Summary of the evaluation of Mitacs

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March 2017

About the evaluation

  • The evaluation assessed the relevance and performance of ISED-funded Mitacs internship programs.
  • It covered the four-year period from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2016.

Program description

  • Mitacs is a national not-for-profit research organization dedicated to promoting high-quality research and innovation by building linkages between academia and industry through internships.
  • Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) supports three internship programs – Accelerate, Elevate and Globalink – designed to increase industry-academia research collaboration, boost investment in industrial research, improve the employability of its interns, and encourage highly-qualified graduates to remain in Canada.
  • ISED provided $56 million to Mitacs during the evaluation period. Budget 2017 committed $221 million in funding to Mitacs over five years starting in 2017–18.

What the evaluation found

  • Mitacs responds to the ongoing need to increase Canadian innovation by facilitating academia-industry linkages and international collaboration through internships.
  • Strong demand for Mitacs programs is reflected in the growing number of internships.
  • Mitacs supports federal government priorities to invest in research and innovation and its responsibility to advance science and technology.
  • The program has contributed to collaboration, resource sharing and knowledge transfer between academia and industry.
  • Mitacs interns have supported the development of new products, processes and services for industry partners.
  • Its use of university-based business partners is seen as an important contributor to program success. 
  • The program has contributed to investments in industrial R&D, improved the employment prospects of its interns, and helped to keep domestic and international graduate students in Canada after their studies.
  • Mitacs' administrative costs are within an acceptable range and it is leveraging considerable resources.
  • Mitacs has robust performance measurement systems in place, but lacks a way to measure the program's overall contribution to academia-industry collaboration in the broader Canadian context.
  • As ISED's contributions to Mitacs will be increasing by nearly four times over the next five years, it may be prudent for SIS to conduct an external review of the organization to ensure it has the people, systems and processes in place to successfully deliver increased programming.

Recommendations (as agreed upon by management)

  1. SIS should consider conducting an external review to assess whether Mitacs has the resources, systems and processes in place to successfully manage future growth.
  2. SIS should consider working with Mitacs to develop the measures against which to assess Mitacs' contributions to overall industry-academia collaboration in Canada.

Complete version of the evaluation report

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