Montréal – Paving the Path for Progress

Christopher Mills 12/07/2016

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Fresh off its 375th birthday, Montréal has morphed into Canada’s cultural capital, offering a certain je ne sais quoi that’s not quite North American, but not entirely European, either. Home to 120 different ethnic communities and a growing population of over 1.6 million, Montréal has evolved into an international city that embraces its storied past, but is also ready to dive head-first into the future with a wealth of research and increasing number of congresses revolving around aerospace, life sciences and artificial intelligence.

Words: Lane Nieset

A buzzing port since its youth, Montréal has received a myriad of settlers to its shores and kept its pioneering attitude alive with its signature joie de vivre spirit. Visitors today are welcomed with open arms to the multilingual city that’s one of the top for conventions on the globe—and a certified destination for sustainable events. Over the past 35 years, the Palais des congrès has held over 7,300 events; hosted over 19 000 000 participants; and generated more than 6 billion dollars in economic spinoffs. But for Montréal, the gain isn’t in the numbers alone, it’s in the legacy that’s been created thanks to the local champions who are proving to the world (and attracting congress bids in the process) that the city is a hotbed of growth when it comes to scientific research.

Despite being home to top-notch researchers in fields like genetics, aging, economics and life sciences, Montréal’s scientific community is building on its international reputation. Two ways the city aims to bolster growth: earning scientific awards and attracting large-scale international conventions. Attracting and holding large-scale international conventions makes it possible to generate significant intellectual benefits, while shining the spotlight on science and the scientific luminaries associated with the events,” said Raymond Larivée, President and CEO of the Palais des congrès de Montréal. 

Into the scientific spotlight

One of the key factors of the city’s success in attracting international congresses: the active Ambassadors’ Club. Founded in 1985, the club’s 330 distinguished members help turn the attention of global associations toward Montréal. The club’s president, Hany Moustapha, Professor and Director at AÉROÉTS and Senior Research Fellow at Pratt & Whitney Canada, has been a member for a dozen years and is a leader in the metropolis’ aerospace industry. With the help of members with this type of expertise like Dr. Pavel Hamet and Daniel Bouthillier, the club has successfully hosted world firsts like the International Congress on Personalized Health Care, where hundreds of delegates joined together for the first time to discuss breakthroughs in molecular biology and medical approaches that focus on individual genetic makeup. Just two years later, the congress is returning to Montréal in September, bringing over specialists, researchers, academics and clinicians to discuss the application of P4 Medicine (personalized, predictive, preventive and participatory health care).

The Ambassadors’ Club has also partnered up with the Palais des congrès and the Fonds de recherche du Québec to support the region’s researchers and scientists in terms of bringing and organising congresses in Montréal. In an attempt to tighten the ties between the Palais des congrès and the scientific community, the group set up the Prix Relève, a competition that awards grants recognizing researchers involved in the process of securing and organising major international scientific conventions. Two years ago, the Palais also partnered up with one of the leading occupational health and safety research centres in Canada, the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST), to further development in this field and continue to grow the life sciences sector, which already accounts for 30 percent of the Palais’ events.

The full version of this article can be read in the February edition of Boardroom available here.