Canadian-owned businesses who perform scientific research and experimental development to create new or refine existing products or processes may be missing out on a valuable opportunity. By meeting a few simple criteria, they could take advantage of a valuable federal and provincial tax incentive program which distributes more than $3 billion to more than 20,000 businesses every year.
These are the top five things businesses need to know about the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credit.
What is SR&ED?
The SR&ED tax credit is a government incentive which encourages Canadian-owned companies of all sizes to innovate by subsidizing their research and development (R&D) costs. The program is available to organizations who perform basic research, applied research or experimental development – including the creation of new technologies or improving the design, function, or durability of existing technologies.
Potential SR&ED rebates can be as high as 66 percent of total qualifying expenditures and therefore a valuable component of a business’s overall innovation strategy. Eligible expenses include employee wages and bonuses, administrative overhead, subcontractor payments and the value of any materials consumed and transformed throughout the R&D process. Importantly, a business need not achieve the specified or intended outcome to qualify for the SR&ED tax credit.
Recent Program Changes
SR&ED has undergone recent changes which organizations will want to be conscious of. These include:
- The reduction in the Ontario Innovation Tax Credit (OITC) rate to 8 percent for refundable tax credits and Ontario R&D Tax Credit (ORDTC) rate to 3.5 percent for non-refundable tax credits. This is effective from June 1, 2016 onward and any filings straddling this date will be prorated accordingly.
- The removal of capital as an eligible cost category for SR&ED claims. This means claimants cannot include any items that did not form part of the prototype during the R&D process.
- The requirement for claim preparers to include information in the SR&ED claim. If the information is missing, incomplete or inaccurate, the filing business could face a penalty of $1,000 per claim – with joint responsibility shared by both the preparer and taxpayer
Ensuring a business realizes maximal value from any SR&ED claim requires documenting the activities, costs and insights gained throughout the R&D process. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) wants to know when the project was initiated and completed, who was involved and in what capacity, what knowledge the company gained and how it contributes to the public domain.
Required information includes:
- Technical report for each project describing technological uncertainty, technological advancement and all activities performed
- Spreadsheet identifying all costs claimed
- Employee labour rate calculations
- Logs for employee SR&ED activities
- Supporting technical documentation
Timelines and Processes
Companies should include their SR&ED claims as part of their annual tax filing with the CRA.
Important to remember – it is easier to track activities, insights and costs as they occur than to work backwards through every receipt, technical report and timesheet when filing a claim. Organizations will want to ensure they have systems in place to capture information as it happens. This could include using specific tracking templates and project management software to store everything in a centralized, easy to locate area.
Businesses should identify and document potential SR&ED projects throughout the year. Steps for incorporating this strategy into an organizational structure could include:
- Assigning an internal SR&ED champion
- Creating a central repository (such as a project management system) for information capture
- Setting up a time tracking and cost tracking system for employees and contractors
- Discussing SR&ED initiatives and progress during monthly team meetings.
Subcontractor Costs – Work performed by subcontractors and costs claimed are facing increasing scrutiny. Businesses need to understand how subcontractor payments relate to eligible SR&ED activities and, whenever possible, have those consolidated into a single signed document for their submission.
Employee Workweek – Employee wages and how time worked translates to a SR&ED wage is another growing concern. Businesses must ensure they fair estimates for employee workweeks and whenever possible, document hours worked in timesheets.
Costs Covered Under Proxy Filing Method – The CRA is drawing clear lines between costs for R&D and the incidental costs of running a business. Therefore, SR&ED claims should tie back to organizational charts to demonstrate which employees are directly engaged in the R&D process to differentiate between direct business and arm’s length costs.
When developing the “Start Me Up!” clinics for our HEAT clients, there were a number of possible names bounced around: Launch Me, Catapult My Business, Success Slingshot, Market Rocket, etc. They all shared the same intent as the “Start Me Up!” name finally chosen, specifying that the clinics would provide entrepreneurs with tools and information required to successfully launch their ideas into well-positioned, growing ventures. Judging from the feedback provided by past clinic participants, we have lift off! Comments have been unanimously positive, including “The clinic was the best session that I have attended since starting my business, and I have been to many. Thank you!”
