November 22, 2022

Sustainable development is synonymous with lasting peace and equitable prosperity on a global scale. This is why the United Nations (UN) has made it the central concern of its 2030 Agenda, which identifies 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These SDGs constitute a call to action to save the planet as the climate crisis and its adverse effects continue to worsen.

Fully aware of the direness of the situation, IVADO has heeded the UN’s call by setting up, with funds provided by the Université de Montréal (UdeM), a special funding program focused on sustainable development. Launched in February 2022, this program aims to support collaborative research between Quebec organizations and scientists from IVADO’s community. These multidisciplinary and multisectoral teams have leveraged data science in order to propose innovative solutions to sustainable development challenges and thus to contribute to the achievement of one or more of the UN SDGs.

After a rigorous evaluation process, IVADO awarded $450,000 to four projects that impressed by their originality and potential impact.

  1. Nectar and Liliana Perez. An inspiring start-up, Nectar (IVADO industrial member) is a master of smart beekeeping. It has teamed up with Liliana Perez (UdeM), a specialist in ecological systems modelling, to better study bees. Specifically, their project uses machine learning to identify the ecological factors that determine the health of beehives.
  2. Fondation Sunny and Jian-Yun Nie. Fondation Sunny promotes intergenerational solidarity by helping youth to volunteer with the elderly. Very aware of the social isolation felt by seniors, the non-profit organization has set out to develop an adapted companion robot. To do so, it has joined forces with Jian-Yun Nie (UdeM), an expert in artificial intelligence (AI) applied to information retrieval and natural language analysis.
  3. ÉAU and Fabian Bastin. A champion of food autonomy and sustainable agriculture, ÉAU (IVADO industrial member) has made aquaponics its trademark. The SME is collaborating with Fabian Bastin (UdeM), whose research interests lie in mathematical optimization under uncertainty. The goal of their project is to optimize aquaponic production using algorithmic methods.
  4. Factually Health and Jean Nikiema. Factually Health (IVADO industrial member) fights medical disinformation by building AI-powered tools that allow health professionals and their patients to reach credible and up-to-date health information. The start-up has partnered with Jean Nikiema (UdeM), an authority on digital health and medical ontologies. Together, they seek to automate the reliability analysis and content verification of popular health websites.

Incidentally, this program fits in perfectly with IVADO’s new scientific endeavour – robust, reasoning, and responsible AI (R3AI) –, in which sustainable development is a key issue.

It should also be noted that three of the four participating organizations are IVADO industrial members, a testament to the strength of the Institute’s community. IVADO is nevertheless very open to peripheral collaborations, as the fourth organization demonstrates.

The selected projects were launched in April 2022 and will continue until March 2024.