Canadian Manufacturing: Got a business idea to help combat COVID-19?

VANCOUVER — If you’re a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) with an idea that can contribute to Canada’s fight to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, a national research organization is ready to help.

Mitacs, a not-for-profit organization based in Vancouver that fosters research related to industrial and social innovation, has announced an initiative that will fast-track projects.

“In response to federal and provincial government announcements of funding for coronavirus research, our 80 business development experts nationwide are poised to guide SMEs through the process and give them access to the talent and tools needed to succeed,” said John Hepburn, CEO and scientific director of Mitacs, in a statement.

The Mitacs team will help secure government funding, access resources for research, development and equipment, and hire post-secondary interns – within days. This includes assisting SMEs with government calls-for-proposals by helping to complete Mitacs funding applications. Businesses will also be matched and connected with top researchers at Canadian universities and colleges according to the skills and expertise required to develop each solution.

College interns have been added to the mix to speed up the process by supporting activities such as coding, prototyping, monitoring cell cultures, managing data, and creating visual presentations of modelling.

Mitacs will cover 75% of the intern’s $15,000 salary over four months through government and other funding sources. That means a business will contribute $3,750.

Normally, organizations contribute $7,500 per four-month research intern for projects, all accessible as part of the organization’s Accelerate internship program.

Although the initiative targets SMEs, large organizations can also get involved in COVID-19 product development. Working with Mitacs researchers, Suncor Energy has provided additional funding, equipment and expertise to develop a fast and affordable COVID-19 home antibody test kit by using technology used in its waste water treatment research.

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