Canadian Manufacturing

New Mitacs internship helps pandemic-hit businesses

First-of-its-kind program helps cover cost to bring on business student interns.

February 3, 2021  by CM Staff

VANCOUVER — Canadian businesses grappling with the impact of COVID-19 are getting support from a new resource: top local business students.

A first-of-its-kind program launched by Vancouver-based Mitacs — a national organization that helps solve business challenges with research solutions from academic institutions — are providing students from business schools at universities and colleges across Canada, to be matched to employers looking for help to manage and grow their operations in an environment disrupted by the pandemic.

The program — called the Mitacs Business Strategy Internship (BSI) and offered to all businesses and not-for-profits — covers about half the cost to bring on a student, meaning employers pay $5,000 of a student’s $10,000 stipend for a four-month internship.

“This is welcome news for both organizations impacted by the pandemic as well as the students, many of whom lost job opportunities they had lined up when COVID-19 hit, and the majority of them facing an uncertain future in a deteriorating job market,” said Mitacs CEO and Scientific Director John Hepburn. He added that Canada’s economy stands to gain from the internship program.

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Since launching in May 2020, the BSI program has placed about 1,000 interns in business positions across Canada.

According to Hepburn, top challenges facing businesses and not-for-profit organizations include inability to scale and access new markets. Research suggests that compared to their U.S. counterparts, Canadian businesses undervalue the importance of marketing and sales, and struggle to commercialize their innovations. Business students are uniquely positioned to bring valuable business knowledge to the table to help, he said.

Drawing upon Mitacs’ network of businesses, professors and students, the BSI program has attracted the participation of top Canadian business schools such as UBC Sauder School of Business, Concordia’s John Molson School of Business, Ivey Business School at Western, Queen’s Smith School of Business, Windsor’s Odette School of Business and many others.


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