The clinics answer three basic questions faced by business founders: Is there a problem? Can you solve it? And can you make money doing so? And they use three tools to do so: Value Proposition, Minimum Viable Product, and Business Model Canvas. The clinic instructor uses examples, stories and real-life client situations, to make the concepts come alive.
Clinic #1 focuses on your business’ Value Proposition. This is a concise and clear statement of your target customers, their problem or need, and the solution (or value) you provide to address it. Getting your VP right is crucial; it’s your “brand”, and is the promise you are making to your customers. It will be part of every networking meeting, sales pitch, request for funding, grant application, etc., you are going to make. The clinic provides tips to ensure your value proposition is strong and effective.
After the first clinic participants are sent away with homework – they need to validate their value propositions with potential customers. One tool that helps in this validation is Minimal Viable Product. Basically you use an MVP to expose your idea to customers for their feedback. To save time and money, and to avoid making costly mistakes, you should use the “minimum” form of your product possible. This might be as simple as just stating your value proposition, through to a working prototype. The full range of options is discussed in the clinic.
Finally, Clinic #2 shifts from focusing on your customers, to focusing on you (and your business). Using a tool called the Business Model Canvas, you’ll develop a plan for your business, including identifying where are you going? How will you get there? And what are your priorities? Emphasis is placed on not just writing words down, but actually crafting a plan that creates a sense of purpose and generate s momentum. Again, examples and real-life “how to’s” are provided to help you make your business plan come alive.
Find out all about the Start Me Up! clinics for yourself, and give your business-launch a boost, by signing up today for the two-clinic series. One clinic held a month, on the third Wednesday morning of the month. See details at http://haltech.ca/events/
Halton Region has experienced a significant uptake in women entrepreneurs over the past few years. In recognition of these new strides, Haltech proudly co-hosted the first annual #HerHalton Women’s Day Breakfast with TechPlace and Angel One Network Inc.
On March 8th we celebrated the many achievements of the Halton women who are shaping the future of business with a special breakfast at TechPlace. Guests of the event were treated to an all-women panelist discussion from accomplished female leaders in the region followed by a Q&A forum. Event panelists included Karen Grant, Executive Director of Angel One Network Inc.; Emily Moore, Managing Director of Innovation for Hatch Ltd. and Haltech Board of Directors; Lily Lam, Senior Director of Portfolio Investments for Ontario Centres of Excellence; Ruta Stauskas, Vice-President of Human Resources of Boehriger Ingelheim and Kimberly Calderbank, Co-Founder and Director Marketing & Communications at Yellow Robot Marketing and Haltech Corporate Member.
With over 70 attendants, the breakfast registration sold out withing 24 hours of its announcement! As a closing to the highly successful breakfast, Haltech and TechPlace announced that the launch of the new Peer-to-Peer Network for women to connect and share their expertise as a way to provide support, mentorship and exchange of ideas. If you would like to participate in the new Peer-to-Peer network, please email at email@example.com
(From L to R : Moderator Claire Green of TechPlace, Panelists: Karen Grant, Emily Moore, Lily Lam, Ruta Stauskas and Kimberly Calderbank)
In the week preceding the breakfast, 12 accomplished female founders and entrepreneurs were showcased via our social media channels. To see their features click here.
Female entrepreneurs make up an astounding 40% of Haltech’s total client base. In celebration of these statistics and International Women’s Day, we recognized 12 of Haltech’s exceptional female founders and leaders through our social media channels by sharing their words of motivation with the #HerHalton hashtag.
Rina Carlini, President of Cloud DX and former President and CEO of Haltech, shares her thoughts on overcoming obstacles and helping women thrive in the STEM industry.
What advice would you give to women in the STEM industry to help them thrive and how would you encourage young women to pursue a career in those fields?
