SFU gets $17 million from BC government to establish quantum research institute

SFU Surrey

Simon Fraser University (SFU) is receiving $17 million from the government of British Columbia over the next five years to establish the Quantum Algorithms Institute, at its campus in Surrey, BC.

“Our location, along with our expertise and experience make Surrey the ideal place to advance technology and innovation in the province.”

SFU said the institute will focus on building quantum computing software and algorithms, and will collaborate with other research universities in the province. The provincial government said the institute will help grow the Surrey Innovation Corridor, a proposed regional innovation hub aimed to drive economic growth in Surrey and the Fraser Valley region. The university plans to partner with local government, businesses, First Nations, and other partners to develop the new institute.

“Creating an innovation corridor in Surrey and up the Fraser Valley will create good jobs, attract talent, reduce commute times and raise the standard of living,” said BC Premier John Horgan. “Working with our partners, we will create an innovation hub where companies and talent will cluster, supporting our goal of a strong, sustainable economy that benefits the entire province.”

BC is already home to several startups and organizations specializing in quantum research and products, such as 1QBit and D-Wave, as well as tech giants like Microsoft and IBM. The institute is intended to draw on the province’s research work as well as companies to secure a quantum-focused talent pool in the province. The university will also develop a new graduate degree program in quantum computing.

“Quantum computer solutions will help develop the innovations of tomorrow in sectors such as transportation and logistics, medical research, advanced design, and materials testing,” said Bruce Ralston, the province’s minister of jobs, trade and technology. “Adoption across these sectors is predicted to surpass $450 billion annually. The new institute will train future data scientists who will attract companies worldwide, bringing significant benefit to BC’s economy.”

RELATED: IBM collaborating with University of Waterloo for quantum computing research

The government said affordability and access to industrial land are two of the biggest issues constraining growth in BC’s tech sector, adding that Surrey could be a hub of regional economic growth to help mitigate these affordability constraints.

“Funding these kinds of innovative initiatives, especially around education, is an investment in British Columbia’s future,” said Andrew Weaver, BC Green Party caucus leader. “Quantum computing technology is one tool available to build a new, sustainable economy that is not just resilient but is nimble enough to transform British Columbia’s industrial landscape in ways that will benefit people from every area of the province for decades to come.”

To help manage future investments in tech, the BC government developed a Tech and Innovation Policy Framework. In 2018, the province invested more than $700 million to support the province’s innovation ecosystem.

“Surrey’s City Centre has established itself as a hub for innovation and higher learning,” said Doug McCallum, mayor of Surrey. “Our location, along with our expertise and experience make Surrey the ideal place to advance technology and innovation in the province. City council and I look forward to working closely with the BC government to expedite this visionary project that will benefit not only the people of Surrey but all who call BC home.”

Photo by Greg Ehlers, courtesy Simon Fraser University

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Writer, globetrotter, drone pilot & David Attenborough enthusiast