A long-term collaboration with academic partners across France has culminated in a Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Waterloo and the National Institute for Research in Digital Science and Technology (INRIA).

The MOU was signed today by Charmaine Dean, vice-president, Research and International at the University of Waterloo and Cécile Vigouroux, director of International Relations at the National Institute for Research in Digital Science and Technology (INRIA). French Minister of Higher Education and Research Sylvie Retailleau and Ambassador Michel Miraillet were also in attendance.

“I am delighted that the University of Waterloo has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with L’Institut National De Recherche En Informatique Et En Automatique (INRIA),” Dean said. “We take immense pride in our international collaborations and the MOU we are signing today outlines a framework for further cooperation between INRIA and Waterloo in order to explore possibilities for collaboration on research activities.”

Cécile Vigouroux and Charmaine Dean signing the MOU

Waterloo has strategically partnered with the University of Bordeaux, also a partner of INRIA, for more than 10 years and has been growing relationships with research partners and institutions across France during the last decade. INRIA is an excellent partner for Waterloo and Canada given its focus on developing international collaborations and existing alignment with a number of French universities and mutual research interests in information and communications technologies (ICT), applied mathematics and computational modelling along with Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, Quantum Computing, Human-Computer Interaction, Robotics, Networks and Security. 

INRIA is a leading organization with similar values to Waterloo, and this partnership means Waterloo will also benefit from INRIA’s connection to the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) which is internationally recognized for excellence in scientific research.

The foundation for this partnership can be credited to Raouf Boutaba, professor and director of the Cheriton School of Computer Science, who recognized the benefits of collaborating and championing partnerships between researchers at Waterloo and French institutions.

Recently Waterloo Professor Edith Law and Professor Hélène Sauzéon at the University of Bordeaux were awarded funding to create an associate team at INRIA. The program supports bilateral scientific collaborations and promotes and strengthens the institute’s strategic partnerships with leading researchers abroad. The research consortium, titled Curiosity-driven Learning Across the Lifespan (CuriousTech) will be directed by Waterloo Professors Law and Myra Fernandes along with Professors Sauzéon and Pierre-Yves Oudeyer at the INRIA Centre at the University of Bordeaux.

“The research our international team will conduct will produce new understandings of the role of curiosity in education and health by designing and assessing new interactive educational technologies,” Law said. “Beyond academic contributions, we expect that the technologies we develop will help address broader societal challenges, such as educational equality in school and the needs of older adults with cognitive aging conditions.”

CuriousTech will build upon the findings and technologies developed from three previous INRIA-funded University of Bordeaux-University of Waterloo collaborative projects. CuriousTech’s goal is to create educational technologies that use curiosity as the key ingredient to meet the learning needs of individuals across all ages and cognitive abilities to enhance their health and well-being.

Waterloo is also one of the Canadian institutes that are part of the recently formed Canada-France Quantum Alliance (CAFQA) and Waterloo faculty members will be attending an inaugural workshop in May to participate in panel discussions.