SFEP – Details

The Step Forward Entrepreneurs Program (SFEP) enhances innovation and commercialization for incorporated for-profit businesses who demonstrate the potential to create jobs and grow the economy. The SFEP is targeted toward businesses 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. 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
  • Marketing / marketing materials
  • Training, certifications or licenses
  • Market/product research or market-entry fees
  • Intellectual property costs / legal fees
  • Business growth expertise
  • Export development

New: Business opportunity assessments are now eligible for support under the SFEP

Is my business eligible?

  • The applicant must be an incorporated for-profit entity
  • The applicant must be located in the district of Nipissing, Timiskaming, Parry Sound or Muskoka
  • The program is not intended to support, nor is applicable to, businesses operating as distributors or re-sellers.
  • Staff wages or administrative costs, website development, rolling stock, or any other internal costs associated with the project are not eligible.

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(s) to be completed within a 6-month time frame.

Are there costs to me?

The SFEP will support up to 50% of eligible costs, before tax, at one of three funding levels.

Level 1: $5,000 grant for a minimum project spend before tax of $10,000

Level 2: $7,500 grant for a minimum project spend before tax of $15,000

Level 3: $10,000 grant for a minimum project spend before tax of $20,000

Successful applicants will be required to register as an IION client, complete a mandatory post project short results survey as well as an annual survey. This allows IION to continue to provide ongoing support to the business community.


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. 


Download the SFEP Application

Contact Matthew:

705-845-0616, or by email at 



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