Times of India – Platform for perfection

In an attempt to provide a platform for Indian students to engage in scientific research, a Canadian-based not-for-profit organization is conducting an academic programme that aims at allowing Indian students to travel to Canada for a research interns. Jude Sannith S, in converstion with Arvind Gupta, CEO of Mitacs…

In 1999, Mitacs, a Canada-based not-for-profit organization was established to conduct a series of unique research and training programmes. The purpose? “We wanted to develop a new breed of innovators and researchers,” says Arvind Gupta, CEO and Scientific Director of the company. “Our focus was initially on math and the opportunity research in the field. We later decided that we could make the best of all research streams and thus branched out to other research disciplines as well.”

What transpired over the next course of the decade was a series of innovative research programmes spearheaded by the organization. Outreach, Accelerate, Elevate and Enterprise were the major programmes which Mitacs developed, which encompassed several academic programmes from research activity and internships to career development and placement programmes.

As of last year, in an attempt to encourage relationships between Canada and other countries, Mitacs introduced a new academic programme titled Globalink. “It’s all about exchange of ideas and sharing information,” says Arvind, who was in the city recently to talk to universities about Globalink, which will begin its second year shortly. “Canada accounts for roughly four percent of the scientific research that is conducted across the globe. Now, when a country like ours actively engages with developing nations, there is definitely the possibility of both countries moving forward in the field of scientific research.”

As part of Globalink, meritorious students with an interest in research, from countries like India, China, Mexico and Brazil are encouraged to apply for the scholarship.

The selected students will then undertake a 12-week research project with one of Canada’s top researchers,” says Arvind.

Just last year, nearly 17 students from India were among the 100 selected for Globalink. One thousand students, in all, applied for the research program in 2010.

“We expect applications to cross 2,000 this year and hope to select 200 students from the applicants.”

Another interesting facet of this project is the illustrious list of universities in Canada that will serve as the site of several research programmes for the selected students. University of Toronto, University of Waterloo and University of Montréal are some of the schools. “We initially floated the idea of Globalink to the Indian student population in Canada,” says Arvind. “They then took it from there to the students back home in India. Students from engineering disciplines who have completed six semesters can apply for the scholarship,” says Arvind. “However, from this year onwards, we plan on opening the doors of Globalink to students from science streams as well. So completing four semesters of your BSc programme, with excellent marks and a zeal for research should suit our requirements just fine.”

As part of Globalink, each student will receive a stipend that will take care of his or her airfare, accommodation, visa, medical insurance and living costs. The arrangements with regard to the research internship itself and industry networking will be taken care of by Mitacs. “We see this as just a small step to achieving something much bigger in the years to come,” said Arvind. “There’s a lot that Canada can learn from India by way of Globalink. It won’t be long before the two countries can engage in an active process of information sharing. We’re working towards that.”

More information about the research internship can be obtained from www.mitacs.ca/globalink