Rural startups often face unique challenges when it comes to accessing the necessary funding and resources to kickstart their ventures. At IGNITE Atlantic, we understand these hurdles and are committed to bridging the gap between rural innovators and the support they need to thrive. In this blog post, we explore various avenues of funding and resources available to small and midsize businesses (SMBs), each tailored to address specific needs and circumstances.


Grants are a lifeline for many rural startups, offering financial support without the burden of repayment. These funds can be instrumental in covering initial expenses such as equipment purchases, research and development, or marketing efforts. At IGNITE Atlantic, we actively seek out grant opportunities for our entrepreneurs, providing guidance and support throughout the application process. From government grants to private foundations, we connect startups with resources that align with their goals and aspirations. Check out these options below to get started:

  1. Accelerate: Supports sector such as ocean, software, health, agri-tech, and cleantech.
  2. CIRA Community Investment Program: Specifically aimed at digital support and tech upgrades for non-profits and academic research communities.
  3. Divert NS R&D Grant: Focuses on solid waste resource management.
  4. Early Stage Commercialization Fund: For R&D, intellectual property, and market expansion in research commercialization.
  5. BBI – Business Consulting Advisory Services Grant Program: Assists SMBs, Black, and African Nova Scotian businesses with marketing and digital support.
  6. Invest Nova Scotia GreenShoots: Targets agri-tech projects with an R&D focus.
  7. The Amber Grant: Focused on providing access to financial resources for female founders in all sectors, by offering support for a wide range of business development activities such as market research and investment.
  8. Ocean Startup Challenge: Provides consultant fees, materials, and equipment for ocean-related projects.
  9. Elevate IP: Program aimed at supporting startups by providing assistance and resources for managing and leveraging intellectual properties.
  10. Fast Track to Financing: Focuses on accelerating access to financial resources for startups in sectors like health, environment, and clean-tech, by offering support for activities such as market research and intellectual property protection.
  11. Investment Readiness Program: Designed to prepare women entrepreneurs for securing investment, covering prototype development, market research, and training.
  12. Lab2Market: Supports the commercialization of research, focusing on areas like cybersecurity and health, by providing funding for R&D and prototype development.
  13. Mitacs Elevate: Provides funding for postdoctoral fellows, by providing financial support to address complex challenges in fields such as AI, health, and clean-tech.

Repayable Contributions

Additionally, for startups seeking more substantial financial backing, repayable contributions offer a viable option. These contributions provide funding for specific projects or initiatives, with repayment terms negotiated upfront. While repayable, these contributions often come with favorable terms, allowing startups to access the capital they need without compromising their long-term financial stability.

  1. ACOA-REGI Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI): Provides repayable contributions, aiding tech-related R&D, tech upgrades, and market expansions.
  2. Divert NS R&D Grant: Focuses on solid waste resource management.


Similarly, loans are a traditional yet effective means of financing for startups looking to scale their operations. Whether through government-backed programs or private lenders, loans provide startups with the capital needed to invest in their businesses. IGNITE Atlantic facilitates loan opportunities for rural startups, guiding them through the application process and connecting them with reputable lenders. Furthermore, with flexible repayment options and competitive interest rates, these loans empower startups to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions with confidence. To get started:

  1. BDC Start-up Financing: Supports marketing, asset purchases, and web development.
  2. Futurpreneur Financing + Mentoring: Offers financing and mentoring for young entrepreneurs.
  3. Export Development Canada: Provides loans for market expansion and technology upgrades.
  4. Small Business Loan Guarantee Program: Specifically aimed at small to medium sized Canadian businesses.

Wage Subsidies

Attracting and retaining top talent is essential for the success of any startup. Wage subsidies offer financial support to cover a portion of employee salaries while making it easier for startups to compete in the job market. Specifically, by leveraging wage subsidies, rural startups can maximize their resources and focus on driving innovation and growth.

  1. BioTalent Student Work Placement Program: Supports student employment in STEM and health sectors.
  2. Career Launcher – Clean Tech Internships: Specifically aimed at SMBs, indigenous businesses, and recent STEM graduates.
  3. Co-op Education Incentive: Provides wage subsidies for students working in SMBs.
  4. ECO Canada Youth Placement Program: Supports youth, students, and recent graduates in environmental roles.
  5. Graduate to Opportunity: Aids recent graduates’ employment, including roles involving R&D and market expansion.
  6. Innovate to Opportunity: Similar to Graduate to Opportunity but with a focus on recent graduates and SMBs.
  7. Mitacs Accelerate: Specifically for funding research internships in academia.
  8. START: Assists SMBs and startups with employee salary subsidies, training, and equipment.
  9. Student Summer Skills Incentive (SKILL): Offers wage subsidies for non-profit organizations employing students.
  10. Work Integrated Learning: Focuses on tech sector employment, offering salary support.

Travel Grants

Furthermore, for rural startups looking to expand their networks and explore new opportunities, travel grants can be a game-changer. Specifically, these grants provide financial assistance to cover travel expenses associated with attending conferences, trade shows, or networking events. IGNITE Atlantic assists startups in securing travel grants, enabling them to showcase their innovations on a broader stage and forge valuable connections within their industry.

  1. Export Development Program: Supports travel for export-related activities.
  2. Mitacs Entrepreneur International: Offers funding for international travel for startups.

Bridge Loans

In the fast-paced world of startups, timing is everything. Bridge loans offer a temporary solution for startups in need of immediate capital while awaiting long-term financing. This ensures startups have the financial flexibility they need to seize opportunities and propel their businesses forward.

  1. FundEasly: Provides financing for startups awaiting further financial support.
  2. OKR Financial – Bridge Finance: Offers R&D financing for startups in a bridge capacity.


Presently, technology adoption is key to staying competitive in today’s market. Vouchers provide startups with incentives to invest in cutting-edge technologies that can enhance their products or services. IGNITE Atlantic connects startups with voucher programs, enabling them to access funds that support technological innovation and growth. 

  1. Productivity and Innovation Voucher Program: Encourages SMBs and startups to engage in R&D and prototype development through vouchers.

Tax Credits

Tax credits serve as a powerful incentive for investors to support startups, reducing their tax liability while fueling entrepreneurial growth. By leveraging tax credits, startups can attract more investors, stimulate economic growth, and create jobs in rural Nova Scotia.

  1. SR&ED – Scientific Research and Experimental Development Tax Incentive: Supports startups, tech companies, and SMBs while providing tax incentives for R&D and other development activities.

Overall, access to funding and resources is essential for the success of rural startups, and IGNITE Atlantic is committed to breaking down barriers and empowering entrepreneurs to thrive. Whether through grants, loans, wage subsidies, or other financial incentives, we provide the support and guidance necessary to turn innovative ideas into reality. Together, we can cultivate a vibrant ecosystem of entrepreneurship in rural Nova Scotia and beyond.

These are only a few of the options available to rural Nova Scotian entrepreneurs. For a full list of funding opportunities, checkout our Funding Options page.