“I think that women are well-suited for rewarding careers in the STEM sector. It’s a natural fit for many women because the STEM industry requires a holistic approach to problem-solving, where one has to consider multiple elements of the problem, and give thoughtful consideration of the sensitivities that can impact the outcome. Although society has not given enough attention to promoting careers for women in STEM, that should not prevent women from aspiring to such roles. Women thrive when they are challenged to solve complex problems. Having an ambitious attitude will help you overcome any doubts about your abilities, will drive you forward and achieve “A+” in your goals. I hope women never give up on their personal and career aspirations, even in the face of adversity. The well-known expression, “In challenge there is opportunity”, should be part of everyone’s guiding mantra in the pursuit of success and happiness.”
#HerHalton 2018 Featured Haltech Clients and Corporate Members
Thinking about launching a new company? Canada might just be the place for you. Last June, I talked about what the country is doing for the AI scene. Now I’m going to share the secret sauce behind Toronto’s—and, more broadly, Ontario’s—innovation growth.
Recently, I attended an “Open Mic” session for startups just outside of Toronto. A groups of entrepreneurs, private investors, business leaders and others involved in the startup scene were brought together by the Haltech Innovation Center for some networking and pizza. The pièce de résistance of the evening was the showcase of talented entrepreneurs pitching their companies.
Though that may sound pretty standard for a startup networking event, what really set it apart was the personal involvement of Haltech President and CEO, Rina Carlini and Senior Manager of Business Innovation Services, Kevin Ming. The two spent the evening acting a match-makers, introducing companies to potential investors and partners. This personal touch fueled some serious relationship building.
This type of support and enthusiasm for the local startup community can be felt and seen all across Ontario. For example, Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE), created by the government, supports more than 130 not-for-profit organizations (including Haltech) across Ontario to help innovations. Its mission is to support businesses at all stages of growth, from researchers with promising new ideas to companies launching their products. Just like Carlini and Ming at the “Open Mic” event, the ONE partners help match startups with the resources they need to succeed—and there are some pretty incredible resources in the region.
The province of Ontario has 49 incubators and accelerators, all connected through the ONE. That includes 18 regional innovation centers (RICs), such as Haltech, MaRS, Communitech and Invest Ottawa, that are all staffed with advisors and mentors who help startups commercialize their ideas. According to a fall 2017 report on the ONE, the network has helped more than 5,600 Ontario entrepreneurs open new businesses. Very impressive!
For entrepreneurs needing support on the R&D front, the news from Toronto is really good. In addition to a significantly lower cost of R&D than in other major startup hubs in North America, such as Silicon Valley, New York or Boston, the Canadian government provides refunds on R&D investments. This refund can be as much as 65% of the R&D cost. That’s a huge benefit for startups.
Beyond that, the presence of other major technology companies in the region breeds opportunity for young companies. Google, FaceBook, Shopify, Research in Motion and more have all set up offices in the Toronto/Waterloo/Hamilton tech corridor.
The idea for a company can come from anywhere, but the resources to turn that idea into a real company are not always so easy to come by. That’s the main value of a community coming together to support new businesses. I’ve seen many great ideas fail because an entrepreneur doesn’t know how to create a true business plan and understand the market. I’ve also seen business-oriented entrepreneurs fail because they don’t have the wherewithal to research and develop their product.
Toronto has the support and resources for startups, and much of it is thanks to the ONE. The ONE members are not only focused on supporting new businesses. They believe that there is a bigger value in developing an entrepreneurial culture and fostering innovation skills among the youth. There’s also a value in connecting “newbies” with those who have done it before. Individual startups may or may not succeed, but the spirit of entrepreneurship will last for a long time if truly fostered.
Toronto, and the broader in Canada, have laid the groundwork for their 20-year plan to drive innovation . They are strategically implementing this plan through strong support for entrepreneurs and the startup community. I believe their hard work is going to pay off—and it makes the country worth looking at for a launching place for your new company. So, if you’re pondering that great new idea and you want to be surrounded by startup resources, head north. You’ll get a big Canadian welcome and lots of support.
