Faces of Entrepreneurship FT. Martine Lagacé

Martine Lagacé, Associate Vice-President, Research Promotion and Development at uOttawa

Martine Lagacé has an impressive background in communications, psychology and administration. She started in journalism, working for Radio-Canada for more than 10 years, before coming to the University of Ottawa to become a professor in the Department of Communication and affiliated with the School of Psychology.

Professor Lagacé has contributed greatly to the advancement of knowledge on the psychosocial aspects of aging, particularly as they relate to discrimination based on age. She has led several field surveys in Canada and abroad, with workers as well as elderly patients to better understand the impact of age-based discrimination. In the francophone community, her academic work on ageism has been ground-breaking. Martine has edited two books on the topic and regularly publishes articles in academic journals, in both official languages.

Professor Lagacé was Vice-Dean, Governance at the Faculty of Arts from 2014 to 2018, and Director of the Department of Communication from 2011 to 2012. She was appointed Associate Vice-President, Research Promotion and Development, in August 2018 for a five-year term. Martine contributes to several organizations and has also forged several international research collaborations, particularly in France and Italy.

What does entrepreneurship mean to you?

While it’s generally associated with activities related to the business world or a career status viewed in contrast to salaried work, I myself associate entrepreneurship primarily with a state of mind that drives one forward to embody a vision in a project that can take on many forms.

This capacity to undertake something, to create synergies that are leveraged in a very concrete manner based on innovative ideas or concepts that bring added economic, technological, industrial, scholarly and social value, goes well beyond the commercial realm and is indeed present in the world of research.

In fact, a certain entrepreneurial mindset underpins our researchers’ activities, since the studies and projects they develop, with their teams and partnerships, based on specific issues, enable the creation of new knowledge and innovative solutions that help today’s societies meet many challenges. It’s important to stress that this “business” relies first and foremost on teamwork, with colleagues, students, research participants and members of the community in general.

Developing new material, new health-care or teaching techniques, but also new legal approaches and knowledge that takes the form of high value-added medical, digital or social applications, and that have an impact on our policies, speaks to this entrepreneurial, scholarly spirit that drives our research community.

This entrepreneurial dynamic goes hand in hand with a new way of thinking of society in general, which sees innovation as a tool that should enable us to build fairer societies and that is, in that sense, closely connected to the issues of equity and inclusion we face.

How are you entrepreneurial?

Being a researcher myself, I consider that my research approach is similar in some ways to a type of knowledge entrepreneurship.

When I undertake a new study in my area of research, agism, there’s a whole process that consists of establishing a research angle, forming a team, raising funds and testing the project’s underlying hypothesis.

The entire approach aims to produce new knowledge that can enlighten our decision makers and add social value for targeted population groups. It really is an entrepreneurial dynamic and, in that regard, I would say that my researcher’s hat makes me a knowledge entrepreneur.

To a large extent, though, it’s in my role as associate vice-president, research promotion and development that I activate the qualities that one associates with an entrepreneur.

Showing leadership and creativity is actually essential in being able to strengthen the strategic positioning of research at the University of Ottawa within the Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation. It’s a way of operating that, it goes without saying, can support our talents, initiate or develop partnerships that cut across areas of expertise and work to increase the visibility of our scholarly expertise and our research impact.

How does an entrepreneurial mindset contribute to your life?

I’d say that it’s an essential component of my day to day life, a key item in my personal and professional toolkit. It’s a way to deal with the range of challenges I’d like to meet both in my university research and in administering the many activities I’m responsible for leading within the Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation at the University of Ottawa.

*This feature was published as a part of the Faces of Entrepreneurship Campaign, 2021–22.

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