Program guide

Program Overview

Mitacs Elevate is a two-year fellowship that supports the professional skills development of recent PhD graduates. With a suite of skills development workshops unique to Mitacs Elevate, fellows learn about communication, leadership & management and other critical business skills. These workshops complement fellows’ specialized expertise and ensure they are ready to lead large-scale research projects throughout their careers.

During the fellowship, fellows apply these skills within a real-world industry environment as they work on a two-year research project with their partner organization and university faculty supervisor, typically spending half of the fellowship with each. Depending on the nature of the research, Mitacs may consider applications where fellows spend less than half of their time with the partner organization, to a minimum of 25% (e.g. the project requires specialized equipment that is only available at the university).

In addition to their research project, fellows spend an average of two days per month participating in professional development activities. Throughout this time, they will also have multiple opportunities to connect with fellow PhD graduates in their cohort, as well as industry representatives, potential employers and workshop facilitators.

 

Mitacs Elevate – Who is Eligible?

Postdoctoral Fellows and Faculty:

Postdoctoral fellows & supervising professors based at eligible universities  are welcome to apply for a Mitacs Elevate fellowship if they meet the criteria below.

Postdoctoral fellows may apply for Mitacs Elevate fellowship if their date of graduation from a PhD program is no more than 5 years prior to the proposed start date of the research project.  Fellows who have had a break in their career due to military service, illness, or family leave may be considered as exceptions and must be approved in advance of proposal submission. If you have any questions, please contact Mitacs at elevate(at)mitacs.ca.

Fellows who have held a Mitacs-Accelerate award as a Masters or PhD student are eligible to apply, but must not have received a Mitacs-Accelerate award since graduating from their PhD program.  Postdoctoral fellows who have already held a Mitacs Elevate award are not eligible.

Mitacs Elevate is open to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and international applicants. The fellow must be based at a university located in the same province as the partner organization for the duration of the fellowship. Applicants in all disciplines are encouraged to apply; however, the majority of grants will be targeted towards the following provincial priority areas:

Alberta:

  • Renewable and clean energy technology
  • Nanotechnology
  • Health
  • Water
  • Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
  • Biosciences, specifically Soil Sciences, Agronomy, Silviculture, Plant Genomics/Plant Biochemistry, Microbiology, Carbohydrate Chemistry, Polymer Chemistry, Combustion Chemistry and Environmental Science

Nova Scotia:

  • Forestry
  • Oceans
  • Mining
  • Agriculture

Ontario:

  • Health science and advanced health technologies
  • Clean and sustainable technologies
  • Digital media, information and communications technologies
  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Finance
  • Automotive


Partner Organizations:

Partner organizations interested in participating in a Mitacs Elevate fellowship must be a Canadian for-profit company or the Canadian business location of a foreign-owned for-profit company. They should be potential end-users of the research, with a vested interest in the results.

Organizations not eligible to participate as industry partners include:

  • Funding agencies
  • Government agencies or municipalities
  • Non-profit organizations
  • University-based research centres (including university hospitals)
  • Companies located outside of Canada.

Still have questions about eligibility? Please see our Frequently Asked Questions. 

 

Applying with a Partner Organization

Successful applicants who have secured a partner organization receive a Mitacs Elevate award of $57,500 per year for two years for a total award of $115,000, including the mandatory professional development workshops; a minimum stipend of $50,000 is allocated to the fellow and up to $7,500 is allocated to research costs.

Awards are forwarded annually as a lump sum of $57,500 to the supervising faculty member, to be held as a research grant at their home university, pending Mitacs receipt of the following:

  • the $25,000 annual partner contribution and;
     
  • any necessary documentation such as a Declaration of Conflict of Interest; Environmental Impact Assessment; permits or licenses; University Research Ethics Board report; University Animal Care Committee report; biohazards review report; and/or other documentation as appropriate.

Mitacs follows NSERC guidelines for the use of funds.

Questions about funding for Mitacs Elevate?  Please see our Frequently Asked Questions.

 

Applying Without a Partner Organization

Most fellows apply to Mitacs Elevate with a predetermined research project and partner organization; however, Mitacs is accepting applications from interested candidates who would like to apply without a partner. Applications must include all details of any proposed interaction with a partner organization; benefits to that type of company; and a description of activities already undertaken by the postdoctoral fellow to secure an additional partner.

