ISI Grant Program

What counts as tech?

Our definition of tech is broad – anything from app development to web design to life sciences and more. Even craft breweries count! (It’s biotech.) If you are a business applying with a tech role, the role must use or create tech.

For example, a tech role could run social media accounts, use AutoCad or design UX | UA interfaces.

The ISI program is full. What will happen to my in-progress application in the portal?

All in-progress applications will remain in the ISI grant portal. Should further funding become available you will be notified by email. A that time you can complete your application and submit for review.

My ISI grant application has been waitlisted. Now what?

Companies on the ISI waitlist will be kept up-to-date on the status of their application via email. Should more funding become available, waitlisted applications will be allocated funding according to their spot on the waitlist.

I am on the ISI grant program waitlist, but the term I applied for is now over. What can I do?

Not to worry, you can apply retroactively for the work term, or we can adjust your work term to your preferred dates. We do not accept applications for work terms before May 1, 2020.

I submitted my ISI grant application, but the program is full. What will happen to my application?

Your submitted application will remain in the ISI grant portal. Should more funding become available we will review your application.

Where can I find alternative funding sources?

Can I hire a co-op student?

No. Co-op students (students hired through a university co-op office) are not eligible for the ISI grant. Other government funding is available for co-op students like Innovate BC’s Tech Co-op grant program.

That said, co-ops at private post-secondary institutions, internships, and work placement positions are eligible.

What is Market Validation Training?

Students who are ISI grant recipients must complete Modules 1 and 2 of the Market Validation Training. The online MVT reviews the concepts of entrepreneurship. They do not need to complete the worksheets. Returning students to the ISI program, who have already completed the MVT modules do not need to complete them again.

Can the ISI Grant 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 received is allocated towards the student’s salary. You can check out some stackable funding options here: https://www.newventuresbc.com/accelerate/isi/

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

Yes, contract work is okay. Any type of employment that meets legal standards and is compliant with the BC Employment Standards Act is acceptable for grant funding. The student just needs to be paid directly by the company (no subcontracting).

Does New Ventures BC match companies and students?

No, only students attending BC post-secondary institutions are eligible.

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

No, only students attending BC post-secondary institutions are eligible.

Can a student who is accepted to a post-secondary school, but has not started, be eligible?

Yes, just as long as they can show their acceptance letter.

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

No, we don’t take recent grads. The student must be currently enrolled in a BC post-secondary institution.

If I am hiring the same student again, do I need to fill out a new application?

Yes, you do. You can email us and we will happily provide a copy of your earlier application for reference to help you fill out a new one.

If I am hiring two students for one term or the same student for two terms, how many applications do I need to make?

Each student/grant needs its own separate application–so in both cases, that would be two applications.

Can I hire two students at a time and receive funding for both?

Yes you can. It would count as two grants and requires two separate applications.

Can I use grant funding on the same student for two terms?

Yes, students are allowed to receive two vouchers per program year. So you can hire the same student for two terms.

How long will the application take to be approved?

Applications take 2-4 weeks to be reviewed and fully approved.

Is there a deadline to submit?

There is no deadline! If your application is for a retroactive grant  we can’t approve anything more than 12 months in the past. Please note we are no longer accepting applications for work terms starting before May 1, 2020.

How long is a work term? Does it have to start and finish on certain dates?

Work terms can run no longer than 5 months. A work term has no minimum length, but the student must make at least $2000, so we can pay out our min amount of $1000. A work term can begin and end on any date.

How many grants is my company allowed per year?

Companies are allowed to receive two grants per program year. The program year runs May 1 – April 30.

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

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

Good news: the portal will calculate this information for you. But here’s the breakdown:

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.

We stack with federal grant and wage subsidy programs like Canada Summer Jobs, SWPP and CEWS.

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

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-based companies and non-profits.

How does Online Market Validation Training work?

It’s 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.

As an employer, you’ll need to offer up to four hours of paid work time for your student to complete the modules.

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 does the status of my grant mean?

  • Draft Company – company is working on application.
  • Draft Student – student is working on the application.
  • Submitted – student has completed their part of the application.
  • Review Stage 1 – NVBC has received your grant and is reviewing it.
  • Review Stage 2 – Your grant has been submitted to Innovate BC for final approval
  • Waitlist- the grant application is pending dependent on further funding. You will be kept up-to-date on the status of your waitlisted grant via email.
  • Pending Grant Agreement – Your grant has been approved by Innovate BC. Now it is time for you and your student to log into the portal and accept the grant agreement.
  • Approved – You and your student have accepted the grant agreement.
  • Completed – You and your student have submitted your work reports and funds were issued.

How can I tell that my student has completed the application?

Once the student has finished the application the application will move from draft student to submitted/review stage 1.

What details do you need to provide in the job description?

Below is a great example of the level of detail we expect to see in the job description:

Student Job Title: Business Development Associate

  1. a) Student’s Job Description
    – Develop and execute business development plans.
    – Monitor, control and manage business operations to meet customer expectations and company goals.
    – Coordinate and manage project tasks to ensure project deliveries are within allotted budget and timelines.
    – Ensure compliance with company standards and procedures.
    – Build and maintain strong customer relationship through regular meetings, attending networking events and communications.
    – Use Salesforce to develop business leads.
    – Prepare and give business reviews to senior management regarding progress and roadblocks to closing new customers.
    – Contribute to develop long-term partnerships in support of overall business strategy.
    – Assist with marketing initiatives.
    – Analyze market trends and provide solutions.

