McGill-organized conferences represent economic boon for local economy

Eight faculty members named Ambassadors to Montreal by Palais des congrès
Eight McGill professors were honoured for organizing 12 major international conferences at the Palais de congrès that will inject an estimated $73 million to the local economy

Eight McGill faculty members were among 18 academics feted at the Recognition Award Gala held by the Palais des congrès on November 8. The group, named Ambassadors to Montreal, were honoured for organizing 12 major international conferences that will bring an estimated 32,000 delegates to the Palais des congrès and some $73 million to the local economy.

“Montreal hosts more international events than any other city in the Americas, an honour vastly attributable to our Ambassadors and their commitment to advocating for their city and their scientific fields all over the world,” said Robert Mercure, President and CEO of the Palais des congrès de Montreal. According to the Union of International Associations, Montreal hosted 149 international conferences in 2017, ahead of Washington (62), New York (57) and Toronto (27).

Of the 12 conferences that were showcased, six have been organized, or co-organized, by McGill faculty. The Palais des congrès estimates these six conferences will generate approximately $53 million in economic benefits for Montreal, and attract more than 22,000 delegates.

The Palais des congrès is the city’s largest conference venue. In addition to the six huge McGill-led conferences being held at the Palais des congrès, McGill regularly hosts smaller conferences on its campuses.

“I’m very pleased to see how lively and active McGill faculty members are in drawing thousands of leaders in their disciplines to Montreal,” says Martha Crago, Vice-Principal of Research and Innovation. “And of course, we all know that Montreal is a great place for delegates to visit and enjoy.”

Team effort

James Clark of McGill’s Centre for Intelligent Machines was honoured for organizing the 18th International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV) to be held in Montreal in 2021. Held every two years, the ICCV is the marquis computer vision event in the world. Close to 6,000 delegates from around the world will take part in the ICCV, which the Palais estimates will inject almost $13 million into the Montreal and Quebec economy. But Clark is quick to point out that putting together an event of this size and scope is not a one-man job.

“While I am honoured to be recognized by the Palais des congrès for helping bring the ICCV to Montreal in 2021, I am just part of a large team, consisting of eminent researchers from across the world, that is working hard to organize this important event,” he said.

Showcasing Montreal talent

But the ICCV will provide more than just a financial boost to local hotels, restaurants and shops. Clark sees it as an important tool to promote Montreal-based research.

“The ICCV conference is the premier international event in the field of computer vision, an important sub-discipline of artificial intelligence [AI]. Computer vision technology is key to many important new application areas, such as self-driving cars, homecare assistive robotics, video surveillance and checkout-free retail (such as the Amazon Go stores),” said Clark. “This is the first time it is being held in Montreal, and comes at a time when Montreal is emerging as a leader in the AI field.”

“International conferences give the world a chance to see our leading edge scientific and industrial sectors,” says Fabrice Labeau, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning). This marked the third time Lebeau has been honoured by the Palais de congrès for organizing substantial conferences, giving him Emeritus Ambassador status.

The eight McGill Faculty Members who received Ambassadors Awards are:

  • Professor Shirley Lehnert and Professor Jan Seuntjens, Medecine 
    17th International Congress on Radiation Research – ICRR 2023, September 2023
  • Professor James J. Clark, Engineering
    18th International Conference on Computer Vision (first in Montreal) – ICCV 2021, October 2021
  • Professor Joëlle Pineau and Professor Doina Precup, Engineering
    30th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence – IJCAI, July 2021
  • Professor Fabien Gélinas, Faculty of Law (with Professor Karim Benyekhlef, of l’Université de Montréal.)
    21st Annual General Meeting – Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – ICANN66, November 2019
  • Professor Fabrice Labeau, Engineering
    IEEE SENSORS 2019 – The 18th Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Conference on Sensors, October 2019
  • Susan Kahn, Medecine (with Dr. Marc Rodger, of the University of Ottawa.)
    XXXI ISTH Congress with 69th Annual SSC Meeting – International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis, June 2023

Also during the Recognition Gala, Kha Han Lisa Dang, a PhD student in Physics at McGill, received the Prix Relève étoile Louis-Berlinguet Award, one of three prizes awarded to young researchers in Québec universities by the Fonds de recherche du Québec.