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Mitacs Policy Forum 2013

May 28, 2013
Ottawa, Ontario

Notes for an address by

The Honourable Lynne Yelich
Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification

Keynote Address

Check Against Delivery

Thank you, Dr. Gupta [Arvind].

Good morning ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you, Mitacs, for the invitation to be here today. And congratulations on hosting another great event.

I always look forward to attending Mitacs' events and meeting our next generation of innovators and business leaders.

Last year it was my pleasure to participate in both the Globalink Symposium as well as the 2nd annual Mitacs Awards Reception.

I always come away impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of the students I meet, and Mitacs' efforts in strengthening our economy by using Canada's most valuable resource... its people!

Today's young minds are the leaders of tomorrow, and it is important that we continue to take advantage of Western Canada's research base and intellectual capital.

Last November I had the pleasure of meeting a Mitacs-Accelerate intern, Joanna Triscot, from the University of British Columbia's Child and Family Research Institute. Joanna spent her Mitacs internship with the British Columbia Children's Hospital to conduct research on the treatment of pediatric brain tumors. This research helped the Hospital develop a new way to examine brain tumors in young patients across Western Canada with precision and accuracy. This research is also helping reduce the intensity of the treatment for children with cancer, without decreasing its effectiveness.

It is interns like Joanna that highlight the success of Mitacs' programs. And stories like hers make me proud of previous WD investments in Mitacs to deliver three internship programs: Globalink, Accelerate and Elevate.

Over the next two and a half years, these Mitacs programs are enabling interns to:

  • commercialize new technologies, products and services;
  • enhance new business processes thereby improving competitiveness; and
  • develop connections with future leaders and entrepreneurs from other countries.

These programs are expected to deliver more than 900 internships across Western Canada, so we can continue to build on success stories like Joanna's.

Ladies and gentlemen, this morning you have had valuable discussions on many of the issues that Canadian innovators and entrepreneurs face today:

  • The role of the research community in developing Canada's R&D management talent; and
  • Translating research and development into the business innovations that help Canadian companies grow.

In addition, Canadians must also have the skills that businesses are looking for, and most importantly, businesses need to be able to bridge the gap between advanced R&D and commercialization.

It is important to get ideas to market and foster competitive businesses. That is why our Government is committed to ensuring that our labour force has the training and support it needs to keep up with a changing world, changing technologies and changing economic realities. That is why innovation, science and technology, have been fundamental priorities of our Government.

In fact, since 2006, our Government has provided more than $9 billion in support for science, technology, and innovation growth. This support is helping to foster a world class research and innovation system that strengthens Canadian businesses.

Through Economic Action Plan 2013, our Government is committed to investing in a vibrant entrepreneurial culture where new ideas are translated into market-ready products.

Our Action Plan continues to support small- and medium-sized enterprises to take advantage of new opportunities.

I come from the small community of Kenaston, Saskatchewan – known to be one of the largest Croatian-Canadian settlements in Canada.

We are a community born and raised in the belief that Canada means opportunity.

I strongly believe that people are drawn to Canada for our great country's ideals: our stable economy, freedom, and equality. For the promise of a better life for our children.

We are also a country at the forefront of education, scientific advancement and innovation. And I truly believe that it is for these reasons that more and more students are coming to Canada to further their education.

In just the last four years alone the number of foreign students has grown over 32% per cent to over 100,000 students. These are students seeking opportunities to get a head start in life, and I am especially pleased that many of these students are attending institutions in Western Canada.1

Ladies and gentlemen, the economy remains the top priority of Canadians and of our Government. We understand that it is Canada's future business and innovation leaders that will drive jobs and growth for Canada and ensure a strong economy for the future.

It is crucial that we continue to attract and retain the next generation of leading innovators and entrepreneurs to keep our economy growing and creating opportunities.

I wish Mitacs continued success with the Globalink, Accelerate and Elevate programs. And I wish all of the current and future Mitacs interns all the best in their research and work.

I look forward to seeing your results.

Together, we are all working to build a stronger west for a stronger Canada.

Thank you.


[1] http://www.cic.gc.ca/francais/ressources/statistiques/faits2012-preliminaire/05.asp