SFEP – Details

Please note that the SFEP is currently tapped out and is not accepting submissions. Please continue to check back for the latest updates.

The Step Forward Entrepreneurs Program (SFEP) enhances innovation and commercialization for entrepreneurs and established businesses who demonstrate the potential to create jobs and grow the economy. Emphasis will be placed on companies who identify business growth opportunities and are looking to reach new markets and expand sales. Here are just a few of the options that your business could be eligible to receive funding for:

  • Trade Shows and related Travel Expenses
  • Training, Certifications or Licenses
  • Market/Product Research or Market-entry Fees
  • IP Assessment / Protection
  • Marketing and Promotional Materials
  • Business Growth Expertise
  • Export Development

Is my business eligible?

The SFEP is targeted toward entrepreneurs who are trying to challenge the status quo, innovate, create new products and services, disrupt existing industry or usher in a new way, and show the potential to create jobs and grow the economy.

The applicant must be a for-profit entity, registered as a sole proprietor, partnership, or corporation located in the district of Nipissing, Timiskaming, Parry Sound or Muskoka looking to develop its ability to advance the growth of its business along the commercialization path as defined by the program objectives. The program is not intended to support, nor is applicable to, businesses operating as distributors or re-sellers. Existing staff wages or administrative costs, website development, rolling stock, on-going operational project costs, or any other internal costs associated with the project are not eligible. The SFEP is not able to support projects where FedNor assistance is otherwise available. Applications must be received prior to incurring costs associated with the project and are subject to a monthly competitive review process. Projects will be reimbursed upon receipt of final invoice(s) and proof of payment to be completed within a 6-month time frame.

Are there costs to me?


The SFEP will support up to 75% of eligible costs, before tax, at one of three funding levels.

Level 1: $5,000 grant for a minimum project spend before tax of $6,667

Level 2: $7,500 grant for a minimum project spend before tax of $10,000 (TAPPED OUT)

Level 3: $10,000 grant for a minimum project spend before tax of $13,334 (TAPPED OUT)

The applicant will be required to register as an IION client and fill out occasional surveys as a reporting requirement for up to five years. This is to properly capture aggregate economic data. Failure to fill out annual surveys and the SFEP survey could result in making the applicant ineligible for future IION funding programs. IION will maintain the confidentiality of collected data, meaning it will only be used in terms of total results from all projects, and no particular company is ever personally identified.

How do I get started?

*To ensure clarity on the program and it’s qualifying conditions, applicants are strongly encouraged to contact IION prior to applying.*

The SFEP program has a continual intake process, with monthly reviews. The last day of every month is the submission deadline. 

Contact Matthew at:

705-474-7600 extension 5602, or email at 


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