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Minister Toews hoping to fund Peace Country startups

Finance Minister and Grande Prairie-Wapiti MLA Travis Toews says he is excited to see local startups apply for and begin to benefit from a new grant. The Innovation Employment Grant was announced Wednesday and will be launching at the start of 2021.

The extra funding is meant to encourage the development of new technologies by medium-sized startups and businesses. Minister Toews says any business in any sector the meets the criteria may be eligible.

“This is a grant that is targeted for businesses really across sectors that have expenses related to research and development. Any activities that would qualify for the federal [Scientific Research and Experimental Development] program would qualify for this innovation employment grant,” he explains.

He adds if they have applied for the SRED program, they’ll automatically qualify.

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At the base level, the IEG will cover eight per cent of research and development spending, prioritizing labour expenses. That could increase to 20 per cent if a company spends more than their previous average on designated R&D from the past two years.

According to Toews, the IEG will begin to phase itself out from assisting a company once they reach $10 million in taxable capital, and fully phase out once the company reaches $50 million in taxable capital.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has also announced the government will be providing $175 million over the next three years to the Alberta Enterprise Corporation to support business startups. This is intended to create up to an additional 4,000 jobs within the province.

Kenney adds the investment should encourage and incentivize support for apprenticeship programs. That includes in high schools.

“Another important element of the tech and innovation strategy will be ensuring that we have people with the right skills for the tech sector.”

Increasing funding for the Alberta Enterprise Corporation was one of 14 recommendations outlined in the Innovation Capital Working Group’s report for the government to build a formal technology and innovation sector strategy.

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