Government of B.C. announces new funding for Mitacs
Abbotsford, B.C. − Student researchers are seeking the newest innovations to make life better for British Columbians in fields such as clean technology and emergency management.
Government encourages these efforts by supporting more than 1,700 research internships to help students prepare for and thrive in the high-demand jobs of tomorrow.
“I know that students can be more successful when they have real-world opportunities to apply their learning. These opportunities are also vital to building and strengthening B.C.’s economy,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “By continuing to work with industry through organizations like Mitacs, with the thousands of internships they facilitate, we’re helping students get a leg up in the innovation and technology community. In turn, student researchers are helping us find the best, newest innovations like transforming coal into clean-energy storage and finding the most sustainable way to keep patients warm in hospitals after surgeries, preventing hypothermia and improving recovery times.”
The $8.6-million one-time provincial investment is for the Mitacs Accelerate and Elevate programs that connect student researchers with innovative companies to provide students with real-world experience in applying their research. The students who receive these grants work in sectors and on projects that support priority areas such as clean technology, life sciences, emergency management, and advanced timber.
“Developing, attracting, and retaining the talent B.C. needs to grow and innovate across our economy is an important part of our StrongerBC Economic Plan,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “With our province expecting more than one million job openings over the next decade, these internships will play a vital role in giving students the real-world experience needed for well-paying, long-term careers that will continue to bring world-class innovation to B.C.”
The funding will help students create innovative, research-based solutions to challenges faced by not-for-profit organizations, B.C. businesses, and communities throughout British Columbia. The paid internships are administered through Mitacs, a national not-for-profit organization that builds partnerships between undergraduate and graduate student researchers, post- secondary institutions, industry, not-for-profit organizations, and communities.
On Wednesday, August 24, 2022, Kang met with Atlas Power Technologies CEO Mitchell Miller and the two students who are working at Atlas Power Technologies’ supercapacitor lab and the first Canadian supercapacitor manufacturing facility, located in Abbotsford.
Past internships include:
- a postdoctoral fellow at University of Northern British Columbia who worked with BC Biocarbon to research a carbon-neutral replacement for coal in high-temperature combustion uses
- a PhD student from Simon Fraser University who researched the characterization of stabilized lithium-ion batteries for Nano One Materials Corporation that developed a scalable process for producing low-cost, high-performance cathode powders used in lithium-ion batteries; and
- a University of Victoria student who researched the impacts of small vessels on cetaceans, such as whales, dolphins, and porpoises, in the Salish Sea with the Wild 4 Whales Foundation.
Funding for the research internships is part of StrongerBC’s Future Ready plan. Future Ready is making education and training more accessible, affordable, and relevant to help businesses grow and prepare British Columbians for the jobs of tomorrow.
John Hepburn, CEO, Mitacs
“Mitacs is thrilled to have received this new investment from the B.C. government, which will allow us to support even more young researchers and help them gain real-world work experience, while helping organizations across the province innovate and grow. This new funding will have an enormous impact.”
Mitchell Miller, CEO, Atlas Power Technologies
“Atlas Power was born out of innovation made possible only because of Mitacs and the amazing people who work to connect the many businesses and academic innovators here in Canada. Without Mitacs, our company and technology would simply have never been developed. Now, we are building Canada’s first supercapacitor manufacturing facility here, at the same time we are building Canada’s first commercial-scale coal-to-electrode grade activated carbon facility in Alberta. These facilities create real and high-paying clean-technology jobs that are often called the jobs of the future, but they are actually here today.
“What makes Mitacs such an effective organization that is so critical to Canada is its ability to connect and leverage both private and public funding to propel innovation. This allows companies to take risks by deploying capital into scientific areas where there is potential, and it also provides students and postdocs with much-needed income as they work to hone their skills and become leaders in their fields.”
Dr. Xuejun Lu, Intern, Mitacs Elevate
“My experience as a Mitacs intern at Atlas Power helped me to accumulate an excellent track record and profile and enrich my network and skills. The program allowed me to expand the direction of my research into electrolyte design, synthesis, and implementation in energy storage devices, while balancing my experience between academia and industry. I am convinced that B.C. government’s investment in Mitacs will provide similarly valuable research experience to others like me across the province.”
Ali Khosrozadeh, Chief Scientific Officer, Atlas Power Technologies
“During my Mitacs internship as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of British Columbia Okanagan in 2019, I developed a field-leading supercapacitor technology in collaboration with Atlas Power Technologies. I now lead the R&D function and the supercapacitor manufacturing team at Atlas Power, building pilot facilities to produce activated carbon and supercapacitors. Mitacs has enabled this successful and ongoing partnership between UBCO and Atlas Power. I strongly believe that the B.C. government’s increased support for Mitacs will help drive Canadian innovation.”
- Mitacs has designed and delivered research and training programs in Canada since 1999.
- It works with 79 post-secondary institutions, more than 11,000 companies, and both federal and provincial/territorial governments to build partnerships that support industrial and social innovation in Canada.
- Since 2008, Mitacs has supported more than 80,000 research projects, trained more than 40,000students and postdoctoral career-skills participants, and supported more than 10,000 international research collaborations.
- Since 2007, provincial funding has supported approximately 3,500 research projects, more than 3,700 interns and more than 8,200 internships (an intern can complete more than one internship) in B.C.
- B.C. government funding supports three Mitacs programs to benefit students and industry:
- Accelerate: Provides a minimum of four-month collaborative applied research internships with industry for post-secondary students and postdoctoral researchers.
- Elevate: Provides two-year collaborative postdoctoral fellowships with industry, with a special focus on advancing research management and professional skills.
- Business Strategy Internship: Provides a minimum of four-month experiential learning opportunities for post-secondary students where the interns provide expertise to help businesses develop and implement their innovation road map.