The Programme d’appui au développement des secteurs stratégiques et des créneaux d’excellence (PADS) (Strategic Sector and Niche of Excellence Development Support Program) aims to mobilize and coordinate the efforts of companies and other entities that are economic partners of the ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation (MEI) around common objectives and types of intervention. This program supports the development of strategic sectors and the implementation of departmental strategies.

Objectives of the PADS program

The ACCORD (Action concertée de coopération régionale de développement, or “Concerted Action for Regional Development Cooperation”) initiative's motto “Agir ENSEMBLE pour être compétitif” (“Act TOGETHER to be competitive” )is based on the idea that collaboration and coordination between multiple companies that are focused on the same structuring project can significantly boost the competitiveness of key sectors on anational and international scale.
In light of the above, the general eligibility criteria for the PADS program are based on the following values:
alignment with government departmental strategies
The PADS program offers financial assistance in the form of a non-repayable contribution (grant) awarded through the ACCORD initiative developed by the MEI.

The ACCORD initiative was developed to foster economic development in Québec's regions by drawing on their local strengths and key sectors.


Eligibility criteria

  • A minimum of three (3) entities
  • A structuring project with clear benefits for all partners
  • A project aligned with the strategic goals of the Niche of Excellence in Civil and Commercial RPAS

Eligible projects

To be eligible, a project submitted to the Niche must meet the following criteria:
  • Addresses an issue related to the strategic goals of the Niche
  • Demonstrates relevant economic benefits for the industry
  • Benefits the development of several companies and promotes alliances, partnerships, networks and networking between companies, economic development and research organizations as well and educational institutions

Eligible clients and partners

Eligible project applicants or partners are:
  • Legally incorporated non-profit organizations (NPOs) and cooperatives
  • CEGEPs, college technology transfer centres and university institutions in Québec
  • Legally incorporated for-profit companies that do business in Québec
  • Municipalities, cities and regional county municipalities (RCMs)

Types of projects

  • Studies, for example:
    • On the technological, commercial or competitive positioning of a sector
  • Mobilization activities, for example:
    • The organization of a forum or symposium and the realization of awareness activities
    • The development of informational and management materials or tools
    • The development of training content
    • The development and establishment of networks
  • Promotion, for example:
    • The design and implementation of a branding strategy for a sector
    • Promotional activities in Québec, including the organization of a trade show in Québec or a buyer-supplier networking event
    • A research project on behalf of a group of companies in the same or associated sectors, in the event that such a project would not be eligible under research support programs led by the MEI or other government departments

Detailed financing description

Amount and maximum duration of assistance

Financial assistance from the PADS program takes the form of a non-repayable contribution (grant) at a rate of up to 50% of eligible expenses. However, this rate may not exceed 40% in the case where the promoter of the activity or project is a company.

The maximum amount of financial assistance granted annually may not exceed $500,000 per year or $1,500,000 over a three-year period. *

* The duration of a project may not exceed three years.
Type of organisation
Maximum ratE
Program assistance rate
Cumulative government rate


Any project for which a funding request is submitted to the PADS must necessarily involve a financial contribution or a contribution from the private companies involved in the project. Thus, when a project is supported at a rate of 40%, the remaining 60% can be divided between a down payment of 15% in cash anda contribution of 45% in kind towards eligible expenses.

Eligible expenses

Eligible expenses are all expenses directly related to the implementation of the project:
  • Professional fees
  • Material and communication costs
  • Travel and living expenses, in accordance with current government standards set out in the Recueil des politiques de gestion du gouvernement du Québec
  • A portion of the project manager's     salary and of the     costs related to the project’s     administrative follow-up, under certain conditions
  • Costs of renting space or premises other than those of the organization's place of business
  • The project manager, i.e. the portion of the salary corresponding to the time spent by an employee or resource hired to implement the project
  • Project coordination, i.e. management costs (administrative follow-up of the project). These costs may not exceed 5% of the project's eligible expenses
The following expenses are ineligible:
  • Expenses incurred before the date of submission of the file, including expenses for which the organization or company has made contractual commitments
  • Capital and depreciation expenditures
  • Sponsorships
  • Operating costs of the company or the organization
  • Repayment of future loans, loss or replacement of capital, a payment or an amount disbursed on account as capital
  • Sales taxes

Evaluation criteria

Applications for financial assistance are analyzed according to the following criteria:
  • Project in line with the Ministry's focus areas and priorities
  • Project in line with the Niche's focus areas
  • Multiplier effect for other investments
  • The quality of the project:
    • Credibility, visibility, impacts;
    • Added value;
    • Synergies between partners
    • Structural importance of the project for targeted companies
    • Realistic timeline
    • Realistic project costs
    • Funding structure and partnership support
    • Marketing strategy

Expected results

The expected results of a project that has received funding from the PADS should correspond to one of the following:
  • Project in line with the Ministry's focus areas strategies and priorities
    • Contributes to the startup or developmental support of a business
    • Helps create or preserve jobs
    • Strengthens the company's presence in the Niche
    • Improves opportunities for exportation and market share increase
  • Enrichment factors
    • Contributes to the Niche's development or exposure;
    • Leads to the improvement of services in the sector;
    • Multiplier effect for other investments.

Important information

  • For Research and Development projects, the PADS funding program will be a program of last resort, i.e. it cannot replace those that may come from other programs of the MEI or other ministries or agencies.
  • When a project is eligible for the PADS program, it must be recommended by the Niche committee.

Need more information?