Innovation driving research

3 minutes

Montreal centre-ville

  • © Photo Montage of Montreal City and one of its Highway
Organized by Quartier de l’Innovation, the QI_Connexion contest lends a fresh perspective on the future of downtown montreal. Between art in parking lots and gardens at intersections, there’s no lack of ideas for invigorating urban spaces—and there’s still room for more.

Since 2015, QI_Connexion, a pitch contest held five times a year, has been building connections between Montreal start-ups and big companies. “The goal is to implement Montreal innovations to arrive at new solutions and allow testing of these ideas in a real environment,” explains Vincent Lafrenaye-Lamontagne, project manager at Quartier de l’innovation.

Each edition pulls in around twenty submissions, out of which the judges initially select five finalists, eventually leading to two winners who receive a grant supporting the development of their project. Once connections have been made between the young entrepreneurs and larger companies, anything is possible. “The company chooses the best option to meet its objectives and then proceeds to set up a partnership and a pilot project, when possible,” explains Lafrenaye-Lamontagne.

Although normally QI_Connexion occurs as a large networking event, COVID-19 has forced even the organization itself to innovate. “Montreal’s EdLive, which sells technological solutions for online courses and distance education to schools, universities, and companies, put the EdLive technology at our disposal for producing pitch videos,” states Lafrenaye-Lamontagne. “The idea,” he continues, “was to replace traditional webinars and ubiquitous videoconferencing meetings.”

For the current edition, the theme given to participants is quite topical: Invigorate downtown Montreal, a central theme conceived in partnership with Montreal Centre-ville Société de développement commercial (SDC).“The idea was fairly broad: to create projects that encourage people to return to the downtown area and use more of its facilities, even though normal use of sites isn’t happening right now,” concedes the manager. On October 26, QI_Connexion gave awards to two ground-breaking projects: P_ART_KING and Repenser la sécurisation des pistes cyclables.

Vincent_Lafrenaye Lamontagne

A concrete museum

Are underground parking lots boring? According to Alizé Honen-Delmar, originator of the project P_ART_KINGand recipient of the Prix du public, maybe just a bit. “It’s a way of combining two worlds: that of parking lots, which are pretty depressing, and that of art and culture,” she states. The idea is to decorate the walls of downtown underground parking facilities with murals from local emerging artists,selected according to specific criteria of equality and the representation of Montreal’s diversity. Grouped together by themes assigned to the different parking levels, the works will reproduce the exhibition walls of museums. Honen-Delmar considers P_ART_KING asa collective, participatory work of art that incorporates the opinions of citizens through surveys conducted on social media.

Improving intersections



While driving his son home from school, Nicolas Sangaré of design studio Rainville Sangaré realized that the long, tedious landscaping projects bordering the road could impact the everyday experience of residents. His project, Repenser la sécurisation des pistes cyclables (“Rethinking the safety of bike lanes”), convinced the judges: an arrangement of modular safety embankments for pedestrian and cyclist pathways composed of steel planters containing vegetation, flowers, and trees in the summer or urban art in the winter. “At that time, there were permanent solutions integrated into the roadway, but ours could be produced and set up quickly,” said Sangaré.

This made the idea as good for the long term as for temporary thoroughfares, such as the pedestrian zones that make their appearance on Sainte-Catherine Street in the summer, for which concrete planters cannot be used.

Rainville-Sangaré studio hopes to be able to promote their idea locally. “Our philosophy is based on local collaborations between all parties: the City, the trees, the manufacturing of pots… all this can be done locally,” states the entrepreneur. Set-up can begin next spring, just in time for the arrival of good weather. “We asked that projects be realizable within the year, before the end of 2020, but we’ll see whether this is possible given the constraints of the pandemic,” concludes Lafrenaye-Lamontagne.

Bac de bordure du projet Repenser la sécurisation des pistes cyclables