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Business | 31 May, 2024

IRAP vs. SR&ED Funding

Navigating the world of funding for research and development (R&D) can be challenging for Canadian businesses. Two of the most prominent programs available to support innovation are the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) and the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Credits. Both IRAP and SR&ED offer valuable financial assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) engaged in R&D activities, but they operate in different ways and cater to different needs. This article explores the key differences between IRAP Canada and SR&ED Canada, helping businesses determine which program best aligns with their goals and how to maximize their funding opportunities.


What is IRAP Grant and SR&ED Tax Credits?

  • IRAP Grants: The Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) is a Canadian government initiative aimed at supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their innovation efforts. IRAP Funding provides financial assistance to businesses undertaking research and development (R&D) projects with the goal of enhancing their competitiveness, productivity, and growth. These Canadian research grants can cover a wide range of expenses, including salaries for research personnel, materials and equipment, and project-related overhead costs.
  • SR&ED Tax Credits: Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Credits are another avenue of support for Canadian businesses engaged in R&D activities. Administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), SR&ED Tax Credits provide tax incentives to companies that conduct eligible scientific research or experimental development in Canada. Unlike grants, SR&ED Tax Credits are claimed through the tax system, allowing businesses to recoup a portion of their R&D expenditures as tax credits or refunds.


What’s the Difference Between a Grant and a Tax Credit?

Grants vs. Tax Credits

One of the primary distinctions between IRAP Grant and SR&ED Tax Credit lies in their mechanisms of financial support. Grants, such as those provided by IRAP, offer direct funding to businesses, typically in the form of non-repayable contributions. On the other hand, tax credits, like SRED credits, function by reducing a company’s tax liability, either through deductions from taxable income or refunds.

Pros and Cons

Each funding mechanism has its own set of advantages and limitations. While grants provide upfront financial assistance without the need for repayment, they often come with stringent eligibility criteria and reporting requirements. Tax credits, while offering potential long-term savings on taxes, may require businesses to navigate complex tax regulations and documentation processes.


Overview of NRC IRAP Research Grants

The National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) is a cornerstone of Canadian innovation funding. It supports SMEs by providing advisory services and funding to help them develop technologies and bring them to market. NRC IRAP funding can significantly lower the financial barriers that innovative businesses face. The NRC IRAP portal facilitates the application process, making it easier for businesses to access the support they need. To qualify, companies must meet specific IRAP eligibility criteria, including being incorporated and profit-oriented, with the capability to execute the proposed project.


Overview of SRED Tax Credits

SR&ED tax credits are designed to encourage businesses to undertake R&D by offering financial incentives. The program allows businesses to claim a portion of their R&D expenses, such as wages, materials, and overhead, as tax credits. This can result in a reduction of taxes owed or a cash refund. The SR&ED tax credit is available to any business that incurs eligible R&D expenditures in Canada. To claim these credits, businesses must prepare detailed documentation and reports that demonstrate the nature and scope of their R&D activities. The process involves submitting a SRED application along with tax returns.


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What Are the Main Differences Between IRAP and SR&ED?

The main differences between the IRAP program and SR&ED funding lie in their structure and administration. IRAP provides upfront funding for specific R&D projects, often involving direct interaction with NRC advisors. SR&ED, however, is a tax incentive program where businesses can claim back a portion of their R&D expenses after the fact. Additionally, IRAP funding is more project-specific, whereas SR&ED credits can apply to a broader range of ongoing R&D activities.


Can You Combine NRC-IRAP and SR&ED Together?

Yes, businesses can combine NRC-IRAP funding with SR&ED tax credits to maximize their financial support. However, it is crucial to ensure that the same expenses are not double-claimed under both programs. Proper accounting and documentation are essential to navigate the compliance requirements of each program effectively.


Which Program Is the Right Fit for You?

Choosing between IRAP and SR&ED grant depends on various factors, including the nature of your R&D activities, funding needs, and long-term business goals. If your project requires substantial upfront capital and ongoing advisory support, IRAP might be the better option. Conversely, if you are looking for a way to reduce tax liabilities through retrospective claims on R&D expenses, SR&ED could be more suitable. Consulting with professionals experienced in both programs can help determine the best approach for your business.



Both IRAP and SR&ED funding offer valuable support for Canadian businesses engaged in research and development activities. IRAP grants provide direct financial assistance to SMEs, while SR&ED tax credits offer tax incentives for eligible R&D expenditures. Each funding mechanism has its own advantages and limitations, and the choice between them depends on factors such as project needs, funding requirements, and long-term business objectives.

If you’re unsure which program is the right fit for your business, consulting with experts who understand both IRAP and SR&ED can help you make an informed decision. At BSBCON, our team specializes in navigating the intricacies of innovation funding programs like IRAP and SR&ED. We can provide tailored guidance and support to help you maximize your funding opportunities, including assistance with IRAP business plan writing and SR&ED tax credit consulting, and drive your research and development efforts forward.

Contact us today to learn more about how our IRAP business plan writers can assist you with IRAP, SR&ED, and other innovation funding programs. Let us help you unlock the resources you need to turn your innovative ideas into reality and propel your business to success.