#ONbudget 2017 invests $75 million in advanced computing, announces Waterloo-based Quantum Valley Ideas Lab

kathleen wynne and charles sousa

The Ontario government tabled its 2017 to 2018 budget, which included investments in the province’s tech sector.

“Tech CEOs welcome the signals in this year’s budget to grow Ontario’s innovation outputs. The government should double-down on this path so that we can see jobs and wealth grow in our high-tech sector,” said Benjamin Bergen, Executive Director of the Council of Canadian Innovators. “Ontario is primed to be home to many billion-dollar domestic technology firms, but only if Ontario works hand-in-glove with its domestic innovators to help them grow and scale-up their companies.”

Executive summary

  • The government is investing $50 million in AI, $130 million in 5G wireless technology, $20 million for quantum computing, $75 million for advanced computing, and $80 million for autonomous vehicle technology
  • Continue to build on its Gender Wage Gap Strategy
  • Lanching a Career Kick-Start Strategy, which will create co-op opportunities for 40,000 students and recent graduates
  • Expanding the Business Growth Initiative to more than $650 million over five years. The initiative initially called for investing $400 million over five years.
  • Continuing its commitment to create 37,000 jobs across the province through the 10-year, $2.7-billion Jobs and Prosperity Fund, which helps the government partner with businesses
  • Continuing programs like the Scale-Up Voucher Program, the Small Business Innovation Challenge, and the ScaleUp Ventures Fund
  • Reducing red tape for businesses through a Burden Reduction Act
  • Investing in clusters

    The province plans to work closely with the Vector Institute on its artificial intelligence plan, which was officially unveiled last month. To government is also partnering with Waterloo’s Quantum Valley to create the Quantum Valley Ideas Lab, which will focus on research, training, and supporting quantum science academics.

    To support operating costs for advanced computing, the government is making new hardware investments at the Universities of Toronto and Waterloo yet to be announced.

    $80 million over five years will be used to create the Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Innovation Network, in partnership with the Ontario Centres of Excellence.

    The government plans to launch a pilot project to help reduce cybersecurity risks with financial institutions, who will be connected with Ontario’s small and medium-sized enterprises to develop and support tech solutions.

    Supporting businesses

    The Burden Reduction Act aims to make 150 changes to statutes, which it estimates will save businesses $31 million and avoid up to $200 million in cost.

    The Business Growth Initiative will is looking to make investments in R&D and the commercialization of technologies like AI, advanced robotics, and the Internet of Things. This includes investing in tech hubs within industrial clusters like mining and cleantech, promoting partnerships with businesses and universities, and creating a centralized point of entry or strategic investment office to attract investment, improve licences and permits, better coordinate services, and expand site-selection services.

    The Small Business Innovation Challenge asks businesses to develop an innovative solution to a public-sector challenge. The total amount of funding available through the Challenge is $28.8 million.

    This story is being updated…

    Photo via TVO