The Governments of Canada and Ontario, with IBM and a consortium of seven universities led by the University of Toronto and Western University today announced they are collaborating to establish a new Ontario-based $210 million dollar research and development initiative that will create 145 new highly skilled jobs in Ontario and a new economic cornerstone for the country.“Canada needs more knowledge-based industries to diversify our national economic portfolio beyond the current over-weighting of commodities and natural resources and help eliminate our identified innovation gap’,” said Professor David Naylor, president, University of Toronto. “This collaborative initiative takes direct aim at these issues by creating modern research networks that bring advanced computing capacity to bear on important issues such as: water monitoring, management and distribution; energy monitoring and management; urban planning and traffic management for intelligent cities; and the cross-walk of brain science with artificial intelligence.”
IBM will invest up to $175 million through December 2014 in the project, forming the “IBM Canada Research and Development Centre” to serve as a foundation for the research initiative. The Government of Ontario is investing $15 million towards the creation of this Centre; ensuring that the skills needed for developing future information and communications technology products and services are fostered in Ontario, new and existing Ontario companies are leaders in their fields, and innovation efficiencies and cost-savings are created across multiple sectors.
“This is a very exciting initiative that demonstrates Ontario is a leader in cutting-edge research,” said Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development and Innovation, Government of Ontario. “Thanks to Ontario’s commitment to building an innovation-driven economy ? with leading research institutions, a highly educated workforce and a favourable corporate tax environment ? we are attracting world-leading initiatives, like IBM Canada’s Research and Development Centre.”
The Government of Canada will contribute $20 million to allow a consortium of seven southern Ontario post-secondary institutions and its lead industry partner, IBM, to install two high-performance IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputers and develop a cloud computing and agile computing platform to underpin the initiative’s research collaboration. The university consortium will have access to a new Barrie-based IBM data centre once it is fully operational in the fall of 2012. Other Canadian researchers and small to medium-sized enterprises will also be invited to join the consortium.
“Our Government has been building on the strengths found in our region to support the advancement of science and technology and help create value-added jobs ,” said the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). “We are proud to invest in supercomputing infrastructure that will position southern Ontario at the forefront of research and development in areas that are not only critically important to our communities, but also show great commercial promise.”
This collaborative model will help university and industry researchers use high performance and cloud computing infrastructure to better manage and analyze massive data sets to solve critical world challenges. Areas of focus for the research collaboration will include:
- Problems facing cities, including rapid urbanization and aging infrastructure.
- Healthcare challenges associated with rising healthcare costs due to chronic diseases, including afflictions of the brain, and the lengthy development cycle for new medicines.
- Water conservation and management within cities and across watersheds including wild areas, industrial and agricultural use.
- Efficient energy conservation and management through the application of advanced weather modeling and smart grid technologies.
- Software innovation in high performance computing platforms.
“As we begin a new century of innovation for IBM, we’re investing in this “industry-building” initiative to further advance Canada’s competitiveness in the global digital economy, both now and in the future,” said John Lutz, president, IBM Canada. “Together with our government, academic and industry partners, we will apply new, collaborative approaches to Canada’s productivity and competitiveness challenges by more fully leveraging IBM’s one hundred year legacy of research and development leadership here in Ontario.”
The unique virtual structure of the network will allow IBM research staff to work side-by-side with many of Canada’s world-renowned, top scientists. This collaborative model and close day-to-day interaction is expected to accelerate commercialization opportunities and strengthen Canada’s digital infrastructure. We expect to add additional partners to this world-class collaboration as the project becomes fully operational.
“Western has long been at the forefront of Canadian research that capitalizes on high-performance computing, and we are excited about our role within this consortium to take the next step by using cloud computing to manage the staggering volume of digital data society creates on a daily basis,” said Dr. Amit Chakma, president, Western University. “From neuroscience and our environment, to other industrial applications, this field holds tremendous promise for helping us make complex research decisions more quickly, while mining data for better answers.”
According to the Re$earch Infosource Inc. “Canada’s Top 100 R&D Spenders” report, IBM had the third largest corporate R&D investment in Canada last year. For IBM, the Centre represents its first formal research and development lab in Canada. It will serve as a robust extension to IBM’s more than $6 billion investment in worldwide research and development, which helped generate over $1.7 billion in exports for Canada.