About the Initiative

With the support of FedDev Ontario and the Government of Canada’s Jobs and Growth Fund, NCFDC launched thriveFORWARD to accelerate industrial investment in innovation capital across southern Ontario. By making forward investments in the talent, technology and industries of the future, we can enhance entrepreneur-led growth in strategic sectors and across multiple priority pathways.

Eligible projects included the commercialization of innovation or the adoption of an innovation by a startup or SME, prioritizing critical sectors, diverse organizations and equity-deserving entrepreneurs that are investing in clean inclusive growth. Funding amounts and conditions varied in each case (see below). For more information about diversity, equity and inclusion, we encourage entrepreneurs to explore GBA+ and the Government of Canada’s 50–30 Challenge, as well as supplier diversity via our partner, CAMSC.

The thriveFORWARD initiative worked with participating Start-ups and SMEs to future-proof their businesses, build resiliency and prepare for long-term growth by transitioning to a green economy, fostering an inclusive recovery, enhancing competitiveness, and by creating jobs across southern Ontario. 

Have a look at the thriveFORWARD Impact Report success metrics from the first round of thriveFORWARD, ending March, 2024.


Your thriveFORWARD Team

Judy Selvig
Program Manager

John Hayden
Manager – Enterprise Programs

Braden Kemp
Strategic Advisor

Heather Cannings      Program Administrator

Collaborative Panel

Andrew Pasternak
Executive Director, GreenCentre Canada

Carla Berquó
Director, Bioenterprise

Cassandra Dorrington
President, Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC)

Kristen Marumoto
Executive Director, DNA Angels

Maike Althaus
Executive Director, Ontario Clean Tech Industry Association (OCTIA)

Tracy Morningstar
Manager Entrepreneurship, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB)

Vinay Paramanand
Supervisor, IDEA Innovation Hub – City of Mississauga

Applicant Guide

Eligibility Criteria
Both startups and SMEs (small- and medium-sized Enterprises) are eligible for thriveFORWARD.

“Startup” means an early-stage technology-driven company that is:

  • A registered for-profit incorporated business, partnership or cooperative;
  • Located in southern Ontario;
  • Formed on or after January 1, 2020; and
  • At the pre-revenue/prototype stage to early commercialization stage.

Approved startups receive non-repayable performance-based funding matching up to $25,000 in certified incremental private investment as of April 19, 2021, with funding released based upon satisfactory achievement of agreed-upon major milestones demonstrating investment in the adoption of advanced technologies. The leverage minimum is 1:1.

“SME” means:

  • A registered industrial for-profit incorporated business, partnership or cooperative;
  • Located in southern Ontario;
  • Having fewer than 500 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees; and
  • Having $100,000 to $100 million in annual revenue declared in Canada during its last complete tax reporting year (or during the last 12 months for monthly and quarterly filers).

Approved SMEs will receive non-repayable performance-based funding for incremental project activities that invest in innovation capital (talent and technology) with 50% reimbursement of eligible and approved costs up to $100,000 (project leverage minimum 1:1).

Other Key Definitions
“Innovation” is normally a novel technology-driven solution to an unsolved problem that is successfully commercialized, usually representing a categorical leap forward/significant advantage over the competition, a market disruption, the introduction of a new technology product or service, or a process that creates substantial value. thriveFORWARD proponents are expected to control background IP associated with the Innovation.

“Clean technology” or “Cleantech” is any process, product, or service that reduces negative environmental impacts through significant energy efficiency improvements, the sustainable use of resources, or environmental protection activities. This includes a broad range of technology related to recycling, renewable energy, information technology, green transportation, electric motors, green chemistry, lighting, grey water, and more.

“Green projects” include supporting a clean growth economy and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. This could include, for example, projects with benefits related to renewable energy, the adoption of practices with benefits related to renewable energy, the adoption of practices or technologies to reduce carbon footprint or waste, the commercialization of clean technologies, products or services, lightweighting/advanced materials, supply chain localization and other applications.

“Digital projects” include digital solutions and/or advanced manufacturing processes to improve operations and must enhance competitiveness, increase productivity and improve efficiency.