Please note that all applications are evaluated competitively and only a limited number of top-ranked projects without partner organizations will be funded at the discretion of Mitacs.

Fellows approved without a partner receive a $20,000 stipend (consisting of $7,500 of university funding and $12,500 of Mitacs funding) over a 6-month period and must participate in professional development training during this time.  Postdoctoral fellows applying without a partner are responsible for confirming the availability of $7,500 in university funding prior to submitting their application. If no university funds are available, no funding can be provided.

Although fellows receive training from Mitacs to assist them in their search for a partner organization, we do not match them directly with interested companies. Once a partner is confirmed, the original proposal must be amended to reflect its participation and be signed by a company representative.  Mitacs will then invoice the partner for their contribution and finalize the award.

Applicants applying without a partner organization should use the current application form provided on the website. Please note that applicants should provide as much detail about their prospective partner organization as possible. In addition, applicants must describe their proposed 2 year project in the application.

For more information about applying without a partner organization, please contact Mitacs at elevate(at)mitacs.ca.

 

Professional Development

Mitacs Elevate is the only postdoctoral fellowship in Canada with a professional development plan for PhD graduates. Throughout the two-year fellowship, fellows spend an average of 2 days per month exploring a variety of leadership and business skills topics that are relevant to Canada’s current professional climate, with instruction from industry leaders. Workshop topics include project management, entrepreneurship and presentation skills, among others.

Sessions are typically organized to accommodate fellows’ schedules and are held locally whenever possible. Mitacs makes every effort to ensure that fellows are able to participate either in-person or remotely; however, they may be responsible for limited travel costs, including commuting.  In addition to the professional development and leadership training provided by Mitacs, fellows may also receive on-site training and networking opportunities through their partner organizations.

As the professional development component is a feature unique to Mitacs Elevate and a critical part of fellows’ skills training and Mitacs program objectives, attendance at program workshops is mandatory for all participating fellows. Attendance is monitored by Mitacs and a failure to attend training & development sessions may result in reduction or withdrawal of funding.

If you are interested in undertaking a research project without a corresponding professional development component, you may wish to apply for a Mitacs-Accelerate project.  For more information, please visit the Mitacs-Accelerate website or contact a Mitacs Business Development representative in your region.
 

 

Adjudication

All Mitacs Elevate fellowship proposals undergo a two-stage review process: an administrative review to confirm program eligibility, followed by an external review based on peer assessment of the research project proposals.

Peer assessment criteria are grouped into three (3) broad categories: the technical merit of the proposed research project; the industrial relevance of the proposed project; and the excellence of the proposed fellow.  For these categories, Mitacs seeks arm’s length expert reviewers to answer the following questions:

A. Technical merit of the proposed project

Does the project significantly contribute to the advancement of knowledge or the development of new applications, and is there an appreciable element of novelty?
Are the objectives achievable, given the current state of the art and the expertise of the project team?
Are the methods and techniques appropriate for the objectives?

B.  Industrial relevance of the proposed project

Please describe to what extent this research project has the potential to raise interest from industry (short- vs. long-term)?
Have any companies agreed to provide a scientific, in-kind, or financial contribution to the project at the time of application?

C.  Excellence of the proposed fellow

Relative to other researchers at the same career stage, how productive has the proposed fellow been to date (e.g. publication record, patents, etc.)?
Are there any outstanding achievements (e.g. high-impact research results, awards) by the proposed fellow on which you would like to further comment?
 

 

Expectations of Mitacs Elevate Participants

Postdoctoral Fellow

A Mitacs Elevate Fellowship is a comprehensive program with a range of components designed to provide advanced training to enhance the professional skills & research independence required for the fellow’s chosen career. As such, during the tenure of the award, the fellow is expected to:

  • Work with and receive mentorship from their academic supervisor at the university
  • Spend approximately 50% of the fellowship (exceptions with justification can be a minimum of 25%) working at the industry partner site on a research project of mutual interest
  • Work with Mitacs personnel to develop and implement a personalized training program to enhance their future career
  • Spend an average of two (2) days per month on training; coaching; and/or networking activities
  • Attend mandatory professional skills training workshops facilitated by Mitacs
  • Participate in the Mitacs Ambassador program as appropriate
  • Submit all required documentation by Mitacs and its funding partners, including, but not limited to, mid-term reports, final reports, and surveys.

