Canadian clusters team up to drive $30 million in quantum technology commercialization

François-Philippe Champagne speaking in Kitchener.
NGen and DIGITAL are receiving $14 million from the National Quantum Strategy, which they hope to leverage.

Two Canadian global innovation clusters are joining forces, launching $30 million in new projects to drive the commercialization of quantum technologies.

NGen and DIGITAL intend to build on Canada’s National Quantum Strategy (NQS) to deliver industry-led commercial projects. The projects will be designed to use quantum technologies to solve industrial and societal challenges.

The projects will focus on three key categories of quantum technologies: quantum sensors, such as photonics and transducers, and chip-based quantum systems; quantum networks, including quantum communications, key distribution, and internet; and quantum computing.

“Canada has long been a leader in developing cutting-edge technologies, and this initiative is key to reinforcing that leadership with commercial products, services and technologies.”
—Dr. Stephanie Simmons
Co-chair, advisory board
National Quantum Strategy

The latter will encompass quantum software, cryptography, algorithms, information processing, hybrid applications, hardware, and middleware.

NGen and DIGITAL will receive $14 million in total from the NQS to advance the commercialization of products, services, and technologies based on advances in quantum science. The clusters aim to leverage the NQS funding to attract more than $30 million in total investments.

NGen is the industry-led non-profit organization that leads Canada’s Global Innovation Cluster for Advanced Manufacturing. Its purpose, under the mandate of the federal ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development,, is to help build world-leading advanced manufacturing capabilities in Canada for the benefit of Canadians.

The DIGITAL supercluster aims to grow Canadian businesses through the development, adoption, and deployment of Canadian-made technologies, and by working with industry to develop a digitally skilled workforce.

“This partnership between NGen and DIGITAL to launch $30 million in new quantum projects is an important step towards the implementation of Canada’s National Quantum Strategy,” said Dr. Stephanie Simmons, co-chair of the advisory board for Canada’s National Quantum Strategy.

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“Canada has long been a leader in developing cutting-edge technologies, and this initiative is key to reinforcing that leadership with commercial products, services and technologies,” Simmons said. “Through projects such as these, Canada can obtain competitive and national-security advantages with lasting impacts for generations to come.”

The federal government first shared plans to create a quantum strategy in Budget 2021, allocating $360 million CAD in funding over seven years towards its design and delivery.

When it unveiled the NQS in January, the federal government said it would focus on building on Canada’s strength in quantum research, growing the nation’s quantum-ready technologies, companies and talent, and solidifying the country’s global leadership in the sector.

The NQS announcement comes at a time when quantum technology is beginning to take off in Canada.

Quebec is gaining the Quantum Innovation Zone (DistriQ), a collective of quantum expertise based in Sherbrooke, Que., and which will house both a tech hub and a factory. The latter, announced in June, is being established by the Canadian subsidiary of the the French quantum company PASQAL. Though they are two separate initiatives, both will be located in DistriQ’s Espace Quantique 1, a 50,000-sq. ft. building set to open in early fall.

RELATED: Quebec’s quantum scene gets boost with new factory, startup studio

Swedish telecom gear giant Ericsson announced in March that it is establishing a quantum research hub in Montreeal. And in January, Québec was set to become home to what will be the world’s fifth IBM quantum supercomputer.

If Quebec has positioned itself as a quantum leader, things aren’t quite as rosy in British Columbia, where pioneering quantum company D-Wave said that it was moving its executive office to the United States. Since going public, D-Wave has been losing money, leaving the company with a “significant cash crunch,” according to The Globe and Mail.

Feature image courtesy Berry Vrbanovic via Twitter

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel's reporting and writing on technology has appeared in, Canadian Business, Report on Business Magazine, Canada's National Observer, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post, among many others. He lives off-grid in Nova Scotia.

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