IFIT - more information
The Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) program is accepting applications for two separate funding opportunities. For detailed information, download a PDF of our Applicant Handbook – Stream 1: Capital Investment Projects and PDF of our Applicant Handbook – Stream 2: Studies.
How do I apply for funding?
The application process is unique to each funding stream, applicants are encouraged to review the appropriate applicant handbooks.
All applicants must register for a GCKey account and create a client profile in INTEGRO to complete the necessary application forms.
What is a GCKey?
A GCKey is a unique electronic credential that protects your communication with online Government programs and services. For more information about GCKey, refer to the GCKey Frequently Asked Questions.
What is INTEGRO?
INTEGRO is Natural Resources Canada’s online submission portal. Once you are logged in through GCKey, you will be able to enter the INTEGRO workspace and complete the online forms.
Can I apply for funding if I have applied to previous IFIT funding opportunities?
Yes; however, the proposed project must meet all mandatory criteria as described in our applicant handbooks.
Can I resubmit a project previously declined for IFIT funding?
Yes, the same or improved project can be resubmitted.
Can I apply for more than one capital investment project / studies project?
Yes; however, each capital investment project requires the submission of a unique expression of interest and project proposal form. For studies projects, companies can only receive funding support for a maximum of three projects.
How do I apply for capital investment project funding?
All applicants must submit an expression of interest followed by a full project proposal through INTEGRO.
More information about this funding opportunity, including deadlines, is available on our IFIT – Capital Investment projects page.
At what stage of technology maturity must the projects be when submitting an application?
Proposed capital investment projects must be at a pilot to commercial stage and incorporate technology that does not yet exist at the proposed scale and specifications in the Canadian forest sector.
What is an Expression of Interest?
An expression of interest (EOI) is a self-assessment tool that helps applicants determine if they are eligible to receive funding and if their proposed project meets mandatory program criteria.
The EOI is not intended as a pass/fail measure. However, if the number of EOIs received is significantly higher than expected, the IFIT program reserves the ability to advance a reduced number of projects to the full proposal stage based on an assessment of project eligibility.
Will my project be considered if I miss the expression of interest deadline?
No. An expression of interest (EOI) must be submitted by the deadline.
Full project proposals will not be accepted if an (EOI) is not submitted.
What is a full project proposal?
A full project proposal enables the IFIT program to ensure the applicant is eligible and meets all mandatory criteria.
Proposals will be evaluated by an interdisciplinary panel of experts against a set of rated criteria.
Only full project proposals from applicants who submitted an expression of interest will be accepted. Supporting documentation for projects submitted under the General Enterprise and the Small Enterprise sub-streams differ even though the same deadlines apply.
Is there a required business plan template?
No, there is no specific template. An existing business plan is acceptable as long as it provides key project business related metrics.
How do I apply for Studies project funding?
Studies project proposal are being accepted through INTEGRO on a continuous intake basis until all funding has been allocated.
More information about this funding opportunity is available on our IFIT – Studies projects page.
Who is eligible for funding?
Eligible recipients must be for-profit corporations located in Canada that either:
- produce forest products in an existing forest product facility, or
- are/will be new entrants in the forest sector for the purpose of the project
Clusters, joint ventures and consortiums are eligible, provided that a for-profit organization is designated as the lead funding recipient.
What constitutes a new entrant?
A new entrant is a company that does not currently produce a forest product, but will do so once the project is completed. Startups could be considered a new entrant as long as they produce a new forest fibre derived bio or wood product at the conclusion of the project.
Is a foreign company eligible for funding?
Yes; however, the company must have or propose a facility in Canada and the project must be implemented in Canada.
You can own, rent or lease a facility in Canada to be considered for funding. Also, the project being proposed does not have to be located at the facility where you currently produce your products.
Proposals involving new facilities in Canada should be accompanied by documentation supporting both the ownership of the company’s existing facility as well as how the new facility will be acquired, constructed, leased or rented during project timelines.
What North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes qualify for funding?
There are no restrictions on which NAICS codes qualify for funding; however, applicants must ensure they meet all eligibility criteria.
Is eligibility limited if a project is reliant on recycled wood materials or damaged wood?
No. Preference is given to projects that consume wood fibre from currently underutilized sources and will not divert fibre from existing higher-value uses, as set out in our Applicant Handbook - Stream 1: Capital Investment projects.
Is product development as relevant as “new technologies?”
The IFIT program encourages the implementation of innovative technologies with the intent of helping these technologies get to market and creating new products or diversifying product offerings at Canadian companies. For more information on program definitions and requirements, refer to Section 4.2.2. (Rated Criteria - Innovation) of our Applicant Handbook – Stream 1: Capital investment Projects.
Evaluation and selection
How will projects be selected?
