Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Have you heard about ACOA but are not sure who we are and what we do? Perhaps the following questions and answers will start you on the right track.

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Q. What is the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)?
A. ACOA is one of six Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) across Canada. It is the Government of Canada department dedicated to growing Atlantic Canada's economy.
The Agency works with businesses, community leaders and research institutions in the region to capitalize on growth, export and innovation opportunities, which leads to more jobs, stronger and inclusive communities in Atlantic Canada.


Q. How does ACOA create opportunities for economic growth?
A. ACOA helps create opportunities for economic growth by partnering with local businesses to access programs and initiatives that will help them diversify, export and innovate. The Agency also works with communities and organizations to invest in strategic projects that help grow local economies and/or encourage partnerships among private sector firms and research institutions to develop and commercialize new or improved products and services. Details on ACOA’s programs and initiatives can be found on the Programs and Initiatives page of the ACOA website.


Q. How do these programs and initiatives help entrepreneurs? Does ACOA provide loans?
A. ACOA does not provide loans. The Agency instead provides access to capital in the form of assistance or contributions, which can be unconditionally repayable, conditionally repayable, or non repayable. Information on these three types of assistance is available here.


Q. What is the interest rate on ACOA’s financial assistance?
A. ACOA’s repayable contributions are non-interest-bearing.


Q. Can companies located outside Atlantic Canada apply for ACOA financial assistance?
A. Companies that are based outside Atlantic Canada can apply for ACOA funding, provided the funding is directly linked to a project being developed within the Atlantic region.


Q. Can a company get multiple contributions?
A. Each project represents a distinct collection of activities and costs aimed at achieving a specific objective, whether it is to adopt or adapt advanced technologies or to hire expertise to expand its market opportunities, for example. As such, it is possible for the Agency to fund multiple projects with the same company as part of the business’ overall growth plan. In that sense, projects can be connected to one another as part of a long-term growth strategy.


Q. Is information regarding ACOA funding on a given project publicly available?
A. Information regarding financial assistance for projects can be searched from ACOA’s Project Information Site search engine. However, specific information related to the terms and conditions of a contribution agreement, including the status of repayments, is subject to client confidentiality and cannot be divulged.


Q. What happens if a company can no longer repay the funds it has obtained through an ACOA financial assistance program?
A. It depends on the situation. Given ACOA’s economic development mandate, it will make every possible effort to work with funding recipients to help them get back on track. If, however, this proves unsuccessful and the company goes into default, ACOA will use all means at its disposal to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of the assistance program under which funds were allocated to the business, which may include court actions.


Q. Does ACOA collaborate with other federal departments or other levels of governments to achieve its goals of economic growth for Atlantic Canada?
A. ACOA could not achieve its economic development objectives without the collaboration it maintains with individuals, business organizations and all levels of governments in the Atlantic region.

A great example of that spirit is the Atlantic Growth Strategy, a bold, collaborative initiative designed to create jobs for Atlantic Canadians, grow the middle class and strengthen the region’s economy. Launched in July 2016, the Strategy focuses on five strategic priorities for the region: skilled workforce and immigration; innovation; clean growth and climate change; trade and investment; and infrastructure.

The federal and provincial governments are implementing this prosperity-focused and evidence-based approach under the combined leadership of federal ministers and the Atlantic premiers. This level of cooperation between the two levels of government is unprecedented. Details of the Atlantic Growth Strategy are available on the Atlantic Growth Strategy website.