Further investing in peace with Mitacs funding

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

A foundational principle of the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement is that peace is everybody’s business. The Centre has drawn on many different fields and disciplines across the University of Waterloo to catalyze collaboration within the peacebuilding field, and has injected a new energy and interest in advancing peace throughout Waterloo’s innovation ecosystem. We have also pursued new resource streams to support peace innovation, and, earlier this month, were pleased to add Mitacs as a new funding partner for our participants.

For over 20 years, Mitacs has connected industry with innovation through post-secondary institutions all across Canada. Working through a robust program of industry-led fund-matching, Mitacs provides research funding to graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Founded in 1999 as a support for STEM disciplines, Mitacs opened its eligibility to all fields of study in 2007, allowing non-STEM projects into their network.

Incubator with students
Mitacs’ newest program, Accelerate Entrepreneur, helps to bridge the gap between research and entrepreneurship by using the same system of fund-matching to link graduate students to an approved incubator at a university or college in Canada. It connects the student researcher with an approved incubator for a paid, renewable, 4-month research internship, where they can both further the efforts of a start-up and their graduate research. Through this new program, start-ups are also able to recruit top talent and funding for their venture. As the most recent incubator to join the Accelerate Entrepreneur program, the Epp Peace Incubator is also the first social innovation incubator on the Mitacs-approved list of over seventy incubators!

As Accelerate Entrepreneur gets off the ground, the Epp Peace Incubator will act as a new connection point for both graduate students and entrepreneurs. Enhancing opportunities for graduate and post-doctoral students is a top priority across our campus, as outlined in the University of Waterloo’s 2020 Strategic Plan. While Waterloo’s innovation ecosystem has successfully engaged thousands of undergraduate students through the University’s strong co-operative education program, pitching competitions, incubators, and dedicated courses, the pre-existing demands on a graduate student makes many of these opportunities unrealistic. By engaging graduate students in a way that allows them to connect their research to a funded entrepreneurial opportunity, the likelihood of success increases.  

Similarly, one of the great advantages of being a start-up in Waterloo Region is the access to top talent coming out of the University of Waterloo’s world-renowned programs. While our Epp Peace Incubator is well-poised for access to graduate students and researchers, limited funding can often hinder the hiring process. Through the Accelerate Entrepreneur program, start-ups can leverage the fund-matching process to pay students for their work at a significantly reduced cost to the start-up.

Demine in Cambodia
The second opportunity from Mitacs is through the Mitacs Entrepreneur International program, which provides matching funding for international travel costs. This funding is intended to help start-ups associated with a Canadian incubator make headway in international investment, working closely with a host incubator in a Mitacs-approved region. For our current and future participants, this means increased opportunities to explore international partnerships, expand to new markets, or be a part of an international incubator program.

Aside from the notable benefits to students and entrepreneurs, the addition of the Epp Peace Incubator to the Mitacs network is a promising step for our broader community. Funding research that fuels start-ups involved in peace advancement diversifies and enhances the impact of our innovation economy. Both small businesses and entrepreneurial ventures have been named as key priorities by the Government of Canada in building up a strong middle class, and leading the world in innovation and research. By receiving streamlined funding through Mitacs, peace-related ventures in the Epp Peace Incubator will be able to get to market faster.

In addition, Mitacs funding will elevate research that is already being done, and encouraging researchers to devote more time and energy to their projects. End-stage research contributes to more senior research projects, increased publications and subsequent funding, contributing to the overall number of world-class researchers coming out of the University of Waterloo.

Finally, Mitacs funding through the Epp Peace Incubator will encourage faculty and students from diverse disciplines to collaborate. Whether it is supporting a peace education project or a PeaceTech start-up, our program demonstrates that peace actually is everybody's business.

To find out if you are eligible for Mitacs funding through the Epp Peace Incubator, contact Michelle Jackett, Centre for Peace Advancement Coordinator.