May 10, 2011 13:00 ET

New Funding for MITACS Means More Research, Training Opportunities for B.C. Grad Students

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - May 10, 2011) - A $3.5-million grant announced today by Premier Christy Clark will generate jobs and promote innovation by creating new research opportunities in the province.

The grant - awarded to MITACS, a Vancouver-based research network which creates and manages unique research and training programs - will enable B.C. graduate students and new PhDs to connect with businesses and apply their research to real-world challenges and attract top international undergraduate students to local universities.

"Research and innovation are key to economic growth in our province, and to providing jobs for B.C. families into the future," Premier Clark said. "With this announcement, we are working with our partners to take great ideas from our university labs and turn them into excellent jobs, driving progress in every sector of our economy."

The funding will create up to 300 new graduate internships through the MITACS-Accelerate program and 19 fellowships for recent PhD graduates through MITACS-Elevate, as well as foster better linkages between BC's universities and some of the brightest international talent through the Globalink program.

Established in 1999, MITACS is a not-for-profit research organization which partners with government, universities and industry to recruit, train and retain graduate students in B.C.

"MITACS has far exceeded our expectations by connecting almost 1,000 graduate students with B.C. businesses and organizations to create innovative products and practices," said Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation. "Today's investment will help build the highly-educated workforce we need to be a leader in innovation and commercialization."

Through the MITACS-Accelerate program, Aaron Phillips, a graduate student in kinesiology at the University of British Columbia, is doing research to help commercialize a "smart" wheelchair for spinal cord injured people. Developed by SOC Robotics of North Vancouver, the chair takes the user's blood pressure, heart rate and other feedback, combines it with information about the terrain, and provides extra help when needed.

"Support for this program is great for students, because we can put our research to use in the industries where we'll find jobs after we graduate," Phillips said. "My work is helping people with spinal cord injuries or those who have had a stroke to actively engage in the community through smart-adaptive wheeling assistance that lets them be more active and independent."

As a result of a unique partnership between the Chinese Education Council and BC's universities, for the first time the MITACS Globalink program is expecting up to 20 undergraduate students to come to B.C. from China this summer. This is in addition to 28 of the brightest students from India who are expected to begin arriving here later this month.

"When these international undergraduates get a taste of the research going on at our world-class universities, B.C. becomes top of mind for graduate school," said Advanced Education Minister Naomi Yamamoto. "Usually, these students look at universities like Harvard, MIT or Oxford – but after interning here, 85 per cent of them say they're considering B.C. instead."

Today's funding brings the Province's investment in MITACS to more than $14.1 million.

"MITACS programs improve retention rates of our most highly educated students by a phenomenal 20 per cent, and have protected probably $225 million worth of government investment in education in B.C. alone," said Brad Bennett, Chairman of the MITACS board. "We thank the Province for continuing to invest in our work to make the most of B.C. talent and technology."

The provincial funding announced today is expected to attract another $7 million from federal and industry partners. To date, government has invested $1.8 billion in research and innovation since 2001.

A backgrounder follows.



  • MITACS is a national research organization that connects Canadian researchers with companies, government and industry
  • Its head office is in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia.
  • MITACS is funded by the provincial and federal governments, as well as by the industries that take part in its programs.
  • MITACS programs involve 50 research universities across the country, more than 350 companies, 500 academics and 1,000 graduate students from 32 disciplines.
  • For more information:

About Accelerate

  • Accelerate is Canada's leading graduate research internship program, developed in B.C.
  • Accelerate internships are designed to help B.C. attract and retain the best and brightest graduate students, and to foster innovation in knowledge-intensive industries.
  • Each graduate student takes on a research challenge faced by an industry partner, and four out of five Accelerate interns expect to land permanent jobs in the organization as a result.
  • 93 per cent of all technology developed through Accelerate is being commercialized.
  • In 2007, the Province invested $10 million in the Accelerate program to provide 650 internships over four years; with that funding, MITACS created nearly 1,000 spaces.
  • Industry has invested $6.1 million in nearly 1,000 Accelerate internships to date.
  • Today's funding is expected to create between 200 and 250 new Accelerate internships.

About Elevate

  • Elevate, a new program designed to stem the exodus of new PhDs from Canada, is being introduced this year in B.C. with today's funding, which will support 19 fellowships.
  • It retains recent PhD graduates by helping them develop networks of private-sector partners, building the foundation for a research career in B.C.
  • The Elevate program is targeted at the 30 to 50 per cent of young PhD graduates who are most likely to emigrate and connects them with industry to build a research career in B.C.
  • During the two-year program, PhDs may choose to be involved in a startup, to focus on commercialization, or to uncover novel connections between their research and industry needs.

About Globalink

  • Globalink was piloted in B.C. to build research links with other countries through internships involving undergraduate students.
  • The program also helps the province attract the world's top knowledge workers, either to attend graduate school or to become entrepreneurs.
  • The pilot program began in 2009 with 17 top undergraduates from India's Institutes of Technology undertaking supervised research projects at B.C. universities, expanding the next year within B.C. to 49 students and to Ontario and Nova Scotia as well.
  • This year, for the first time, up to 20 undergrads are coming from China, as well as 28 interns from India.
  • The program is funded by the B.C. government and Western Economic Diversification.

Contact Information

    Megan Airton-Cindric
    Communications Director
    778 233-6344 (cell)

    Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation
    Marisa Adair
    Communications Director
    250 920-8500