Small- to medium-sized enterprises can now receive assistance to become more e-business savvy through a federally-funded internship program.

Industry Minister Allan Rock announced $500,000 in funding to the eCorps e-business internship program on Thursday during the Partnering for e-business Roundtable held in Toronto.

Under the program, a recent university or college IT grad is paired with an enterprise for four months to assist with improving its electronic capabilities. The projects could include developing a Web site, creating online transactional capability, improving connections to electronic market places, or performing research associated with a company’s emerging e-business strategy.

The program is a public/private sector partnership between Career Edge, a not-for-profit organization, Industry Canada, IBM Canada Ltd. and Cisco Systems Canada Co.

“Companies gain the advantage that electronic business can provide, while graduates are provided crucial experience through applying their skills in the world of business,” Rock said in a prepared statement. “This initiative will help us achieve our goal of making Canada one of the most innovative countries in the world.”

The program defines small to medium businesses to be enterprises with less than 80 employees. Enterprises interested in applying are required to pay $2,500. Industry Canada will pay the intern’s salary for the four-month period.

The program limits entry to just 50 small to medium enterprises across the country.

eCorps can be found at