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NSERC Strategic Research Network on Value Chain Optimization


Officially launched in February 2010, the NSERC Strategic Research Network on Value Chain Optimization (VCO) is in direct response to the Federal Budget 2008, in which NSERC was allocated new funds to support collaborative research that directly contributes to the knowledge and innovation needs of Canada’s forest industry. In its quest for increased competitiveness of the Canadian forest products industry, FPInnovations has identified VCO as a key part of its Transformative Technologies program.

The NSERC VCO research network is one of four new Strategic Networks supported by FPInnovations’ Flagship Innovation Program. The network serves to bring academic, government and industry researchers together to focus their efforts on priority areas of research. FPInnovations is involved in the planning and orientation of the network. It also plays a key role in transferring the research results to the industry and policy makers.

The key thing that distinguishes the forest industry is that of divergent flows. In the Canadian forest industry, this is accentuated by the fact that we have the most diverse mix of commercial forest species of any country and that we begin with a diverse set of forest values that includes both timber and non-timber values. Thus for any product, we can see a chain linking it back to its original source in the forest; but looking forward from the forest there is a very complex network of value creation challenges and opportunities. Among these, the challenge of developing and sharing information that permits the identification and exploitation of the opportunities for collaboration, while at the same time minimizing the risks of such tight integration, where a market disruption in one part of this divergent network causes disruptions in the ability to source materials in other parts of the network. As we begin to develop more complex value networks linking the forest through to energy and chemicals, advanced fibre products and advanced wood products, we need to ensure that these networks achieve benefits of collaboration and integration without creating undue risks of supply disruption to one product sector due to market disruption in another sector.

Network Structure

A Network’s governance structure has been defined. It is composed of three entities. The first is the board of directors which is responsible for partnership, budget and research program acceptance. The board of directors comprises a wide range of stakeholders from academia, industry, FPInnovations and public organizations. The second is the steering committee, consisting of university scientists and FPInnovations program managers, which recommends to the board, both a research plan and a transfer plan. The third is the scientific management committee, consisting of University scientists, that is responsible for proposing research plans as well as monitoring and maintaining the scientific program.

The VCO network has also a management team supporting the Scientific Director (Sophie D’Amours): the Network Liaison Manager (Mustapha Ouhimmou), Assistance administrative (Catherine Levesque) and Network’s secretary (Barbara McKenzie-Maisonneuve). This team is responsible for the daily operations including budget, communication, events, meetings, Network’s progress report, etc.

The five years research plan includes 68 research projects, proposed by 26 principal investigators from 11 different Canadian universities. The research program is organized around the following four themes:

  • Integrated forest and industry strategies for the modern BioEconomy: pathway and strategic planning toward a long term sustainable and competitive advantage for the Canadian forest sector. The theme leaders are Eldon Gunn and David Martell (Theme 1).
  • Integrated value chains: creative design and planning of agile, diverse and sustainable business models and value chains. The theme leaders are Robert Kozak and Paul Stuart (Theme 2 and 3).
  • Optimized value chains: integrated and real‐time demand-driven planning and logistics. The theme leaders are Reino Pulkki and Bernard Gendron (Theme 4).
  • Knowledge modelling and sharing: common representation and understanding of the VCO domain. The theme leader is Sophie D’Amours (Theme 5).

A transfer plan is tied, in collaboration with FPInnovations, to the research program, in order to transfer all the VCO research outputs to the Canadian forest industry in the most efficient way.

Research Objectives

The key objectives of the proposed research are the following:

  • Support decision-makers in their effort to design new and optimized sustainable forest bioeconomy networks.
  • Increase value gain from forest and asset utilization by developing decision support tools for integrating the whole value chain.
  • Improve competitiveness through a structured and coherent implementation of new and optimized value propositions and business models.
  • Improve agile execution and value capture throughout the business networks.
  • Develop a culture of analytical decision-making in the forest bioeconomy.
  • In developing methods and solutions to meet these objectives, Network researchers will contribute to science and engineering knowledge by developing advanced methods for designing and planning complex forest value chains.


The outcomes of the research will include new contributions in the following domains:

  • Designing resilient and sustainable forest value chains and business models.
  • Planning large-scale, multi-objective and stochastic forest value chains.
  • Planning distributed and collaborative forest value chains.
  • Designing proactive and agile logistics and manufacturing systems for the forest value chains.
  • Designing a knowledge-based framework for forest value chain integration (e.g., spatial, temporal, decisional).


Sophie D'Amours
Scientific Director
Université Laval, Québec (QC)
Tel.: 418-656-2131 ext. 7648

Mustapha Ouhimmou
Network Liaison Manager
FPInnovations, Québec (QC)
Tel.: 418-659-2647 ext. 3723
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