Mitacs’ long-term goal of supporting 10,000 internships annually has become a reality with a $211-million investment from the federal government. Announced in the recent federal Budget, the five-year funding commitment begins this FY at $12 million and ramps up to $80 million by FY21-22, providing an unprecedented infusion of post-secondary talent into industry and the not-for-profit sector.
“Mitacs started out as a STEM-based organization and we’ve expanded into all sectors. There are multi-disciplinary teams going into companies now. The social science and humanities fields have a lot to offer,” says Dr Alejandro Adem, Mitacs’ president and scientific director. “We did lots of consultation with companies and universities and released a strategic plan last November — the first time we had such a clearly developed plan.”
Launched as a classic Network of Centres of Excellence in 1998 and re-created as a not-for-profit organization in 2011, Mitacs (originally an acronym for Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems) has become the go-to agency for securing and training post-secondary talent in industrial and not-for-profit environments. Its leadership established an aspirational target of 10,000 internships that will be now achieved within five years. Mitacs currently supports 3,750 internships across all its programs.
“There aren’t any new components. We want to make our programs as flexible and inclusive as possible including international,” says Adem. “We’re in discussions with ISED (Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development) to work out the details which will be complete in a few months.”
Adem says Mitacs will accelerate efforts to partner with other organizations in the science, research and innovation space, exploring innovative ways for increasing its impact such as the pilot Canadian Science Policy Fellowship program. Developed in conjunction with the Univ of Ottawa’s Institute for Science, Society and Policy (ISSP), the pilot has placed 11 science policy fellows in various federal departments and agencies for one-year terms.
“Mitacs offers a very cost-effective way to increase business R&D as well as other areas of research,”: says Adem. “(ISED minister Navdeep) Bains and (Science minister Kirsty) Duncan have shown great leadership as have our university members.”
In addition to federal support, Mitacs is supported by more than 60 universities, thousands of companies and the provinces and territories and delivers funding through six programs — Accelerate, Elevate, Globalink, Step, Policy Fellowship and Converge.