The University of Montreal (UdeM) announced on Tuesday that it had received a historic $ 159 million grant to support basic research on cutting-edge technologies.
This donation comes from the Courtois Foundation, founded by former Montreal lawyer and administrator Jacques Courtois. In particular, it will allow the creation of a new institute at the intersection of new materials, quantum physics and artificial intelligence.
“The donation we receive today is a huge sign of confidence in our university, in the genius and passion of its scientists, in the quality of its next generation,” UdeM Rector Daniel Jutras told guests gathered in the atrium of the Scientific Complex. , on the MIL Outremont campus.
In his speech, Jacques Courtois Jr., one of the administrators of the charity created by his father, recalled the importance of supporting fundamental research as well as the need to ensure Canadian technological sovereignty.
“For me, the deepest justification for why [de ce don], is knowledge by knowledge. Then, of course, there are the economic derivations, which includes the need to improve technology to solve problems related to the environment, “said Mr. Courteous.
Present at the event, the Minister of Economy and Innovation of the province wanted to greet this historic donation. “I hope that this practice, which is still not very widespread in Quebec, will spread and make children. Returning to your alma mater is a contribution that we must value more and that we must promote “, said Pierre Fitzgibbon.
This is the largest financial contribution ever made to a Canadian university for natural science research and the third largest donation to a Canadian university in any field.
Contribute to the energy transition
Nearly $ 60 million of the $ 159 million of this historic grant will go to endowment funds to support the research of professors and graduate students at the new Courtois Institute.
“It simply came to our notice then [universités] Cambridge, Oxford or Harvard. We have six research chairs [dont le budget de fonctionnement provient d’un fonds d’investissement] that will guarantee the sustainability of the institution ”, explained the dean of the Faculty of Letters and Sciences of the UdeM, Frédéric Bouchard.
This money should allow researchers to make discoveries that will contribute to the energy transition, such as creating greener batteries, finding substitutes for polluting minerals, making 3D printed objects functional, contributing to the development of quantum computers, and robotizing our processes.
Among the ten researchers associated with the Courtois Institute are Yoshua Bengio, a world authority on artificial intelligence, and Gilles Brassard, considered one of the pioneers of quantum computing.
Soon a second phase on the MIL campus
Most of the donation, $ 100 million, will be used to partially fund the expansion of the Scientific Complex to include the laboratories of the Courtois Institute, which is the second phase of the construction of the University of MIL’s MIL campus. Montreal.
This phase, the total investment of which is estimated at $ 257 million, should also include the relocation of the computer science and operational research department and the mathematics and statistics department, where certain professors are affiliated with the Courtois Institute.
They will be incorporated into the departments of biology, chemistry, geography and physics present on the Outremont campus since 2019. The rector of the UdeM estimated that the first lawn should take place in 2024.