The Record: Sherbrooke students help spur growth for local businesses

Mitacs Accelerate, an innovative internship program, draws on student expertise to help companies develop products and bring them to market faster. Sherbrooke businesses are accelerating their opportunities for growth by tapping into the
expertise of local graduate students, thanks to the success of this internship program.
Since 2008, Quebec companies have invested nearly $14 million through Accelerate Quebec, a Mitacs program that connects businesses with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows involved in leading-edge research.
Last year alone, more than $4 million was contributed, amounting to more than 735 internship collaborations – from single four-month internships to multi-year, multi-intern, multi-university projects.
For businesses, the program is an excellent way to gain a competitive advantage and bring products to market faster. For students, it’s a chance to see the real-world impact of academic research. “Through the success and growth of Mitacs Accelerate Quebec, local researchers are playing a vital role in helping Canadian companies solve real challenges and develop new products, services and technologies that both contribute to Canada’s economic growth and improve the lives of Canadians,” said Eric Bosco, chief business development officer of Mitacs. At Bombardier, for example, research by graduate student Pierre-Claude Ostiguy from the University of Sherbrooke was critical to ongoing development of their cutting-edge technology in the structural monitoring of aircraft.
Through Mitacs Accerlate Quebec, the intern worked to lessen an industry-wide knowledge gap which would see permanently installed sensors on every plane. This is of interest to the aerospace community where maintenance costs are estimated over $10 billion worldwide annually. “The Mitacs Accelerate Quebec program provides better visibility of university research for companies that want to be at the top of their technical field by allowing them to explore outside-the-box ideas” said Igor Calderan, coordinator of strategic technologies for Bombardier Aerospace.
“At the same time, students involved have the opportunity to test out their findings in industry, all the while getting the chance to be better known for possible employment.”
Ostiguy, who is pursuing a doctorate, agrees. “On top of the real-world experience, Mitacs Accelerate Quebec gave me a chance to work with this big corporation and expand my professional network.”
By: Josh Quirion