CIA (e)Bulletin/(e)Bulletin de l'ICA
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October 2016

The Beginnings and Future Outlook of the CIA’s Academic Research Grant Program

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The CIA’s Academic Research Grant Program, launched in September 2015 by the CIA Research Committee’s Academic Research Subcommittee (ARC), offers funding for scientific research projects in actuarial science with a potential impact on actuarial practice in Canada. The results of a funded project should lead to the submission of a refereed article in a scientific journal.

The program has four objectives: promote scientific actuarial research that helps solve practical problems faced by Canadian actuaries; help transfer knowledge to graduate students and practitioners; strengthen the relationship between the CIA and Canadian academics in the actuarial field; and foster partnerships between academics and practitioners.

Selection Process

The proposal selection process for funded projects kicks off in the fall, in anticipation of the coming year. Interested candidates submit a notice of intent that describes the context and objectives of the research project. A brief biography on the researchers is also submitted. These applications are examined and ranked by the ARC. The selection criteria that the subcommittee applies to research projects include the project’s interest and potential impact, the research team’s field of expertise, compliance with the budget set by the CIA, and the participation of at least one graduate student or practitioner in the research project.

Based on this process, the Research Committee conducts a preselection of qualified projects. This selection is communicated to the interested researchers, who submit a complete application including a review of the professional and scientific literature and an explanation of the methodology to be followed to meet the research project’s objectives. The projects are then assessed on the basis of the same criteria used by the Research Committee for the assessment of any other research project; namely, impact, cost-benefit analysis, uniqueness, quality, and feasibility. The final decision on which research projects will be green-lighted is taken in February of the following year.

Funded Proposals for this Year

The Research Committee received 12 notices of intent earlier this year, and invited seven proposal teams to submit a complete application. Three of those seven proposals received funding under the program this year:

  • Constructing Two-Dimensional Mortality Tables (University of Waterloo): Members will benefit by the creation of a stochastic mortality model that has two-dimensional mortality improvement scales and by the development of specifically tailored measures of uncertainty for mortality projections. The researchers for this project are Johnny Li, Yanxin Liu, and Yuanpei Ma. The research team presented some preliminary results of the study at the 12th International Longevity Risk and Capital Markets Solutions Conference held in Chicago in late September 2016.
  • A Markov Model for Mortality (Western University): Members will benefit by the creation of a Markov mortality model where the dynamic relationship between the general health state of an insured and several dimensions of its health can be incorporated into a common framework. The researchers for this project are Xiaoming Liu, Jiandong Ren, and Boquan Cheng.
  • Assessment of the Consumption and Bequest Preferences and Risk Aversion of Canadian Retirees and Pre-Retirees (University of Waterloo): Members will obtain a more complete picture of  the retirement objectives of Canadians to compare and contrast them with those that are commonly assumed in portfolio selection models. The researchers for this project are Mary Hardy, David Saunders, and Saisai Zhang.

The Academic Research Grant Program is kicking off its second year this fall. Some improvements have been made to the application process following year one, and the subcommittee will harmonize its calendar with that of the Society of Actuaries to better coordinate project selection and ensure diversity by ensuring that the same project is not funded by both organizations.

Encouraging Partnerships between Universities and Companies

In the medium- and long-term, the subcommittee plans to examine how the CIA can promote government programs that encourage partnerships between academia and companies. These partnerships would be beneficial to the actuarial community in that they would develop new knowledge, speed up the transfer of knowledge to practitioners, and foster scientific research. Two entities in particular offer partnerships between universities and companies; namely, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), which seeks partnerships to establish contacts with specialists from Canadian colleges and universities, and Mitacs, a national not-for-profit organization that establishes partnerships to support industrial and social innovation in Canada.

The subcommittee would like the CIA to promote such programs and opportunities for collaboration with companies, as well as taking on a leadership role as an intermediary between the universities and companies in the creation and promotion of these partnerships.

The subcommittee is composed of researcher professor members from across the country: Mathieu Boudreault (Chair), Alexandre Badescu, José Garrido, Bruce Jones, Yi Lu, and Chengguo Weng. For further information, visit the Academic Research Grant Program web page. For any questions on the program, please contact Mathieu Boudreault at


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