Ninety-eight percent of businesses in Canada are small and medium-sized — and about half of them anticipate a labour shortage in the next three months. Their owners are passionate, but often isolated, as they navigate change, take on financial risks, and wear many hats trying to innovate. One Canadian organization is alleviating their burden by revealing exceptional talent hidden in plain sight.
Artificial intelligence and new technologies are transforming how we do business by offering unprecedented convenience and personalization to consumers. But many small- and medium-sized businesses work in niche industries with a massive skills gap hindering their growth. This is where Canadian-based Mitacs makes a difference. With an innovation legacy that spans almost 25 years, the not-for-profit organization brings on board top talent, expertly matched and co-funded, to help business owners and entrepreneurs innovate with confidence.
Removing the pain point for business
“Small- and medium-sized business owners and entrepreneurs in the innovation space have big, meaningful ideas, but often they are working with limited resources and financial constraints,” says John Hepburn, CEO, Mitacs. “We can play an important role in their success by bringing the connections, expertise, funding, talent, insights—the whole community—needed to take innovation to the next level and drive commercial results and sustainable growth in Canada.”
The post-pandemic landscape for Canadian businesses is a challenging one: the global transition to net zero, rising costs and access to financing, major supply chain shocks due to war and increased geopolitical tensions, Big Tech and the digital transformation of the economy. But one of the biggest pain points for small and medium-sized businesses is access to talent.
Tapping into Canadian talent and research
With one foot in the academic world and another in industry, Mitacs taps into the extraordinary research talent located in Canadian post-secondary institutions and connects them with business and non-profit organizations to transform ideas into productivity gains. Since 2010, Mitacs has invested more than $1.3 billion in collaborative R&D, resulting in over 100,000 cutting-edge projects and nearly 50,000 career-ready students.
This is especially critical for small- and medium-sized businesses, who don’t have easy access to niche talent.
Small and medium-sized business owners and entrepreneurs in the innovation space have big, meaningful ideas, but often they are working with limited resources and financial constraints.
It’s not uncommon for Mitacs-sourced talent to be offered full-time jobs at the end of a project—many of whom go on to create big impact, as in the case of Patrick Steiche, former-Mitacs intern-turned Director of Innovation at Hydra Energy. Last year alone, the collaborative model resulted in nearly 1000 jobs and saved partner organizations $5 million in HR recruitment costs.
Over the last two decades, more than 10,600 small- and mid-sized enterprises in Canada have worked with Mitacs, representing 88% of its client base. And the outcomes have been significant, with many businesses realizing increased sales, productivity, revenue, and groundbreaking solutions in areas like healthcare, cleantech, and social entrepreneurship—thanks to a consistent focus on human-centered innovation.
Mitacs has seen more than a six per cent higher business survival rate for organizations it partnered with. And it’s easy to see why.
In a time where innovation has become synonymous with technology, our need for human collaboration and empathy has never been greater. With around 100 Mitacs advisors in regional centres across Canada, small businesses are closer than ever to building a dream team capable of extraordinary things. The next big challenge isn’t finding people who can support innovation; it’s driving the kind of innovation that will ultimately support people.
Find a Mitacs Advisor today, visit discover.mitacs.ca/smallbusiness.