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New funding to help Memorial researchers acquire work experience in the private sector

By Meaghan Whelan

A $1.2 million funding arrangement between the Research & Development Corporation (RDC) and Mitacs will provide graduate-level researchers at Memorial University with new research and development (R&D) opportunities in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The funding for the Mitacs Accelerate research internship program enables graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to lead R&D projects, connect with local businesses and apply their specialized skills and ideas to real world technical challenges. These four-month internships will also assist graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to acquire practical research and business skills, and businesses to access the research talent they need to drive innovation.

"R&D is critical in driving innovation in every sector of Newfoundland and Labrador's economy," said Keith Hutchings, minister responsible for the RDC.

"These R&D internships promote and encourage industry innovation, research excellence and the development of highly-qualified personnel, all of which are essential to supporting economic growth in our province for generations to come."

The funding arrangement will provide each graduate student or post-doctoral fellow with a $15,000 research grant ($7,500 from an industry partner and $7,500 from the Mitacs/RDC partnership). Of the total investment, RDC is contributing $500,000 over a two-year period and Mitacs is investing $720,000.

This funding partnership will support up to 100 collaborative R&D internships for Memorial University graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. They will divide their time evenly over the four-month internship between the industry partner (understanding issues, collecting data and interacting with employees) and Memorial University (collaborating with faculty and utilizing research resources under the guidance of their supervising professor).

"The Mitacs Accelerate program provides Memorial students and post-doctoral fellows with the chance to translate their ideas and skills from theory into practice," said Dr. Christopher Loomis, vice-president (research), Memorial University. "Harnessing the enthusiasm, energy and creativity of these highly qualified individuals is an important step in narrowing Canada's innovation gap and, in turn, strengthening the global competitiveness of its small to medium-sized enterprises."

Research internships cover a wide range of themes including energy, ocean technology, manufacturing, information and communication technologies, health and life sciences, minerals and mining, fisheries, aquaculture, forestry and agriculture.

"As Newfoundland and Labrador's economy becomes more technology intensive, it needs now, more than ever, to ensure its talented, future innovators are given every opportunity to contribute," said Dr. Arvind Gupta, chief executive officer and scientific director of Mitacs. "By building bridges between academia and industry, young researchers will contribute to Newfoundland and Labrador's reputation as a business-friendly province where innovation drives economic growth."