Faculty Supervisor

The supervising professor is expected to:  

  • Provide ongoing mentorship and research support to the fellow
  • Meet with and provide research expertise to the industry partner, as appropriate
  • Assume fiduciary responsibility for the fellowship research grant, including ensuring expenditures consistent with program objectives & guidelines
  • Support the fellow’s professional training by allowing them to attend the mandatory Mitacs Elevate leadership & management training sessions
  • Attend relevant Mitacs Elevate program events
  • Provide appropriate financial reporting and program feedback to Mitacs, as required by its funding partners, including a mandatory online feedback survey within one month of project completion.

Partner Organization

A primary contact at the industry partner must be identified and is expected to:

  • Assist the fellow with identifying appropriate research issues and developing a research plan
  • Ensure that the company provides in-kind support, including hosting the fellow
    on-site for approximately 50% of the research project (exceptions with justification can be a minimum of 25%); providing supervision and guidance on the project; and helping the fellow make connections within the company and/or industry
  • Support the fellow’s professional training by allowing them to attend the mandatory leadership & management training sessions
  • Attend relevant Mitacs Elevate program events
  • Ensure the company’s annual financial contribution is forwarded to Mitacs in a timely manner
  • Provide program feedback on the program to Mitacs, as required by its funding partners, including telephone or email surveys
  • Provide feedback on the fellow’s final report.

 

Program Deliverables

Fellows must submit a mid-term report upon request, prior to the end of the first year of research.  A template will be sent to all fellows no later than one (1) month prior to the report due date.
Please note that failure to submit a satisfactory report may result in a reduction or withdrawal of funding.

A final report must be submitted by the intern no later than one (1) month after the conclusion of the fellowship. The report must be written on a prepared template that will be sent to all fellows and should:

  • Be no more than three (3) pages in length
  • Summarize research goals, research techniques used, and research outcomes
  • Identify benefits for the partner organization
  • Identify future research plans.

An exit survey must be completed by all three fellowship participants: the fellow, the supervising professor, and the designated contact at the industry partner site.
Note: NSERC Form 300 must be completed by the fellow’s university and signed by the academic supervisor who received the internship grant.
 

Program Administration

Intellectual Property

All parties involved with the Mitacs Elevate program are bound by the intellectual property terms of the university where the fellow is appointed. Please see the links below to the intellectual property terms for the following universities:

For all other institutions, the Mitacs Elevate program’s policy is to take no position regarding the intellectual property created by the projects and fellowships that are funded.

Intellectual property is left to be shared between the university, its researchers, and the industry partner, according to the intellectual property rules of the host university, unless a separate agreement is negotiated between the university, its researchers, and the industry partner. Mitacs strongly recommends that any discussions pertaining to intellectual property and confidentiality – where relevant – be resolved prior to submitting the Mitacs Elevate proposal.

Conflict of Interest

The Mitacs Conflict of Interest Policy is in place to assist Mitacs program participants to recognize and disclose situations that may be open to question and to ensure that such situations are resolved appropriately.

Individuals involved with Mitacs and its programs, including members of the Board of Directors; members of the Mitacs Research Council; officers; employees; researchers; and interns are required to disclose any financial interest or position of influence, as described in Section 2.0 of the Conflict of Interest Policy, in any business in the same area of interest as Mitacs, other than that of their main employer.

Where there is an ownership or operational relationship between an investigator and an industry partner, Mitacs may request details on the investigator’s involvement with the industry partner, evidence that the organization is under the effective day-to-day management control of someone other than the investigator, and evidence that the academic interests of students and postdoctoral fellows are protected. This request may come at the beginning or during the course of the project. Mitacs deals with each case individually.

Environmental Review Policy

Mitacs works to ensure that the research it supports promotes sustainable development and is conducted in a way that respects and protects the environment. Mitacs is committed to paying careful attention to environmental considerations in its decision to fund any research project. Ultimate responsibility for environmental considerations rests with the Mitacs Board of Directors which may, at its discretion, assign this duty to a subcommittee.
 

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In the past year I have learned much about the industry side of biotechnology and your program has expanded many of the professional skills that I was hoping to obtain. Most importantly, the Elevate program has opened up opportunities that would not have been possible otherwise. Thus, I really enjoyed the program and I hope to learn more and develop further within the next year.

Eva Szabo, Elevate PDF, McMaster University

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