Mitacs and Own the Podium Partners for Innovation in High-Performance Sport Research 2021-22


Mitacs and Own the Podium (OTP)


Innovation in High-Performance Sport Research

For More Information

Own the Podium Website


The purpose of the current partnership between OTP and Mitacs is to carry forward the legacy of OTP’s highperformance sport research initiative that supports Olympic and Paralympic podium performances. A contribution to Canada’s success in Vancouver, London, Sochi, Rio, and PyeongChang was including talented graduate and postgraduate researchers to solve sport performance questions about how we could “Own the Podium.” These interns are the conduit between the Canadian national teams, sport institutes, and universities bringing together a winning formula for future Olympic and Paralympic Games. The results will impact podium performances and contribute to healthy and active lifestyles across the country

OTP and Mitacs developed a partnership through Mitacs’ Accelerate and Elevate programs, which support the brightest PhD students and postdoctoral fellows conducting research in high-performance sport. These interns share their time between academic, industrial, and high-performance sport environments, tying together the major elements of the Canadian sport-research ecosystem.

  • All projects must have clear potential for economic impact to Canada and therefore must likely include a Canadian for-profit partner, where the intern will spend at least 25 percent of his/her time.
  • The three major research areas related to OTP-targeted Olympic and Paralympic sports are:
    • Sport performance including, but not limited to, physiological preparation, performance nutrition, sport psychology, biomechanics and motor behaviour, and sport analytics;
    • Sports engineering including, but not limited to, equipment fabrication and customization, aerodynamics, ergonomics, and performance technology; and
    • Proactive sports medicine including, but not limited to, injury prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and return to podium.
  • Projects must be aligned with both a Canadian Sport Institute (CSI) and a collaborating Canadian university. The CSI may be directly involved in the research and may also potentially provide opportunities for subsequent employment in continued high-performance sport research.
  • Graduate programs for consideration must also be aligned with the long-term performance research strategies of OTP’s targeted Olympic and/or Paralympic National Sport Organizations (NSO).
  • Projects aligned with NSOs that are categorized as having podium potential for 2020, 2022, and 2024 will be given preference.


The Mitacs–OTP initiative is designed to address gaps that need to be overcome to perpetuate Canadian podium performances.

Factors critical to success are as follows:

  •  Fully funded R&I program that supports both short- and long-term initiatives through Canada’s very best sport scientists, engineers, health care providers, and graduate students;
  • Support for targeted university-institute-private-sector research groups that possess the capacity, capability, and passion to drive innovative sport research directly linked to Olympic and Paralympic sport;
  • PhD/postdoctoral-funded program that supports innovative young researchers to align with OTP’s targeted sports in solving performance-based research questions;
  • Development of a streamlined business framework, which expedites research contracts, finances, and implementation of project work plans;
  • Creation of strategic R&I think tanks in performance-related themes;
  • Development of succession plans for world-class sport scientists; and
  • Building-in a constant interaction with and translation towards the Canadian sports user communities (e.g., high-performance athletes, coaches, sponsors) during and after the research projects.

Funding Availability

PhDs: Funding for up to four years (part time) can be requested, for a total value of $80,000 (including $8,000, which is flexible and can go towards project expenses or a stipend top-up).

Postdoctoral candidates: Funding for up to two years (full time), for a value of $60,000 per year (including $5,000 per year, which is flexible and can go towards project expenses or a stipend topup). 

Indirect Costs


Special Notes

Please note that research activities carried out in the context of COVID-19 need to adhere to the University of Guelph COVID-19 research principles, policies, guidelines and processes as they may be updated from time to time and communicated on the Office of Research web-page.


If College-level review is required, your College will communicate its earlier internal deadlines.

External Deadline

LOI: Applicants must submit Letters of Interest (LOI) directly to Dr. Andy Van Neutegem at

Internal Deadline

Full Application (If Invited): Successful applicants from the LOI round will be invited to submit full applications to the Mitacs Accelerate/Elevate streams. These applicants must submit a complete application package (including all participant signatures and intern CV) along with a signed OR-5 form to a minimum of ONE week prior to submission/deadline to Mitacs. 

External Deadline

Full Application (If Invited): Successful applicants from the LOI round must submit a complete application package (including all participant signatures and intern CV) to Mitacs directly. 

How to Apply

Please send a letter of interest (LOI) (max. two pages) to Dr. Andy Van Neutegem Due Date: March 31, 2021

The Letter of Interest must include the following:

  • A high-level description of the proposed research
    • What performance gap(s) is/are being addressed?
    • What are the anticipated deliverables or research objectives?
    • Projected timeline
    • Potential Impact on OTP targeted Olympic and Paralympic highperformance sport(s)
    • What level candidate is suggested? Are they already identified?
  • Existing or proposed partners
    • National sport organization
    • Private-sector business
    • Other relevant parties (e.g., CSI, NSO)
  • Potential for economic impact to Canada
  • Two letters of support: One from the Canadian Sport Institute/Centre connected with the project and another from the OTP-targeted Olympic or Paralympic sport (NSO) benefitting from the outcomes of the project.
  • Clear identification and confirmation process of a Graduate student(s) for this project

OTP appreciates all the parties that may submit an application; however, only those selected for support will be notified.


PDF icon Mitacs OTP Application 2021-22180.46 KB
For Questions, please contact

Emily Gordon
Mitacs Business Development Specialist
University of Guelph |

Andy Van Neutegem

Office of Research

Vanessa Knox, Awards and Agreements Officer
Research Services Office
519-824-4120 x53429

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