INTERNSHIPS – Leverage Your Start-up Budget to Access Talent and Expertise

By: Shanza Anwaar

For startups, resources are limited and margins of error are very low.  The initial stages pose a challenge for entrepreneurs as they have to manage and leverage resources creatively in order to get more bang for their buck and scale growth exponentially.

With insufficient funds, startup entrepreneurs are cash-strapped when it comes to compensating new employees.  The business has yet to prove itself and generating revenue is the top priority when getting a business off the ground.   Hence, entrepreneurs need to assess various alternatives to hiring full-time employees.  Utilizing internship opportunities is a resourceful way to attract a savvy pool of workers without breaking the bank.

Mitacs, a non-profit research organization, runs co-funded internship programs that connect businesses with academia, to foster innovation and idea sharing.  Partnered with universities across Canada, Mitacs is able to link companies with the right expertise, specialized knowledge and skills they need to develop solutions to problems, conduct research, or overcome challenges.  Two internship programs offered by Mitacs in Southern Ontario include:

Mitacs Accelerate

  • Open to all industry sectors, enabling  companies to access graduate student or postdoctoral fellow interns for 4 months (minimum) for a research-based project
  • Internship is cost-shared, allowing businesses to leverage their R&D budget for maximum return
  • Gives the industry partner unique access to the latest university research expertise and facilities

Mitacs Enterprise

  • A 6 month cost-shared internship for graduates in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields
  • Exclusive to small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) throughout Southern Ontario
  • Gives companies the opportunity to evaluate new graduates as a potential future employee, while accessing their skills and knowledge
  • Co-funded, with Mitacs paying up to half the intern’s salary

Many of RIC’s clients have benefited from internship programs such as Mitacs. Mario Huesca, CEO of ViroCarb Inc., attests to Mitacs excellence, after using the Mitacs-Accelerate program to access an intern from the University of Toronto:  

“The support we have obtained from the Mitacs-Accelerate internship program has been of great importance to our company.  In addition to providing matching funds for hiring a highly qualified post-doctoral scientist, Mitacs support allowed us to establish a close collaboration with a leading expert in the field relevant to our R&D program.   I encourage other companies to apply for a Mitacs internship.”

If you’re struggling with attracting and retaining staff for your start-up, please contact Altitude Accelerator for access to sector-specific mentoring services from our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence. Also consider applying to Venture Start. This program is administered through Altitude Accelerator and provides business skill training, mentoring and up to $30,000 in seed capital.

Shanza is a Social Media Intern at Altitude Accelerator. Pursuing two undergraduate majors in anthropology and professional writing at the University of Toronto Mississauga, Shanza is also a co-editor and content writer at the Digital Enterprise Management Society. She hopes to make her mark as a Social Media Consultant.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal and professional experiences. Visit Altitude Accelerator for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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