Business Strategy

Mitacs Awards Highlights the Significance of Developing Research Talent

Mitacs Awards Recognize Youth Innovators

In order for Canadian businesses to develop innovative products and processes, a generation of skilled researchers and labourers must be raised. But despite the clear connection between research, engineering, and success in globally-competitive industries, 35% of Canadian manufacturers and exporters are unable to find and retain skilled labour. This disconnect is limiting growth potential and causing Canada to become less innovative.

Generating a workforce that demonstrates technical knowledge is vital to maintaining competitive national economy, therefore Canada needs to have a streamlined process of developing research talent. One of the ways Canada does this is through the support of Mitacs, a non-profit organization that delivers government funding to support the collaboration of businesses and academic researchers.

Mitacs hosts an annual awards ceremony to recognize partnerships and research solutions developed in the past year. Recently, during the 6th Annual Mitacs Awards ceremony, five Canadian innovators were praised for their research accomplishments.

Innovators Recognized During the Annual Mitacs Awards Ceremony

During the annual Mitacs Awards ceremony on November 14, 2016, five youth were honoured for their contributions to advancing innovation and transforming Canadian lives.

Researchers performed cutting-edge investigation into projects such as the testing of food contaminants and fighting the outbreak of viral infections.

The following awards were given to researchers at Mitacs’ gala:

Mitacs Award for Commercialization

The commercialization award recognizes ground-breaking discoveries that lead to the development of market-ready products or services:

  • Mitacs & National Research Council-IRAP Award for Commercialization: Postdoctoral fellow, Lu Deng from the University of Alberta, was awarded for her innovative achievements during her fellowship collaboration with the Metabolomic Technologies Inc. Thanks to Mitacs Elevate research grants, Lu was able to assist the development of PolypDx, an inexpensive urine test used to identify polyps, a known predecessor to colon cancer.

Mitacs Awards for Outstanding Innovation

Mitacs presented awards to four individuals who demonstrated outstanding innovation at their respected level of study. This includes:

  • Undergraduate Award for Outstanding Innovation: Elisa Fernández Castillo, a student from Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico, collaborated with the Université Laval through the Mitacs Globalink program. Elisa’s research allowed for further understanding of DNA damage experienced by patients with Xeroderma Pigmentosum.
  • Master’s Award for Outstanding Innovation: Masarah-Cynthia Paquet-Clouston, a student from the Université de Montréal, partnered with GoSecure to research social media fraud and virtual black markets. Masarah-Cynthia’s internship, funded through the Mitacs Accelerate program, allowed her to discover specific users that purchase social media activity in the form of “friends” and “likes”. Her findings will allow GoSecure to measure the supply and demand for these online services.
  • PhD Award for Outstanding Innovation: Yaxi Hu, a PhD student from the University of British Columbia, collaborated with UBC Food Science and Peking University to detect food contaminants. Discoveries through this Mitacs Globalink partnership will allow for accurate food science testing, that can identify biotoxins and banned substances.
  • Postdoctoral Award for Outstanding Innovation: Wei Zhang, a PhD fellow from the University of Toronto, partnered with Centre for the Commercialization of Antibodies and Biologics. During Wei’s internship (which was funded through the Mitacs Elevate program), he developed molecular solutions to address Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever.

Mitacs Grants Fund Industry-Academic Research Partnerships

Mitacs is non-profit research organization that fosters collaboration between Canadian businesses and academic institutions to generate innovative products and processes. Businesses may receive research grants to offset a portion of researcher’s compensation.

There are two main streams of research grants, including Mitacs Elevate and Mitacs Accelerate.

Mitacs Elevate – Research Grants for PhD Fellowship Collaborations

Mitacs Elevate provides research grants to hire a PhD fellow for up to 2 years. Projects are often long-term exploratory studies where the findings will guide large-scale technology development. Businesses may hire their PhD fellow upon the project’s successful completion, but is not a program requirement.

Canadian businesses may be eligible to receive up to $25,000/year/researcher hired, but must pay the remaining $30,000 of the researcher’s $55,000 annual salary.

Mitacs Accelerate – Research Grants to Hire an Academic Intern

Mitacs Accelerate research grants provide businesses with funding to hire a Masters or PhD intern for up to 4 months. Projects should focus on short-term research studies where a solution can be quickly developed given a particular issue’s resolution.

Canadian businesses may be eligible to receive up to 50% of a Master’s or PhD intern’s wages, to a maximum funding contribution of $7,500 per 4-month internship period.

Apply for Research Grants to Boost Your Small Business Projects

Canadian business owners can apply for government grants and loans to accelerate applied research projects. Through Mitacs and other funding organizations, small and mid-sized businesses may offset a significant portion of costs related to research and development. This boosts project ROI and helps research become commercialized faster.

To learn more about the collaborative research process and how to access government funding for it, please download the Business Guide to Industry-Academic Research Projects.

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