From idea to impact: local researchers bring innovative offerings from lab to market through new ventures, with support from Mitacs

Halifax, NS – Highly skilled post-secondary researchers in Nova Scotia and across Canada are overcoming a longstanding academic challenge – bringing the groundbreaking products of their research to market – with help from Mitacs.

This is just one of the gaps in the research and innovation ecosystem that Mitacs, a national not-for-profit funded by the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia, is working to close.

Canada’s post-secondary institutions are world-renowned for their leading scientific discoveries, innovative solutions, and contributions to global research. But too often the important work of faculty and students doesn’t make it out of the lab and into the world, where the benefits of their research and expertise can be fully realized.

Mitacs delivers programs and funding that help to deploy the innovations coming out of Canadian post-secondary institutions – from new medical technologies to enhanced manufacturing systems – into the economy helping to activate their impact.

Today at the Emera ideaHUB in Halifax, Mitacs CEO John Hepburn was joined by Andy Fillmore, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and Brian Wong, Minister of Advanced Education, to meet with Nova Scotian researchers-turned-entrepreneurs who have successfully transformed their academic focus into new ventures, thanks to support from Mitacs.

In preparing to launch their businesses, the founders participated in Dalhousie University-based cohorts of Lab2Market, a program funded by Mitacs that gives post-secondary researchers access to training, resources, and funding to help them make the leap into entrepreneurship and bring their innovative products or services to the world.

The researchers shared how, with the insights from the Lab2Market program, they have successfully started companies to commercialize their innovations, including a line of plant-based hair products designed specifically for afro-textured hair, a novel biomarker test to detect muscle atrophy, and a global virtual network for occupational therapy.

The Mitacs model connects businesses, healthcare facilities, municipalities, and not-for-profits with skilled post-secondary talent through cost-shared internships that propel Canadian innovation and mobilize Canadian research. Mitacs programming prepares students to be workforce leaders with real-world experience in their fields, supports business and economic growth with affordable access to highly trained talent, and catalyzes innovative solutions to the challenges of our time, large and small.

John Hepburn, Chief Executive Officer, Mitacs

“It is inspiring to see how these founders have taken their cutting-edge academic research and turned that into successful new ventures. I am incredibly proud that Mitacs, thanks to generous funding from the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia, is supporting innovations like these – not only in the R&D phase, but through commercialization, into market, and beyond. Because research and innovation make their biggest impact on economic growth, on our future, and on people’s everyday lives, when they come out of the lab and into the world.”

Andy Fillmore, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry and Member of Parliament for Halifax

“Canada’s plan for a long-lasting economic recovery must be led by a growth strategy building on the unique competitive advantages of the Canadian economy – our people. With the support of Mitacs, researchers here in Halifax are harnessing the essence of innovation by transforming cutting-edge research into strong businesses. By partnering academia with entrepreneurship, we will continue driving economic growth and discovery in Nova Scotia and all of Canada.”

Hon. Brian Wong, Minister of Advanced Education

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to witness first-hand the incredible and world-class research, innovation and success students and recent graduates are having as they bring their ideas and research to life under our Mitacs partnership,” said Brian Wong, Nova Scotia Minister of Advanced Education. “My department is proud to invest $1 million dollars in Mitacs annually, which helps 250 students make the workforce and research connections that are helping solve some of our biggest challenges and create some of our greatest opportunities in Nova Scotia.”

Dr. Rafaela Andrade, CEO, Myomar Molecular and past Lab2Market participant

“With the support we received from Lab2Market and Mitacs, we were able to understand how our academic project could become a commercialized innovation. Shortly after we completed the program, we incorporated our company and started our entrepreneurship journey.”

Quick facts:

  • Mitacs is a national not-for-profit organization with a mandate to drive Canadian innovation by solving business challenges with academic research solutions.
  • Mitacs connects organizations in need of expanded research, strategy, and innovation capacity with highly skilled post-secondary talent to help them develop advanced technologies, make new scientific discoveries, and grow their businesses.
  • Mitacs is funded by the Government of Canada along with the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of New Brunswick, Innovation PEI, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Ontario, Research Manitoba, the Government of Saskatchewan, the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, and the Government of Yukon.
  • The Lab2Market Program is a 16-week program to help researchers validate their ideas with the purpose of finding business/commercial value.
  • Lab2Market is part of a suite of programs developed by the partner universities at Incubate Innovate Network of Canada (I-INC) and with the support of Mitacs, as well as the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).