March 17, 2022

$6 million invested in Québec-based transformative artificial intelligence research projects

Montréal, March 17, 2022 – Under the auspices of IVADO, the Institute for Data Valorization, a joint initiative of Université de Montréal, Polytechnique Montréal and HEC Montréal, 17 researchers have been granted a total of $6 million in funding to tackle five major scientific challenges and, in so doing, enhance the well-being of people and the environment.

These experts represent dozens of different university departments and research centres, and their complementary expertise is internationally recognized, contributing to the global standing of Québec and the rest of Canada as leading hubs of artificial intelligence (AI). Each of the five research programs being supported will receive equal funding of $1.2 million through IVADO.

Innovative co-creation process

AI to resolve challenges relating to climate change, responsible algorithms, supply-chain management, health, and discovery of novel materials—these are the research topics chosen following an inclusive consulting process launched by IVADO in June 2021. That approach prompted hundreds of researchers to have their say on the most pressing societal challenges that AI holds the potential to help resolve. The choice of topic areas was then made within a dedicated governance framework that followed equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) principles.

The impetus for the broad-based consultation led by IVADO was to favour co-construction and multidisciplinarity, which are essential for the advancement of knowledge and research in artificial intelligence. The success of the AI sector in Québec rests on a rich base of fundamental research that is now being harnessed to improve the health and wellness of our population and our environment. These strategic projects aim to promote use of AI across various sectors in a manner that is both forward-looking and socially responsible.

Janice Bailey, Scientific Director, Fonds de recherche du Québec Nature et technologie (FRQ-NT), and Carole Jabet, Scientific Director, Fonds de recherche du Québec Santé (FRQ-S), co-chairs of the advisory committee that supported IVADO in this initiative

Strategic investment of $6 million

This mobilization of the AI ecosystem stems from the Strategic Research Funding Program launched by IVADO, which aims to strengthen the positioning of Québec and the rest of Canada around major AI-related challenges. The Institute’s $6 million investment may be supplemented by funding provided through local and international strategic agreements.

These five major strategic projects are likely to have truly transformative impacts in their respective fields. They were selected by the IVADO Executive Committee following an elaborate process that involved a call to the research community, consultation with the International Scientific Committee, recommendations from an advisory committee chaired by the directors of the FRQ-NT and FRQ-S funds, and networking initiatives to link the topics identified to our IVADO scientific leaders in these typically interdisciplinary fields. I am convinced that the resulting advances will be far-reaching and will further assert IVADO’s international leadership in AI and its applications.

Luc Vinet


Leading-edge Québec university expertise 

The experts actively engaged in the five programs are:

Erick Delage and Yossiri Adulyasak of HEC Montréal and the Group for Research in Decision Analysis (GERAD) and Emma Frejinger of Université de Montréal and the Interuniversity Research Centre on Enterprise Networks, Logistics and Transportation (CIRRELT) will focus their efforts on development of robust and sustainable supply chains.

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Etienne Laliberté and Anne Bruneau of Université de Montréal and the Institut de recherche en biologie végétale (IRBV), Christopher Pal of Polytechnique Montréal and Mila, David Rolnick of McGill University and Mila, and Oliver Sonnentag of Université de Montréal will explore biodiversity and climate change.

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Drs. Michaël Chassé and An Tang of Université de Montréal and the Centre de recherche du CHUM (CRCHUM) and Nadia Lahrichi of Polytechnique Montréal and the CIRRELT are the principal investigators for the program on human health.

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Yoshua Bengio of Université de Montréal and Mila, Michael Tyers of Université de Montréal and the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), Mickaël Dollé of Université de Montréal, and Lena Simine of McGill University will concentrate on discovery of materials and molecules.

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Finally, Pierre-Majorique Léger and Sylvain Sénécal of HEC Montréal and Tech3lab (the most important UX lab in North America) will lead the program on responsible algorithm development and human adoption of IA.

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IVADO was born from an initiative of the Université de Montréal, HEC Montréal and Polytechnique Montréal in 2016. With the support of its academic, industrial and institutional ecosystem, IVADO develops cutting-edge expertise in the various fields of digital intelligence (including data science, artificial intelligence and operations research) and helps transform new scientific discoveries into concrete applications, economic opportunities and benefits for society.