Apply for a Innovate BC Innovator Skills Initiative (ISI) grant:

Applications accepted on a rolling basis.

  • Deadline to apply for grants falling within the May 2019 – April 2020 time period is March 9, 2020.

The program has been extended. Summer 2020 applications will open in March.

Have questions? Sign up for our next webinar.

Apply now

Eligibility check

You are

  • A tech company or tech startup in BC, or
  • A non-profit tech organization in BC

Your student

  • Is not an accredited co-op student (internships, work placements and non-accredited co-ops at private schools are acceptable, please contact us to confirm)
  • Is taking on a business or technical role
  • Is currently enrolled at an accredited post secondary institution in BC or is taking one semester off (ie: summer)
  • Part-time, full time and international students are eligible
  • Any level of post-secondary (certificate, undergrad, master level, phd post-doc, etc.) is accepted
  • Hiring from a private school? Check if it’s accredited

You agree to

  • Offer entrepreneurial and business training to the student, including 3 hours of work time for your student to complete online Market Validation Training (we provide this to your student as a free, online course)
  • Match grant funding 100% in cash or as a combination of cash and up to 25% in kind
  • Complete surveys and comply with the terms of the funding

If approved you can receive:

  • Up to $5000 towards your student’s payroll, per term (amount is based on your student’s total salary)
  • Up to two vouchers per year (running May – April), worth a total of $10,000
  • Funds are paid out at the end of the term, after providing paystubs, a final survey, and proof of completion of online Market Validation training

I am approved for a grant. When will I get paid?

You will be reimbursed at the end of the work term.

The checklist to receive payment:

  • Submit a payment form
  • Upload paystubs (or proof of payment)
  • Complete a final survey
  • Ensure your student completed Modules 1 and 2 of online Market Validation Training

What is the ISI grant approval process?

How does the cash and in-kind matching formula work?

If a student earned a $8,000 salary, and a company matched it 100% in cash, then the company would pay $4000 and the Innovate BC ISI grant would provide $4000.

If you are matching 75% in cash and 25% in kind, then you divide by 1.75 to determine the grant amount. In this case:

  • $8,000 / 1.75 =  it would be a $4571.43 grant
  • Cash contribution is $8000 – $4571.43 =  $3428.56
  • The grant + cash contribution = the student’s salary of $8000.

For in kind at 25%, you would multiply the grant by .25.

  • $4571.43 x .25 = $1142.86

The in-kind would be things like mentorship hours and training for the student.

If when dividing the salary by 1.75, you get a number larger than $5000, you would simply ask for a $5000 grant, then ensure the rest of the salary was coming from cash.


Can the Innovate BC ISI grants be stacked with other funding?

Yes, other sources of funding can be used as the cash match, so long as the total amount of grants does not exceed the student’s salary, and the funding is allocated for the student’s salary.

Are international students eligible?

Yes, international students are eligible if they are currently enrolled at an accredited post-secondary institution in BC and will be working in BC.

What qualifies as an ‘in-kind’ contribution?

In-kind contributions are limited to:

  • Mentorship provided to student by executives (eg. CEO, EIR, CTO) that is necessary for role
  • Training by staff (Management, Specialists, Programmers) provided to student that is necessary for role
  • Access to Office Space, Equipment, Software or other Project Consumables that will NOT remain with company after the work term ends
  • Membership Fees | Training Courses | Workshops critically necessary for student’s role
  • Travel & Accommodation necessary for the student’s project / role

How do companies determine the in-kind value of staff training time?

When determining the value of in-kind training hours, training time provided to the student by owners, founders, and staff should be calculated using salary or hourly rates that accurately reflect the real cost to the company. Consulting or external charge-out rates will not be accepted for owners, founders, or staff of the company.

Maximum values are:

Mentorship provided to student by executives (eg. CEO, EIR, CTO) that is necessary for role: $60 /hour

Training by staff (Management, Specialists, Programmers) provided to student that is necessary for role: $25/hour

Can a company receive other wage offsets for the student employee and remain eligible for an ISI grant (e.g SR&ED)?

A wage offset will not disqualify a company for an ISI grant.

Does the company need to be a client of New Ventures BC or the Venture Acceleration Program (VAP) in order to be eligible for an ISI grant?

The program is open to all BC tech companies.

How does Online Market Validation Training work?

It’s a a program of online modules, designed to provide entrepreneurial and business trainingInformation on how to sign up will be provided once approved for a grant.

If a student is hired on a contract, rather than as an employee, is the placement still eligible for a grant?

Yes. Any employment that meets legal standards and is compliant with the BC Employment Standards Act is accepted.

Is a publicly traded company eligible to obtain a grant to hire a student?

Yes, a company can be publicly traded and be eligible.

What if the student is a recent graduate and not a current BC student, are they still eligible?

The student must be currently enrolled in a BC post-secondary institution.

Can students be enrolled at a private post-secondary?

Yes, as long as the post-secondary institution is accredited under the governing bodies of BC. If you are in doubt, please check with New Ventures BC for confirmation.

What if the student is from BC but attending a post-secondary institution outside of BC, are they eligible?

Only students attending BC post-secondary institutions are eligible.

Can student and company matches be made in the middle of a term?

Yes, the goal is for all work term matches to be completed by May 31 for summer term, September 30 for the fall term, and January 30 for the spring term. However, if you see an opportunity for a student and company match, please apply and discuss with New Ventures BC as there may be flexibility.

Do the students have to work the whole duration of each work term (summer, fall, spring)?

There is flexibility. The work term start and end dates align with typical academic work terms. However, students are employed during the work term for as long as their voucher amount, plus any matching cash contributions from the company, last. The duration should be a reasonable length to serve the goals of the program; that is, to provide the student with on-the-job training and mentorship in entrepreneurial or business skills.

Do students need to be working with the companies by the start of the term?

Start dates are flexible.

If a student placement is being partially funded through another source, is the placement eligible for an ISI grant?

Yes, a grant is applicable to student placements that are partially funded.

Can the student employee be a family member?

Grants cannot be used to hire immediate family members of the senior management team, ie. brother, sister, daughter, son, mother or father.

Does New Ventures BC pair students and companies?

No, it is the company’s responsibility to find a student.

I am hiring two students how many grant applications do I need to make?

Each term/grant requires it’s own separate application.

Get the full details

Read more

“For the first term, we hired one student; in the second term, we hired two. The success of the program at the start carried over in making us realize the potential of creating a larger team.”

How does the ISI grant program work?

Watch our webinar to find out.

Have questions? Contact us!

Want to keep in touch? Join our mail list.

Want to connect with us online? Sign up for our next webinar.