Innovation and creativity are part of Quebecers’ DNA, but it’s their ingenuity and sense of daring that allow them to capitalize on those strengths. Projects that put the province in the spotlight, all over the world!
That tradition of creativity, daring and ingenuity is reflected directly in Québec’s labour market:
A new centre of excellence in artificial intelligence (AI) will take up residence in a former textile mill in Montréal’s Mile-Ex neighbourhood. University researchers and businesses active in the field will move in by the end of 2018.
The Institut des algorithmes d'apprentissage de Montréal (MILA), the Institute for Data Valorization (IVADO), AI solution supplier Element AI (co-founded by renowned researcher Yoshua Bengio) and the research centre operated by the French corporation Thales will soon come together under the same roof.
Already housed in the building are video game creator Behaviour, Cirque du Soleil multimedia division 4U2C, and Rogue Research, a lab specializing in neuroscience research.
The Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM) and its research centre are developing a new cancer treatment: immunotherapy based on the transfusion of cancer-fighting immune cells. The therapeutic components of this innovative, personalized treatment are taken from the tumours of the patients themselves.
To that end, the CHUM has just dedicated a room to growing cell cultures for therapeutic purposes, called a “white room,” and installed a state-of-the-art device called a “closed-system cell sorter,” the first of its kind in Canada. There are only 20 such devices in the world.
A robot that feeds and plays with dogs and cats while their owners are away should soon be on the market, thanks to a Saguenay region inventor.
Pascal Tremblay and his partner Mikhael Simard have developed MIA, a robot that can be programmed to move around in the owner’s home and give pets a specified number of kibbles per hour, giving the pets a reason to move around in the house instead of remaining inactive all day.
Owners who miss their pets can also see pictures of them during their absence, thanks to a camera that comes with the robot.
Not much bigger than a soccer ball, MIA works with both dogs and cats, according to its designers. Its round shape also prevents dogs from biting it.
Kolony Robotic, based in Saguenay, expects to be one of the first companies in North America to market this type of robot. Similar robots are already available in Asia and Europe. The company believes it will be able to sell 10,000 units a year, at a cost of $300 each. It plans to hire approximately 15 people to help realize its ambitions.
In February 2018 the Québec government announced a three-year agreement to establish a centre of excellence in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region with the aim of expanding the civil and commercial drone industry. In addition, $270,000 in financial assistance will be awarded to the Centre d'excellence sur les drones (CED) to coordinate cluster activities.
Founded in 2011, the CED provides world-calibre infrastructure for the design, testing, application and use of civil and commercial drones. The centre is located at the Alma airport, which boasts a 5,000-ft. asphalted runway, an automated weather information system, navigation systems and other facilities for testing drones. The CED also has access to one of the few places in Canada where drones can be flown out of visual range.
The new organization, called XR:MTL and co-founded with Ubisoft, will be responsible for developing applications with strong market potential. It will bring together start-ups, academics and businesses to catalyze partnerships and knowledge-sharing focusing on “extended reality,” a new moniker that encompasses virtual, augmented and mixed realities and is the source of the XR acronym. Partnerships with Oculus, Triotech and D-Box, in particular, have already been signed.
Video game studio Ubisoft will open a lab on the XR:MTL premises. Named L'Atelier XR, one of its mandates will be to assist start-ups seeking to develop related applications.
In addition to video games, the hope is to broaden the range of projects to include industrial, commercial and educational applications.
Here are just a few of the innovative companies operating in Québec:
Many players in the business world (large corporations, SMBs, research centres) are joining forces to launch projects that spur development and open new vistas for key economic sectors. These partnerships come under the stewardship of the Québec Research and Innovation Strategy (QRIS) entitled Oser innover. Launched in 2017, the strategy aims to position Québec among the top 10 leaders in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in research and innovation.
Here are examples of such projects, representing investments of over $400 million:
Many Québec companies decide to form precompetitive research consortiums, thanks in part to government encouragement in the form of generous tax credits. By joining forces, these new partners can share the costs and risks involved in R&D projects.
Businesses and public sector institutions—universities, technical schools, technology transfer centres and public research centres—are joining forces to form industrial research clusters. These coalitions serve as targeted collaborative research platforms focusing on the needs of specific industries
Significant tax advantages for innovation
Generous tax credits to promote public-private partnerships are available in Québec, making research profitable for everyone!