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Montréal, November 10, 2023 – HEC Montréal’s Tech3Lab, the world’s largest university laboratory for user experience (UX) research, has been awarded $18 million in funding over 5 years. This is the most substantial research-related funding ever received in the history of the School. Such major financial support, which will boost UX innovation and accelerate digital transformation in organizations, showcases the laboratory’s cutting-edge expertise, international status, and influence on the economy of Quebec and Canada.
This amount comes from two public granting agencies — the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and PROMPT — as well as 13 partners: Alloprof, National Bank, BlueYonder Group Inc., CAE Inc., CN, D-BOX Technologies Inc, Deloitte Digital, LRDG Inc., Desjardins Group, Radio-Canada, ServiceNow, Sobeys Inc., Vidéotron Ltd.
The funding will help advance UX research, which uses tools from neuroscience to develop a rich understanding of the actual experiences of users. This research is crucial for boosting digital economies, and its resulting breakthroughs will benefit many organizations, their employees and other people interacting with technology, such as consumers and citizens.
Helping organizations to accelerate digital transformation
The 13 industrial partners will work closely with the multidisciplinary team in HEC Montréal’s Tech3Lab by providing real cases. The results and progress will optimize UX among their customers and employees in a wide variety of sectors: traditional and electronic commerce, telecommunications, banking, transportation, procurement, online education, culture, and entertainment.
The funding will be used for two research programs led by Pierre-Majorique Léger and Sylvain Sénécal, and comprising 10 other researchers from the School: the first one seeks to help organizations develop easy-to-learn technological interfaces and ensure that users are ready to adopt them; the second one hopes to improve UX measures and methods and make them more accessible, for instance by providing internal teams with opportunities to validate results faster.
Experts from HEC Montréal’s Tech3Lab will conduct tests that will analyze users’ reactions from emotional and cognitive perspectives, with the help of certain tools including physiological sensors, and equipment for measuring facial expressions, visual attention, and cognitive load.
For example, the Tech3Lab team located in the Hélène Desmarais Building uses virtual reality devices to conduct very high precision studies of the emotional and cognitive experiences that customers or staff members undergo while interacting with technologies.
Providing digital transformation training to the next generation
HEC Montréal’s Tech3Lab also ensures that the next generation is equipped to address future challenges in digital transformation. Collaborations with its industrial partners help create unparalleled training opportunities, especially for students of the School’s Master’s degree in User Experience (UX), who complete their thesis within these partnerships. Thanks to its international status and capacity for innovation, the laboratory attracts an average of almost one hundred students across all levels each year from Canada and abroad.
“I am delighted with this historic funding. Our researchers in all areas of management sciences constantly strive for excellence and are driven by a deep desire to surpass themselves. Our mission’s primary focus is on research and knowledge transfer to the business community and society, and this contribution will convert HEC Montréal’s high ambitions into reality.”
Federico Pasin, Director, HEC Montréal
“This major public and private funding will help accelerate research findings and make UX even more intuitive and enjoyable. Meticulous innovations regarding the speed and diagnostic nature of data from our experiments will now become possible, with the purpose of mobilizing the latest developments in artificial intelligence to achieve results almost in real time, when evaluating digital products and services.”
Pierre-Majorique Léger, Co-director, Tech3Lab and Professor, Department of Information Technologies, HEC Montréal
“Information technologies are ubiquitous in our economy. In recent years, UX has taken on strategic importance for many organizations in a variety of sectors. Our research helps them make pivotal decisions when developing new digital products and services.”
Sylvain Sénécal, Co-director, Tech3Lab and Professor, Department of Marketing, HEC Montréal
“Researchers like Pierre-Majorique Léger and Sylvain Sénécal, who partner with businesses and organizations in your communities to advance industries that employ thousands and improve products and services for clients around the globe. On behalf of NSERC, we wish you all the success and look forward to seeing the impact of your collaborations in the coming years.”
Robert Déziel, Deputy Director, NSERC
“The Tech3Lab project is an impressive example of a collaborative partnership between academics and industrials. By involving thirteen partner-companies from various sectors, Tech3Lab has pulled off a real tour de force that will enable several industries to benefit from the results of this applied research. For PROMPT, whose mission is to facilitate and support collaborative innovation projects, this is an excellent example of synergy between the research and private sectors.”
Liette Lamonde, Managing Director, PROMPT
Breakdown of the funding
The $18 million in funding comes from research grants: 50% from the federal level through NSERC, 25% from the provincial level through PROMPT, and 25% from 13 industrial partners. The two resulting research programs are entitled:
“Improving easy learnability of human-machine interfaces: cognitive availability and learning experience”, with National Bank, CAE Inc., CN, LRDG Inc., Radio-Canada.
“Improving industrial measures and methods in user experience”, with Alloprof, Vidéotron Ltd., Blue Yonder Group, Inc., D-BOX Technologies Inc., Deloitte, Desjardins Group, ServiceNow, Sobeys Inc.
About HEC Montréal’s Tech3Lab
HEC Montreal’s Tech3Lab is a laboratory specialized in UX evaluation in the context of business technologies. Research conducted at the Tech3Lab is characterized by the use of tools from neuroscience to develop a rich understanding of the actual experiences of users (consumers, employees, or citizens) interacting with technology. Two research chairs working in close collaboration with industry co-exist within the Tech3Lab: the Chair in User Experience, and the RBC Financial Group Chair of E-Commerce.
PROMPT is an industrial research cluster (RSRI) specializing in the new technologies and information technologies sector. Through the implementation of support and funding programs (digital technologies, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, quantum, etc.), PROMPT, a trustee of the Quebec Ministry of the Economy, Innovation and Energy, promotes collaborative research between the entrepreneurial and scientific worlds, and drives Quebec innovation to increase Quebec’s competitive edge worldwide.
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada funds visionaries, explorers and innovators who are searching for the scientific and technical breakthroughs that will benefit our country. It is Canada’s largest supporter of discovery and innovation. It works with universities, colleges, businesses, and NPOs to remove barriers, develop opportunities and attract new expertise to give prominence to Canada’s research community.
Émilie Novales, ARP
Senior Media Relations Advisor, HEC Montréal
HEC Montréal’s Tech3Lab
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