HEC Montréal Creates a NSERC-Prompt Industrial Research Chair in User Experience With Six Industry Partners and the Federal and Provincial Governments
HEC Montréal announced the creation of its first-ever industrial research chair. The NSERC-Prompt Industrial Research Chair in User Experience will be headed up by professors Pierre-Majorique Léger, Chairholder and Co-Director of the Tech3Lab at HEC Montréal, and Marc Fredette, Full Professor in the Department of Decision Sciences. Six major firms are also Chair partners and will help underwrite the research, drawing on its findings to optimize their customers' user experience. They are D-Box, Deloitte, Desjardins Group, JDA Software, Sobeys and Vidéotron.
In addition, the Chair is receiving financial support from both levels of government, i.e. the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Prompt, the ICT research and innovation consortium, whose main financial partner is the Quebec Ministère de l'Économie, de la Science et de l'Innovation.
Total financing for the Chair over five years will be $7.6 million.
The six partner firms will be working closely with the research team organized by professors Léger and Fredette, by providing real-life issues for the experts to use in accelerating and enriching user experience measures, while providing the companies with advanced, customized expertise.
The tests done on interfaces of all kinds, websites and mobile applications will allow the researchers to analyze users' emotional and cognitive response. The partners will be providing their platforms and their unique relationships with their customers, in return for which the researchers will furnish them with research and analysis tools reflecting the latest scientific advances in this field.
"The NSERC is proud to support this promising collaboration between some of Canada's top academic researchers and their industry partners, to improve the experience of users of rapidly evolving digital technology. The spinoff from their work in fields ranging from e-commerce and mobile applications to entertainment and education will make Canada a leader in user experience and improve Canadians' daily lives," says NSERC President Mario Pinto.
"Prompt is very proud to support this Chair devoted to advanced R&D in the fields of human-machine interaction and data science, with an initial three-year investment on the order of $1.8 million. This funding will go toward inventing new modes of interaction and developing the user interfaces of the future. The Chair is a highly valuable asset that will equip Canadian firms to develop and optimize their interfaces and better position themselves against international competition," says Luc Sirois, Executive Director of Prompt.
"I am especially pleased that the first-ever industrial research chair at HEC Montréal is the fruit of this kind of partnership, bringing together six major firms in the field of innovation and both levels of government. They see this pooling of resources and efforts by the business community, government and academia as a tremendous generator of concrete progress, one that will propel Quebec and Canada as a whole to the global forefront of advanced technological research," says HEC Montréal Director Michel Patry.
For Professor Léger, the partner companies will provide the researchers with highly valuable raw material. "These cases, based on the firms' actual experience, are priceless resources for our researchers. They will force us to push our limits and find solutions to the problems presented, or to identify the most promising avenues for constantly improving the user experience." Professor Fredette agrees, saying "This Chair is another fine example of how data science is being used in advanced research in Montréal, this time to analyze huge quantities of neurophysiological data gathered through user experience research. In addition, the funding will let us offer scholarships to over one hundred students and hire and train people who are highly specialized in user experience and data valorization."
The partners come from a wide variety of industries, giving the researchers access to a particularly diverse set of cases. In return, this will place partner firms' user experience teams at the heart of a vast research program and let them draw on the very latest scientific advances to meet their specific needs, as well as the experience of firms in industries different from their own.