Home Month and Year May 2020 Empowering Businesses to Enable Solutions

Empowering Businesses to Enable Solutions


Small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) may qualify for a once in a lifetime opportunity to fast track their products from concept to reality, thanks to a national research organization dedicated to combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

If your business has come up with a pandemic-fighting concept but doesn’t have the resources to get the idea off the ground quickly enough, Mitacs can help. Mitacs is a not-for-profit organization that fosters growth and innovation in Canada by solving business-related challenges through research solutions and academic institutions. Mitac’s unique initiative will help eliminate roadblocks and help these businesses expedite their coronavirus-related projects by securing government funding, research resources, equipment and post-secondary interns – in a matter of days.

“Our team is committed to supporting the development of innovative solutions for Canada and the world,” says John Hepburn, CEO and scientific director of Mitacs. “In response to federal and provincial government announcements of funding for coronavirus research, our 80 business development experts nationwide are poised to guide SMEs through the process and give them access to the talent and tools needed to succeed.”

Assisting SMEs in answering government calls-for-proposals by helping to complete Mitacs funding applications is a big part of what the team does. Mitacs also matches businesses with top researchers at Canadian universities and colleges according to the skills and expertise required to develop each particular solution.

Coding, prototyping, monitoring cell cultures, managing data, and creating visual presentations of modelling are part and parcel of many SMEs’ potential solutions. Because of this, Mitacs has added the invaluable asset of college interns to their mix of resources in order to support project development and provide assistance in these crucial areas. Commercializing products, services, and technologies faster than would otherwise be possible is the key to this initiative, and interns make it possible according to Mitacs.

The organization is also providing a wage subsidy for SMEs wanting to hire a post-secondary researcher for a four-month internship to help develop COVID-19 solutions. Mitacs will cover 75 per cent of the intern’s $15,000 salary, which means that businesses with qualifying COVID-19 projects during this finite period will contribute $3,750 for a four-month internship, with the remaining $11,250 salary being covered by Mitacs through government and other funding sources.

This marks a significant boost from the roughly 50 per cent that they usually cover for researchers.

“This increased funding leverage is unprecedented in Mitacs’s 20-year history,” Hepburn explains, adding that Mitacs has already deployed resources to mobilize Canadian researchers to develop solutions for projects ranging from improved facial masks to a COVID-19 vaccine. The organization’s business development team is also serving as connectors for calls for highly needed specialty equipment, including 3D printers and ventilators.

“While we continue to focus on our core operations and established programs, Mitacs is committed to doing our part during this global crisis,” Hepburn says. “It is our hope that this initiative will give SMEs the support needed to provide in demand solutions at this unprecedented time.