In a major new private-public partnership, IBM, a group of seven universities, and the governments of Canada and Ontario announced a collaboration that will establish a new Ontario-based $210 million dollar centre focused on research and development. Named IBM Canada Research and Development Centre, the center represents IBM’s first formal research and development lab in Canada.
IBM will install two high-performance IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputers and develop a cloud computing platform to underpin the initiative’s research collaboration. The university consortium, led by the University of Toronto and Western University, will have access to a new IBM data center located in Barrie, Ontario, 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.
All together, the investment will be substantial. IBM has committed up to $175 million through December 2014 to the project. The Government of Ontario is investing $15 million and the Government of Canada will contribute $20 million, bringing the total investment to $210 million.
“As we begin a new century of innovation for IBM, we’re investing in this ‘industry-building’ initiative to further advance Canada’s competitiveness in the global digital economy, both now and in the future,” said John Lutz, president, IBM Canada.
The project aims to assist university and industry researchers in leveraging high performance and cloud computing infrastructure to better manage and analyze massive data sets to address large societal challenges, such as health issues, water conservation, energy efficiency and software innovation.
“Canada needs more knowledge-based industries to diversify our national economic portfolio beyond the current over-weighting of commodities and natural resources and help eliminate our identified innovation gap,” said Professor David Naylor, president of the University of Toronto. “This collaborative initiative takes direct aim at these issues by creating modern research networks that bring advanced computing capacity to bear on important issues such as: water monitoring, management and distribution; energy monitoring and management; urban planning and traffic management for intelligent cities; and the cross-walk of brain science with artificial intelligence.”
IBM had the third largest corporate R&D investment in Canada last year, according to Re$earch Infosource Inc. “Canada’s Top 100 R&D Spenders.” The new R & D center 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.