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Laval University
Thanks to Laval University’s research programs, the Quebec City region benefits!

Laval University’s research programs bring substantial economic benefits to Quebec City and the surrounding region. That was true yesterday, it’s true today and with the implementation of the Research Advancement and Innovation Program (PAIR), it’ll be true tomorrow!

Research programs at Laval University
  • 3,191 professors and lecturers, including 1,300 research professors
  • 9,625 master’s and doctoral students
  • 212,000 graduates in Quebec City and around the world
  • 83 Canada research chairs
  • 14 industrial research chairs
  • 10 privately funded research chairs
  • 38 research centres
  • 8 research institutes
  • 3 networks of centres of excellence
  • Over 200 additional faculty research funds, groups and funded research chairs
  • 70 active licences
  • 605 active patents
  • 302 active technologies
  • 25 spinoff companies

To take an illustrative example of Laval University’s cutting-edge research, the optics/photonics field has been the driving passion of physicist Albéric Boivin since the early 1950s. Fifty years ago, few realized how essential optics, photonics and fibre optics would be to the development of the telecommunications industry. In the early days, Professor Boivin carried out his basic research in relative solitude. However, his passion inspired a number of students who went on to become professors in their own right. The research group they founded is now known as the Centre for Optics, Photonics and Laser Technology (COPL), affiliated with Laval University. The industry soon became aware of the research being conducted in the region, and the very first optics/photonics company opened for business in Quebec City hoping to capitalize on the unique combination of local expertise. Over the years, Laval University graduates, backed by new companies, innovations and R&D; investments, have contributed to the growth of the sector.

In a report entitled Building Knowledge Societies, the World Bank asserts that social and economic progress hinges on knowledge development and application. In support of this contention, the Bank would do well to consider Quebec City’s optics/photonics sector, which sprang up from the basic research conducted by a handful of scientists. Nearly 50 years later, the sector has expanded to 35 companies, including EXFO, the electro-optical engineering giant; all of them reap the benefits of a large pool of qualified professionals and local expertise. In addition to COPL, there is the National Optics Institute (INO), which was founded in Quebec City in 1985 to complement COPL’s strong local presence, as well as the Canadian Institute for Photonic Innovations (CIPI), a nationwide network of centres of excellence also affiliated with Laval University.

Although economic progress may hinge on knowledge development and application, growth takes time. “In terms of regional impact, it’s clear that Laval University’s contribution to the optics/photonics sector and other industries has been enormous. But don’t forget that despite the huge impact, the underlying technologies took 50 years to develop!” says Edwin Bourget, Laval University’s vice-rector for research and creativity, in what sounds like a plea for patience.

PAIR comes up a winner!

If the past is the best predictor of the future, the success of the optics/photonics sector, particularly in Quebec City, would seem to support the idea that increased research at Laval University will foster the regional knowledge economy.

In a bid to foster a more innovative, inventive and creative university, PAIR aims to create 100 new research chairs over the next five years in partnership with industry, government agencies and parapublic organizations. “Our goal is to recruit world-class researchers and to increase our research volume,” says Mr. Bourget. It should be noted that Laval has consistently ranked among Canada’s top post-secondary institutions over the past five years. The PAIR program is likely to boost the university’s drawing power significantly—and rapidly: “Our recruitment objectives will be achieved within five years and more likely within three.”

Of the 100 new research chairs, 25 will be reserved for the health sector, 25 for science and engineering, 25 for the social sciences and the humanities and 25 for emerging sectors and faculty projects. They will serve not only to nurture world-class research hubs in the region, but also to develop research programs seeking innovative solutions for today’s problems while contributing to the regional economy.

All told, PAIR will reinforce the Quebec City region’s innovation potential and enhance the skills of local researchers.

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