Everything you need to know about Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP)

The Canadian government introduced the $4 billion Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) in Budget 2021 as a way to aid Canadian businesses in going online, boosting their e-commerce presence, and helping in the digitalization of their operations.

CDAP provides businesses funding and support, as well as training and work opportunities for young Canadians, to help them stay competitive and develop by leveraging the use of digital tools.

This program is divided into two sub-programs:

1. Boost Your Business technology grant

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) with Canadian ownership that desire to adopt new digital technologies can get support through the Boost Your Business Technology grant. Businesses that qualify can use the grant to pay for a digital advisor’s services. These advisors will collaborate with businesses to suggest digital routes and strategies that will aid in achieving their goals and boosting their competitiveness in the digital economy.

What is the funding?

  • This grant covers up to 90 per cent of the eligible cost of retaining the services of a digital advisor—up to a maximum of $15,000 per SME—to develop a digital adoption plan.
  • Businesses can secure a 0 per cent interest loan from the Business Development Bank of Canada to facilitate the acquisition of new technology. You must apply within 6 months of receiving the grant payment for the digital advisor.
  • Applicants can leverage the help of talented post-secondary students and recent graduates through subsidized work placements.

Who is eligible?

Before applying, businesses are required to meet the following criteria:

  • be incorporated federally or provincially, or be a Canadian resident sole proprietor
  • be a for-profit, privately owned business
  • have between 1 – 499 full time equivalent employees
  • have at least $500,000 of annual revenues in one of the previous three tax years

What is the application process?

  • Applications must be completed by an owner or a director listed in the articles of incorporation.
  • Applicants provide basic information in the initial application.
  • Applicants will be asked to assess their business’ digital readiness by completing a digital needs assessment.
    • The digital needs assessment tool will generate a report outlining the applicant’s digital maturity and compare it to an industry-specific benchmark. They may share this report with their digital advisor later in the process.
  • Once the digital needs assessment is completed, applicants will be able to find a digital advisor to develop their digital adoption plan.
    • Applicants will access CDAP’s Digital Advisor Marketplace and select a digital advisor they would like to partner with to develop their digital adoption plan.
    • Applicants and their digital advisor will then agree on the terms of work, and final cost for creating the digital adoption plan.
  • When their digital advisor has completed their digital adoption plan, applicants can submit it to process the grant payment.

2. Grow Your Business Online grant

Up to 90,000 small businesses will benefit from the Grow Your Business Online grant by utilizing e-commerce opportunities. Consumer-facing businesses must develop and apply e-commerce capabilities now more than ever to be competitive. Adopting digital technologies enables businesses to better service current consumers and draw in new ones in the digital marketplace.

What is the funding?

  • Eligible businesses will receive a micro-grant of up to $2,400 to help with the costs related to adopting digital technologies.
  • Grants will be available through local and regional service providers across Canada.
  • The service providers will also support a network of e-commerce advisors who will advise and help small businesses adopt e-commerce.

Who is eligible?

Applications can only be submitted by a small business that meets the following criteria:

  • is a for-profit business (including for-profit social enterprises and co-operatives)
  • is a registered or incorporated business
  • is a consumer-facing business
  • can be accessed by consumers or provides in-person services to consumers
  • has at least one employee
  • must commit to maintaining a digital adoption strategy for six months after participation in the program
  • must consent to participating in follow-up surveys, sharing information with the Government of Canada (Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) and Statistics Canada), and having the name of the business published as a recipient of funding

Small businesses such as corporate chains, franchises or registered charities, and representatives of multi-level marketing companies, and real estate brokerages are ineligible.

What are the eligible costs?

Eligible costs include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • costs related to the implementation of a digital e-commerce plan (e.g. online reservation/booking tools, online ordering systems, electronic payments)
  • costs related to website search optimization
  • costs related to the installation of an e-commerce platform (including subscription fees/costs)
  • costs of back-office solutions to support an e-commerce strategy
  • costs of social media advertising
  • costs related to the creation of customer databases

Ineligible costs include, but are not limited to, the costs of connectivity, and costs related to the shipping of goods purchased through the e-commerce platform.

A full list of eligible and ineligible costs can be found on the Government of Canada website.

What is the application process?

  • Applicants use the assessment tool to determine if their business is eligible and best suited for the Grow Your Business Online grant.
  • Businesses will be directed to their local service providers in their home province or region for details on how to apply for the grant.
  • Your service provider will ensure that your business meets the eligibility requirements.

Reach out to your IDM advisor if you’d like to learn how you and your business can benefit from these grants.