The Government of Canada has awarded Concordia Univirsity in Montreal, Quebec a Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) grant of $123,160,035. The grant, which will be distributed over the course of seven years, will support the activities encompassed in Concordia’s “Electrifying Society: Towards Decarbonized Resilient Communities” initiative.

“Today’s research is tomorrow’s economy. Since day one, our government has taken action to re-establish the role of science and scientists in our society, allowing us to appreciate the true impacts of science and research in our lives,” said Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne at the announcement.

“Such is the value of Canadian institutions and researchers who think outside the box to tackle the greatest challenges of our time. The initiatives announced today will lead to breakthrough discoveries that will improve people’s lives, nourish our innovation ecosystems, and shape Canada’s prosperity for years to come.”

This investment represents the largest single research award in the history of the university. It will significantly amplify Concordia’s expertise in several areas related to electrification, smart buildings and net zero communities, furthering its leadership in helping Canada achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

Electrifying Society will bring together Concordia researchers from across all faculties, as well as colleagues from partner universities across the country and internationally. They will work with Indigenous, private, public and not-for-profit sector experts to deliver integrated, affordable decarbonization solutions, focused on electrification. This includes energy systems and storage, transportation and smart buildings, deployment of digital twin technology, cybersecurity and the internet of things.

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Specifically, Concordia will join forces with more than 30 collaborators, including Indigenous Clean Energy, Power Corporation, Lion Électrique, Alstom, Lightning Energy, Siemens, CanmetEnergy, Nouveau Monde Graphite, s2e Technologies, Hydro-Québec, the National Research Council of Canada, Québec’s Ministère de l’Économie, de l’Innovation et de l’Énergie, the Fonds de recherche du Québec, and the cities of Montreal, Shawinigan, Varennes, Halifax and Calgary.

The following themes will be the focus of the program’s research activities:

  • Smart, sustainable and healthy built environment: the creation of infrastructure at the neighbourhood level to reach carbon neutrality and provide high air quality through electrified transport and active mobility
  • Resilient community energy and transportation systems based on renewables: the development of technologies for electrified, smart and connected communities in diverse environments
  • Planning and governance for social equity and citizen engagement: the creation of policy and technology roadmaps informed by social equity and citizen engagement

Together, the university and its partners plan to establish a world-leading research program designed to apply novel technologies to create innovative energy sources, secure critical infrastructure and deliver affordable, green energy under diverse conditions in municipalities and communities across Canada.

Central to the program will be a network of living labs to incubate new ideas, test and bundle new technologies, nurture startups and mobilize citizen engagement to foster social adoption of the innovations developed through the research program.

“This bold investment from the Government of Canada speaks to Concordia’s reputation as a leader in sustainability research,” says Graham Carr, president of Concordia. “We and our partners are part of the fabric of communities across the country, and this historic funding will help chart a course for a more sustainable, resilient future for Canada and the world.”

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Featured image credit: Concordia University.



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