The Université de Montréal (UdeM) announced Tuesday it has received the "largest donation ever made for the natural sciences in Canada" thanks to a contribution by the Fondation Courtois.

University officials say the historic donation, to the tune of $159 million, will go to accelerating the discovery of new materials and enabling research in "chemistry, physics, computer science and operations research to solve the greatest scientific, economic, environmental and social challenges of our time."

UdeM rector Daniel Jutras insists this collaboration will ensure Canada's place on the international stage when it comes to the natural sciences.

“Advanced materials research is crucial to the green innovation strategy we, as a society, need in order to face the challenges of our time," he said. "We now have the means to make a major contribution to finding the solutions of the future through scientific advances made here in Montreal.”

The donation will fund the Institut Courtois research centre, which will focus on advancing artificial intelligence and robotics.

“By investing in basic research and supporting the next generation of scientists, we are meeting the innate drive to explore new frontiers that elevate all of humanity,” said Jacques Courtois, president of the foundation. “We are also responding to more immediate concerns, such as the need to ensure our technological sovereignty. It is the societies that have produced the most basic science that have generated the greatest economic prosperity.”

The Institut Courtois is slated to be part of the science complex at UdeM’s MIL campus, if the project obtains all necessary government approvals.