Collaboration at Work: Data Science Impact Meets Economic Impact

Michel Patry, director of HEC Montreal, talks with AACSB about a collaboration with IVADO that works toward creating data science research.


Juliane Iannarelli: [00:00] Thank you for being here today.

Michel Patry: [00:16] My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Iannarelli: [00:18] Yes. I'm looking forward to hearing more about the story of HEC Montreal and IVADO. If you would, just start us off by telling a bit about the history of the center and how it came to be.

Patry: [00:32] Actually, IVADO was the idea of creating IVADO, which is a consortium of researchers and professors in the area of data science, OR, logistics. I came when HEC Montreal École Polytechnique and U of M, we launched our major fundraising campaign a few years ago.

[00:52] We decided we should really create a number of organization that would present all that we were doing in the area of data science. That's how IVADO really appeared on the radar. The original idea was to present what we were doing. Present the assets we had.

[01:10] To hopefully get some donations. As there's an old say that goes, "A chance is when opportunity makes preparation." As luck would have it, very early on, we had success in major research competitions launched by the Canadian Research Councils. We got a big grant.

Iannarelli: [01:32] Tell us about that big grant. I understand it was pretty consequential.

Patry: [01:36] Yes, it was a transformational sort of grant. To begin with, we had the assets, to be honest. All those research centers of five or six of them that are jointly run by HEC, by Polytechnique, and by U of M, we're all being subsidized. The Canadian government launched a major competition to create the axioms of research hubs.

[02:00] We got a 95 million grant to do fundamental research in the area of data science. HEC has roughly one third, Polytechnique one third and U of M. It is all being run jointly.

Iannarelli: [02:17] You're talking a fair amount about data science. I understand that there are intended to be some strong connections with artificial intelligence.

Patry: [02:24] Yes.

Iannarelli: [02:24] Where do you see the impact of that being on the economy?

Patry: [02:28] Huge. Just recently, the Canadian government launched another initiative to create the super clusters in Canadian industry. One of those super clusters was created by 92 companies around artificial intelligence and supply chains. Their major scientific partner is IVADO.

[02:51] That will add to the resources that IVADO has. Over the last year, year and a half, every week, I've met with CEOs of small, medium, and large companies. They're all looking at how artificial intelligence will change their business models.

[03:11] How artificial intelligence and data science, in a more widely defined way will have an impact on the business models, on the processes. It's really exciting. It happens in all of the major sectors. The health sector, financial sector, transportation, almost every sector of the economy is being impacted.

Iannarelli: [03:33] Amidst all of the recent transformations spurred by this large grant that you've received and the input from the local business community. What about some of the impacts on the way that the consortia operates? What have been some of your growing pains in the process?

Patry: [03:51] Of course, we had research centers. Some of those research centers were actively involved in collaborative research. The IVADO grant and the collaborative research money that came on top of that. As we speak today, IVADO probably represents 400 million dollars in research money.

[04:07] Half of it in pure research. Grants to do fundamental research. Half of it in collaborative research. More will be coming. This has created a nice problem because we have to devise a specific governance to handle all of that.

[04:29] Actually, at this present time, we're setting up a special organization that will be the one stop shop for all the companies and external stakeholders. Instead of having to deal with HEC, École Polytechnique, and U of M, and six or 10 research centers, there will be one door, one hub.

Filmed April 2018 at ICAM in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.