> MITACS

EFFECTIVE PARTNERSHIPS DELIVER UNIQUE INNOVATION

A national, bilingual, not-for-profit organization, Mitacs empowers Canadian innovation through effective partnerships that deliver solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. This effort is supported by the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, and other provincial and territorial governments. By driving economic growth and productivity, Mitacs creates meaningful change to improve quality of life for all Canadians.

Founded in 1999, Mitacs has grown far beyond its original focus on applied and industrial research in mathematics. Today, the organization supports a wide range of disciplines, from science to social innovation. It has also broadened its undertaking to include college and undergraduate students, as well as graduates and postdocs, and expanded its network of businesses and not-for-profit organizations of all sizes and in all sectors.

“As Canada’s largest provider of work-integrated learning opportunities, Mitacs is a strategic bridge between businesses and the post-secondary sector. We find research solutions that respond directly to our industry and not-for-profit partners’ challenges while providing high quality, real-world innovation internships to students and recent graduates across the country,” says Dr. John Hepburn, Mitacs’s CEO.

With close to 400 employees and regional hubs in Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, and Vancouver, the organization is an integral part of the Canadian innovation ecosystem. The Mitacs team is passionate about developing the next generation of researchers who will work to fuel the country’s knowledge-based economy.

“Thanks to significant and continued investments from our government partners, Mitacs has been able to grow into the organization it is today — a proud partner of academia, government, and the private sector building a more innovative and prosperous Canada for all,” says Dr. Hepburn.

Eco-friendly, self-driving truck company disrupts how goods are moved
Raghavender Sahdev first came to Canada from India in 2014 through the Mitacs Globalink Research Internship (GRI) program to work on a robotics project at the University of Toronto. The internship led him to graduate studies at York University and to the foundation of his startup, NuPort Robotics, with business partner Bao Xin Chen in 2019. Canada’s first autonomous trucking company, NuPort developed a technology that uses a robot-as-a-service model to allow trucks to travel without human drivers for distances up to 40 kilometers. Their innovation not only reduces costs and emissions it provides a solution to the current driver shortage in Canada.

“We’re working to fill that gap in the industry and at the same time, we’re creating new jobs,” says Sahdev, explaining that his company will hire oversight officers, inspection officers, and mechanics, among other technical positions. What’s more, NuPort Robotics employs interns from the GRI program, allowing Sahdev and his team to mentor the next generation of Globalink Research Internship recipients.

Unlocking human resources in biotech with Mitacs’s innovators
Access to human and financial resources has long been a challenge for start-ups beginning their operations. Thanks to Mitacs’s support, some resident companies at the incubator Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS @ Toronto have been able to diversify their businesses, create jobs, and grow. Since 2018, the organization has funded 45 projects in partnership with 25 resident companies and 43 professors from seven Canadian universities. As a result, close to 60 interns and postdoctoral fellows benefited from research opportunities.

One of these researchers was Dr. Janaina Bortolatto, who is currently a full-time Clinical Specialist at Cohesys — a start-up developing surgical adhesives technology. She joined the company as a Mitacs postdoctoral fellow after completing another fellowship at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Dentistry.

“Mitacs has given me the opportunity to further develop my career by understanding the corporative side of research and how different it can be from an academic world,” says Dr. Bortolatto, who is now supervising two new employees and is leading the efforts towards getting clinical validation of Cohesys’ first product, BoneTape.

With the onset of COVID-19, the combination of resources between Mitacs and the incubator has been crucial to help ensure businesses could pivot where needed, continue operating, and work to scale up. Seven JLABS @ Toronto resident companies secured expedited funding for COVID-19-related projects and successfully hired post-secondary interns.

Feeling warm outside? Look at the buildings around you!
Toronto-based design firm KPMB Architects partnered with Mitacs and Ryerson University to tackle an issue common to urban areas: microclimate. The effect, which corresponds to the climatic conditions of a specific area, makes people feel substantially different levels of thermal comfort across a small region and is affected by elements like building designs.

Through the Mitacs Accelerate program, KPMB recruited intern Jonathan Graham, who, in four months, was able to implement a customized toolset for microclimate analysis and provided insights for improving outdoor thermal comfort in specific projects.

“By merit of their training and experience, architects have an intuition for microclimate. Being able to validate their understanding numerically — through simulations — was exciting for both of us,” Graham says.

Such was his success in the internship that KPMB hired him as a full-time member of the in-house research and innovation group KPMB Lab, where he worked to improve the microclimate analysis program. The company was able to formally offer the toolset as a service and, so far, deployed it in 16 architectural projects. Another result was the publication of research papers, which contributed to advancing the academic knowledge in the area of sustainable architecture.

Mitacs by the numbers
• 17,000+ internships provided in 2020–2021
• 200+ post-secondary partners
• 5,000+ SMEs supported since 2016
• 41+ international agreements in 20 countries and the European Commission
• 2,000 first-time partnerships during COVID-19
• 91% of former interns state the Mitacs experience was important to their career
• 45% of industry partners have commercialized or anticipate commercializing the results of their Mitacs research project

About Mitacs
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.

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