Big Cedar - CDAP Digital Advisors​

Fund Your Digital Marketing Projects with the

Canada Digital Adoption Program

Access $15,000 in government funding, up to $100,000 in interest-free loans and multiple $7,300 work placements with Canada's best small business digital transformation grant.

What is the CDAP Grant?

Updated December 8, 2023

The Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) is a government initiative to help small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) adopt new digital technologies. The Canadian government has committed $4 billion to the program over the next four years into 2025.

If your business has greater than $500,000 revenue in one of the prior three years and at least one full-time equivalent employee, you’re likely eligible for both CDAP Stream 1 and Stream 2 grants.


If you don’t meet that revenue requirement but have least $30,000 revenue and are registered business in Canada (sole proprietorship or incorporated), you’re eligible for the CDAP Stream 1 grant (the FTE employee requirement was dropped October 18, 2022).


Below we’ll cover eligible costs, which grant requires a CDAP Digital Advisor, and a timeline of the process from application to loan, with links to apply. You can also skip to the updated CDAP FAQ.

How much is the CDAP grant?

The CDAP grant is composed of two streams, a microgrant which most companies with at least one employee are eligible for, and the larger Boost Your Business Technology grant with stricter eligibility criteria.

  1. CDAP Stream 1: $2,400 microgrant to implement digital marketing initiatives
  2. CDAP Stream 2: Up to $15,000 to hire an approved advisor to create a CDAP plan
  3. Wage Subsidy: $7,300 youth work placements
  4. Interest-Free Loan: Up to $100,000 to implement the plan

Stream 1:
Grow Your Business Online

  • $2,400 microgrant to reimburse for costs related to web design, SEO, site audits, Google Analytics consulting, Google Ads, social media, databases and more.
  • Covers hiring a digital marketing agency to plan and implement initiatives.
  • Non e-commerce companies are eligible.

Stream 2:
Boost Your Business Technology

  • 90% reimbursement up to $15,000 to cover the costs of hiring an approved CDAP Digital Advisor to develop a digital plan – i.e. the maximum grant is $15,873+GST, you’d receive a $15,000 grant to pay the advisor plus $1,667 out of pocket.
  • $7,300 in wage subsidies to hire Canadian youth to implement the plan.
  • Up to $100,000 in interest-free loans from BDC.
  •  

Where can I find a CDAP Digital Advisor?

For CDAP Stream 2, SMEs must work with an approved digital advisor registered with CDAP. These are organizations that meet and maintain all of the required criteria to deliver digital advisory services. Approved advisors are required to provide vendor neutral advice and are subject to CDAP’s Code of Conduct. They work with eligible SMEs to create digital adoption plans that meet the minimum viable elements identified in the CDAP digital adoption plan guide.

Big Cedar is a registered CDAP Digital Advisor.

 A listing of all CDAP digital advisors is available in the program’s marketplace after approval of the CDAP grant.

Which stream is right for my business?

The official program site has a Grant Assessment Tool with these questions to determine which is right for you:

  1. Do you have between 1 and 499 employees?
  2. Which sector is your business in?
  3. Where is your head office located?
  4. What are you looking to do?
  5. Did you have annual revenues between $500,000 and $100,000,000 in any of the past three tax years?

Stream 1 is intended for customer-facing businesses who haven’t yet adopted digital tech or are looking to improve, with funding to support up to 90,000 businesses. This microgrant of $2,400 has a requirement of $30,000 revenue in the most recent tax year. Sole proprietors are eligible. Visit our guide of the CDAP Stream 1 application process (with screenshots).

Stream 2 is the larger grant and is designed to help SMEs adopt new digital technologies and strategies as part of an adoption plan. It’s best suited for businesses with high operational costs and the business is in need of capital and outside, independent expertise to move technology and digital marketing forward.

CDAP DNA screenshot

What costs are eligible? How can the CDAP grant benefit my company?

Stream 1 benefits most businesses looking to improve their technology.

Businesses are paired with a government appointed advisor (not to be confused with a CDAP Advisor for Stream 2) who will work with you to determine where to invest your funds. 

The microgrant can be spent on a variety of tech initiatives. 

Eligible costs
 include website upgrades, web design, search engine optimization (SEO), eCommerce implementation, online reservation and bookings, social media support, digital advertising, and fees for eCommerce platforms and software including a portion of POS systems. See a list of eligible and ineligible expenses on our CDAP Stream 1 page.

Originally the grant was to hire only a government supplied student “e-Commerce advisor”, but as of June 2022 this has opened up to allow the hiring of digital marketing consultants and agencies.

Stream 2 for up to $15,000 is a reimbursement grant to hire an approved CDAP Digital Advisor to analyze the current situation, and then create a plan and recommendations for implementation of new technologies. It differs from Stream 1 in that the funds are to develop the plan only, and not for implementation.

