Federal, Québec governments invest over $7.6 million into quantum telecom testbed

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The testbed will allow businesses to experiment with quantum technologies for telecom networks.

The federal government and the Government of Québec are jointly investing over $7.6 million into a testbed that will allow businesses to experiment with quantum systems and applications for telecom networks.

The new investment consists of $3.6 million in federal funding, and $4 million in provincial funding. The provincial government previously committed $2.5 million to the project in 2022, bringing the total government support for this initiative to over $10 million.

“With this project, our ambition is to help the industry develop leading-edge products to transform the province into a true global leader in quantum communication.”
– François Borrelli

The project is being deployed and operated by Numana, a Québec-based technology think tank and non-profit, which first announced the creation of the quantum testbed in June 2022.

The new testbed, which Numana said is the first of its kind in Canada, will allow businesses to experiment with new quantum technologies for telecom networks, without disrupting existing infrastructure. Three telecom giants, Bell, TELUS and Ciena, are already deploying the physical infrastructure of the test bed, with the former two companies providing access to their fiber optic networks.

According to a statement from Numana, the three telecom partners will also be able to develop, design and test their own quantum roadmaps and deploy new services while collaborating with academic researchers and startups.

“With this project, our ambition is to accelerate quantum technology in Québec, and help the industry develop leading-edge products to transform the province into a true global leader in quantum communication,” François Borrelli, president and CEO of Numana, said in a statement.

Businesses looking to use the test bed will be able to access it from multiple locations, beginning with the DistriQ Quantum Innovation Zone in Sherbrooke, Québec, this month. The test bed will later be available in Montréal and Québec City in early 2024, per a statement from Numana.

Each hub will consist of multiple sites with various features that can be used to validate use cases. The test bed will include terrestrial, aerial and satellite network components, and will be available for use in a variety of applications, including health, finance, military operations, and transportation. According to Numana, the testbed hubs may later be used to create a Québec-wide quantum communication network.

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With this project, Numana is looking to translate the growing global interest in quantum computing into economic benefits for the province of Québec. Canada has already given rise to a number of startups in quantum computing , such as D-Wave (which recently moved to the United States), Xanadu, 1QBit, and ProteinQure. Québec in particular has become a hub for quantum research in the last year.

In June, DistriQ was launched to help quantum-focused teams research, develop, and refine their projects. Also this year, Ercisson launched a quantum research hub in Montréal to facilitate telecom-related quantum research that it can later commercialize.

The federal government is also taking a keen interest in the emerging technology. This year, it unveiled a $360-million National Quantum Strategy in January, which seeks to position Canada as a global frontrunner in quantum computing.

“By supporting this kind of innovation, we are contributing not only to giving Québec small and mid-sized businesses and organizations a leg up in the marketplace, but also to strengthening our global leadership in this emerging field,” Soraya Martinez Ferrada, Canada’s minister of tourism and minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Québec, said in a statement.

Image source Unsplash. Photo by Harry Spink.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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