The Strategic Clusters (Regroupements stratégiques) program to support large-scale research projects was launched in 2000. The ambitious initiative involves a wide array of program components and significant funding for extended periods in an effort to substantially increase the transfer credits of the Fonds de recherche and provide a unique key means to structure research. Alongside this triennial program, the Fonds has also implemented an annuel, more flexible complementary structuring option, the Team Support program (Soutien aux équipes de recherche).
The Strategic Clusters program is aimed at two types of structures. The centres and networks have distinct goals and meet different structuring needs. The strategic clusters (centres and networks) must set out ambitious scientific objectives, bring together a critical mass of researchers and meet the highest standards of excellence with regards to their research and research training activities. The centres must develop a scientific program to understand complex phenomena through the concerted efforts of researchers in different fields. With the implementation of large-scale projects, the networks seek to meet the research structuring needs of a specific field by deploying a structuring initiative to create ties between research environments and practice settings.
The types of activities led by the centres and networks (research expertise pooling, scientific activities, research training, broad results dissemination) have a collaborative scope that reaches beyond the teams’ responsibilities to their members.
The Strategic Clusters program aims to foster:
- The optimal use of major scientific facilities in the social sciences, humanities, arts and literature;
- The commercialization of research results for potential users and society as a whole;
- The development of formal and structured international ties.
The Strategic Clusters program was implemented as a key leveraging tool to structure research and position Québec researchers on the international stage and in national research programs led, for example, by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Canada Research Chairs