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The Ontario Creates Interactive Digital Media (IDM) Fund is a business grant designed to give funding to creators allowing them to make high quality, original interactive digital media content projects. These projects are to contribute to the wellbeing of the Ontario economy.
Writing grant applications is not something that comes easy to most people, and we want to give future grant writers some tips and thoughts to ponder before they dive into the experience. Grants are a good way of funding a project, but they are incredibly competitive and therefore if you’re applying and hoping to receive that funding you need to put your best foot forward. This Grant is funded by taxpayer money. The expectation is that the taxpayers are paying into the development of Ontario projects that they will by extension benefit from.
Teamwork or Not?
The IDM fund is specifically a business grant which can confuse newcomers that have decided to apply. The jury is looking for applications that have a good business plan for an idea that will have the greatest chance of making the most money. So when writing this grant you need to be aware of that.
Anyone of any level can apply for the funding, but some caveats need to be discussed before you decide to move forward with it. The jury looks at each team member when making a decision. It’s the combination of the team member’s experience and success in the past. If you’re applying with a certain type of game and you have team members that have successfully made money or popularity with that same type of game in the past you will have a better chance.
Now I know I said you can apply at any level of your career, this includes being a student. However, like all things, there are some extra hoops to jump through with that. As a student, your school may have rights to some of your work. So if you had done a project for school that you wanted to continue with and uplift, it’s possible you would have to get permission from your school to try and apply for a grant. It’s also recommended that you have some senior of the industry as part of your team because you may appear too fresh to the jury without much experience under your belt.
But I want to apply as a solo-developer, you say. That’s fine. That is something you can do. Like most work, it will be a lot harder by yourself since you will have to appear to have all the experience in each section of the appliction. That being said you will not convince a jury if you don’t have some kind of partnerships going on. As said before this is a business grant. They are looking for top business strategy and that includes having a partnership with someone who can do your marketing, and someone to handle your distribution. Sure you could throw your game up on steam, but it will look a lot better to the jury if you gather together successful partners.
Whether you are a team of one or a team of twenty, partnership outside the development team plays a huge role in successfully getting the IDM funding grant.
So you have a team, or you don’t and you’ve decided to go it alone. Either way, you have the people you will be working with for the project. Now, let’s talk about the project itself. Some people worry that they don’t have enough project-wise to move ahead to apply for the grant. However, as for your idea, you don’t need to have a whole lot ready to apply for the grant.
A business grant as you could gather is focused on the business end. They’re more focused on how your idea stacks up to what has already been made and has made money. So research is your best friend. Once you’ve settled on a vague idea, look into all the games that have been successful that are similar to your idea. If you find that your idea hasn’t done very well in the past, maybe consider adjusting it to better suit the market. The goal is to insight as much confidence in yourself for the jury. They are industry professionals and know what they’re looking for. Give them what they are looking and you will have a good chance of success.
You’ve settled on your idea! Now it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty. First of all, pay close attention to the deadline. Once it passes that’s it, you’re out of luck. So figure out what the deadline is months and months ahead of time. They post them early so that the community knows, there is no reason you shouldn’t know the deadline.
I recommend setting yourself artificial deadlines before the actual deadline. That way you have plenty of time to adjust and edit, or even find a new partner if something falls through. You should always expect the unexpected. Have backup plans. A recommended timeline would be to have your grant written three months ahead of time. It gives plenty of time for adjustment, and to go over the checklist of requirements over and over to guarantee to have everything you need.
Now I know that’s easier said than done, especially when I lay out the timeline of actually sorting out everything you need for the grant. Writing the grant itself should only take a week or two to do and this is only accounting for you doing this as a full-time job. Double that time if you’re unable to put in 6-8 hours a day on it. That’s just writing the grant. Before that you need to gather your resources and partners, make plans and schedules. These things can take months to do. We recommend leaving a good 4-6 months to just planning and meeting to solidify partnerships.
No one said this was going to be an easy task, but if you want to get the money they have to offer you need to put in the work.
It Doesn’t Always Work Out
There can be no guarantee that you will successfully get this funding, even if you do absolutely everything right. It’s very competitive and everyone is striving to put their best foot forward. The jury has a hard job having to choose between all the brilliant projects and plans that are put before them. If anything your goal to make it to the point the jury would be upset to set your project aside.
Now, not many grant funding juries do this, but OMDC is very good about giving you feedback post-judgment of your application. This may be some of the hardest criticism you ever hear and I will be hard to handle. But it is so important that you take it to make yourself do better the next time, and into the future. They’re not there to put you down, they are giving you feedback to see you try again in the future and succeed.
Grant Writing Resources
Grant writing is not something that makes sense to everyone. There are plenty of resources out there that are hoping for you to succeed. Here are some to take a look at if you plan on applying for the IDM funding grant.