Mitacs salutes small business successes rooted in innovation

Accessing talent through partnerships with the postsecondary sector helps businesses innovate and solve pressing problems

Vancouver, B.C. – Mitacs, a not-for-profit organization committed to fostering innovation in Canada, brings together small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with postsecondary research talent to help businesses thrive and grow, while driving economic growth across Canada. 

In recognition of Small Business Month 2022, Mitacs is highlighting the achievements of several SME partners in leveraging innovation talent for business growth, including the following success stories. 

Guelph-based innovator bringing low-cost, low-energy air filter to market 

Thanks to the groundbreaking work of a Guelph-based nanotechnology leader, with the help of postsecondary students from across the country, there’s a new tool emerging in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 as Canadians head indoors this winter: a coated, low-cost, low-energy air filter that effectively deactivates the virus on contact. 

Zentek Ltd. is on a mission to make indoor air quality purer and safer by coating air filters already used in HVAC systems with the company’s patent-pending ZenGUARD™ technology, which was first applied to surgical face masks at the height of the pandemic. 

The company is working with several Mitacs interns from academic institutions across Canada to bring the product to market. The compound behind ZenGUARD was originally invented by Mitacs intern Dr. Seyyedarash Haddadi, a researcher at The University of British Columbia Okanagan. 

Edmonton AI scaleup helps close talent gap in data science 

Within its first year, AltaML, a fast-growing AI scaleup, identified an impending shortage of experienced data science talent. It found a solution in the launch of its unique Talent Accelerators program, enabled with the help of Mitacs internships. Through Talent Accelerators, AltaML recruits, hires, and trains top data science teams to fill the tech talent gap and develop valuable AI solutions. 

Throughout the process, associates are mentored by AltaML’s experienced AI experts to ensure industry best practices and high-quality output. To date, more than 200 students have completed paid internships with AltaML — several of whom were subsequently hired by the company. AltaML is continually looking to hire more interns, with plans to roll out its Talent Accelerators program nationally. 

Laval-based startup’s breakthrough technology converts light to energy 
Clean-energy company WattByWatt is working with local students to help disrupt how we power our everyday electronics. Thanks to the company’s patented technology, Perovton, plugging in cell phones may soon be a memory. All you will need is light. 

The company’s new technology produces renewable energy from light using perovskites, a naturally occurring mineral seen as the future of solar cells. 

To help advance its research, WattByWatt is working with three Mitacs interns from the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS) and the University of Sherbrooke. 

Other Mitacs activities celebrating Small Business Month 2022 include: 

  • Mitacs launched its first-ever podcast, The Edge, this month to explore the Canadian innovation ecosystem and discuss the cutting-edge research and ideas that are transforming our world. The Edge takes advantage of Mitacs’s place at the crossroads of academia and entrepreneurship to share insights and thought leadership on what’s next in Canadian innovation. From robotics and artificial intelligence to fashion and athletics, there are so many stories to tell. The inaugural episode, Growing Colour, is available now. 
  • CEO John Hepburn delivered remarks entitled, “Disruption for Tomorrow: Shaping Canada’s Innovation Ecosystem,” at Startup Canada’s Startup Day in Ottawa on Oct. 20. He shared Mitacs research showing that skilled talent is one of the key issues limiting SME innovation performance and that improving access can have a real impact. Dr. Hepburn highlighted Mitacs’s efforts to help entrepreneurs harness the power of innovation so they can develop new products and services, access new markets and create good jobs. 
  • Mitacs released a report on SME innovation challenges. How talent can help unlock the innovation potential of Canadian SMEs investigates the challenges limiting the innovation performance of Canadian SMEs through an examination of Mitacs’s application and evaluation materials, which provide rich data on innovation activities and challenges in Canada. 

Quick facts: 

  • Mitacs is a not-for-profit organization that fosters growth and innovation in Canada by solving business challenges with research solutions from academic institutions. 
  • Mitacs is funded by the Government of Canada along with the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, Innovation PEI, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan, and the Government of Yukon. 
  • Since 20008, Mitacs has partnered with more than 9,000 SMEs from across the country, helping them reach their business goals. The total value of all industry-related innovation projects funded through Mitacs since 2010 is over $1 billion, with businesses contributing about half that amount. 
  • Mitacs’s team of business development advisors located across the country are poised to guide SMEs through the funding support process and provides access to the talent and tools needed to succeed. 
  • Mitacs is committed to supporting the development of innovative solutions for Canada and the world. 

Learn more: 

For information about Mitacs and its programs, visit