Canadian Business Students Step in to Help Organizations Impacted by COVID-19

Small Business Canada

Vancouver, BC — Canadian businesses grappling with the impact of COVID-19 are getting support from an unexpected resource: top local business students.

Thanks to a first-of-its-kind program launched by Vancouver-based Mitacs — a national innovation organization that helps solve business challenges with research solutions from academic institutions — students from business schools at universities and colleges across Canada, are being matched to employers looking for help to manage and grow their operations in an environment disrupted by the pandemic.

What’s more, the program — called the Mitacs Business Strategy Internship (BSI) and offered to all businesses and not-for-profits — covers about half the cost to bring on a student, meaning employers pay $5,000 of a student’s $10,000 stipend for a four-month internship.

“This is welcome news for both organizations impacted by the pandemic as well as the students, many of whom lost job opportunities they had lined up when COVID-19 hit, and the majority of them facing an uncertain future in a deteriorating job market,” said Mitacs CEO and Scientific Director John Hepburn. He added that Canada’s economy stands to gain from the internship program.

Since launching in May 2020, the BSI program has placed about 1,000 interns in business positions across Canada.

Canadian business challenges

According to Hepburn, top challenges facing businesses and not-for-profit organizations include inability to scale and access new markets. Research suggests that compared to their U.S. counterparts, Canadian businesses undervalue the importance of marketing and sales, and struggle to commercialize their innovations. Business students are uniquely positioned to bring valuable business knowledge to the table to help, he said.

“By providing students with work opportunities during the current economic downturn, we’re ensuring Canada’s homegrown talent continues to build the skills they need to contribute to our recovery in the longer term,” Hepburn explained. “At the same time, we’re giving Canada’s businesses and not-for-profit sector valuable support required to modify or pivot their operations as they adapt to the new economic reality.”

Drawing upon Mitacs’ network of businesses, professors and students, the BSI program has attracted the participation of top Canadian business schools such as UBC Sauder School of Business, Concordia’s John Molson School of Business, Ivey Business School at Western, Queen’s Smith School of Business, Windsor’s Odette School of Business and many others.

More information about the Mitacs Business Strategy Internship Program can be found at

Quick Facts:

· Mitacs is a not-for-profit organization that fosters growth and innovation in Canada by solving business challenges with research solutions from academic institutions.

· Mitacs is funded by the Government of Canada along with the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, Innovation PEI, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan and the Government of Yukon.

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