Successful projects will be selected through a competitive process that will assess the technical and business viability of the proposed project against mandatory and rated evaluation criteria.
What are the mandatory and rated criteria for Capital investment projects?
Applicants to Capital investment projects must demonstrate in both their expression of interest and their full project proposal that the project clearly meets each mandatory criterion including:
- is a technological advancement in the forest sector
- occurs at an existing or new industrial forest facility in Canada
- involves the use of material derived from wood fibre
Projects which clearly meet the mandatory criteria will then be evaluated against the program’s rated criteria, which include:
- technical feasibility
- business plan
- fibre supply
- value for investment
- diversity and inclusion
For more information, refer to Section 4.1. Mandatory Criteria and Section 4.2. Rated Criteria of our Applicant Handbook – Stream 1: Capital Investment Projects.
What are the mandatory and rated criteria for Studies projects?
Applicants to Studies projects must demonstrate that the proposed study clearly meets each mandatory criterion including
- alignment with a diversification opportunity
- incremental activities
Studies that clearly meet the mandatory criteria will then be evaluated against the program’s rated criteria, which include:
- relevance and significance of diversification opportunity
- ease of implementation
- level of innovation
- diversification and inclusion
For more information, refer to Section 4.1. Mandatory Criteria and Section 4.2. Rated Criteria of our Applicant Handbook – Stream 2: Studies.
Are applications regionally weighted?
No; however, it is a consideration for funding.
The IFIT program aims to create a portfolio of projects that is distributed across the country. Under past calls, IFIT has achieved this goal with projects from coast to coast. The program has delivered a number of outreach and engagement activities to help ensure quality applications are received from across Canada.
Will the selected projects be publicly announced?
Yes, projects selected for funding will be publicly announced after the signing of contribution agreements.
If a company’s project was successfully funded during a previous funding opportunity, will this be taken into consideration when rating current applications?
The goal of the IFIT program is to fund the most transformative technologies in the forest sector. A company’s previous interactions with the program do not determine eligibility for current funding opportunities.
Is corporate approval required for the expression of interest and/or full project proposal?
Corporate approval does not need to be shown at the expression of interest (EOI) or full project phase. However, applicants are encouraged to include this information in either/both if corporate board approval has been secured.
Corporate approval is required at the due diligence phase for short-listed projects being considered for funding.
Does a project with a timeline of less than three years suffer a disadvantage?
No. Preference will be given to applicants who propose the most credible and defensible project schedule. Projects scheduled for completion prior to March 31, 2023, may be given preference during the review.
Is a project eligible if I do not share the intellectual property of the technology in my application?
Yes. However, applicants must demonstrate that their project constitutes an advancement of forest sector technology in Canada at a pilot to commercial scale and that the technology does not yet exist, at the proposed scale, in a forest sector industrial facility in Canada.
Preference will also be given to projects with greater potential for replication across the sector, which could include various facilities of the same company. The IFIT program must also have enough information on the proposed technology to assess the technical merits of a proposal and to assess potential environmental impacts.
Are there different evaluation criteria for COVID-19 response projects?
Yes. Submissions for COVID-19 response projects will be assessed through a separate evaluation process, given the time sensitive nature of the potential projects.
Applicants considering a COVID-19 response project are encouraged to contact the IFIT team.
Are the funds in the form of grants or loans?
Non-repayable contributions (e.g. similar to grants with reporting obligations) are provided to projects selected for funding.
Can funding received from other federal or provincial programs be “stacked”?
Yes, the total Canadian government assistance (federal, provincial/territorial and municipal) can cover up to 100% of total project costs.
Applicants must ensure that their proposal does not violate the stacking limits required by other funding organizations.
Will costs incurred prior to project submission be reimbursed?
No, only eligible expenses incurred after a contribution agreement has been signed by the applicant and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) will be reimbursed.
Receipt of a conditional approval letter does not guarantee funding. However, once a conditional funding letter is received, eligible costs incurred by the proponent can count toward total project costs. Applicants who incur costs between the receipt of a letter of conditional approval and the signing of a formal agreement do so at their own risk.
Can in-kind contributions be considered as part of total project cost?
Yes; however, these contributions must be directly tied to the project.
Eligible in-kind contributions must be a tangible expense, for example contribution of equipment from a project partner or use of a partner’s laboratory.
Can funding be received from other sources?
While the IFIT program has the capacity to fund up to 50% of total project costs, preference will be given to projects demonstrating a high proportion of total project costs leveraged from industry partners and/or provinces (rather than other federal partners/programs) and projects demonstrating secure/confirmed partnerships.
The total Canadian government assistance (federal, provincial/territorial and municipal) will not exceed 100% of the total project costs. Historically, the average IFIT contribution was approximately 35%.
