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The Palais des congrès and Fonds de recherche du Québec help promote research by hosting major conventions

On November 10, the Palais des congrès de Montréal, the Fonds de recherche du Québec and Chief Scientist Rémi Quirion brought together nearly 50 heads of research centres in Québec for a forum on promoting Québec research. Titled Rayonnement de la recherche au Québec: stratégies, enjeux et impacts, it was an opportunity for the two organizations to help showcase and position Montréal as a premier host city for big scientific conventions, and in the process also encourage researchers to get involved in organizing international events.

“Supporting researchers proactively by giving them tools to organize and host major international events makes it possible to shine the spotlight on local expertise while also generating significant intellectual and economic benefits for Montréal and Québec,” stated Raymond Larivée, President and CEO of the Palais des congrès de Montréal, a Québec government corporation. “Montréal is known globally as a knowledge hub thanks its world class researchers, universities and research centres. By supporting these leading lights from our city’s key economic sectors, the whole province gains international recognition,” he added.  

Some sectors, such as life sciences and aerospace, are more widely represented by virtue of the number of events they hold. For example, 37% of the international conventions hosted at the Palais des congrès are healthcare-related, which affords the researchers and universities involved in organizing events in that field widespread visibility.  

“It is important that we spur our researchers and student researchers to get involved in organizing major international conventions. There’s an entrepreneurial facet here that we need to encourage, especially given the benefits the scientific community can reap from it, and all of Québec as well. We must seize opportunities to lead when it comes to major scientific conventions, whether in the life sciences sector, natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, the humanities, arts and literature. The cross-sector aspect must be factored into the planning of big scientific conventions, and public participation as well. And we need to include students in the process to pique their interest in organizing a scientific event of their own later in their careers,” said Rémi Quirion, Chief Scientist of Québec.  

The forum kicked off with a presentation by Luc Charbonneau, Palais Director of Business Development and Strategic Alliances, on the subject of Montréal’s and the Palais’ branding as a world class destination and convention centre. He was followed by Rémi Quirion, Québec’s Chief Scientist, who talked about the priorities and challenges that drive his leadership of the Fonds de recherche du Québec, and about how important it is for Québec researchers and research centres to carve themselves international reputations. Afterwards, a panel of experts tackled the strategies, issues and impacts associated with attracting and hosting international scientific conventions, with each panel member sharing their experience and involvement with a specialized convention.

The panel members were:
• Gaston Chevalier, retired professor from UQAM’s Biology Department and Emeritus Ambassador of the Palais;
• Pavel Hamet, full professor at Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Medicine, chief of Gene Medicine and head of the Ecogenomics Platform for Complex Diseases at the CHUM, and President of the Palais Ambassadors Club;
• Maryse Lassonde, scientific director of the Fonds de recherche du Québec’s nature and technology fund;
• Louis-Philippe Lefebvre, National Research Council Canada team leader and Executive Ambassador of the Palais;
• Hany Moustapha, full professor of Mechanical Engineering, senior research fellow at Pratt & Whitney, executive chairholder of the NSERC-P&WC Industrial Research Chair on Propulsion System Integration and Optimization, and Vice-President of the Palais Ambassadors Club.  

The forum, hosted by Yannick Villedieu, found among things that:
• Organizing a convention enables the researchers involved to elevate their standing among their international peers.
• Actively taking part in hosting a convention can pay dividends reputation-wise, for both the researchers and their field.
• Universities and their vice-principals of research should encourage professors and researchers to get involved in hosting and organizing international conventions in Montréal.
• The new/next generation of researchers constitutes one of the priority elements of the knowledge development and sharing process.
• Because the Palais des congrès is a Québec government corporation, researchers organizing an international convention can draw from their vast expertise and resources.
• Collaborative ties between the Palais, the Fonds de recherche du Québec, and the research centres and networks associated with the funds must be maintained and strengthened further.  

The President and CEO of the Palais seized this inaugural forum to announce the creation of a fund that will assist researchers looking to get involved in holding an international convention at the Palais. The $25,000 fund, which will be jointly administered by the Fonds de recherche du Québec and the Palais Ambassadors Club, will make it possible to support some of the essential needs that are part of the process of bidding for major international events and bringing them to the Palais.  

The Palais des congrès de Montréal and the Fonds de recherche du Québec are pleased with the successful outcome of the forum and the quality of the exchanges it yielded, which is why they are planning a second edition for 2016.

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