The Government of Québec made a strong commitment in 2014 to creating a maritime strategy and developing the St. Lawrence River, its Estuary, its Gulf, and all of Québec’s coastal areas, with the objective of revitalizing local economies and creating jobs.
While the Maritime Strategy clearly expresses the desire to develop the maritime sector and make it a driver for economic and social development, it also presents a vision for maritime Québec in which research and innovation play a central role. The Fonds de recherche du Québec have proved to be key players in this regard, as a means of bringing the research community together to work on a major strategic issue from an intersectoral and international perspective.
With that in mind, the Fonds de recherche du Québec and UQAR held a one-day conference on November 7, 2014 to discuss the contribution of the research community to the first Québec Maritime Strategy and to the formalization of Franco-Québec research ties in the maritime sector. Stakeholders presented their recommendations for collaboration in a report.
Québec Maritime Network (RQM)
The Québec Maritime Network (RQM) was established on May 26, 2016, thanks to a three-year investment of $3.3 million by the Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation. One-third of the amount will be used to create the Institut France-Québec, which will be the RQM’s first international partner.
This pan-Québec cluster will bring together and coordinate key players in research and innovation from different fields related to the maritime sector. The RQM works with Québec’s existing structures to act as:
- A leading Québec centre for the co-development of knowledge and of large-scale research initiatives.
- A powerful tool for the monitoring, training, and cross-sector sharing of cutting-edge scientific and technical expertise, and for addressing issues related to sustainable maritime development.
- A pooling of Québec expertise in support of the optimal and sustainable development of its resources and its maritime environments, thus contributing to the growth of Québec society.
The RQM will be implemented in collaboration with the Fonds de recherche du Québec. The Fonds de recherche – Nature et technologies has been mandated to administer the inter-Fonds initiative.
France-Québec Institute for Scientific Cooperation to Support the Maritime Sector (IFQM)
IFQM was created in October 2016. Widely considered to be an innovative model for international research cooperation, it will jointly position France and Québec as world leaders in issues relating to sustainable maritime development.
This vast network comprising key players from maritime research, industry and higher education is the result of a collaborative effort between France and Québec and a decidedly intersectoral approach. The IFQM has identified six priority research themes: ecosystem and population health, fishing and aquaculture, risks and the maritime economy, maritime surveillance and security, sustainable and intelligent shipping, and marine energies and technologies.
IFQM founding members from Québec: the Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ) and Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR). Founding members from France: the Réseau Français des universités marines (currently coordinated by Université de Bretagne Occidentale), CNRS, Ifremer, the Pôle Mer Bretagne-Atlantique and Pôle Mer Méditerranée competitiveness clusters, and the French Maritime Cluster.
With the momentum generated by the establishment of the RQM and the IFQM, it was opportune for the Director and Theme Directors of the RQM to hold the network’s first symposium as part of the Acfas Congress in order to lay the foundation for a dynamic, innovative relationship between partners from multiple maritime research sectors and research users through the joint development of issues and knowledge. Five theme sessions related to sustainable maritime development (health of ecosystems; health of human communities; maritime surveillance and security; sustainable and intelligent shipping; resources, marine energies and the health of the maritime economy) were held, during which participants from different sectors and disciplinary backgrounds exchanged viewpoints and expertise.
Following the five theme sessions, a wrap-up session led by the Fonds de recherche du Québec provided an opportunity to discuss ways to promote, at the national and international levels, researchers and stakeholders from Quebec’s maritime sector. It was also a chance to reflect together on the conditions for scientific cooperation in an intersectoral research environment; the operationalization and implementation mechanisms of an open, inclusive intersectoral approach; and the development of key national and international initiatives in maritime research, in close collaboration with academic, regional, industry and government stakeholders and community partners.