“Southern Ontario” means the following Statistics Canada Census Divisions: Brant, Bruce, Chatham-Kent, Dufferin, Durham, Elgin, Essex, Frontenac, Grey, Haldimand-Norfolk, Haliburton, Halton, Hamilton, Hastings, Huron, Kawartha Lakes, Lambton, Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, Lennox and, Addington, Middlesex, Niagara, Northumberland, Ottawa, Oxford, Peel, Perth, Peterborough, Prescott and Russell, Prince Edward, Renfrew, Simcoe, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, Toronto, Waterloo, Wellington, and York.

Additional Terms and Conditions

Recipients of thriveFORWARD funding shall obtain and maintain General Liability and Property Damage insurance for the duration of the project, and will provide certificate(s) of insurance upon the request of NCFDC.

An applicant may only submit one project application at a time. No Recipient of funding can have more than one approved thriveFORWARD contribution agreement.

Other terms and conditions may apply.

Eligible Costs
Eligible costs for project activities may include:

  • Expertise;
  • Capital; and
  • Non-capital.

All costs must be reasonable and directly related to the eligible project activities.

Ineligible Costs

Ineligible and/or unsupported costs include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Any costs deemed not reasonable and/or not directly related to the eligible project activities;
  • Activities in support of regular maintenance and/or ongoing operational costs;
  • Cost incurred prior to the eligibility date as defined in the Contribution Agreement;
  • Costs incurred after December 31, 2023;
  • Costs of land, building or vehicle purchase;
  • Refinancing;
  • Costs of intangible assets such as goodwill, whether capitalized or expensed;
  • Depreciation or amortization expenses;
  • Interest on invested capital, bonds, debentures, or mortgages;
  • Bond discount;
  • Losses on investments, bad debts and any other debts;
  • Fines or penalties;
  • Costs related to litigation;
  • Wages;
  • Fees for administrators, including payments to any member or officer of the Recipient’s Board of Directors;
  • Opportunity costs;
  • Hospitality and entertainment costs;
  • Costs of individual membership in a professional body (e.g. professional designations); and
  • Lobbyist fees.

All costs must be reasonable and directly related to the eligible project activities.

Application Period
There will be a continuous open intake until thriveFORWARD funding is fully subscribed, or by December 31, 2023. Applications will be assessed in priority order based on the date of receipt of a full and complete application
How to Apply
Create an account and submit your full online application. There are different application portals for each stream:

  • The Start-up Stream is currently closed (but you may view the application PDF here).
  • The SME Stream is currently closed (but you may view the application PDF here).

The PDF is for preview only.

Only complete applications will be considered.

Your application will be reviewed by NCFDC and funding decisions will normally be made within 30 days from submission of a complete application.

What you will need to complete your application:

  • Business information (articles, registrations, business number, and other key documentation);
  • Financial information (historical financial statements for the last 2 fiscal years and the most recent interim financial statement—YTD Profit & Loss and Consolidated Balance Sheet);
  • Project summary and rationale;
  • Key personnel;
  • Any other documentation or substantiation you may wish to include with your application (project proposal and/or company backgrounder, pitch deck, business plan, links to websites and social media, etc.);
  • List of any government funding (including tax credits, e.g. SR&ED Program) currently received or anticipated to be received by your organization;
  • Additional relevant business documentation that may be required.

Startups only must also provide proof of non-government-sourced Private Investment of at least $25,000 in total (as of April 19, 2021). You will be asked to provide a copy of associated term sheet(s) and a copy of your bank statement showing deposit of the proceeds of the Private Investment.

“Private Investment” means non-government-sourced equity or financing inclusive of:

  • Commercial loans;
  • Convertible debt;
  • Venture debt;
  • SAFEs;
  • Founders Share Capital; and
  • Other Venture Capital and Private Equity instruments.
How Funding Decisions are Made
Projects will be competitively selected after determination of eligibility, review of the full application and completion of final due diligence to the satisfaction of NCFDC. NCFDC has assembled a Collaborative Panel to provide external industry expertise as an advisory resource for thriveFORWARD.

