Quebec is particularly fruitful when it comes to SMEs, as they are some of the leading forces in the province’s economy. A major factor at the source of this phenomenon is the support of the federal and provincial governments. This comes in the form of grants, funding, and investments to support increased technology needs and scaling competitive advantages from leveraging digital transformation. However, many companies still shy away from applying for these grants by a lack of time and knowledge about the process. But what if we told you that it’s way easier than you think?
The ABCs of Digital Transformation
Digital transformation – meaning the usage of cloud software such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), MRP (Manufacturing Resource Planning), PSA (Professional Services Automation), and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems – requires big investments and can be scary to businesses that have limited means. This is why our team of expert consultants is here to help you make the best decision tailored to fit your business’ needs and priorities, whether it be for consulting, implementation, rescue mission, and many more. In the long run, your digital transformation will benefit your company in many ways by:
- Improving employee collaboration and reducing repetitive job functions;
- Streamlining your processes;
- Increasing your efficiency;
- Propelling your annual revenues;
- Improving your customer experience;
- And more
According to a Hinge Research Institute study conducted in 2021, firms that invest in a good digital transformation strategy and implementation see an undeniable and substantial improvement across these KPIs. If you think your business is ready to take this next step, we can even provide you with a free assessment here.
After completing your assessment, you will be able to leverage Big Bang’s BSA5® service, designed to analyze your business systems and guide you to a solution that aligns strategy and operations.
Audit Industrie 4.0: Now Part of ESSOR
Have you been doing research about government grants, but you’re still unsure as to what to pick and how to differentiate one program from another? Have you heard of the Audit Industrie 4.0 program, but can’t seem to understand how it works specifically?
To help you visualize some of the options you might’ve come across during your research – in this case, the Investissement Québec funding programs – here is a diagram to illustrate the connection between them all:
ESSOR Program – Powered by Investissement Québec
Let’s get into more details now. As of February 2022, the Audit Industrie 4.0 grant program was merged into ESSOR, a bigger entity run by Investissement Québec. ESSOR has also encompassed two components from the PME en action program, as shown in the diagram. ESSOR now includes 4 major components that aim to:
- Accelerate the implementation and realization of investment projects;
- Accelerate the growth of Quebec companies’ productivity through an innovative technological transition or the acquisition of new technologies;
- Promote the global expansion of Quebec companies and the settlement of foreign companies in Quebec;
- Reduce the environmental footprint of Quebec companies;
- Increase the presence of Quebec companies in global supply chains.
Option 1 – Support for the realization of investment projects
If you’re reading this blog, chances are you were looking to know more about the Audit Industrie 4.0 program. This initiative now mainly exists through the first component of ESSOR.
Let’s start by taking a look at Option 1 – Support for the realization of investment projects. This component offers Quebec SMEs the opportunity to free themselves from huge costs; covering up to 50% of eligible expenses, for a maximum of 100 000$, or 20 000$ for digital diagnostics projects (Audit Industrie 4.0 measures).
You’ll be happy to know that this financial support comes as a grant, which means you won’t have to repay a single dollar to the government.
Are You Eligible?
This program is made for all businesses established and in activity in the Quebec province. You can be a profit or non-profit organization. If you need financial assistance in one of the following areas, then you might be eligible:
- Carrying out feasibility studies to analyze or evaluate the technical or economic parameters of business start-up, modernization, or expansion projects;
- Carrying out digital diagnostics, digital plans, and implementation plans (previously Audit Industrie 4.0 measures);
- Implementing an action plan and a digital plan.
Keep in mind that these grants won’t cover the entirety of your expenses. This component of ESSOR can only cover up to three types of expenses:
- Expenses related to the purchase of specialized information;
- Travel and living expenses.
More Insightful Information
We asked Jason Berke, an expert consultant on government grants and loans for businesses, about his experience working with companies that wish to obtain grants for their digital transformation.
One thing to know, he explains, is that government grants are there to help your business grow and prosper. If you speak to a representative, you’ll see that they have your business’ best interest in mind. They will take the time to get to know your company, its issues, and guide you to apply for grants that will positively make a difference in the long run.
Feeling unsure about the do’s and the don’ts of applying for grants is normal. In this case, you might want to consider hiring a consultant like Jason, who Big Bang can connect you with. Although the application process is not extremely hard, the challenge lies in gathering all the information necessary without omitting anything. With the help of a consultant that knows all the processes well, the benefits will be seen in four aspects:
- Reducing the amount of work you have to put in;
- Increasing the chances of approval by the government ;
- Reducing the timeline between applying and getting approved;
- And increasing the amount of money you are going to receive in grants.
Other Programs for Digital Transformation
So far we mainly delved into the subject of the ESSOR program, which focuses on companies and innovation. However, if your needs fall more under the human resources category, we suggest you take a look at programs offered by Emploi-Québec. The major benefit is that these particular programs are people-centric, meaning that they focus on giving training and growing the skills of your employees.
As Jason Berke pointed out, programs like these have a huge impact on Quebec’s economy; employees who acquire new skills and knowledge through a company will always carry those skills with them, wherever they go next.