As part of the Quebec Research and Innovation Strategy (SQRI 2017-2022), the Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ) were allocated specific budget envelopes to implement intersectoral initiatives in response to major challenges facing Québec society, those being: sustainable development including the impacts of climate change and digital technology; demographic changes and the aging population; and entrepreneurship and creativity. As these issues are, by definition, multidimensional and often transdisciplinary, intersectoral networking that integrates distinct but complementary areas of expertise and research mLLethods to address complex research topics is considered a promising path and is strongly encouraged. This call for proposals is part of the intersectoral research programming put forward by the Directorate of Societal Challenges and Intersectoral Networks (DSMI) of the Office of the Chief Scientist.
The FRQ are seeking to get more researchers from different sectors engaged in research on aging, a phenomenon which continues to be an issue of concern in all western societies. The numbers clearly show that this demographic shift calls for integrative initiatives on aging with a global and ecosystemic perspective and requires the research community to consider new models involving all stakeholders in an effort to generate real benefits.
More specifically, the Plateform of funding programs for intersectoral research on aging is the outcome of a forum held by the FRQ in 2012 entitled Innovation for Better Aging, Together, which aimed to identify the niches of excellence of Quebec researchers with a view to developing an ambitious research strategy on aging largely leveraged by intersectorality. A brainstorming session held in the fall of 2017 then brought together some thirty researchers and partners with an interest in aging research to work on designing this funding platform.
All applications submitted under this plateform of funding programs for intersectoral research on aging must adhere to two key principles.
Focus on intersectorality
Current funding for aging research and researcher training still tends to operate on a sector-specific basis, making it impossible to coordinate major initiatives that take all relevant factors into consideration. It is therefore important for the FRQ— in keeping with their intersectoral vision— to support efforts based on cross-sectoral collaboration between researchers, build innovative groups of experts from multiple sectors, encourage a new generation of versatile and innovative researchers in an area of key importance for Québec, initiate new intersectoral collaborations, and promote the formulation of innovative hypotheses and solutions during national and international calls for projects.
A co-construction approach to conducting research
Experience has shown that if seniors do not feel involved in research that concerns them, there is a high risk of failure. A "co-construction" approach, i.e. one in which the users of the anticipated results are involved in the research process, is therefore preferable. More broadly, partnership approaches are strongly encouraged. These may involve, where appropriate, in addition to the user community: public decision-makers, government actors, the private and community sectors, industry and the business community. In short, stakeholder participation at each stage of the research process, from defining knowledge needs to the uptake of research results, is to be encouraged in the interest of respect and openness to a wide diversity of approaches, methodologies, cultures and knowledge.
Convinced that an intersectoral approach will open up novel research perspectives, introduce ground-breaking conceptual frameworks, cast new light on the complex and multidimensional phenomenon of aging and provide innovative, sustainable and socially acceptable solutions, the FRQ invite researchers from all sectors to come together to address this major challenge facing Québec society, by viewing it through the prism of a truly joint, co-constructed, integrated approach based on intersectoral networking.
By "intersectoral networking", the FRQ are referring to a research and collaboration approach which brings together researchers from disciplinary fields or research practices from at least two of the three major sectors covered by the FRQ (namely: health sciences, natural sciences and engineering, humanities and social sciences, arts and literature) to work on a research topic, problem, method or question, in order to shed new light on common or shared research issues. From an intersectoral perspective, disciplines and sectors must firmly engage in a joint, co-created research approach whose mode of operation lies outside of the hierarchization of fields of knowledge and leads to mutual enrichment between sectors.
More specifically, through this funding platform, the FRQ aim to:
Support the advancement of knowledge on issues related to aging from a comprehensive holistic perspective;
Encourage research proposals focusing on risk-taking and experimentation based on their potential for transformation;
Support training and the development of research capacity related to aging;
Provide the research community with access to existing cohorts with unique resources for longitudinal studies on aging ("resources" could include participants, data, biological samples, expertise, etc.);
Maximize collaboration within the scientific community from the sectors of the three FRQ (Nature and Technologies, Health, Society and Culture) to meet research needs on aging while encouraging the participation of different stakeholders in the search for solutions;
Facilitate the consolidation of groups of researchers from different disciplines and sectors while building on the added value of the adopted intersectoral approach;
Encourage the sharing of knowledge and tools to better support partners through multiple actions or interventions that could have quick, concrete benefits for practice settings;
Increase collaboration between Quebec, Canadian and international researchers and members of civil society on the issue of aging in order to ensure Quebec's position and influence in Quebec, Canada and around the world;
Put added focus on the population over the age of 85, isolated seniors, populations of seniors with chronic diseases or loss of autonomy (physical or mental), living at home or in different types of housing or accommodation, and region-specific issues.
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