Benoit Boulet appointed Associate Vice-Principal, Innovation and Partnerships

Entrepreneurial researcher brings wide range of experience to the role, seeks to promote ‘culture change’ at the University

Martha Crago, Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation, has announced the appointment of Benoit Boulet as Associate Vice-Principal, Innovation and Partnerships (I+P), effective June 1, 2021, for a five-year term. Boulet’s mandate will be to oversee the growing I+P portfolio, as well as to help drive the development of large-scale research projects that involve natural sciences and engineering.

Boulet brings a wealth of experience to the role. He is both a renowned researcher in the Faculty of Engineering, as well as an experienced entrepreneur. In addition, he is the Director of the McGill Engine Centre, which focuses on stimulating and supporting technologically-based innovation and entrepreneurship at the Faculty of Engineering. At the Faculty, he was also Associate Dean of Research and Innovation, as well as a former Director of the Centre for Intelligent Machines.

Boulet is active in developing and promoting research relationship with external partners. He is a board member of Mila – Quebec AI Institute (originally Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms), a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a registered Professional Engineer in the province of Quebec, and a former William Dawson Scholar (from 2004 to 2014). His research areas include the design and control of electric vehicles and green energy systems, robust control of biomedical systems – which led to the development of an artificial pancreas – and robust industrial control (e.g., controlling robotic systems in disruptive or uncertain environments).

“Benoit is a perfect fit for the needs and vision of the Innovation and Partnerships office,” said Crago. “Not only does he have substantial administrative experience, he is also a first-class researcher in his own right. His background in fields like AI, healthcare and sustainability align perfectly with the strategic priorities of the University.”

“I am extremely motivated by the opportunities we have to grow McGill’s presence in both the pure research sphere, but also in the areas of industry and entrepreneurship,” said Boulet. “One of the keys to this will be how can we implement a culture change within our research community. We need to ensure that innovation and entrepreneurship are seen as an important part of research and not something that is separate.”

The appointment comes as the incumbent Associate Vice-Principal (I+P), Sylvain Coulombe elected to step down from the role, which he has held since 2018 to pursue his interests in clean technologies. As AVP, Coulombe was a major force in advancing the newly proposed Quebec Zone d’innovation in Clean Tech. In doing so he federated industry, venture capital and Montreal universities to move this important research and commercial area forward in the province. He also played a key role in the province-wide reorganization of the sociétés de valorisation universitaires (SVUs) under a single new entity, the Axelys. In addition, Coulombe represented McGill on the board of Calcul Quebec, a regional organization that seeks to unify the provincial universities’ computing capabilities. Under his leadership, the McGill’s Innovation and Partnership (I+P) office has developed and revised policies and practices that pave the way for future entrepreneurs and innovators.

“I would like to thank Sylvain personally for his excellent leadership over the past three years,” said Crago. “Under his guidance, the Innovation and Partnerships office grew by leaps and bounds, and he helped position it for future success. He was an excellent representative of McGill on provincial organizations and initiatives that made sizeable changes to major research and innovation structures We all owe him a debt of gratitude and wish him well in his move to developing new clean technologies, his first passion, both in his own lab and more widely in Quebec.”

This article is originally published in the McGill Reporter.

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