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Québec-Bavaria working group
 
Québec and Bavaria – A Role Model for Transatlantic Partnership on State Level
 
Interview with
Elisa Valentin, General Delegate of the Délégation générale du Québec à Munich, and
Benjamin Emans, Director of the State of Bavaria Montréal Office
 

 
The German Canadian Concourse (GCC) has built over the years a far-reaching network of governmental, institutional, and corporate partners to explore the innovative potential in Canada and Germany and to advance collaboration in various fields of science and technology. In this context, the cooperation of the GCC with the representations of the German Länder and the Canadian provinces plays an important role to embrace the full innovative diversity of both federal systems.

The German Canadian Concourse maintains a long-standing partnership with the Province of Québec and the State of Bavaria. Québec and Bavaria themselves look back on a 30 year-long bilateral cooperation.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of science and technology cooperation between Germany and Canada, we wanted to understand what makes the partnership between Bavaria and Québec in particular so successful.

The GCC has met with Elisa Valentin, General Delegate of the Délégation générale du Québec à Munich, and Benjamin Emans, Director of the State of Bavaria Montréal Office, for an interview.
 
Striving for Excellence through Transatlantic Cooperation
 
GCC: Dear Ms. Valentin, dear Mr. Emans, Canada and Germany are celebrating this year the 50th anniversary of the Bilateral Intergovernmental Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement. At the same time, Québec and Bavaria look back on a very special transatlantic connection and outstanding cooperation for three decades. Could you share with us some highlights of this unique collaboration?

EV: Both regions have been working closely together for more than 30 years and from the beginning, this cooperation was understood to be holistic, which means that it extends to all areas of public life, such as politics and administration, business, science, research, technology, innovation and also education and culture.

There are, of course, many highlights in this diverse collaboration. To name them all would exceed the boundaries of this interview. But to give you an example of our scientific cooperation: we support a project between the Ludwig-Maximilian's University of Munich and the Montréal innovation cluster on climatology called Ouranos. The project investigates the effects of climate change on extreme meteorological and hydrological events and their implications for water management in our two regions. This is a great example of two international project partners that join forces to run climate models, linked with hydrological modelling, using high-performance computing.

BE: In general, we see great economic benefits resulting from our international cooperation. This is why our representative offices support companies from both regions in exporting and in establishing companies in the other partner's country. The close cooperation and the trust that has grown over the years allow us to open doors much more easily than it would be possible without our local representative offices.

And of course, there is also an exchange of knowledge between the project partners. This concerns both, the sharing of best practices in public administration, as well as the content-based, scientific exchange of knowledge. Based on this solid foundation of our political relations, science and innovation have gained more and more importance in our cooperation in recent years.

Elisa Valentin


"Engaging in international scientific collaboration means to join forces with the aim to reach excellence."


GCC: We would be interested in learning more about your success stories of partnerships between Bavarian and Québec-based organizations. What is the added value of working in transnational STI projects? How do these projects anchor you in your own transatlantic collaboration?

EV: Our international partnerships and networks offer new insights and ideas, but also allow access to excellent researchers and their respective networks. Engaging in international scientific collaboration means to join forces with the aim to reach excellence.

We contribute, for example, in the development of various high-profile exchange projects specializing in climate change, health-related research, artificial intelligence and many other domains. Besides for a better mutual cross-cultural understanding, the benefits we gain from this exchange might also help in decision-making, either on a purely scientific level, but also in education, in advising governments, to improve medical treatments or to boost economic gains. As both regions are technologically well advanced, the sharing of synergies – when it comes to their technological skills – can considerably increase their reciprocal progress. Plus, both regions are a strategic gateway to the other regions, which means that the North American, Canadian, European and German markets can be accessed from Québec and Bavaria respectively.

 
Shared Values, Similar Industrial Structures, Complementary Expertise
 
GCC: What in your view makes German-Canadian, or specifically Québec-Bavarian, STI cooperation meaningful? What is the unique value of collaboration between Canadians and Germans?

EV: We cooperate based on our shared values. You can see this quite well in the field of artificial intelligence, for example. Here, ethical guidelines are very important to structure solutions that are acceptable and meet the conditions of the respective societies and legal systems.

The way the industries are structured and the high level of research in Québec and Bavaria are just two of many similarities one could mention. Here lies a great potential to cooperate. An example to illustrate this high level of research would be the advanced aviation industry in Québec and the very strong automotive industry in Bavaria.

Benjamin Emans


"Both our governments invest in science and consider it the basis for innovation and growth."


BE: Another example would be artificial intelligence in Québec and the 4.0 industry in Bavaria, which is another field of complementarity and which enables potential collaboration. So, our shared values and the way we both look at science and innovation are definitely our key forces. Both our governments invest in science and consider it the basis for innovation and growth. And, as mentioned before, we want to have an international outreach and collaborate at the global level to achieve excellence. This way we have been able to help create and establish structures and excellent conditions for scientific collaboration in a variety of different fields.


GCC: Which circumstances make cooperation in a German-Canadian project particularly easy or complex? How do the representations of Québec and Bavaria provide support?