If you choose to work with Big Cedar for this grant stream, we are currently offering a credit towards implementation services. Contact us for more details.

The grant is to be used towards:

  • Providing support during the grant process to maximize funding.
  • Reviewing your current operations, technology and business strategy to create an action plan identifying where you can benefit most and what to prioritize.
  • Researching and recommending solutions to fit your business and budget, including a cost / benefit analysis of the top options. Areas Big Cedar has expertise in are marketing strategy, SEO, content strategy,  website optimizations, CRM, booking systems, analytics, Google Workspace integration and SAAS / platform recommendations.
  • Developing a comprehensive digital strategy and roadmap with steps, timelines, and resources to achieve your business objectives – which can be implemented with a loan of up to $100,000 from BDC depending on revenue.

What's the process? How much time does this take?

The typical process for the $15,000 Stream 2 Boost Your Business Technology grant :

  • 20 minute application (completed by the owner or designated authority)
  • 1-3 weeks for approval from the government (ISED)
  • Choose a CDAP Digital Advisor
  • 1-2 hours onboarding
  • 15 minutes to provide access to systems needed
  • 3-5 weeks for the advisor to develop the plan
  • 1-2 hours for the advisor to present the findings
  • 5 minutes to submit the plan and up to 30 days for plan approval and reimbursement*
  • 1-2 hours per youth work placement hired (optional)
  • 30 minutes to apply for the BDC loan (optional, done online after CDAP plan submission)
From time of approval, a business has nine months to submit a CDAP plan.
*ISED typically takes 1-2 weeks to respond to any questions, but they have stated they have a 30-day service standard as of September 2023.

CDAP FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

I'm confused. Two streams, two grants?

It’s a government grant and it has been confusing for all involved.

Simply put, if you had $30,000 revenue last tax year and are a registered Canadian business, you’re likely eligible for the $2,400 Stream 1 grant, which can be spent in many ways (link to SBBC). 

If you have revenues >$500k in any of the past 3 years, you can also apply for the $15,000 CDAP Stream 2. Unlike the Launch Online and SMB Grants before it, this grant has stricter requirements on eligible costs and is designed to create a plan, and you’re fast tracked for a 0% loan after to implement that plan.

We haven't hit the $500k revenue mark yet. Are we still eligible?

Not for Stream 2, but you still have time – this grant is open through 2025. Until then, apply for CDAP Stream 1.

Can I work with any company that offers digital services?

For Stream 1, yes. For Stream 2, only government-approved digital advisors like Big Cedar can provide services.

Can I use the funds towards SEO, ads or building a website?

We’ve created plans with the biggest impact through:

  • SEO Audits and Website Evaluations
  • Content Marketing Strategy
  • Competitor Analysis
  • Content Opportunity Discovery
  • Google Analytics 4 Migration
  • Process Audits and Automation

The funds for the CDAP Grant Stream 2 can only be used to create the Digital Adoption Plan, and is not for implementation or software or ad costs.

From the Canada Digital Adoption Plan and Guide:
“The SME and the digital advisor will work together to develop a digital adoption plan that meets the CDAP requirements. Upon completion, the SME will upload their completed digital adoption plan and invoice to the CDAP portal. Once accepted, the grant will be issued to the SME.

With a digital adoption plan in hand, the SME is now eligible to access a zero-interest loan from the BDC as well as a subsidized youth work placement to implement their plan and adopt new digital tools for their business.”

We realize this is not often the way professional services work – typically a consultant or agency is hired to do the research, create a plan, and then execute the plan. Book a call with us and we’ll explain further.

If you do choose us to create your CDAP plan with us, we can offer a $1,000 credit towards implementation services.

What experience does Big Cedar have in providing digital adoption plans?

As of November 2023, we’ve completed over 15 CDAP plans with a 100% success rate on first submission. Not all agencies have their plans approved, and some seedier ones have been banned from the program.

In addition to developing marketing strategies, web design, and SEO services, we pride ourselves in finding the best technologies for our clients and their budgets. 

We’re not just marketers – we’re technologists with 16 years experience consulting for small businesses and Fortune 500 companies. We’ve researched, recommended and implemented systems including:

  • Reporting and automated document creation via Excel, Google Sheets and databases
  • Content marketing and SEO strategies
  • Email marketing and social media strategy & automation
  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management) databases
  • HRIS (Human Resource Information Systems) – virtual timesheets, payroll
  • Project / Task Management (i.e. Trello, Asana, Notion)
  • Integrations with systems such as Google Workspace, Outlook, QuickBooks, AirTable and more using Zapier or directly through API’s.

Is it difficult to apply for the Canada Digital Adoption grants?

The federal government has simplified the grant application process, compared to previous grants like the SMB and Launch Online grants. They’ve said they’re trying to get this money out as fast as they can, as easy as they can. The application takes less than 20 minutes.