How will funds be distributed?
Payments will be made upon receipt of documentation as defined in the contribution agreements, which has been signed by the applicant and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).
Payments will be made based on receipt and approval of financial reports signed by the recipients’ Chief Financial Officer (or duly authorized officer) outlining the incurred eligible costs for the project.
Final payment will not be made until all agreed-upon project activities have been completed by a proponent and are deemed acceptable by NRCan.
Advance payments, based on an assessment of financial need, level of risk and cash-flow requirements, may be permitted when requested by the proponent.
Must project spending occur in Canada?
Not necessarily; however, the project must be implemented in Canada.
For example, a piece of equipment could be purchased from a foreign supplier, but must be installed at a Canadian facility.
Can the costs of a partnered non-forest industry company be reimbursed?
No, not directly by the IFIT program. Costs can only be reimbursed to the eligible lead company that signed the contribution agreement.
Please contact the IFIT team as the answer to this type of question will involve specifics on a case-by-case basis.
Is the IFIT contribution taxable?
Please seek the advice of a tax professional.
Will expenditures associated with the production of softwood lumber be funded?
Costs associated with the production or export of softwood lumber are not eligible. A trade review, with the assistance of Global Affairs Canada, will be conducted to ensure compliance with all trade obligations, including the Softwood Lumber Agreement, as part of its evaluation process.
Diversity and inclusion
What are the objectives of the program’s diversity and inclusion measures?
The IFIT program is committed to increasing workforce diversity in the forest sector. Currently, women, immigrants, visible minorities and youth are all underrepresented in the forest sector.
To support a diverse and inclusive forest sector, the IFIT program will work with funding recipients to collect workforce diversity and inclusion plans and questionnaires, gather relevant data, promote the forest sector as a post-secondary option and promote workforce diversity through collaboration.
What should be included in a diversity and inclusion plan?
A diversity and inclusion plan may include, but is not limited to a recipient’s:
- public approach to promoting diversity, inclusion and equality
- corporate anti-discrimination policies
- available statistics on proportion of designated groups employed at all levels of their firm in Canada
- hiring processes and supplier selection methods in Canada
- corporate activities that seek to increase or support diversity in Canada’s forest industry, including training for hiring managers and staff
What are the reporting requirements for diversity and inclusion?
The diversity and inclusion reporting requirements for funding recipients include:
- an updated Diversity and Inclusion Plan and Questionnaire for the first quarterly report of each fiscal year
- a description of implemented diversity and inclusion measures as part of the final report
- an updated Diversity and Inclusion Plan and Questionnaire included in required post-project reporting
What is the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) Program?
The IFIT program supports its recipients in de-risking the implementation of innovation, bridging the gap between the development and the commercialization of new products. The focus is on low-carbon projects that results in new or diversified revenue streams and lead to higher-value products mix including bioenergy, biomaterials, bio-chemicals and the next generation building products.
How does the IFIT program define innovation?
In the context of the IFIT program, innovation refers to a technology or process that does not currently exist at the proposed scale or specification in the forest sector in Canada. For more information on program definitions and requirements, refer to Section 4.2.2. (Innovation) of our Applicant Handbook – Stream 1: Capital investment projects.
Why is the IFIT program holding two calls for proposals?
Considering the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IFIT program adapted its program delivery to hold two calls for proposals to provide a greater opportunity for applicants. This approach will guarantee funding for successful applicants who are ready to undertake an innovation project in the near term as well as ensure funding for companies not yet in a position to implement innovation projects.
Under which call for proposals should I apply?
For our 5th call for proposals, the IFIT program is looking for “ready to build” projects that can demonstrate a high degree of advancement. Applicants must be ready to incur significant capital costs before March 31, 2021, with the majority of requested funding being incurred by this date.
If projects cannot demonstrate they are ready to incur significant capital costs before March 31, 2021, the project would be deferred for consideration under our next call for proposals. Our 6th call for proposals will be held in the first quarter of 2021, and projects can accumulate capital costs for just under a two-year period (April 2021-March 2023).
Does the IFIT program prefer to fund small and medium enterprises or larger corporations and multinationals?
There is no preference of one type of company over another. The IFIT program works to ensure its portfolio of funded projects is diverse in size and scope. All projects undergo a transparent and comprehensive evaluation process. Projects that are well aligned with mandatory and rated criteria have a higher likelihood of success.
How can I find out more about IFIT results?
How long has the IFIT program been operating?
Since 2010, and through 4 calls of proposal, the IFIT program has successfully funded 43 projects involving many world-first technologies, producing a range of new bioproducts and generating new revenues for forest sector companies.
Who can I contact for more information?
For more information, please email the IFIT team.
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