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

September 6, 2016 - Source : NEWS

Polytechnique Montréal is associated with two strategic projects being announced today as part of the Canada First Research Excellence Fund program.

At a cross-Canada announcement, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) announced an investment of some $900 million to 13 postsecondary institutions aimed at stimulating research and innovation in key fields.

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, made the announcement at the University of Waterloo. Simultaneous regional announcements were made in several Canadian cities including Montréal, where the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, spoke on behalf of Minister Duncan.

The Montréal announcement, which took place in the hall of honour of the Roger-Gaudry Building at Université de Montréal, concerned two strategic projects with which Polytechnique Montréal is associated. 

Left to right, front row

Michèle Thibodeau-Deguire, Principal and Chair of the Board, Polytechnique Montréal; Marie-Josée Hébert, Vice-Rector of Research, Discovery, Creation and Innovation, Université de Montréal; Michel Patry, Director, HEC Montréal; Denis Coderre, Mayor of Montréal; Suzanne Fortier, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, McGill University; Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie; Guy Breton, Rector, Université de Montréal; Louise Roy, Chancellor and Chair of the Board, Université de Montréal; Thomas Mulcair, Member of Parliament for Outremont; Dominique Bérubé, Vice President, Research Programs, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; Christophe Guy, Chief Executive Officer, Polytechnique Montréal.

Left to right, back row

Marc Miller, Member of Parliament for Ville-Marie–Le Sud-Ouest–Île-des-soeurs; Dr. Yoshua Bengio, Professor, Department of Computer Science and Operations Research, Université de Montréal; Dr. Alan C. Evans, James McGill Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry and Biomedical Engineering, McGill University; Dr. Carl-Éric Aubin, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Polytechnique Montréal and Researcher, Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Centre (CHU Sainte-Justine). 


Designing the medical technologies of tomorrow

Professor Carl-Éric Aubin of the Polytechnique Department of Mechanical Engineering will head the project to create the TransMedTech Institute, which will develop the next generation of medical technologies for diagnosis/prognosis, intervention and rehabilitation for complex diseases, with a special focus on musculoskeletal and cardiovascular diseases as well as various types of cancer.

The project, which is the recipient of a $35.6 million award from the CFREF program, brings together a number of partners and associates, including the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Centre (CHU Sainte-Justine), Université de Montréal, the Jewish General Hospital and the Université de Montréal Hospital Centre (CHUM), along with several world-renowned industrial partners in the fields of biomedical engineering and medical technology.

“The TransMedTech Institute responds above all to fundamental, strategic needs as regards development of the next generations of medical technologies for Canadians,” Dr. Aubin explained. “Their development is particularly important given our aging population and the resulting increased needs related to chronic and complex diseases.”

This transdisciplinary and translational initiative is founded on the so-called living lab approach, whereby engineers and biomedical scientists, clinicians, patients, caregivers, students, health-system stakeholders, and decision-makers are at the centre of an open-innovation ecosystem.

The science of data

Polytechnique also has a stake in a second CFREF project, which will build on excellence developed within Campus Montréal in data-science research, big data, deep learning, operations research and optimization to serve the knowledge revolution.

This project, which will be receiving $93.5 million in CFREF funding and is titled “Data Serving Canadians,” will be spearheaded by the Institute for Data Valorization (IVADO), an alliance of Université de Montréal, Polytechnique Montréal and HEC Montréal. It is putting forward a transformative and far-reaching strategy that will explore deep learning to provide computers with quasi-human-level performance.

Many renowned researchers will be associated with the project including Dr. Yoshua Bengio, a professor in the Université de Montréal Department of Computer Science and Operations Research and Director of the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, who will lead the project; Dr. Gilles Savard, professor and Director of Research, Innovation and International Affairs at Polytechnique Montréal;  Dr. Andrea Lodi, holder of the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Data Science for Real-Time Decision-Making and a professor at Polytechnique; and Dr. Robert Gagné, a professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Director of Research and Knowledge Transfer at HEC Montréal.

The project will also draw on the expertise of nearly 150 researchers across the campus who are members of IVADO, whose network extends to more than 900 affiliated scientists (research fellows, postdocs, PhD students and research officers). IVADO is the link between academic expertise and the business needs of organizations.

Positive impact on society

In welcoming this support from the federal government through the Canada First program, Polytechnique CEO Christophe Guy said “Polytechnique is firmly determined to magnify the scope of its positive impact on society so as to remain a leading light of research in innovation worldwide.”

“We owe the richness and quality of our research work to, among others, our research professors, who are playing active roles in the betterment of our society,” he added.

The CFREF is administered by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council on behalf of the three federal granting agencies; the other two are the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. A total of $900 million is being awarded to 13 projects. This is the second CFREF competition. In July 2015, five initiatives were awarded a total of $350 million in funding.

Congratulations to the teams of researchers whose initiatives are being supported through the Canada First program, and kudos to the Polytechnique Montréal team, which made a significant commitment in steering the grant request process.

Part of the Polytechnique Montréal team that prepared the TransMedTech Institute grant request to the CFREF program, with the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie. Left to right: Dr. Gilles Savard, Professor and Director of Research, Innovation and International Affairs; Dr. Carl-Éric Aubin, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering; Neila Kaou, Advisor, Development and R&D Partnerships; Minister Bibeau; Augustin Brais, Deputy Director, Research, Innovation and International Affairs Office and Director, Development, Major Projects and Research Infrastructure; Christophe Guy, Chief Executive Officer.

To learn more

List of projects receiving funding from the second inaugural competition, Canada First Research Excellence Fund 

Biography and expertise, Dr. Carl-Éric Aubin

Biography and expertise, Dr. Gilles Savard

Biography and expertise, Dr. Andrea Lodi


Suggested Reading

March 6, 2018

Science and Innovation: Minister Joly’s briefing at Polytechnique Montréal

April 24, 2017

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