The Canadian province of Quebec has a chief scientist. Explanation.
This role was created in 2011 and includes several components. I advise the government of Quebec on research and innovation, manage the province’s three research funds and work to increase the visibility of Quebec’s scientists abroad – and those are just a few of the many hats I wear. If the government needs an opinion, it comes to me. I then consult with the scientific community to find an answer and communicate that information back to the government. Having a single contact person makes the process more efficient.
Eighty per cent of the research budget is awarded to non-targeted projects. We strive to support excellence in all fields. The remaining 20% is dedicated to the major challenges we face today, such as the consequences of climate change, the impact of artificial intelligence on society and the ageing of the population. Quebec is the world’s second oldest society after Japan.
There are a number of collaborations between researchers. However, there isn’t a more general partnership, such as between the Swiss and Quebecker research funds, for example. We have partnerships with France and Belgium as well as with countries like Mexico and China. I would like to further our relationship with Switzerland. I completed an assignment in Switzerland in 2017, and I think there’s interest on both sides.
Rémi Quirion has been chief scientist of Quebec since 2011. Specialist in Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia and pain, he previously held various academic positions in the Canadian province.