Four Waterloo Projects Receiving $41 Million For Quantum, AI, Machine Learning
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED), Navdeep Bains, today announced a $41 million CAD investment in four Waterloo organizations working on developing cutting-edge projects using quantum, artificial intelligence, and machine learning technologies.
Not-for-profit, Quantum Valley Ideas Lab, as well as Cognitive Systems, ISARA Corp., and High Q Technologies will all receive a share of the $41 million to help fund their respective technologies. The funding is being made through FedDev Ontario, as part of the Strategic Innovation Fund, to help support the four organizations’ respective projects, with total project costs totaling $101.8 million, according to ISED. The government claimed that the investment will help create up to 167 new skilled jobs as well as maintain another 75 in the city.
“What we have right here in the Waterloo region is what our government is looking to foster across the country with our Innovation and Skills Plan,” said Bardish Chagger, leader of the Government in the House of Commons and MP for Waterloo. “Like this region’s investors, entrepreneurs, and collaborators, our government is committed to promoting innovation throughout the economy and encouraging inclusive growth. That’s why we’re thrilled to invest in Waterloo’s growing Quantum Valley and all the jobs and opportunities it’s creating here in our community.”
The funding is set aside to help the organizations invest in research and development, as well as strengthen collaborations with post-secondary institutes.
Quantum Valley Ideas Lab, an independent not-for-profit research lab, is itself a collaboration born out of the Quantum Valley ecosystem, which consists of the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing, as well as Quantum Valley Investments, among others. The lab, which was established to develop transformative quantum technologies is housed on the university’s northern campus. It was created by Quantum Valley Investments and Blackberry co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin.
Quantum Valley Ideas Lab is set to receive the lion’s share of the $41 million, with a promised $20 million. The investment will apparently help with the lab’s goal of establishing dedicated teams of quantum researchers, engineers, and technology experts who will work to develop new innovations in the areas of quantum sensors, navigation, security, encryption, and computing. According to ISED, these innovations will attract new companies to the Waterloo region, as well as help local companies scale. The government quoted Quantum Valley Ideas Lab’s total project value at $43.4 million.
High Q Technologies is also a collaboration between the University of Waterloo and Vancouver-based Mitacs, a not-for-profit organization that designs and delivers research and training programs in Canada. High Q is receiving $6.5 million of the funding to help it develop new quantum technologies in healthtech. The project is currently working to use quantum to create potentially life saving treatments for illnesses including cystic fibrosis. It is developing medical devices that will allow researchers to study these diseases. High Q’s total project is valued at $17.6 million.
Cognitive Systems is receiving $7.3 million for a project valued at $25.1 million. It is developing software that uses radio frequency signals from Wi-Fi networks to enable devices to identify and alert users of motion. Its software uses AI and predictive analytics to help smart home devices make more intelligent decisions and also provides OEMs with more insights.
ISARA is developing quantum-safe cryptography computer security solutions to provide protection of information used in personal and digital transactions. With a project valued at $15.7 million, ISARA is receiving $7.2 million from the Strategic Innovation Fund investment. In November the company announced that it had closed a $13 million CAD Series A financing round to help with its mission of bringing awareness of quantum threats, and design and implement quantum-safe solutions that will work globally.
Cognitive, High Q, and ISARA are all financially backed by Quantum Valley Investments, the VC firm founded by Lazaridis and Fregin, who are also behind the Quantum Valley Ideas Lab.
“Simply put, quantum mechanics allows us to do things that are impossible under classical rules,” said Lazaridis. “Our vision for the Quantum Valley was not only to build state of the art Canadian labs with world class researchers that can develop new and transformative quantum technologies, but also to help establish and grow exciting new Canadian businesses that will take these technologies to global markets. To me it’s all about people. Attract and retain the most promising people and enable their success and big things will happen.”