Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Mitacs Accelerate: The how-to at RRU

Mitacs’ mission is to build relationships between researchers and industry, including most Canadian not-for-profit, and create more innovation in Canada.

One of their principal programs is Mitacs Accelerate, a 4 to 6 month internship program where a student solves a company’s research problem that falls into any field of research. The company contributes $7,500 and Mitacs matches it to create a $15,000 renewable “award”.  
The student gains research experience under the guidance of an academic supervisor and a company supervisor, building their CV, and the company receives the solution to their problem.

Key things to know about this program
  • It has a 99% application success rate.
  • It provides funding for up to 2 years for masters (max $60,000), 4 years for doctoral (max $120,000), and 3 years for post docs (max $90,000).
  • Approximately 50% of the intern’s time is to be spent at the academic institution or in an appropriate research learning environment, and 50% of the time on site with the organization partner.
  • Your research will directly benefit organizations and society.
          Check out the Accelerate webpage to find the application, a list of past funded projects, FAQs, and a webinar on how to find a partner organization.

·         Aim to submit the application no later than two months before the optimal research start date.

Collaboration structure

The company can be for profit both nationally and internationally, or it can be a not-for-profit in Canada.

It is the student’s responsibility to find the company partner and tenacity and flexibility is important. To find this company, leverage your skills, personal networks, alumni and their networks, Nolan’s network - basically everyone’s network. The goal is to get a warm introduction to someone at the company.

When talking to a potential company partner, sell research expertise and skill set, not necessarily the project. Find the win-win with how you as the research learner will benefit and how the company will benefit. The greater the overlap between the academic research plan and a company’s research project the better.

An RRU faculty supervisor is usually assigned leading up to the research component of the degree program. In some cases, where research interests align and availability permits, the faculty member may agree to supervise outside the parameters required of the program (e.g. typically one year for masters, two years for doctoral programs).  Ensure there is a clear understanding of supervision needs and limitations, if any. Also, mind that associate faculty must have a current contract with RRU to qualify as an RRU faculty supervisor.

Students who are in programs with an internship component can rely on internship development assistance from the Career Learning and Development in the normal course of the program. 

Writing the proposal

Begin by reading all of the application documents before writing a word.  Then, as you write, remember that this funding is for the benefit of learning and creating connections, therefore address these themes: How will you benefit? How will the company benefit?

The application should be led by the student but with assistance from the company supervisor to ensure the research plan is aligned with the company needs. Get feedback on your research-defining process and the draft proposal from your faculty supervisor to ensure it is academically relevant. When the application is at the final review phase, email it to Nolan Beise, Mitacs’ Business Development Specialist assigned to RRU. 

Reviewing the application with the company supervisor, the academic supervisor, and Nolan will ensure the application will more likely pass through external review with ease.

The budget

Consider having the funding disbursed as stipend. Alternately, up to $5,000 can be directed toward travel and expenses for either the student or the faculty supervisor. Please know that non-consumable equipment MUST be handed over to the RRU Financial Aid & Awards office at the end of the funding period to be used in other research projects.  

Check out this blog on How Student Research Funding Works at RRU that covers most of the financial-related questions. 

Tips and logistics

Confirm intellectual property requirements with RRU. RRU’s Intellectual Property Policy can be found the Office of Research Policies and Procedures webpage

Ensure appropriate insurance coverage, as necessary.

In section 6 of the application, name six suggested reviewers. The academics listed here will be deciding if the application has merit for funding. Strategically it makes sense to choose reviewers who have experience in the relevant field of research and who value applied research.

Here’s how to complete section 7.3.6:
To corral signatures from RRU campus, email your final application draft with the signature page to Financial Aid & Awards. The financial aid team will return the signature page by email as quickly as possible for submission. 

An administrative lead from the Financial Aid & Awards team will be assigned once the application is approved. The administrative lead will assist with the application questions and logistics, and develop an award disbursement and financial reporting plan.

Contact Financial Aid & Awards if you have any questions. If we can’t answer them, we’ll find someone who can.

The student submits the complete application to:
Nolan Beise PhD 
Director, Business Development
Vancouver IslandCity
C: 250-661-0761 nbeise@mitacs.ca 

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