Luring top talent to Canada with leading-edge projects

Vancouver, BC – Through a unique internship program called Mitacs Globalink, 500 international students from such countries as Australia, Brazil, China, France, India, Germany, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia are conducting research at 45 Canadian universities this summer. Under the direction of Canadian professors and working alongside local researchers, they are helping to solve complex problems in a wide range of disciplines, from healthcare and robotics to aviation, communication, and the environment.

Mitacs Globalink is a unique 12-week research internship that fosters international research links and boosts the national economy. Some of the groundbreaking projects under way include:

  • Autonomous wheelchairs that operate on the same principles as self-driving cars and can be easily operated by users with severe upper body mobility impairments (University of Toronto)
  • A wearable mobile ECG for heart monitoring, created using smartphones and expected to save lives through continuous, seamless monitoring of patients (University of Victoria)
  • An air traffic management system that removes the need for ground control and increases air traffic safety and efficiency, allowing aircraft to broadcast their position and monitor the surrounding airspace for traffic using GPS and advanced data transmission systems (University of Calgary)
  • A basketball playing humanoid robot poised to participate in an upcoming international tournament that is being programmed to successfully throw a ball into a basket, helping to advance real-world robotics applications (University of Manitoba)
  • A first-of-its-kind web portal called WalkAlong that is helping to reduce the stigma associated with mental health by using social media and other online platforms to give young Canadians a safe, easily accessible place to explore their mental health issues (University of British Columbia)
  • A smart transit recommender system based on the Internet of Things (IoT) that gathers useful insights from mobile device users — such as behaviours, ideas, and ratings — to make proximity-based and context-aware (sensing the physical environment) recommendations about which transit method is the best to reach a specific destination (University of New Brunswick)
  • Gecko-inspired dry adhesives capable of capturing space debris when launched towards a target, helping to address growing concern over the potential for floating objects to negatively impact on future space missions and satellite launches (University of Alberta)

“More than ever, Canada is viewed as a top research destination by both the academic and business communities,” said Alejandro Adem, CEO and scientific director of Mitacs. National figures indicate the overall number of international students studying in Canada increased 92 percent between 2008 and 2015. “The top three reasons foreign students choose to study here are the quality of Canada’s education system, our reputation as a tolerant and non-discriminatory society and our reputation as a safe country,” he said.

International students participating in the Mitacs Globalink program benefit from hands-on experience and networking with local leaders to better understand and contribute to the leading-edge research conducted here, Adem explained.

After starting with just 17 students at its inception in 2009, the Mitacs Globalink program is currently averaging 590 students per year over the past four years. To date, more than 3,000 international research collaborations have been supported.

Quick facts:

  • Mitacs is a national, not-for-profit organization that has designed and delivered research and training programs in Canada for 17 years.
  • Working with 60 universities, thousands of companies, and both federal and provincial governments, Mitacs builds partnerships that support industrial and social innovation in Canada.
  • Funded by the Government of Canada, the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, the Government of Quebec, and Canadian universities, the Mitacs Globalink program offers two-way mobility opportunities between Canada and Mitacs partner countries for both undergraduate and graduate students.