Electronic Products & Technology

National organization helps Canadian SMEs innovate

Mitacs delivers financial incentive support to firms in COVID-19 recovery

October 10, 2021  EP&T Magazine

Small businesses across Canada grappling with the impact of COVID-19 are getting support from an unexpected resource: top post-secondary students.

Thanks to a unique financial initiative recently launched by Mitacs — a national innovation organization that helps solve business challenges with research solutions from universities, colleges, polytechnics, and CEGEPs — students across the country are adding much needed skills for employers looking to manage and grow their operations in an environment disrupted by the pandemic.

What’s more, the Mitacs initiative — available to all small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and not-for-profit organizations with fewer than 500 employees — offers a significant cost reduction. Qualifying partner organizations contribute only 25 per cent of the intern’s $10,000 or $15,000 stipend for the first four months of an innovation project done in collaboration with a post-secondary institution instead of the usual 50 per cent. Mitacs interns are available to support business, not-for-profit, hospital, and municipal innovation in all sectors — everything from manufacturing, agriculture, arts and entertainment, and energy, to healthcare, technology, tourism and utilities.

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“Through this effort, we are simultaneously helping Canadian small- and medium-sized businesses to grow and innovate, and our country’s up-and-coming top talent and researchers to secure valuable employment opportunities in spite of a challenging job market caused by COVID-19,” said Mitacs CEO Dr. John Hepburn. “Both SMEs and academic talent are integral to Canada’s economic recovery, and Mitacs is committed to making the connections needed to help Canadian organizations solve their business issues, remain competitive, and thrive.”

Navigate current economic challenges

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 2,000 businesses — about 70 per cent of which are SMEs — partnered with Mitacs for the first time. Since 2011, Mitacs has helped more than 8,500 organizations, the majority of which have 500 employees or less. The total value of all industry-related innovation projects funded through Mitacs nears $1 billion, with businesses contributing about half that amount.

“We have the tools, connections, and solutions that small businesses need to navigate the current economic challenges, and we’re seeing firsthand how many of those companies that take advantage of working with us are thriving,” Hepburn added.

 


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