IBM, Governments of Ontario and Canada, OCE and Seven Ontario Universities Work Together to Build a Smarter Ontario

April 11, 2012

High Performance Computing innovation platform will drive innovative discoveries in key areas to market

The announcement of the IBM Canada Research and Development Centre. 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, Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Innovation.

When a computing industry titan, two levels of government, several academic institutions and a commercialization facilitator come together, it’s a sign that big things are about to happen. That was certainly the case at University of Toronto’s Hart House recently, where these forward-looking organizations gathered to announce the creation of a new research and development initiative. Their message was clear: the keys to building Ontario’s economy and industry are innovation through applied research; public-private partnerships; and science and technology.

The newly announced Ontario-based $210 million dollar research and development initiative sees IBM, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Canada, Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), and academic institutions: University of Toronto, Western University, University of Waterloo, McMaster University, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Queen’s University and the University of Ottawa, come together to create a virtual network – along with 145 new highly skilled jobs in the province.

The IBM Canada Research and Development Centre, named for IBM’s $175-million investment, is also being supported through a $15-million investment from Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation (MEDI), including a $7-million contribution from OCE. The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) is contributing $20 million to allow the seven universities and 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 collaborative model and unique virtual structure of the network will allow university and IBM researchers to work closely together, using high performance and cloud computing infrastructure to manage massive data sets, solving critical world challenges and accelerating commercialization opportunities. 

"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," said John Lutz, president, IBM Canada.

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.
"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."

For OCE, this partnership is an opportunity to leverage the organization’s expertise in “connecting the dots” to help the initiative succeed – facilitating partnerships and connections in the interest of innovation. OCE will carry out targeted outreach to Ontario companies, particularly at the SME level, to seek out the highest potential projects to be undertaken in the research partnership. OCE will also work with other Ontario research organizations to source innovative company projects and broker the research and development collaboration.

“We are pleased be the primary link in this initiative enabling SME’s, academia and partner organizations to access advanced, applied research capacities in a way they haven’t previously been able to,” said Dr. Tom Corr, President and CEO, Ontario Centres of Excellence.

For coverage of the live event, search #smarterontario.