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The Mitacs Innovation Challenge project examines application and evaluation materials from the Mitacs Business Strategy Internship (BSI) program to better understand what barriers are limiting the innovation performance of Canadian SMEs.
In this report, we find that talent access is a key issue inhibiting SME innovation performance throughout Canada’s innovation ecosystem. We further explore how skilled talent acquired through innovation-related WIL programs can help unlock the innovation potential of Canadian SMEs, encourage product and market diversification strategies, technological upgrading, and the development of more sustainable growth trajectories. Based on our findings, we argue that Canadian governments must do more to leverage their strengths by connecting PSE talent with SMEs through the creation of more innovation-based WIL internships in the Canadian innovation ecosystem.