The provincial budget tabled last March was highly favourable for the Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ). Over the next five years, the FRQ will see their budget envelope increase by $180 M. For the current fiscal year, this translates into an increase of $20 M. This shows that research and innovation are among the current government's socio-economic development priorities.
The Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT) and its scientific community welcome this government initiative, which is a real breath of fresh air after a few challenging years. The new appropriations must fall within the scope of three major themes:
- Support for the development of top talent;
- Increasing the competitiveness of research groups;
- Responding to the major social, environmental and economic challenges facing Québec.
With these parameters in mind, the FRQNT has chosen, for the year 2017-2018, to fund nearly 80 students more than expected before the announcement of the new appropriations. At the same time, a new budget envelope of $100,000 will be earmarked for parental leave for FRQNT-funded students (teams, strategic clusters or partnerships). This additional investment in student awards amounts to $850,000.
With regard to strategic clusters, the FRQNT is investing an additional $3 M in the development of human and material infrastructure, for a total investment of $16.3 M for strategic clusters in 2017-2018.
As for research teams, the new appropriations will enable the FRQNT to provide additional funding of more than $1.9 M this year. The budget for the Team research Project program will be $11.3 M in 2017-2018.
Through the additional appropriations granted to the FRQ in the last provincial budget, $1.6 M will be invested in supporting college researchers.
This new budget context will also allow the FRQNT to contribute more funding—nearly $2 M—for research on sustainable development and the fight against climate change, adaptation to demographic changes and the development of entrepreneurial and creative projects.
I cannot provide any additional information at this time as to how the appropriations will be allocated over the next four years. However, in the context of the international Gender Summit co-hosted by the FRQ and NSERC in Montréal next November under the theme of Embracing Pluralism and Thriving through Diversity, I truly hope that we will be able to implement measures to increase the presence of women and members of minority groups—be they Aboriginal, immigrants or refugees—in the sciences.
I would like to personally thank the Chief Scientist of Québec, Rémi Quirion, whose extensive advocacy work over the last five years with a wide range of government bodies and private and public organizations made possible the additional appropriations granted in the last provincial budget. The three Fonds de recherche du Québec and their respective communities can rejoice in Québec's new research and innovation strategy, which clearly gives a place of honour to Québec's three funding agencies.
In closing, I can assure you that we will continue to increase our efforts to ensure greater visibility for the three Fonds de recherche du Québec—and particularly the FRQNT—not only with government bodies, but also with the greater public. Finally, I thank the scientific community of the FRQNT, whose resilience has been rewarded by government recognition of the quality of its many scientific advances in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics.
Maryse Lassonde, O.C., C.Q., Ph. D., MSRC
Embracing Pluralism and Thriving through Diversity
November 6 to 8, 2017 | Le Centre Sheraton Montréal Hotel, Québec