Report examines Quebec aerospace consortium

Open for business coverThe Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) last week released “Open for Business: On What Terms?”, an analysis of university-corporate collaborations across Canada and their implications for academic integrity and the public interest. The report’s examination of the Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Quebec (CRIAQ) in particular piqued the interest of Demilitarize McGill. By early 2013, CRIAQ had enlisted the participation of 14 universities, 9 research centers, and 52 companies to collaborate on research serving the Quebec aerospace industry. Corporate partners include Bell Helicopter, Bombardier, and CAE, the three companies that are partners in the CFD Lab. While the report does not address military research specifically, it offers a thorough analysis of how corporate funding translates into corporate influence and corporate control over research priorities and objectives.

When the companies in question are invested in the development of technology for military purposes through contracts with defense departments around the world, this control over university research tends to enlist university researchers and labs into projects that ultimately aim to improve the capacity of advanced militaries to kill people. An analysis by Demilitarize McGill finds that all 12 major corporate partners and at least 26 of the 52 total partners in CRIAQ are military contractors. We have compiled a summary of the CAUT’s findings on CRIAQ, below. Read the full report here.

  • CRIAQ has received $124 million in funding since 2002, with 142 projects completed as of 2012.

  • Government funders include the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the National Research Council (NRC) at the federal level, the Quebec Ministry of Economic Development, Innovation, and Export Trade, and the Fonds québécois de recherche sur la nature et les technologies.

  • Research projects are funded as follows: 25% CRIAQ grant, 25% corporate cash and in-kind, 50% NSERC.

  • The Consortium’s guiding principles state that university and industrial partners carry “equal importance.”

  • CRIAQ organizes a forum twice a year where companies present their research objectives, in the interest of ensuring an “industry-driven” research arrangement.

  • The Consortium’s structures privilege companies’ commercial goals over the university’s research and education mandates.

  • For instance, in the event of a disagreement relating to a patent application, the university partner “shall take any action directed by Industry in connection with the scope, content and prosecution of any patent applications.”

  • CRIAQ’s regulation of the research process compromises academic integrity. In the initial determination of projects and funding, the corporate partners set the research topics, issues, and problems to be addressed. Industry holds a majority of seats in CRIAQ’s decision-making body.

  • CRIAQ’s standard pre-competitive agreement makes no attempt to regulate or mandate disclosure of financial or institutional conflicts of interest. Researchers and university administrators may own shares in any of the companies that benefit from the research.

  • Researchers do not control dissemination of results.
  • The agreement does not protect academic freedom.

Major CRIAQ Partners – Military Contractors: Bell Helicopter Textron, Bombardier Aerospace, CAE, Pratt and Whitney, 3M, CMC Electronics, GE Aviation, Héroux-Devtek, L-3 MAS, Rolls-Royce, Thales, Turbomeca

Other CRIAQ Partners – Military Contractors: ASCO Aerospace, Avior Integrated Products, Composites Atlantic, CS Communications & Systems, Luxell Technologies, Mannarino Systems & Software, Marinvent, Mechachrome, Meloche Group, Messier-Buggati-Dowty, Nutaq, OPAL-RT Technologies, Roy Aircraft and Avionic Simulation, Silkan

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