New Program Provides Opportunities for New Research Graduates

A new provincial program will help recent graduates with advanced degrees start their careers with Nova Scotia businesses.

Labour and Advanced Education Minister Labi Kousoulis launched the Innovate to Opportunity program today, Feb. 15, at the Innovacorp Enterprise Centre in Halifax.

“We all want more young people living and working in Nova Scotia,” said Mr. Kousoulis. “This program means more opportunities for youth who can help companies experience the exponential growth that can come through innovation.”

The program provides three-year funding for small- and medium-sized enterprises to hire recent master’s and PhD graduates who will help their employers become more innovative and increase exports. They must have graduated from a recognized university within the previous year. The recent graduate can be from anywhere, but must live in Nova Scotia to participate.

“The investments we make in innovation are fueling our growth, and the grads we’ve hired are driving a lot of that innovation,” said James Craig, chief technology officer of Rimot in Dartmouth, which hired a recent computer science graduate with a master’s degree. “These graduates are at the pinnacle of their education and offer fresh ideas and new ways of thinking.

“This program will help us put jobs in place for new grads that we may have not been able to afford before, and give us the opportunity to develop and retain new talent.”

The incentive for the Innovation Stream of the program is a 35 per cent contribution from the province of the new graduate’s annual salary in the first year, 20 per cent in the second and 12.5 per cent in the third. To qualify for this stream at least 25 per cent of the new graduate’s time will be focused on innovation-related activities such as applied research, product and/or service development, or process improvements.

The incentive for the Advanced Innovation Stream of the program is a 50 per cent contribution from the province in year one, 25 per cent in year two and 12.5 per cent in year three. To qualify for this stream, at least 75 per cent of the new graduate’s time must be spent on research or innovation-focused activities. The work should be directly related to the export development or growth plans of the company.

“I’m grateful to have found employment in my field here in Nova Scotia,” said Walter Thekkekara Adbe, a new employee and computer scientist with Rimot. “There is great talent coming out of local graduate programs and this initiative will encourage science and technology companies to retain that talent within Nova Scotia.”

Innovate to Opportunity applies to salaries between $60,000 and $100,000 a year. A diversity bonus of an additional 10 per cent in the first and second years is also available in both streams.

The program has a budget of $1.7 million.
Eligible companies are selected based on their potential to become exporters or to significantly improve existing export performance.

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