SMBs can rely on IRAP funding, contrary to Brian Cookson’s recent blog, NRC exec says

By Andrew McNaughton

The following was sent to IT World Canada editorial director Brian Jackson as a letter to the editor.

I would like to clarify a number of statements that were made about the National Research Council (NRC)’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) in Brian Cookson’s recent column, “A look at SR&ED in 2018 and beyond.”

IRAP helps small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) develop technologies and commercialize them in a global marketplace. The program undergoes rigorous evaluation on a regular basis and recent results demonstrate that IRAP is highly effective. Advanced economies benefit from a combination of both direct and indirect support programs.

While it is accurate that firms don’t typically receive IRAP financial support on a yearly basis, firms that remain innovative and demonstrate the ability to sustain growth are able to benefit from longer-term IRAP support.

Our advisors work closely with SMBs to identify early indications of whether a project is eligible for IRAP support. Funding decisions are rendered on average within 15 days for projects valued under $50,000, and within 35 days for projects under $500,000. SMBs claim monthly against their projects and payments are issued on average within 10 days. We invite IT World Canada readers to consult our published service standards on the NRC website.

Furthermore, Mr. Cookson states that IRAP’s current budget has been significantly reduced by as much as 90 percent and that SMBs could not rely on the program due to this inexplicable lack of funding. In fact, IRAP’s total grants and contributions budget for 2017-2018 is approximately $234 million, which is only 16 percent lower than what was available in 2016-2017. This is primarily due to the expiration of a one-year program funding top-up.

The NRC is proud of our IRAP team who supports 7,000 SMBs a year to achieve their ambitions, and we look forward to continuing to accelerate growth in communities across Canada.

Andrew McNaughton is the acting vice-president of the National Research Council of Canada’s IRAP program, and the former executive director of the NRC’s Prairie Region and Northwest Territories divisions.

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