In order to keep you informed of the latest developments with regards to the budget of the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT), I believe that it is important to take stock in our progress by highlighting the actions that we have undertaken since the summer.
First, in the summertime, efforts were invested to collect data on all of our programs. We then structured the findings as budget scenarios for the periods corresponding to the funding terms set out in our programs. This approach will support decision-making with regards to the directions that the FRQNT should take to guide its programs in the years to come.
As you know, the team research projects program is currently under moratorium. Given this situation and the fact that the program has been in place for over a decade, we decided to assess the relevance, efficiency and impacts of the funding. In mid-December, the Fonds surveyed over 1,000 researchers who received grants under the program between 2008 and 2013. The very large number of responses clearly demonstrated the interest of the natural sciences and engineering community in the program.
This newsletter highlights some of the initiatives that the FRQNT has recently undertaken with various partners, including provincial government departments, on a range of topics such as blue-green algae and sustainable development in the mining sector.
In 2016, the FRQNT will reflect on its commitments with regards to the environment and sustainable development. Because we want our approach to be in line with the environmental and climatic priorities of the scientific community, the Fonds will lead a public consultation on the issues to understand researcher perspectives on the agency's future directions.
In recent years, the FRQ have worked to develop international research agreements. Some of the concrete initiatives that were launched in recent months and for which I represented the Fonds are described here. They will enable researchers in Québec and abroad to spearhead a series of joint projects. For instance, this fall, the Fonds de recherche du Québec entered into a scientific cooperation agreement with NordForsk, a Scandinavian research agency to support short-term missions by local and Scandinavian northern research experts in the fields covered by the Fonds de recherche du Québec. In November 2015, the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies and the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé joined forces with CNEURO, the Cuban neuroscience centre, to fund short-term neuroinformatics research missions and international internships.
Also in the fall, the FRQNT gave effect to the partnership established a year ago with the National Natural Science Foundation of China and launched four projects under the Québec-China bilateral team research program. And in collaboration with the Research Foundation Flanders – FWO, the Fonds selected five joint projects for funding under the Québec-Flanders bilateral research program, which stems from a partnership between the three provincial agencies and the FWO. Finally, January 2016 marked the launch of a short-term exchange program to promote the international mobility of researchers in Québec and Bavaria focused on priority themes including renewable energy, northern studies and climate change.
Finally, we would like to wish you much joy and serenity in 2016. We hope that the New Year will be a prosperous one for the FRQNT!