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Canada First Research Excellence Fund announces major new investment in artificial intelligence research and innovation

April 28, 2023 - Source : NEWS

Polytechnique Montréal is a partner in a strategic project in artificial intelligence being led by the Institute for Data Valorization (IVADO) that has just received a $124.5-million investment through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund. The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, made the announcement today in Montréal.

IVADO Apogée 2023

The Government of Canada has announced an investment of $1.4 billion through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) to support 11 large-scale research initiatives in strategic areas. This investment will enable researchers at Canadian institutions to capitalize on the strengths of their respective research areas, and attract capital and world-class talent.

The funded initiatives will foster community, provincial, national and international partnerships across the academic, private and not-for-profit sectors, to deliver research leading to important social and economic benefits for Canadians.

“Today’s research is tomorrow’s economy,” said Mr. Champagne. “Since the start, our government has re-established the fundamental role of science and scientists in our society. The initiatives announced today will lead to breakthrough discoveries that will improve people’s lives, nourish our innovation ecosystems, and shape Canada’s prosperity for years to come. Such is the value of universities, and of our Canadian researchers who think outside the box to tackle the greatest challenges of our time.”

Added Ted Hewitt, Chair of the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat Steering Committee, President of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Chair of the Canada Research Coordinating Committee: “Canada’s postsecondary institutions are rich in talent and ideas, and are committed to building healthier, more sustainable, more inclusive and prosperous communities. With support from the federal government’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund, they are able to build on these foundations to develop advanced research programs that showcase Canadian talent and lead the world in developing solutions to the critical challenges facing our planet, from environmental sustainability to advanced biotherapeutics, child health and population migration.”

IVADO: A new round of investment to build the AI of tomorrow

The project for which IVADO has secured $124.5 million from the CFREF aims to develop R3AI, which stands for “robust, reasoned and responsible” artificial intelligence. IVADO is a partnership comprising Université de Montréal, Polytechnique Montréal, HEC Montréal, Université Laval and McGill University.

Approximately 100 Polytechnique professors are already involved in IVADO initiatives, and another 48 professors, including eight more from Polytechnique, will be hired shortly as part of this new mandate.

Thanks to leverage from its partners, IVADO will be receiving a total of half a billion dollars over seven years to support AI-related research, teaching and knowledge transfer.

As well as creating the artificial intelligence of tomorrow, R3AI will develop the scientific foundations needed to ensure socially responsible adoption of AI. The three Rs in this case refer to three indispensable characteristics in future AI development: robust, which will ensure reliance on sound models and applications; reasoned, to develop AI that is explainable, causal and modular; and finally responsible, to ensure that AI is ethical and inclusive.

R3AI also aims to use artificial intelligence to improve science by accelerating the pace of discoveries. Four areas of application have been designated to begin with: discovery of new molecules with applications in both energy transition and health, remediation of environmental emergencies, implementation of health systems that learn, and management of supply chains in contexts of uncertainty.

The project will also ensure that future AI is harnessed to properly serve society. More than 150 partners from the business community and civil society supported the grant application and will be involved in carrying out the project. IVADO has also committed to involving Indigenous and other under-represented communities in aspects of the project ranging from research to mobilization of knowledge stemming from R3AI.

“Polytechnique Montréal is thrilled to see the Canadian government’s continued confidence in IVADO, in which our teams have been invested from the beginning,” said Maud Cohen, President of Polytechnique Montréal. “We will draw on our long tradition of collaborating with sector partners to help keep Canada at the forefront in this highly strategic field. We are now more determined than ever to apply the expertise of our researchers and their quality research to make a positive impact on society.”

This latest initiative is getting under way with a year and a half still to go in the Data Serving Canadians project, which, through a $93-million CFREF grant, enabled the founding of IVADO in 2016. Gilles Savard, Professor in Polytechnique’s Department of Mathematics and Industrial Engineering, served as the first General Manager of IVADO from 2016 to 2021, helping to firmly position the Institute as a leader in AI.

In addition to confirming Montréal’s global leadership in the field of AI, the R3AI project will provide Canada with a major competitive advantage in this area, in a way that aligns with the country’s values.

TransMedTech Institute (iTMT) adopts visionary plan for next phase of operations

The TransMedTech Institute (iTMT), led by Professor Carl-Éric Aubin of Polytechnique Montréal’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, had received $35.6 million in funding from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund upon its launch in 2016.

This transdisciplinary initiative, focused on the development of innovative medical technologies to meet the needs of the healthcare community and to train the next generation of the medical technology sector, brings together numerous partners and collaborators, including the CHU Ste-Justine, Université de Montréal, Jewish General Hospital of Montreal and CHUM, along with several industry partners.

Since its inception, the iTMT’s distinguishing feature has been the establishment of a structured, internationally renowned living lab, which has among other things catalyzed development of some 100 projects and supported training of more than 250 students in the use of medical technologies.

The iTMT has been awarded an extension to the validity period of its original CFREF grant until August 2026. It has adopted an ambitious plan to pursue its activities until 2030, building on strong partnerships including those with IVADO and the Fonds de recherche du Québec as well as new institutional partners (HEC Montréal, Institut de cardiologie de Montréal, Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal) to tackle major challenges of society such as the aging population, access and equity in healthcare, in-home hospitalization, digital health, and procedures of the future.

Our congratulations to the research teams whose initiatives have received support from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund!

Lean more

IVADO website
TransMedTech Institute website

Suggested Reading

September 6, 2016

Canada First Research Excellence Fund: a major investment in research and innovation

April 24, 2017

TransMedTech Institute: Propelling Québec to the Forefront of Health Technology Innovation