2018 is a fast-paced online world where attention spans are shortening, patience is non-existent, and people want answers NOW. Knowing your audience and having content and systems in place to serve this immediate need are essential. Video is king and has been ramping up for several years now. It is no longer an option but a necessity, to compete and get noticed. From social media, organic reach and engagement to SEO, adding video to your content strategy will give you a welcomed boost. Using all of these tactics and creating personalized experiences for your prospects can give you a much-needed competitive advantage in todays flurry of options. Check out the 5 effective marketing tips below for ideas on how to give your brand a boost in 2018.
Video – Branded Content
Over 65% of the population are visual learners!!! What does this mean for you? The chances are, most of your target audience are visual learners. Create content with a visual first approach and add in details for the analytical people to consume if they require it. The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual.
The total number of people who use YouTube – 1.3 Billion!
We have seen a major trend over the years from text based content to image heavy content and now video is king. If you don’t have a content strategy that includes video in 2018 you have missed the boat or weren’t even on it to begin with. 51% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI. Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text. Videos typically have a 55% increase in message/brand recall 3 days later, compared to text-based content.
The 4 most common video types are:
- Product Demo
Buyer personas are detailed, semi-fictional profiles of your ideal customers. You can have many different personas and it is quite common to have 4 or more for any business. These use a bit of standard demographic information but go far deeper into interests and behaviours. These personas can come from analyzing your current customers or you can start from scratch. As time goes on you can revisit these personas and refine and update them to make them more accurate. Once you have personas created, it makes it easier to target interest and behaviour-based ads, create relevant content, personalize content, segment your customer list and send relevant offers. Putting some time and effort into these personas will save you a lot of time and effort in the long run when you are creating your content strategy and offers. There are a few tools and checklists out there that can help walk you through the process of creating these personas. Check out Personapp. This is a free tool to help walk your through the process and get a visual picture of your audience.
Dynamic, Personalized Content/CTA’s
74% of online consumers get frustrated with websites when content they see has nothing to do with their interests.
Calls-to-action (CTAs) personalized to individual visitors have a 42% higher view-to-submission rate than generic CTAs that appear the same for every visitor. You can personalize content based on list segmentation, referral source, location, weather, time of day, returning visitors etc. There are many variables you can use to serve dynamic content to your visitors. A simple example of this personalization is on the Yellow Robot Marketing site. There is a CTA’s above the fold that serves a different message depending on the referral source. Try doing a Google search for Yellow Robot Marketing and click through to the home page. Now do the same from Bing. You will see the dynamic content change depending on where you entered the site from. These dynamic pieces of content add personalization to an online world that bombards searchers with the same old content and marketing techniques day after day. Dynamic, personalized content gives you a way to pull away from the pack and create a personalized experience for your brand online.
Micro Instant Searches
With a majority of consumers searching for information on there mobile devices it is more important than ever to instant answers readily available. Consumers want answers NOW! Having solutions and content in place, to satisfy these micro searchers, is essential to converting these searchers into loyal customers. It is important to create a solid content strategy focused around the questions searchers are looking for. There are several tools available, with high price tags, to help you complete this research but using Google is free and will give you a great starting point. Go to Google and type in a search term/keyword/product that you want to search for. Instead of hitting enter just wait and review the list of related searches that Google will present you with. These searches are popular related searches to what you have typed in the search box. Once you hit enter you can also scroll down to the bottom of the search results and review the list of related searches. Use these terms to help form your content strategy.
Brand Identity Refresh
You’ve been working tirelessly to build your product, service, app etc. and you’ve left your branding in the hands of a friend who has Photoshop, your nephew, the kid around the block or you bought one online for $5. You have a logo that served its purpose and got you up and running. Now that you have sales and revenue coming in the door, it’s probably time to revisit your brand and see if it is properly telling your story and sending the right message about your product or service.