My application has been approved, now what?

You and your student need to log into the portal and accept the grant agreement.

The grant agreement can be found under “requires attention” on the main screen of the portal. If you can’t see it, just scroll down a bit when you log in.

How and when do I get reimbursed?

How and when do I get reimbursed?

Reimbursement happens at the end of the approved term. Please do not complete the payment form until the student has been fully paid.

A quick checklist:

    1. Your student and you have filled in our survey (called a “report” in the portal).
    2. You’ve filled out your payment form and have uploaded paystubs.
    3. Your student completed modules 1 and 2 of online market validation training.

After this checklist is complete payment takes 2-6 weeks to be received. Cheques take longer to process than an EFT.

I am a student, what do I need to do?

Once your grant has been approved you need to log into the portal and accept the grant agreement, this can be found under “requires attention”.  By the end of the term you have to complete the final survey and read through modules 1 and 2 of the online Market Validation Training. You do not have to complete the worksheets.

What is a valid proof of enrolment?

An official transcript or a screenshot that shows your name, classes and your school’s name.

Can my student work remotely?

Yes, just as long as the work is taking place in BC.

Due to COVID-19 my student started later than expected. Can I extend or shorten my work term?

Work terms can be adjusted after applying just as long as the term does not run longer than 5 months and the student makes at least $2000.

I can’t pay my student’s full salary because of COVID-19. Can an exception be made?

Unfortunately, no. We will only reimburse 50%, or slightly more if you’re matching in kind, up to $5000 at the end of the term. However, you can stack with other grants for more funding! Check out our list.

What are considered training hours?

Training hours are time spent directly educating your student on how to perform the duties of their role and develop entrepreneurial skills. Typically a company trains their student anywhere from 1-10+ hours a week.

What are entrepreneurial skills?

These skills are not technical skills, they are what a student might learn if they were building their own startup.  It’s part of the requirements of the program to expose the student to entrepreneurial thinking and training. For example, a tech startup entrepreneur might learn skills like problem solving, financial management, customer discovery or market sizing.

Help, my student is unable to fill out the application…

Check to see that there are no typos in the student’s email address and that the student is using the same email address that you sent it to—sometimes they log in with a personal account rather than a company one.

Also, get them to check their spam folder. If you still have difficulty, email us.

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

We don’t take recent grads. The student must be currently enrolled in a BC post-secondary institution or be returning to school.

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.

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.

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.

Do you take retroactive applications?

As we’ve now started a new year of funding, with new eligibility requirements, we take them only back to May 1, 2020.

The Competition

Where can I see what past companies who have won the competition?

Our Competition finalists have developed a wide range of tech in diverse sectors and have gone on to accomplish big things in BC and beyond. See the list of our finalists here.

Can I apply with an idea?

Yes you can apply to the Competition in the ideation phase of developing your technology.

Do you make exceptions if the company is over 5 years old?

If your company has made a significant pivot, changed the business model or is developing a new technology you may make an exception. Email us at contact@newventuresbc.com if your company falls into this category.

If I am not eligible for the Competition will my $200 entry fee be refunded?

Yes, we will refund you.

I have raised over $1M in financing, am I eligible to enter the Competition?

No, if you have raised more than $1M of non-grant money you are not eligible to enter the Competition. After the Competition application deadline you can raise over $1M.

What is the round breakdown?

  • Round 1: The idea – eligibility application
  • Round 2: Feasibility test – 5 page written submission and 60 second pitch video
  • Round 2.5: Pitch – 25 companies pitch their way into Round 3
  • Round 3: Venture Plan – 8 page written submission
  • Round 4: Top 10 Pitches – 10 minute pitch

See each rounds deliverables details here.

Distance Venture Accelerator Program

How does the application process work?

  1. Complete our short application.
  2. We will review your application and follow up within 1 business day. If we have any questions about your eligibility we will email you for clarification.
  3. Book a short phone call with our programs team. We will discuss what goals you want to achieve and what type of mentorship you are looking for.
  4. From there you will be introduced to the mentors we think would be best suited for your venture.
  5. After meeting with the mentors, you let us know which one you would like to work with. We then onboard you into our program.

What is the typical length ventures stay in the program for?

The minimum amount of time we ask ventures to commit to is 3 months in the program. However, most of our ventures typically stay in the program for a year.

Do I get to choose my mentor?

After applying to the program you have a quick intake phone call with our programs team. In that call based on your venture and the type of mentorship you are looking for we introduce you to the mentors we think would be the best fit for your startup.

Can I switch my mentor?

Depending on the mentors availability, you are able to switch mentors throughout your time in the program.

What is a quarterly meeting?

Every quarter you review what progress you have made throughout the quarter and do a venture pitch to our mentors and additional guest mentors. The goal of these quarterly reviews is to provide ventures with meaningful feedback and insight.

Do I have to present in person for the quarterly reviews?

No, you have the option to present virtually or in person for the quarterly reviews.

What is the program fee?

The program fee is $150 per month. For our past New Ventures BC Competition competitors, it is $100 for the first three months.