EV: In general, we support the development of projects and the search for funding opportunities for science and innovation projects. The governments of Bavaria and Québec also support the direct funding of science and innovation projects. However, each project or initiative has its own challenges. This is where we step in by providing a service tailored to the needs of the specific project partners. A particular feature is that the cooperation between Québec and Bavaria is cross-sectoral and that it operates at all levels. Therefore – by acting at the intersection of politics, administration, economy and innovation – we are the link, promoter, facilitator and ambassador for cooperation projects. Our work covers many aspects, and since we have quick access to responsible organizations in our respective regions, we can help to substantially accelerate the development and expansion of projects and exchanges.

"We try to build networks that go beyond the individual projects. In our experience a lot of new ideas arise when people meet."


BE: And usually, it is precisely funding and bureaucracy that are the biggest challenges in international cooperation projects.

The Bavarian Government established the Scientific Coordination Office Québec/Alberta/International, which offers help with science management to our project partners. Trying to align international projects to funding timelines in different countries is a challenge, as well as finding suitable partners in specific fields of research and development.

Additionally, we try to build networks that go beyond the individual projects. In our experience a lot of new ideas arise when people meet.

 
Growing Networks, Promoting Transatlantic Partnerships
 
GCC: Québec and Bavaria are both long-standing partners of the GCC program. What is your main takeaway from the GCC concept? How could the GCC support you in advancing your transatlantic STI agenda.

EV: We have been represented at several conferences organized by the GCC and we would like to thank you for your exceptional commitment. Your topics are set very precisely and lie in areas where Québec and Bavaria are particularly strong. Also, the very intensive preparation by the GCC team through previous travels to Québec and meetings with key partners and participants raises awareness for new projects. The topics you have covered fostered cooperation in cutting-edge technical fields of great importance.

"The very intensive preparation by the GCC team through previous travels to Québec and meetings with key partners and participants raises awareness for new projects."


BE: In fact, the GCC is providing a great platform for creating and strengthening connections between Bavaria, Québec, Germany and Canada. Even before the pandemic, the GCC was visionary in using virtual meeting tools that allowed live interaction of expert groups on both sides of the Atlantic. The innovative and technology-driven topics, be it aerospace or AI, are a perfect fit for the fields in which we proactively promote transatlantic partnerships.


GCC: In which way could the GCC support you in reaching out to partners across the Atlantic to build your STI network?

BE: We met a number of interested professionals at your events, whether in Berlin or in Montréal. Therefore, your events were helpful to foster and grow our network – and I am sure they will be in the future. For sure, our delegates are happy to actively participate in the conferences, which will stimulate the discussion for all of us.


GCC: What particular element of the GCC format is beneficial for matchmaking between Bavarian and Québec partners? Are you aware of organizations from Québec and Bavaria whose attendance at the GCC led to new perspectives or tangible contacts?

EV: The in-person format was very useful, and it was also helpful that you have early developed hybrid formats with parallel events in Québec and Germany. It will be interesting to see how the format will evolve in the post-pandemic period. Having key industry and project partners (such as Airbus) and multipliers (such as CRIAQ) at the event is a very promising idea.

BE: Bavarian companies and organizations such as BMW and Applied AI were given the opportunity to present at past GCC events, and I am sure they have made valuable contacts in Québec and in Canada. All participants have benefited from great new contacts at GCC events.


GCC: How could the GCC support future endeavours of Bavarian and Québec organizations to expand their activities in and collaborations with Germany or Canada?

EV: We are always open for contacts and on the lookout for speakers and participants we could invite to your events. We are very curious about how you develop the format further.

BE: Keep up the good networking possibilities. By offering events with interesting speakers on each specific topic will help get the right people together and I am sure there will be collaborations in the future.


GCC: Thank you Ms. Valentin and Mr. Emans for sharing your views on the successful collaboration between your states. We look forward to working with you in the future.

"Even before the pandemic, the GCC was visionary in using virtual meeting tools that allowed live interaction of expert groups on both sides of the Atlantic"


Photo Credits:

Header picture: Québec-Bavaria working group High spirits at the 14th meeting of the Québec-Bavaria working group (Oct. 18, 2016), which supported more than 60 cooperation projects in the fields of politics and administration, business, science, technology and innovation, education and culture. The former Delegate General Claude Trudelle (front row, 5th from left) and the Head of the Bavarian Representative Office in Montréal Benjamin Emans (back row, 5th from left) were present. (This photo was taken before the start of the Corona pandemic.) ©Bavarian State Chancellery

Elisa Valentin: Official photo of the General Delegate

Benjamin Emans: Official photo of the Director of the State of Bavaria Montréal Office

ClimEx: Québec's Minister of International Affairs and Francophonie, Ms. Nadine Girault, in conversation with Prof. Dr. Ralf Ludwig from the Ouranos/ClimEx project and the director of the Leibniz Supercomputing Center, Prof. Dr. Dieter Kranzlmüller, during her visit to the Leibniz Supercomputing Center in Garching in January 2019. The ClimEx project is a scientific cooperation on climate change and related hydrological changes in Bavaria and in Québec. (This photo was taken before the start of the Corona pandemic.) ©www.alessandro-podo.de

 
Celebrating 50 years of German-Canadian STI Cooperation
 
 
 
This interview is part of a series produced by the German Canadian Concourse to celebrate the advances of 50 years German-Canadian collaboration on science, technology and innovation.
 
 
 
50 Years German-Canadian Science Technology Cooperation
 
 
 
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