First, I would like to wish you a wonderful start to the summer! Allow me to share some of the latest news from the Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ) and ask your opinions on our initiatives.
I am very pleased to announce that the leadership team is finally complete! Indeed, Cabinet recently appointed Carole Jabet as scientific director of the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS). The appointment comes a few months after Janice Bailey’s to the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT). With Louise Poissant, scientific director of the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC), I will be counting on three exceptional women (a first!) to guide the next phase in the FRQ’s development.
After nearly a year of waiting, our 2018-2022 strategic plans were approved by government this past April and are now available online (FRQNT, FRQS, FRQSC). Let us know if you have any comments or suggestions related to our strategic directions. I would like to thank the entire FRQ team and members of the three boards of directors for the quality of their interventions in this critical planning exercise.
I also had the opportunity to meet with Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy and Innovation (to whom I report) on several occasions. A very pragmatic man, Minister Fitzgibbon has demonstrated his willingness to listen and interest in our actions. He has also taken part in a number of our activities, including our three science breakfasts for elected officials at the National Assembly. I also had the opportunity to speak with most of the current ministers, who are also very open and clear-sighted. With their support, the FRQ will certainly become more dynamic and engaged in the development of research and the research community in Québec, Canada and around the world.
Most of the results of the competitions held last fall were released in late April. This year, we added a new element to our communications: #communautéFRQ. I would like to thank you, since many of you have already expressed your support for our new hashtag. This smallest of gestures increases our visibility among citizens and elected representatives. We are counting on those who receive FRQ funding to mention it in your communications. You are among our leading researchers, and it is important to remind the men and women who hold office and our fellow citizens of the importance of public funding for research.
We recently announced the launch of the Réseau Inondations intersectoriel du Québec flood research network (RIISQ). Led by Philippe Gachon at UQAM, it brings together key sector stakeholders. With the flooding that occurred this spring, the network was thrust into the media spotlight (TVA nouvelles, April 18; Première heure, Radio Canada, April 25). We hope RIISQ will become a central figure in the field and that authorities will see it as a centre of excellence on this critical issue for Québec.
The results of several of our competitions to address our major social challenges were also recently released, including the Platform of funding programs for intersectoral research on aging (press release) and the second cohort of our Audace program. In addition, the Observatory on the Societal Impacts of Artificial Intelligence and Digital Technologies led by Lyse Langlois at Université Laval entered into a collaboration agreement with the OECD at the Conference of Montréal this past June. The partnership holds tremendous potential that should increase the Observatory’s visibility and credibility in this fiercely competitive research sector.
Action plan and two new programs
In early April, we launched an open access policy for the dissemination of research. In conjunction with the policy, discussions are underway with authorities from the European Commission’s Plan S to promote open access to publicly funded research results. Also, as considered at the meetings of the boards of directors in June, the FRQ will soon be releasing its action plan on environmental responsibility in research—a first!
The updates to the fall competitions of several awards and grants programs were also approved by the boards of directors in June. All the details will be available online by the end of July. Among the new initiatives are the Dialogue program on science communication to citizens and the Engagement program to support active citizen participation in research. Both fall under the science and society component of the FRQ’s strategic plans and aim to better support the participation of experts and members of civil society in research and innovation.
I would also like to take this opportunity to highlight the exceptional contributions of the members of the Intersectoral Student Committee. They are present in every forum (this year’s Acfas conference, etc.) and provide very meaningful insights. The committee’s reports on the training awards and position of postdoctoral trainees, which will be released this fall, are examples in this regard.
Finally, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to the researchers who were recently honoured with the Ordre national du Québec, Order of Canada, Royal Society of Canada, A.M. Turing Award, 2018 Prix du Québec, FRQ Relève étoile awards (universities and colleges) and Research Professionals Excellence Awards. All too often, we forget to recognize the remarkable quality of their work, and this must change. So, be sure to share the names of those who are recognized in your sector and, most importantly, nominate your colleagues.
Enjoy the summer holidays!
Rémi Quirion, O.C., C.Q., Ph. D., m.s.r.c.