Applicants will be notified in writing of funding decisions (Approve, Decline or On Hold). Each element of the thriveFORWARD initiative is equally weighted for a total possible score of 100, as follows:

1. Future-proofing, Resilience and Business Growth (20 Points)
Assessment of the viability and impact of proposed project outcomes in terms of business growth, resiliency/future-proofing, scale-up/market expansion, increased sales (domestic and/or foreign), supply chain adaptation, market diversification and other activities that will contribute to sustainable economic growth.

2. Job Impacts (20 Points)
Consideration of the number of FTE (Full-Time Equivalent) jobs the project will create and/or maintain in Southern Ontario.

3. Going Green, or Digital Technology Adoption (20 Points)
Investing in adoption of advanced technology, with prioritization of:

  • Cleantech, OR;
  • Digital adoption (such as cybersecurity readiness, productivity enhancement, operational resilience).

4. Critical Sectors (20 Points)
Within or impacting food production, medical supplies or bio-manufacturing sectors.

5. Priority Client Pathways: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (20 Points)

  • Business owned or majority-led by underrepresented groups, such as: Indigenous peoples, members of racialized communities, women, youth, 2SLGBTQI+, persons with disabilities, newcomers to Canada, and members of official language minority communities; AND/OR
  • Businesses with a diverse workforce, active HR/workforce development programs, businesses that are GBA+ certified, signatories to the 50-30 Challenge, are CAMSC Certified, and/or have other progressive policies, procedures and governance initiatives in place that substantially address diversity and inclusion.
Regional Equity
NCFDC is committed to achieving equitable geographic distribution of thriveFORWARD funding and impacts across all of Southern Ontario. Therefore, approved projects may be placed on hold to ensure regional balance is achieved.

Funding decisions are made by NCFDC in its sole, unfettered discretion. No amount of funding is guaranteed. Program availability is based on continuity of funding. Applications will be assessed competitively and applicants will be subject to reasonable due diligence. Information is collected in accordance with our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. NCFDC takes extra steps to ensure information security including subscribing to Covalence Field Effect (a managed service) for enhanced protection. Information collected as part of the thriveFORWARD application, program and reporting processes may be shared confidentially with the Government of Canada. Projects and organizations approved for funding are listed publicly on our website and further public visibility requirements are included in thriveFORWARD Contribution Agreements. Aggregate (portfolio) statistics, data, KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and other outcomes of thriveFORWARD may be shared publicly. NCFDC may request substantiation of any claim, statement or information provided by thriveFORWARD applicants and participants. All activities supported by thriveFORWARD will be incremental and new (as of April 19, 2021).

Online Application

The Start-up Stream application intake period closed on Friday, June 9th, 2023.

Apply now for SMEs

The SME Stream application intake period closed on November 25th, 2022.


thriveFORWARD partners include the following leading organizations:

Portfolio Companies

Click here to get to know the Start-ups and SMEs across southern Ontario that are investing in innovation, jobs and growth, through the thriveFORWARD initiative.

Agri-Food Innovation Excellence Campaign

In recognition of the excellence of the agri-food and beverage innovators backed by thriveFORWARD across southern Ontario, NCFDC placed a poster in several high-quality magazines with large readerships in the Spring of 2024. Start-ups and SMEs are at the forefront of the critical agri-food sector, building the sustainable, competitive and technology-driven industries of the future. Their efforts are leading job creation, economic growth and impact to GDP in our region. Thank you to all the visionary entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs we had the pleasure of working with through the thriveFORWARD initiative, with the support of FedDev Ontario and the Government of Canada.

NCFDC's thriveFORWARD initiaative

The Frontier Entrepreneurship Podcast

In 2023, NCFDC launched Season 1 of our new Frontier Entrepreneurship Podcast, featuring technology entrepreneurs backed by FedDev Ontario via the thriveFORWARD initiative across southern Ontario. From green hydrogen to robotic mushroom farms, for blue carbon to EV conversion, we bring you the new, the avant-garde and the disruptive. Click here to learn more about the project.

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Contact Us


Have questions?

Get in touch with us today.


Startups: email us here.

SMEs: email us here.