The Early Stage Project Grant program assists with third-party costs incurred during the initial planning phase of a project. The goal of the program is to help increase local development activity leading to a positive impact to the local economy and the opportunity to support moving new ideas forward.  Example activities include script development, character art, prototyping, grant writing. Applicants can apply for funding of 75% of the costs, up to a maximum grant of $3,500.


Early Stage Project Grants are available to:

  • enterprises with a principal office in the Edmonton metro region that have been resident and operational for a minimum of one year; or,
  • individuals with professional screen media content creation experience or expertise who have been resident in the Edmonton metro region for a minimum of one year.

Applicants must be in good standing with the ESIO and the City of Edmonton.

Exceptions may be considered, please contact [email protected] to discuss prior to completing the application.

Applicants may apply to receive an Early Stage Project Grant for a project that has already received a grant. However, priority will be given to projects that have not previously received funding.


  • Projects must be 100%-owned, -controlled or -optioned by the applicant.
  • Projects may not have received previous funding from the ESIO.
  • Projects that are outside of the day-to-day operations of an applicant will receive priority for funding.


  • Interactive digital media projects that do not have an interactive element (for example, e-publications, catalogues and compilations of repurposed material without value-added content).
  • Projects that are primarily propaganda (false, exaggerated or distorted ideas, visual material and statements typically used for a political purpose).
  • Projects that promote cruelty, sexual violence or sexual exploitation.
  • Projects containing elements that are pornographic, obscene, indecent or contain child pornography or are considered hate speech within the meaning of the Criminal Code of Canada.
  • Projects or content that is libelous or in any way unlawful.

Maximum funding of up to 75% of total costs


  • Option fees
  • Acquisition or licensing fees
  • Research fees
  • Screenwriting fees
  • Story editors/story consultants
  • Grant writers and other funding proposal prep assistance (for non-ESIO programs)
  • Script breakdown/budgeting costs
  • Audience testing/focus groups
  • Preliminary market study
  • Project specific software
  • Project-specific team contracts (for example, writer, researcher, designer, artist/illustrator, programmer, audio, coding)
  • Online content publishing (for example, copyright clearance, documentation, prototype design and development)
  • Video demos/sizzle reels/trailers
  • Legal fees
  • Stock images or footage
  • Character art and artists


  • Later stage project costs (for example, costs incurred during production, post-production and release phases of film and television projects and costs incurred during development and marketing phases of interactive digital media projects)
  • Salaries and benefits for employees
  • Contingency, overhead and/or producer fees
  • Alcohol and controlled substances
  • Prepaid cards
  • GST will not be reimbursed if the applicant has a GST number
  • Project activities/costs that has already received funding or a commitment for funding from the ESIO
  • Costs for which the applicant has received, or will receive, non-repayable funding

Other costs may be considered, subject to pre-approval. Contact [email protected] to discuss prior to completing the application. 

Only arms-length, third-party costs are eligible. 

Only costs incurred after submission of this application to the ESIO will be eligible and must completed no later than February 28, 2025.

Application Information

Applicants must submit a separate application form for each project. Priority will be given to applications that best align with the program goals. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Based on a variety of factors, including the number of high-quality applications, the ESIO may provide partial funding.

Applicants will be notified of the application status approximately one month after the closing date.

Application Requirements

Information required for the application form:

  • Applicant contact information (company, phone, address, etc.)
  • Website and Social Media links (optional)
  • Business Activity Type
  • Business Description (500 character max)
  • Diversity and Inclusion (optional, 1000 characters max)
  • Application information
    • Project Title
    • Project Description (1000 characters max)
    • Activity Description (1000 characters max)
    • Activity Outcome (1000 character max)
    • Impact (1000 character max)
    • Vendors (optional)
    • Timeline (start and end date)
  • Project and Activity Information
  • Financials
    • Total Activity Budget
    • Activity Expenses (Description, Amount, Source)

This is a competitive process and the following general criteria will be used to assess funding requests:

  • Alignment to ESIO objectives
  • Application quality
  • Impact on applicant
  • Impact on local economy/ecosystem
  • Other criteria may also be considered


  • All applications will first be reviewed for eligibility.
  • Eligible applications will then be assessed based on the criteria above.
  • Funding decisions will be made based on the available funding.
  • Applicants will be notified of the application status approximately one month after the closing date.

Based on a variety of factors, including the number of high-quality applications, the ESIO may provide partial funding.

If you have any questions or concerns about the program, eligibility, or the application process, please contact [email protected]

Ready to apply?

Application Deadline: 11:59 PM (MT), Monday, May 27, 2024


Applications are first reviewed to ensure they meet eligibility requirements. Those that are eligible are then assessed based on the following general criteria:

  • Alignment to ESIO goals
  • Application quality
  • Project readiness
  • Impact on local economy/ecosystem

This is a competitive process rather than a pass/fail score. Applications will be scored based on the criteria above and assessed against other applications. Due to limited funds and demand for funding, not all requests that meet the established criteria will be approved for funding. Applicants may receive full, partial or no funding.