Innovative research project to study the brain drain and how to reverse it

Delvinia partners with Mitacs to fund an academic study exploring why highly-skilled STEM graduates are opting to leave Canada to seek work elsewhere

Thursday, December 7th (TORONTO, ON) – Delvinia, a technology scale-up specializing in innovative data collection, today announced the sponsorship of a research study in partnership with Mitacs that will explore brain drain in the technology and innovation sectors.

The study, being conducted by researchers at Brock University and the University of Toronto, will aim to uncover the reasons why some highly skilled professionals in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professions opt to leave Canada after their post-secondary education to seek work in other countries.

Human capital migration, or brain drain as it is more commonly known, is a long-debated subject in Canadian public policy – primarily in relation to doctors and other medical professionals. However, the issue is becoming increasingly important for Canada’s growing technology and innovation sector as businesses are looking to grow and find talent to support this expansion.

“Retaining talent in Canada has been identified as a significant challenge by many of the technology CEOs who are members of the Council of Canadian Innovators (CCI),” said Adam Froman, Delvinia CEO and a CCI board member. “As an entrepreneur and the CEO of a Canadian company that’s growing and trying to attract top talent, I wanted to be part of the solution, so Delvinia stepped in to initiate and fund this research project.”

Zachary Spicer, Senior Associate, Innovation Policy Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, is the primary researcher on the project. Dr. Nicole Goodman, Assistant Professor, Political Science at Brock University, and Dr. David Wolfe, Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto Mississauga and Co-Director of the Innovation Policy Lab, are the academic supervisors.

The goal of the study is to answer the following three key research questions:

  • Why is Canadian STEM talent leaving?
  • Where is Canadian STEM talent going?
  • What can be done to retain the best and brightest Canadian STEM graduates?

“We will aim to answer these questions by building and analyzing a data set with information taken from the LinkedIn profiles of recent graduates from the universities of Toronto, Waterloo and British Columbia and carrying out semi-structured interviews with identified individuals,” Spicer said, adding, by collecting and analyzing this data the research team will determine where graduates have chosen to locate, the company they work for, any subsequent education they received, and information about their previous employment.

“Understanding why graduates are leaving Canada to work elsewhere would be a great step towards advising government on creating policies and programs to address the issue,” Froman said. “It is my hope the CCI will be able to use these research findings to stimulate discussion among members and to generate recommendations for business and government that will help our Canadian companies scale.”

The research project will run until March 31, 2018 and the findings will be published­­ in the spring.

About Delvinia
Delvinia is transforming the way organizations collect and use data, enabling them to make better and more informed decisions. Founded in 1998, the innovation company includes a successful portfolio of digital businesses, each with a focus on data collection. Delvinia Custom Solutions uses new and emerging technologies to help clients collect, visualize and enable data; AskingCanadians and AskingAmericans offer a range of data collection services to market researchers throughout North America, including access to an online research community of more than one million Canadians; and Methodify provides the ability to gain customer insights through an innovative online platform in as little as 12 hours. For more information, visit

About Mitacs
Mitacs’s Accelerate program is Canada’s premiere research internship program. It connects companies with over 50 research-based universities through graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, who apply their specialized expertise to business challenges. Interns transfer their skills from theory to real-world application, while the companies gain a competitive advantage by accessing high-quality research expertise. Open to all disciplines and industry sectors, projects can span a wide range of areas, including manufacturing, technical innovation, business processes, IT, social sciences, design, and more.