B.C. Leads the Nation in Graduate Internships

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B.C. Leads the Nation in Graduate Internships
The MITACS ACCELERATE program created a record 250 internships in BC in for 2008/09

Vancouver, B.C., April 6, 2009 – Companies looking to excel in these tough economic times need look no further than B.C. universities says MITACS, a Burnaby-based research network which connects academia and industry through short and long-term research projects.

In the past year, MITACS ACCELERATE – a program which links the province’s up-and-coming graduate student researchers with B.C. companies – reached an unprecedented milestone of 250 internships in B.C., 100 more than the previous year and 25% above the target number.

“When we invested $10 million to support this program, we asked MITACS to create 650 graduate internships over four years to help industry find innovative solutions to ongoing challenges,” said Ida Chong, Minister of Small Business, Technology and Economic Development. “I congratulate MITACS for forging ahead with so many successful matches – and for the boost their efforts are giving B.C.’s economy.”

Created in June 2007, MITACS ACCELERATE supports four, eight or twelve-month research projects between a graduate student or post-doctoral fellow, a supervising professor and a local company or community organization. The focus and scope of the project is developed in collaboration between the intern, professor and partner with each project addresses a key business or technology challenge.  Partners – from a range of industry sectors, including the life sciences, technology, clean energy, natural resources and business services – co-fund the internships. The program is also funded by the Government of Canada through the Industrial R&D Internship program.

North Vancouver’s Sempa Power Systems Ltd is partnering with the MITACS ACCELERATE program to further develop its core technology in collaboration with an economics graduate student from the University of Victoria. The company has developed the Sempa Hybrid Heating System™, which switches between fossil fuel-based energy sources and electricity to minimize energy costs, decrease green house gas emissions and increase efficiencies.

Intern Hugh Scorah is using his economics background to help the company better understand how new, renewable power sources integrate into existing Canadian power grids and is measuring how much this green energy is potentially wasted as a result of system constraints, fluctuating energy demands, and adverse economic incentives.

“We are highly impressed with Hugh’s research capabilities, not to mention work ethic,” said Malcolm Metcalfe, Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Sempa Power Systems. “He has brought new expertise to our company which was greatly needed and I am confident that his research will help move the development of our core technology forward.”

“Each one of these interns represents the future of BC’s knowledge-based economy,” said Dr. Arvind Gupta, Scientific Director and CEO of MITACS. “Our unique model of academic, industry and government collaboration is one now that is being replicated across Canada and around the World.”

In a MITACS ACCELERATE internship, interns from any faculty or department at a B.C. post-secondary institution spend half of their time over a minimum four-month period on site with a B.C. company or other organization, undertaking research on a mutually-agreed upon project. The balance of their time is spent at their university, developing the techniques or approaches to accomplish the project's goals. MITACS ACCELERATE enables graduate students to conduct applied research in partnership with companies whose business is relevant to their studies, while providing companies with access to the latest advancements taking place in B.C.’s universities. Each four-month internship unit co-funded by the partner company and MITACS, through the support of the Ministry of Small Business, Technology and Economic Development and the Government of Canada, with each party contributing $7,500.

MITACS is a federally-funded research network with offices across Canada, including at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C.  It brings together academia, industry and the public sector through research and training initiatives to develop cutting edge tools vital to the knowledge-based economy. In 2003, MITACS piloted a first-of-its-kind internship program, MITACS ACCELERATE, which connects Canadian graduate students and their professors with companies to facilitate knowledge transfer and introduce the private sector to the research expertise within Canada’s universities. For more information about the MITACS ACCELERATE program visit www.mitacs.ca.

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Media Information:  
Megan Airton
Email: mairton(at)mitacs.ca



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