To hear more from Yellow Robot, join March 7, 2018 at our Marketing Masters Meetup (M3). Free for Haltech Clients and Corporate Members. See here to register or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for your promo code.
Haltech recently had the honour of participating in a special meeting held at TechPlace in Burlington, to discuss challenges & opportunities of women entrepreneurs and business professionals, hosted by The Honourable Bardish Chagger Minister of Small Business & Tourism and MP Waterloo, and MP of Oakville-North Burlington Pam Damoff. Many great leaders and companies were in attendance, including 4 women CEOs/Founders who are clients of Haltech Regional Innovation Centre . Thank you to all attendees for sharing your insightful thoughts and empowering ideas. #AddWomenChangeBusiness
OAKVILLE, Nov 15, 2017 – Oakville-based tech company, The Sky Guys, has teamed up with NVIDIA, IBM, and the University of Toronto to develop an artificial intelligence-enabled drone solution to monitor and manage Ontario’s 400-series highways. The group was awarded a $750,000 grant from the Government of Ontario’s inaugural Small Business Innovation Challenge (SBIC) in August to help the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) solve the vehicle occupancy detection challenge, beginning with High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV)/High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes.
Haltech Regional Innovation Centre, which provides free business advisory services to early-stage technology companies in the Halton Region, supported The Sky Guys’ proposal for the SBIC funding opportunity because they believed their technology solutions and highly skilled team were well-suited to tackle the problem. The Sky Guys have worked with Haltech’s Entrepreneurs-In-Residence Bruno Maruzzo and Vincent Mifsud to access investment and grant funding opportunities, and help expand their network of potential customers and partners. “It’s been a pleasure working with The Sky Guys who are smart and ambitious entrepreneurs and leverage many leading-edge technologies to achieve their goals”, says Rina Carlini, President and CEO of Haltech.
Earlier in 2017 The Sky Guys were nominated by Haltech for the prestigious Ernest C. Manning Innovation Awards, where they among the top three finalists for the Greater Toronto Area, and placed in the top 30 across Canada.Tom Hanson, COO of the Sky Guys said, “Haltech has been enthusiastic about introducing us to their extensive network of investors and partners, which have contributed to our accomplishment in several financial raises and business development efforts.”
About the Sky Guys: The Sky Guys are Canada’s leading solution providers and technology developers in the UAV / Drone industry. Their team of world class engineers, data scientists and advanced technologists continually break the mold by providing clients with new insights and innovative applications. The Sky Guys offers specialized UAV services to over 600 clients, using a unique approach to capture data, aerial video and photography, infrastructure inspection and 3D mapping.
About Haltech: Haltech is at the nexus of the Halton Region’s innovation ecosystem, working with technology companies to accelerate innovation for business growth. Since beginning their operations in 2011, Haltech has supported over 700 tech startups and entrepreneurs in region and adjacent communities. Haltech supports technology-based companies and entrepreneurs functioning in the following sectors: Advanced Manufacturing, Digital Media & ICT, Internet-of-Things, Clean Technology, Life Sciences & Healthcare IT, and Financial Tech.
Haltech inspires Innovation in health tech while showcasing new cutting edge technologies
Health. Tech. Connect. was the theme for the 2017 Halton FUTURES Innovation Summit co-presented by Haltech and Halton Region Economic Development. The event put a spotlight on how smart, innovative technology solutions are transforming the delivery of healthcare services from the hospital clinic to home. The sold out conference gathered over 200 attendees, featuring more than 20 invited speakers including 3 keynote talks from Cloud DX, IBM Canada and Microsoft Canada.
The Summit concluded with a special session, the Tech Startup Spotlight, where pitches were made by local high potential health tech start ups: iCare Home Health, Digital Medical Experts, Eyecarrot Innovations and MedChart. Summit attendees voted live at the event for their favourite pitch, and MedChart took home the honours and cash prize, which was presented by Summit Gold sponsor BDC.