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Mitacs offers funding support to SMEs for production of COVID-19 gear


A national research organization is ready to help small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs), including manufacturers, rapidly scale ideas that can help in Canada’s fight to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mitacs, a not-for-profit organization that fosters innovation by solving business challenges with research solutions from academic institutions, has announced an initiative to help SMEs expedite coronavirus-related projects within days.

The Mitacs team can assist SMEs in answering government calls-for-proposals by helping to complete funding applications.

The organization also matches and connects businesses with top researchers at Canadian universities and colleges according to the skills and expertise required to develop each particular solution.

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Mitacs has already deployed resources to mobilize Canadian researchers to develop solutions for projects ranging from improved facial masks to a COVID-19 vaccine.

Its business development team is also serving as connectors for calls for highly needed specialty equipment, including 3D printers and ventilators.

“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,” says John Hepburn, CEO and scientific director of Mitacs, in a statement.

Most recently, college interns have been added to the mix in order to support project development with activities such as coding, prototyping, managing data, and creating visual presentations of modelling.

Incorporating college students in the R&D process will help commercialize products, services, and technologies faster than would otherwise be possible, Hepburn says.

For SMEs looking 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. That means that businesses with qualifying COVID-19 projects during this finite period will contribute $3,750 for a four-month internship, with the remaining cost of $11,250 covered by Mitacs through government and other funding sources.

Traditionally, Mitacs requires organizations to contribute $7,500 per four-month research intern for projects, all accessible as part of the organization’s Accelerate internship program.

For information about Mitacs and its programs, see mitacs.ca.