First Canada-France Quantum Network (CAFQA) workshop

Publié le 09 juin 2023
Réseau CAFQA Canada France Quantique
From Monday May 22 to Wednesday May 24, 2023, researchers from the Canada-France Quantum Alliance (CAFQA) took part in the first workshop of this international research network at the CNRS. Over three days, more than 100 Canadian and French colleagues involved in quantum science and technology discussed the latest advances in cutting-edge research in their disciplines.

Scientists from eight Canadian and eight French member universities of the CNRS-initiated international research network participated in the three-day kick-off workshop in Paris. Representatives from each campus not only presented their latest results and their prospects but also highlighted complementary strengths of France and Canada in quantum science and technology.

“The idea of a Franco-Canadian network in quantum research emerged in 2021 during a virtual roundtable organized by MITACS, by Embassy of France in Canada, and Embassy of Canada in France during the pandemic,” reminds Jan Matas, Director of the CNRS office in Canada. “We are thrilled to see that a discussion of a dozen experts allowed to hold a workshop with more than hundred colleagues, all in person, two years later.

The workshop highlighted the existing synergies and complementarities between the two countries, while confirming the strong desire and potential for fertile and win-win transatlantic collaborations between France and Canada in this field,”

Isabelle Philip, CNRS Senior Researcher at the Charles Coulomb Laboratory[1], scientific coordinator of the CAFQA network

On the disciplinary level, the CAFQA workshop has covered the interconnected fields of:

– Quantum sensors and metrology;
– Quantum computation and simulation;
– Quantum cryptography and communications;
– Quantum materials.

I love that the workshop was highly interdisciplinary, ranging from engineering through computer science to experimental and theoretical chemistry and physics,” says Barry Sanders, Director of the Institute for Quantum Science and Technology at the University of Calgary, scientific coordinator of the network. “I’m glad that both sides of the Atlantic Ocean are highly motivated not only by curiosity-driven discovery but also to make this technology work and deliver societal benefits.

The CAFQA network also demonstrated its commitment to ensuring equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in collaborations among Canadian and French researchers by concluding the workshop opening day by an EDI session.

As part of the workshop, numerous roundtables took place at the CNRS headquarters to address the means to fund and sustain Canada-France collaborations in quantum science and technology. Researchers and experts from Canadian and French universities, governmental research organizations and ministries[2] shared their experiences and visions on how to build and maintain effective and coordinated bilateral research in line with the national strategies of the two countries.

Round-table discussion on graduate and post-doctoral training in the context of research cooperation. From left to right ; Sylvain Charbonneau (U. of Ottawa), Franck Balestro (U. Grenoble-Alpes), Charmaine Dean (U. of Waterloo), Arnaud Tourin (U. PSL), Karine Samuel (U. Grenoble-Alpes), Louis Taillefer (U. de Sherbrooke), Marco Aprili (CNRS)

Further discussions focused on promoting university and post-graduate training. Accordingly, participants explored various funding opportunities to strengthen joint training and research and emphasized the importance of investing significantly in education and talent mobility, while striving to make quantum science more attractive to women. To help make CAFQA a driving force for academic exchanges, CNRS and Mitacs have jointly launched a call for co-funding for ten PhD or post-doctoral positions, which will open next autumn.

The roundtable allowed to directly address some key points including student and research mobility, funding opportunities and global strategies,” says Marco Aprili, a CNRS Senior Researcher at the Laboratory of Solid State Physics[3], scientific coordinator of the network. “The discussion enabled us to raise concrete actions that can be taken – for instance student support and carrier perspectives – to remove barrier and encourage collaborations.

These discussions marked the beginning of a constructive convergence of financial support from member institutions, which will become an important leverage tool for future large-scale funding opportunities – national and international. The future association of Canada to the Horizon Europe will also present an asset to secure funding at European level.

This quantum network represents the natural evolution of the many and long-time existing collaborations between our two countries

Antoine Petit, Chairman and CEO of the CNRS

In its conclusion remarks, Antoine Petit, Chairman and CEO of the CNRS, recalled the context of close Canadian-French cooperation in which the CAFQA network was created, at the beginning of 2023. “This quantum network represents the natural evolution of the many and long-time existing collaborations between our two countries,” said Antoine Petit. According to him, the CAFQA network is “a concrete realization that resonates with conclusions of the first joint committee Comité mixte France–Canada on science and technology that took place in Ottawa on 24 April 2023.

Representing the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research, Alban Duverdier reminded the audience in his opening speech that both the French and Canadian ministers, Sylvie Retailleau and François-Philippe Champagne confirmed that quantum is one of the priorities for scientific cooperation between the two countries.

Antoine Petit, Chairman and CEO of CNRS, opens the final day of the CAFQA workshop at CNRS headquarters. ©CNRS

Among the many fruitful Franco-Canadian research collaborations that paved the way for the creation of the CAFQA network is the Quantum Frontiers Laboratory – Laboratoire Frontières Quantiques (LFQ), a CNRS International Research Laboratory (IRL) created in partnership with the University of Sherbrooke, Québec, in 2022. The LFQ, which conducts cutting-edge international collaborative research in fundamental science and quantum technologies, combines the expertise and facilities of the CNRS and Université de Sherbrooke. It also facilitates the exchange of researchers and students and serves as a hub for applications to research programs funded by French, Canadian, European, and international agencies.

The Quantum Frontiers Lab has very effectively fostered collaborations between experts in materials synthesis, a wide range of experimental techniques and various theoretical approaches based at Sherbrooke and across more than ten labs in France,” says Louis Taillefer, Director of the LFQ, and the fourth network’s second scientific coordinator. “This is fueled by meetings on both sides of the Atlantic, summer schools for students, several co-supervised PhD students, many internships at MSc level, and long-term visits by scientists. I am thrilled at the prospect offered by CAFQA of extending the reach of such collaborations with France to the whole of Canada.

Stéphane Dion, Canadian Ambassador to France, and Antoine Petit, President and CEO of CNRS, close the three-day workshop at the Canadian Embassy in France. ©CNRS

The three-day workshop closed at the Embassy of Canada in France in the presence of Stéphane Dion, Canada’s Ambassador to France, Antoine Petit, Chairman and CEO of the CNRS, as well as network members and partners, in a celebration of the strong Franco-Canadian scientific cooperation. “Tonight, we conclude the first conference of CAFQA network, which will advance the quantum revolution, with all its promises for humanity,” said Canada’s Ambassador to France Stephane Dion.

The next edition of the CAFQA workshop will be held in 2024, at the University of Ottawa, Ontario. 


Find out more about the CAFQA network : Quantum technology : a new France-Canada Network
[1] CNRS/Université de Montpellier
[2] Neil Abroug (French General Secretariat for Investment Michael Rosenblatt (Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada), Alejandro Adem (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada), John Hepburn (Mitacs), Yamine Ait-Ameur (French National Research Agency), and Audrène Eloit (French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs) participated in the roundtables.
[3] CNRS/Université Paris-Saclay.



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