Mitacs announces year-end highlights for fiscal 2015–16

Vancouver, BC – Mitacs, a national non-profit research and training organization, announced its year-end highlights today for the year ending March 31, 2016.

Last year, Mitacs delivered 3,785 collaborative research internships with universities and industry, trained close to 5,800 students and postdocs, and facilitated 967 international research collaborations, representing $67.9 million in funding toward innovation projects.

Major achievements

The Government of Canada’s Budget 2016 announced an additional investment of $14 million over two years, starting in 2017–18, to support international research internships and fellowships through Mitacs Globalink. The funding will support up to 1,650 internships over two years, helping Canadian researchers to establish international research networks and attract top talent to their universities.

Mitacs, in partnership with Canada’s Public Policy Forum, released a report entitled Leveraging Canada’s Innovation Ecosystem. The report identifies key drivers and barriers in attracting foreign direct investment in Canadian R&D — and highlights opportunities to improve Canada’s attractiveness as a destination for international research spending.

In partnership with the University of Ottawa’s Institute for Science, Society and Policy, Mitacs announced the creation of the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship. The fellowships will see more than a dozen PhD-level researchers embedded within federal government departments or agencies. The program received overwhelming interest, having received 150 applications from researchers across Canada in a variety of disciplines, as well as nearly 20 federal government departments or agencies. The inaugural cohort will begin their placements in September 2016.

Mitacs was a nominating partner for inaugural Governor General’s Innovation Awards. Mitacs partner Breanne Everett, of Calgary-based Orpyx Technologies, was named one of six recipients. As founder and CEO of Orpyx Medical Technologies, Dr. Everett has contributed to the development of specialized orthotics designed to prevent foot injury among diabetic patients. She has partnered with Mitacs’ Accelerate program to advance this technology through collaborations with University of Calgary researchers.

New this year, Mitacs launched a pilot initiative to engage Indigenous communities across Canada in collaborative research and development with Canadian universities. The Indigenous Communities Engagement (ICE) initiative will develop new models of collaborative research with Canada’s Indigenous people, and evaluate the models through a limited series of pilot projects — all of which are now under way. One such project includes evaluation of a hockey skills academy for engaging First Nations youth in Northern Ontario to improve academic performance and well-being. Mitacs is grateful to the communities involved in the pilot projects for their participation and collaboration.  

At Mitacs’ spring policy forum, Talent for Innovation: Harnessing Canada’s Research Advantage, leaders from industry, government, and academia convened to examine the evolving skills that graduates need to succeed in an ever-changing economy. The forum also explored strategies for ensuring that Canada remains a desirable place for graduate students to apply their skills in rewarding careers.

Several leaders in Canadian business, research, and innovation joined Mitacs:

Program highlights

Mitacs programs contribute to an innovative and productive country. This year, we saw continued demand for our established Accelerate, Elevate, Globalink, and Step programs, as well as growing demand for the new Converge program which was initially launched in 2014-15.

  • Mitacs Accelerate connects companies and not-for-profit partners with graduate students and postdocs, who apply their specialized expertise to business research challenges.
    • Last year, Mitacs supported 3,657 Accelerate internships with 1,028 partners in all sectors and disciplines.
    • The 1000th social sciences or humanities research internship was announced at Congress 2016. University of Calgary postdoctoral fellow Dania El Chaar is part of a collaboration with the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling, and researchers at the University of Calgary, the University of Winnipeg, the University of British Columbia, and Memorial University. The three-year collaboration is aimed at helping refugee youth navigate school and transition into meaningful careers.
  • Mitacs Converge connects small- to medium-sized Canadian businesses (SMEs) and university researchers to global supply chains, customers, and export markets.
    • To date, Converge has successfully paired over 40 Canadian researchers with local SMEs to conduct research and development for 12 multinational industry partners
      • One partnership will pair researchers at Université Laval with Canadian SME Phytronix, as well as leading international chromatography and mass spectrometry manufacturer Waters Corporation. Working together, they will apply artificial intelligence approaches to the screening of blood products in ways that could revolutionize current biological sample screening technologies and improve safety of blood products worldwide.
  • Mitacs Elevate provides research management training to postdoctoral fellows as they collaborate with companies and not-for-profit partners on complex research projects.
    • Last year, Mitacs awarded 126 Elevate fellowships
    • Three Leadership in Innovation retreats were held for Elevate fellows across the country. In addition, Elevate fellows participated in 76 Mitacs Step professional development workshops as part of their training curriculum
  • Mitacs Globalink offers two-way student mobility opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students between Canada and select partner countries.
    • 749 undergraduate students from eight countries came to 44 Canadian universities as part of the Globalink Research Internship program. They each worked on 12-week research projects supervised by Canadian faculty
      • 426 Globalink research interns participated in 14 online professional development workshops through Mitacs Step as part of their internship experience,  such as Cross-cultural Team Communication, Managing Project Timelines, and Becoming a Graduate Student in Canada
    • 71 Mitacs Globalink Graduate Fellowships were awarded to former Globalink Research Interns who returned to Canada for graduate studies
    • 218 Globalink Research Awards were awarded to senior undergraduate and graduate students for international research collaborations. Among them, 191 students travelled abroad and 27 international students came to Canada
    • 2 students from Canada travelled abroad to do research with foreign companies with support from the Globalink Partnership Awards
  • Mitacs Step provides professional skills training to graduate students and early-career researchers. The program delivered 229 professional skills workshops to 4,967 participants.
    • New this year was the expansion of online course offerings such as Practical Tips for Growing your Network, Time Management, Communicating your Research, and Writing Effective Emails

Program evaluation

Mitacs’ evaluation team completed a study to measure program outcomes by surveying international students who have participated in a summer research internship in Canada through Mitacs Globalink.

  • The longitudinal survey of former Mitacs Globalink research interns tracked outcomes, including skills development, career development, and graduate retention
    • 91 percent of past interns currently studying in Canada said their participation in the program convinced them, or reinforced their decision, to pursue further studies in Canada
    • 75 percent of former research interns said that the availability of the Globalink program was the top factor influencing their decision to come to Canada. Without Globalink, only 7 percent would have still come to Canada for a research internship
    • Participants of the Globalink research internship program now enrolled in a new degree were more than twice as likely to pursue further studies in Canada (22 percent) compared to a control group (9 percent) of equally qualified applicants who did not participate in Mitacs Globalink research internships
  • An additional qualitative evaluation of Mitacs Globalink Research Awards was completed.
    • Most participants indicated that they were pleased with their experience and that they had become “better citizens of the world” through participation in an international research experience through Globalink Research Awards
  • Mitacs launched a longitudinal survey of former Elevate program fellows in order to understand the long-term impacts of the program. The results will be released in August 2016.
  • The evaluation team also completed a longitudinal survey of former Mitacs Step participants to understand the program’s impact on their professional skills development. The results will be released in September 2016.

Partnerships and government highlights

Mitacs signed agreements to collaborate with these organizations and partners for the delivery of industrial research internships through Mitacs Accelerate:

Mitacs signed international two-way mobility agreements for undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs with these organizations:

Mitacs received ongoing funding support from the Government of Canada and Western Economic Diversification, along with Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, the Government of New Brunswick, Research & Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, Innovation PEI, the Government of Quebec, and the Government of Saskatchewan.