Eligibility of activities and expenditures for funding and linking of proposed activities to the ESE program objectives;
Financial and management capability of the applicant to complete the proposed activities as described in a timely basis;
Level of funding requested in relation to the performance measurement;
Validation of expected results and outcomes – what are the measurements, how will these be measured and what performance indicators will be used;

Completeness of the application; and
Ensuring a broad number of sectors and regions across Ontario benefit from the program.

Payment Terms and Reporting Requirements

An initial payment of 40% of the award amount will be made upon the return of the signed approval letter and proof of insurance ($2,000,000 in commercial general liability and must include products and completed operations liability, see Article 11 of the Terms and Conditions).

An Expenses Report that details the actual amount of incurred expenses is due 90 days after the project end date. Eligible expenses are those that are directly incurred by the applicant and must be supported by receipts, invoices, and proof of payment (i.e. cancelled cheques, credit card statement and wire transfers. Please note this proof does not include cash payments, credit memos, in contra, bartering and other forms of non-directly verifiable transactions). Proof of payments are not required to access the full per diem allowance.

Please note the submission of the Expense Report does not trigger a second payment. Only the completion and receipt of the Final Activity Report allows for the second payment to be issued. The total payment will not exceed the amount stipulated in the contract and may, depending on the information contained in the Expense Report, be less than the award amount.

A Final Report that includes details on expenses incurred and performance achievements, i.e. export sales generated, jobs created and leads generated as a direct result of the project is due by the Term date of the application. Supporting documentation is required for the Final Report to substantiate results. This includes purchase orders, job titles and lead lists that are directly attributable to the project. Once the Final Report has been processed, the second payment will be issued.

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