Polytechnique Montréal partners with Québec aerospace innovation hub

10 Jun 2024 | Network Updates | Update from Polytechnique Montréal
These updates are republished press releases and communications from members of the Science|Business Network

Polytechnique Montréal is playing a major role in the new aerospace innovation zone designated by the Government of Québec, which is benefiting from investments totalling $415 million. At a news conference held at the opening of the Aéro Montréal International Aerospace Innovation Forum on May 21, 2024, François Legault, Premier of Québec, was joined by the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and Pierre Fitzgibbon, Québec Minister of the Economy, Innovation and Energy, in making the announcement. With the zone, the Québec aerospace industry will boast one of the most active advanced research communities in the country, working toward a sustainable and prosperous future for air mobility.

Aerospace is a pillar of the Québec economy, generating annual sales of some $20.9 billion and employing close to 42,000 workers. In the face of the climate emergency and pressure to lower carbon emissions, this industry must adopt sustainable practices. The creation of this innovation zone, spanning three hubs in Greater Montréal (Montréal, Longueuil and Mirabel), provides a supportive framework for that transformation.

Maud Cohen, President of Polytechnique Montréal, expressed delight with this initiative. “The establishment of this Greater Montréal aerospace innovation zone is a pivotal step in the evolution of the Québec and Canadian aerospace industry,” she said. “As a founding partner of the zone, our university is committed to harnessing the full force of its leading-edge research expertise and highly qualified talent to support this key sector for Québec.”

Polytechnique has benefited from more than 20 years of productive collaborations through research partnership projects financed by innovation-focused consortiums and granting agencies, and conducted with major industry contractors as well as a panoply of local and international SMEs.

“Collaboration has been integral to our identity for decades now, so our involvement in the innovation zone is a natural step for Polytechnique,” explains François Bertrand, Vice-President, Research and Innovation, Polytechnique Montréal. “Research partnerships are drivers of innovation for a variety of players, from SMEs to municipalities to major contractors. Our researchers are keen to contribute actively to solving aerospace industry challenges and, in so doing, strengthening their innovation capacity.”

Outstanding learning opportunities

Polytechnique Montréal supports the vision of the Government of Québec and its ambition to facilitate the swift transfer of ideas from laboratory to market while attracting qualified talent in aerospace.

“Our integrated innovation chain emphasizes the conceptualization and maturation of disruptive technologies, while reinforcing expertise transfer between the university community and industry,” says Professor Annie Ross, Deputy Vice-President, Research, with the Polytechnique Office of Research and Innovation and a member of the Espace Aéro Governance Committee. “Having this strengthened collaboration between industry and academia, in a space that brings together all the key players in air mobility, is crucial to tackling the enormous challenges of the aerospace sector.”

The focus of the new innovation zone’s research activity will be on two key industry challenges: aircraft automation and decarbonization. State-of-the-art infrastructures including those at the Collaborative Innovation Centre in Aerospace and Mobility (known by its French abbreviation, CCIAM) in the Montréal borough of Saint-Laurent will drive development of new solutions and support physical testing of airworthy parts and systems.

Polytechnique’s multidisciplinary teams will contribute expertise in various fields such as advanced additive manufacturing, innovative materials and structures, eco-design approaches, cybersecurity and autonomous systems.

The training component is a crucial one, providing opportunities for exchange among research teams and students, through R&D internships and graduate studies. This proximity enables detailed understanding of industry needs, which in turn is conducive to training of a highly qualified workforce able to assimilate the latest technologies.

The aerospace innovation zone also opens the way to stimulating projects for our community, such as the establishment of research chairs, the conducting of proof-of-concept testing and the development of technology demonstrators.

Polytechnique Montréal, a long-standing leader in the Québec aerospace sector

In 2008, Polytechnique became the first university in Québec to offer a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering. Since then, more than 1,000 students have graduated from this limited-enrolment program. Its students also take part in over 250 internships every year in more than 35 aerospace companies in Canada and abroad.

Polytechnique is noted for its intensive research in the field, with more than 115 multidisciplinary specialists, 16 research chairs and close to 40 research units with aerospace- and transportation-dedicated infrastructures. In 2002, Polytechnique was one of the founding members of the Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Québec (CRIAQ).

This article was first published on 21 May by Polytechnique Montréal.

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