Innovating with funding support from Mitacs

Did drupa give you some exciting innovation ideas? Are you looking for funding to help move your business further into the era of multichannel selling, 3D printing and/or green printing? Perhaps now is the time to look to Mitacs for innovation funding support.

Mitacs is a national, not-for-profit organization that has designed and delivered research and training programs in Canada for 15 years. Working with 60 universities, thousands of companies, and both federal and provincial governments, Mitacs builds partnerships that support industrial innovation in Canada.

For those of us with long memories, “Mitacs was founded in 1999, and was referred to as a Canadian Network of Centres of Excellence, dedicated to supporting applied and industrial research. Fully independent since 2011, Mitacs remains committed to its core vision of supporting research-based innovation and continues to work closely with its partners in industry, academia, and government.”

If your innovation idea seems too grandiose for your company to handle without external funding and resources, Mitacs Accelerate might be able to help. As explained by Josette-Renée Landry, Vice-President, Business Development, at Mitacs, “our business development directors can help introduce a company to an appropriate academic partner, or a company can find their own partner and approach Mitacs together for a project.” With over 35% of all Mitacs funding going to engineering projects, your well thought out proposal stands an excellent chance of funding.

Being a not-for-profit company, Mitacs appreciates that intellectual property (IP) is an important consideration for you and will work with you to accommodate business considerations.

To qualify for funding, your project must be at least four months in duration. Unlike many other government funding initiatives, there is no time of year considerations for applying for funding, and applications are peer reviewed within a six-to-eight week time frame. Your company is expected to be responsible for 50% of the cost of the project, with matching funds coming from Mitacs, and in the case of larger, longer term projects, Mitacs’ contributions can be higher.

There are many benefits to forming a relationship with Mitacs. As Landry explains, “Businesses get cost-effective access to university researchers and resources and a collaborative research project plan.” With the 50% funds matching, Mitacs can dramatically augment your R&D budget. Furthermore, Mitacs does not preclude your ability to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses by obtaining even more funding through other programs, specifically the SR&ED program, Canada’s largest governmental funding support for industrial R&D with over $3 billion provided annually.  In the past few years, we have written about SR&ED many times. The most comprehensive columns being February, 2014, and more recently, August, 2015.

By utilizing the domain knowledge of the university community, Mitacs enables you to leverage that expertise at a minimal cost. Further, Mitacs can enable you to more quickly identify new markets, commercialize results and access potential employees.

With Mitacs support, you can turn your “aha moment” into an industry-leading opportunity. To apply for Mitacs funding, your academic partner and you will need to prepare and submit a professional proposal to Mitacs indicating the work to be done, the personnel required to complete the project, the project timeline and the methodologies that will be utilized in the implementation of your objectives, acknowledging any potential difficulties that you foresee and how you might address them. Mitacs is also interested in and wants you to document the motivation for the project.

Unlike SR&ED project write-ups where technical language is encouraged, with Mitacs, you are encouraged to present your proposal in plain language. As Mitacs explains in its proposal guide, present your proposal “as if you were explaining your project to a high school student” or, as Denzel Washington in Philadelphia (the film), would have said, “now, explain it to me like I’m a four year-old”.

Remember, you only get one chance to make a good first impression, so, make sure that your proposal is well presented, accurately reflects your objectives, and gives Mitacs the assurance that supporting your project will result in an advancement of the knowledge base in your industry sector, and of course, from your perspective, will enhance your ability to provide new or improved solutions to your existing customers or open up new customer markets.

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Elliot Schiller is a Director at Toronto’s Teeger Schiller Inc., a firm specializing in government funding and systems selection/implementation. His clients receive over $5 M annually to support ongoing business innovation. E-mail eschiller@teegerschiller.com, visit www.FundingHelp.ca or phone 1-888-816-0222 Ext. 102