Scientific cooperation between France and Canada
Research priorities in France and Canada are quite similar. Production of scientific publications is roughly equivalent although the two countries differ in their research effort (France accounts for 5.6 percent of the world’s research and development budget, while Canada represents 2.1 percent). Scientific cooperation between France and Canada developed quite naturally around each country’s areas of excellence.
To raise the profile of this cooperation, mobilize more very high calibre teams and make greater use of research findings, the two countries created a France-Canada Research Fund in 2000. This fund, which is expected to become a vital tool in furthering our scientific cooperation, has an endowment of CAN$1.423 million, one half contributed by France and the other by 16 universities across Canada. In 2001, the Fund’s board of directors reviewed 238 projects submitted in the first call for proposals. Twenty of these were selected. In 2002, of the 127 proposals received, 13 were approved. Materials, process, energy and environmental sciences account for 46 percent of the projects funded, life sciences and health sciences represent 38 percent, and computer science, mathematics and information and communications technology make up 15 percent.
In addition to the France-Canada Research Fund, an agreement between France’s ANVAR (Agence Nationale de Valorisation et de la Recherche) and Canada’s IRAP (Industrial Research Assistance Program) was signed in 1998. This accord links small and midsized companies in France and Canada to the industrialization of products from applied research.
Priority is placed on establishing networks between laboratories and universities involved in complementary work, especially in the following fields:
- Proteomics (the study of proteins and their functions).
- Agricultural biotechnologies: efforts focus on plant biology and genetics. In this area, the French (INRA) and Canadian laboratories are striving to lay the groundwork for shared expertise on genetically modified organisms, at the request of political authorities. The cooperation extends to the entire agro-food sector, in light of growing concerns over the security and safety of food supplies.
- Forestry and Environment: cooperation in this area has multilateral ramifications. It focuses on the issue of forest conservation, air and water quality, and allows us to compare sometimes divergent views on greenhouse gases.
- Marine science, because preserving the oceans and fisheries resources is a common concern. IFREMER is coordinating this cooperation.
This is the second thrust of our scientific cooperation. INRIA, whose leading role has been recognized in France, has a special interest in software engineering and all its virtual applications, as well as e-commerce and distance education, in liaison with many Canadian universities. CNRS is also contributing to this work in fields related to materials and nanotechnologies.
Space and Transportation
This is a new area of cooperation that must be developed, especially in the field of space, through links between CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency), and in the transportation field, through work on transportation safety in partnership with INRET (Institut National de Recherche sur les Transports et leur sécurité) and Canadian universities active in this area.
Humanities and Social Sciences
The Humanities and Social Sciences have not been overlooked, since Canada and France are also determined not to sever the link between science and society.
The site http://www.ambafrance-ca.org/HYPERLAB provides information on activities of the scientific section of the Embassy of France in Canada.
Visitors to the site can subscribe to a mailing list (ST-CaFr list) that promotes exchanges between scientific communities in Canada and France. Some 500 subscribers on this list receive daily information on job openings or internships in research, the calendar of scientific events organized by both countries, France-Canada exchange programs, as well as new training programs in French institutions.
HYPERLAB also offers a free subscription to the bi-monthly electronic newsletter Canada, a scientific and technological review now distributed to 3,000 subscribers.