IFIT - more information
The Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) program is accepting applications for two separate funding opportunities.
For detailed information, download our Applicant Handbook – Stream 1: Capital Investment Projects and/or our Applicant Handbook – Stream 2: Studies.
See below for frequently asked questions about:
- the application process
- evaluation and selection
- financial details
- diversity and inclusion
- general information about the IFIT program
The application process is unique to each funding opportunity; applicants are encouraged to review the appropriate applicant handbook.
All applicants must register for a GCKey account and create a client profile in INTEGRO to complete the necessary application forms.
What is 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 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, an updated or enhanced proposal 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 project proposal form. Companies can only receive funding support for a maximum of three Studies projects.
How do I apply for capital investment project funding?
All applicants must submit a 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 demonstration to commercial stage and incorporate technology that does not yet exist at the proposed scale and specifications in the Canadian forest sector.
What is a project proposal?
A project proposal enables the IFIT program to ensure the applicant is eligible and meets all mandatory criteria. Proposals are evaluated by an interdisciplinary panel of experts against a set of rated criteria.
Only project proposals with mandatory support documents submitted within deadlines are accepted.
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 financial metrics that would be typically included when seeking traditional debt financing for a project. It should describe the applicant, demonstrate commitment to the project, and outline how the anticipated financial metrics will be achieved in light of project risks
How do I apply for Studies project funding?
Studies project proposal are 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.
For-profit companies located in Canada, that either:
- produce forest products in an existing facility (i.e. pulp, paper or solid/engineered wood products facility)
- are new entrants in the Canadian forest sector for the purpose of the proposed project
- will be new entrants in the Canadian forest sector for the purpose of the proposed 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 as new entrants as long as they produce a new forest fibre derived new forest fibre derived 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?
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.
What is included under the advanced biomaterials and biochemicals targeted innovation category?
This category is targeting advanced biomaterials and biochemicals derived from wood biomass including wood extractives, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin.
These components offer opportunities for new high added-value products for applications that meet the requirements of various industrial sectors as an alternative to fossil fuel based products. Examples include, but are not limited to:
Are fuel wood pellet projects eligible under the advanced biomaterials and biochemicals targeted innovation category?
No. Projects targeting wood pellet production for use as fuels are not considered under this category.
Projects developing biochar for which the unique commercial use is in chemical and industrial processes would be considered eligible. This would include applications such as metallurgy, agriculture and purification.
What is a pulp and paper diversification project?
Three broad types of projects are included in this category and would occur at an existing pulp and paper facility:
- diversification into new paper based products to address a market gap through use of wet-laid standard production processes (for example – new advanced paper types or new packaging products)
- new products derived from changes in primary pulping processes or the use of the wood pulp in new applications (for example – alternatives for single use plastics such as biocomposites, new air-laid fibre based products, new uses of specialized technical fibres)
- pulp and paper facility revenue stream diversification that makes use of previously undervalued residual streams and by-products to enable the co-located production of new products. (for example – pulp mill effluents, boiler ash recycling, etc.)
Are traditional wood-based panel board projects eligible under Next Generation Building Products?
No. Projects targeting standard materials such as oriented strand board, plywood and traditional decorative panels are not considered under this category. This category is intended to capture projects that propose advances into new types of products and/or new commercial applications for products such as mass timber construction, acoustic panels and architectural wood based products.
Evaluation and selection
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 their project proposal that the project clearly meets each mandatory criterion including:
- recipient eligibility
- is the advancement of an innovation in the forest sector
- integrated within the forest sector supply chain
- involves the use of material derived from wood fibre
Projects that clearly meet the mandatory criteria will then be evaluated against the program’s rated criteria, including:
- technical feasibility
- business plan
- fibre supply
- value for investment
- diversity and inclusion
- benefits to Canadians
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 projects 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
- diversity 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 an overall consideration for funding.
The IFIT program aims to create a portfolio of projects that is broadly 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 project proposal?
Corporate approval does not need to be shown at the project proposal phase. However, applicants are encouraged to include this information if corporate board approval has been secured.
Corporate approval is required at the due diligence phase for short-listed projects being considered for funding.
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 demonstration 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.
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.
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 (rather than other government funding) 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 are generally made on a quarterly basis with a predefined amount withheld until project completion.
Final payment will not be made until all agreed-upon project activities have been completed by a proponent and are deemed acceptable by NRCan.
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
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
For more information, refer to Section 6.1. Diversity and Inclusion Plan of our Applicant Handbook – Stream 1: Capital Investment projects. For reference and your internal use, download our suggested Template - Diversity and Inclusion Plan [23 kb Word, 484 kb PDF]
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
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 result in new or diversified revenue streams and lead to higher-value products mix including biomaterials, bio-chemicals, next generation building products and biofuels.
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.
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?
Who can I contact for more information?
For more information, please email the IFIT team.
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