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OCE, IBM and SOSCIP partners mark first anniversary with research symposium

April 12, 2013

New collaborations announced that will bring High Performance Computing (HPC) technology to three groundbreaking Ontario companies

At the original announcement of the IBM Canada Research and Development Centre one year ago. From L-R: Pat Horgan, Vice President, IBM Canada; Don Aldridge, General Manager, IBM Canada; Paul Young, Vice President, Research, University of Toronto; Tom Corr, President and CEO, Ontario Centres of Excellence; Steven N. Liss, Vice-Principal (Research), Queen’s University; Dan Sinai, Director Research Services, Western University; The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology) (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario); Janice Deakin Provost & Vice-President (Academic), Acting Vice-President (Research), Western University; Dr.Michael Owen, Associate Provost, Research, UOIT; Mona Nemer, Vice President, Research, University of Ottawa; The Honourable Brad Duguid, then the, Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Innovation.

Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) joined its industry, academic and government partners from the Southern Ontario Smart Computer Innovation Platform (SOSCIP) recently to celebrate the two-year program’s first year successes and highlight exciting opportunities for its second year.

“There is no question that high performance computing and big data are opening exciting and vast new frontiers for business,” said OCE President and CEO, Dr. Tom Corr. “We will continue to do everything we can to ensure Ontario companies are made aware of the possibilities and gain the resources and support they need to embrace them.”

OCE is a key contributor to SOSCIP through its HPC program, which provides access to supercomputer technology for small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In partnership with IBM and SOSCIP’s seven university members, the program has made significant contributions to Ontario’s economy by helping create new jobs, products, services, technologies and businesses.

At the First Anniversary Research Symposium, Dr. Corr addressed the consortium on key achievements of SOSCIP-supported companies and outlined three new OCE collaborative research projects which were among 10 projects  approved in SOSCIP’s third round. 
  • Whitby-based Kela Medical, which has created a portable wallet-sized card that allows Ontarians to carry their complete medical file with them at all times. Featuring a secure, encrypted microchip that connects without special software to any computer, the card empowers individuals to take control of their medical recordkeeping and gain faster and more efficient healthcare service. Kela Medical will now be able to develop a cloud-based solution to aggregate, analyze and standardize patient health records across medical practitioners, providing patients with a single integrated view of their health records. 
  • Novus Environmental, a Guelph-based company of environmental engineering consultants who specialize in the fields of air quality, wind and climate, sounds, vibration and sustainable water with a goal of harmonizing built and natural environments. Now Novus will be able to integrate high resolution weather projections with the infrastructure of cities including buildings and transportation networks to improve their design, sustainability and resiliency. This research project leverages both SOSCIP supercomputing and the University of Western’s WindEEE dome, for leading collaborative research and applications in the area of wind research.
  • Chematria, a University of Toronto Bioinformatics start-up, makes software that helps pharmaceutical companies determine which molecules can become medicines. With Chematria’s molecular docking simulations, pharmaceutical researchers can confidently predict potent molecules for novel biological targets, thereby enabling faster drug development for a fraction of the price of wet-lab experiments. Chematria will now be able to develop a tool that simulates molecular behaviour to accelerate the section of drugs for the treatment of leukemia.
In March 2013, OCE issued a third call for SMEs interested in benefiting from the HPC initiative, which has resulted in several exciting opportunities  for the program’s second, including the three profiled. For Phase 3, a significant shift was made to fund companies directly instead of the partnering academic institutions. This change ensures a more market-driven approach where emphasis is given to business outcomes. 

“The vision from the outset has been to develop a supercomputing ‘ecosystem’ that supports business; gives them access to world-class researchers and research infrastructure; and provides the opportunity to de-risk R&D in a supportive environment,” said Dr. Corr. “With the developments under SOSCIP already, there is every reason to see this new government-industry-academic collaboration in supercomputing as a path to a super-charged economy — one fuelled by big challenges, big ideas and big data.”