Joanne Burgess: We have many partners—about a dozen partners—mainly in three major categories. There are cultural institutions such as museums (several large museums in Montréal) and government institutions such as the City of Montréal (a partner through some of its departments) and the museums and cultural heritage branch of Quebec’s provincial Department of Arts and Culture.
For our partners, it’s important to first, have the opportunity for closer contact with the university community and with researchers; and second, have access to the expertise of researchers and maybe access to the resources that our students can contribute to projects.
There’s also an important benefit for them: being able to share views with other partners with whom they might not have contact.
Léon Robichaud: On the digital side, the advantage for partners is having access. Often, for partners with limited resources, this means having access to tools on the cutting edge of technology, having access to the expertise of university researchers and also being able to try out these tools for their usefulness and value.
Specifically, there is collaboration between our advanced researchers and developers who can in turn contribute [to the project with] their current knowledge and their software in its current state. They can continue developing it with us by tackling new problems, new research issues—and then help our own developers to create new products and improve existing ones.
Joanne Burgess: It started first with what we can call a bilateral relationship—one researcher, one partner, working on specific projects. In 2006, with the help of a SSHRC grant, we established a research partner unit within the Laboratoire d’histoire et de patrimoine de Montréal.
Within this structure, more complex relationships could develop.
We had a nucleus in place for a long time; then we went to look for one, two or three new partners because they had particular expertise.