Grow your business internationally with CanExport

Here’s some good news for companies contemplating expanding to new markets internationally. The Government of Canada’s newly announced CanExport Program will provide up to $50 million over five years in direct financial support to small- and medium-sized enterprises in Canada seeking to develop new export opportunities and markets. Delivered by the Trade Commissioner Service of Global Affairs Canada, in partnership with the National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program, CanExport provides financial support for a wide range of export marketing activities.

The CanExport program

  • Reimburses up to 50% of eligible expenses.
  • Requires that the applicant match funds on a one-to-one basis.
  • Provides a minimum contribution of $10,000 and a maximum contribution of $99,999.
  • Is open, with few exceptions, to all industry sectors.
  • Is open to companies looking at export markets worldwide (some restrictions apply, mostly related to ensuring that international trade agreements are not violated).

Eligible activities

To be eligible, activities must aim to promote international business development and must go beyond the applicant’s core activities, represent new or expanded initiatives and provide an opportunity to yield incremental results. For illustrative purposes, these activities could include:

  • Business travel.
  • Participation at tradeshows.
  • Market research.
  • Adaptation of marketing tools for a new market.
  • Legal fees associated with a distribution/representation agreement.

Ineligible activities

  • On-going core/operational activities.
  • Activities in a market where you have been exporting within the last 24 months.
  • Promotional efforts that are considered to be “normal business activities” – as opposed to the long-term development of export markets,
  • Promotion of language training or other educational services where the funding for the training is from Canadian federal or provincial/territorial government sources.
  • Investment promotion or the seeking of entrepreneurial immigrants.
  • Activities involving used equipment, unless the equipment is reconditioned or rebuilt – and the benefit to Canada would be close to or equal to, benefits obtained from the sale of new equipment.

Eligible expenses

Eligible expenditures are shared up to a maximum of 50% between CanExport and you. Eligible expenses are divided into three categories: travel costs, contractor fees or consultant fees. Travel costs will cover airfare, a $400 per person per diem for accommodation, meals and incidentals, and temporary visa costs.

Contractor fees include booth expenses, tradeshow space/floor rental, design and construction services, registration fees, trade show and seminar registration (including room fees), audio-visual equipment rental, etc. Also included are shipping and handling costs related to the participation in the tradeshow, as well as promotional materials, booth pop-ups, prototype or product for showcase purposes, samples, etc.

If you need to hire a consultant to organize business-to-business (B2B) meeting programs and match making, or for information gathering and analysis pertaining to a custom market research or study specific to your products or services within your target market, those fees are also claimable to a maximum of 25% of the total eligible costs.

Launching your business initiative

Not all expenses are considered eligible. In this case, any expenses incurred prior to the approval of the application will not be allowed. Other ineligible expenses include (among others), salaries, capital costs, most taxes, and any costs that could be interpreted as subsidizing a product’s selling price – and therefore, contravening Canada’s international trade obligations.

Some of the topics that you will need to be prepared to discuss within your application include:

  • List of markets where you have exported in the last 24 months and your target market.
  • Project overview: a short description and the planned activities.
  • Evidence of organizational capacity to complete the proposed project and activities.
  • Expected results and benefits, including benefits to Canada, and explanations on how the project and activities proposed are incremental to the core business of your firm.
  • Assessment of key risks and corresponding mitigation strategies.
  • Project budget listing all activities for which your firm is seeking funding, the total eligible costs of the project, your firm’s contribution and the contribution you are seeking from the program. (Note: considering ineligible costs, your contribution might be greater than 50% of the total project cost).

For further information on CanExport, check out The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service at If you need help organizing, strategizing, preparing, monitoring, and any other CanExport related activity, contact this author. We will make sure that you present to the government, a professional and strategic approach to your marketing project.


Elliot Schiller is a Director at Toronto’s Teeger Schiller Inc., a firm specializing in government funding and systems selection/implementation. His clients receive over $5 M annually to support ongoing business innovation. E-mail, visit or phone 1-888-816-0222 Ext. 102