The Grow Your Business Online grant process is even quicker. See our simplified CDAP Stream 1 application guide for screenshots and time estimates.

When are applications for the CDAP grant open?

Applications opened in January 2022 and the program is set to run for four years, with a review after one year.

How long does the application process take?

The program administrators have said that most applications take a few days to two weeks to review and approve, but they’re working on reducing this time to less than a day.

When will I receive funds?

For Stream 2, the program admins have declared a service standard of 30 days. In reality, we’ve had clients’ plans approved in 2 to 6 weeks with the  fund sent within days. 

However an update to CDAP advisors was sent December 8, 2023 stating “it is taking 6-8 weeks for grant claim requests to be processed due to an increased volume of claims being submitted. CDAP has added resources to address these delays and the team is working diligently to return to our service standard of 30 days.” 

SME’s are expected to work with advisors to come up with a deposit and payment structure. Talk to us about financing options.

Are there fees to apply for the grant?

No, it’s free to apply for and Big Cedar does not charge for assisting in the application process. 

How long does it take to create a Digital Adoption Plan?

An SME has six months to accept the CDAP Stream 2 terms, then nine months to submit the Digital Adoption Plan to the government (see Section 3.2 of the Program Guide).

Most plans are completed by us in 3-6 weeks.

Is my business eligible for the CDAP grant?

Do I need to have an e-commerce store to get either grant?​

No, though the wording makes it sound like the grant administrators prefer it. However we’ve worked with accounting firms and environmental consulting firms who have used it to boost their SEO, update their websites and create social media plans and their costs were approved.

Can Big Cedar help us apply for the CDAP grant?

Business owners, directors, or designated authorities must login to ISED and apply for the grant, however we can definitely walk you through the process!

Can I choose my own digital advisor?

For Stream 1, you’re assigned an E-Commerce advisor for at least one hour. Then you’re free to hire a consultant or agency.

For Stream 2, after approval applicants will have access to the CDAP Digital Advisor Marketplace, which is a searchable and filterable list of all registered digital advisors.

Big Cedar is on this approved list.

CDAP Canada Digital Adoption Plan Digital Advisor screenshot

How does the 0% BDC loan work?

This optional loan is meant to be used to implement the plan. It’s based on annual gross revenues met at least once in the past three years:
1. $500k to $5M revenue: loan between $25k-$50k
2. $5M+ revenue: loan between $25k and $100k

The BDC CDAP loan:

  • has no fees
  • has a 6-year repayment schedule
  • requires no guarantees
  • done 100% online
  • must be spent on the items laid out in the CDAP plan
  • does not require invoices to be submitted
  • has a credit check for any directors with a 25%+ share
  • does not revalidate the CDAP plan – ISED has done that already

BDC is also a CDAP Advisor - is it better to go through them to get a loan?

This was a common concern amongst advisors as there appeared to be a conflict of interest.

However, this was cleared up on a March 2, 2023 webinar by CDAP explaining those are two separate businesses, and using BDC as your digital advisor does not improve your chances to get a loan.

And BDC’s advisors might be good at some things, but we hold our own in content and digital marketing strategies. 🙂

Can I choose more than one digital advisor?

SMEs are able to reach out to any number of digital advisors, but can only work with one for Stream 2.

What is in a Digital Adoption Plan?

The Government of Canada requires these four elements in every plan:
  1. Executive summary: Provide a high-level summary of the key elements of this plan for the SME.
  2. Current state analysis: Provide an overview of key business information, such as their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, their external issues as well as key IS/IT information.
  3. Digital adoption analysis and recommendations: Identify a minimum of three potential digital/technology solutions for the SME to consider, including how each of those solutions will benefit the SME’s business.
  4. Implementation roadmap: Identify the key elements to implement the recommended options including timeline, dependencies, costs to acquire the technology, etc.
The plan may also include optional elements such as skill requirements and high-level requirements for each recommendation. See the Canada Digital Adoption Plan and Guide for more details. Source: CDAP Webinar (May 3, 2022)

Is Big Cedar an approved digital advisor for the CDAP program?

Yes, Big Cedar is a registered and approved advisor. Learn more about the requirements to be a CDAP digital advisor on the on ISED Canada site.

How are applicants chosen?

As with most government grants, if an application meets all eligibility requirements, grants are approved on a first-come, first-serve basis.

I’m not sure how to answer my Digital Maturity Assessment, can Big Cedar help?

We’d be happy to guide you through the assessment process. Book a call at the bottom of this FAQ!

Is it difficult to apply for the Canada Digital Adoption grants?

The federal government has simplified the grant application process, compared to previous grants like the SMB and Launch Online grants. 

They’ve said they’re trying to get this money out as fast as they can, as easy as they can. The application takes less than 20 minutes.

If you need help, reach out to us!

Only government-approved digital advisors can provide services for Stream 2.

Only government-approved digital advisors can provide services for Stream 2.