April 2012: Governments of Canada and Ontario team with IBM, U of T, Western University in research initiative that will help solve pressing challenges in cities, water, energy, and healthcare
In 2012, IBM, the Governments of Canada and Ontario, and a consortium of seven universities led by the University of Toronto and Western University collaborated to invest $210M to form a new research and development innovation network in Ontario. The initiative came with the promise of creating 145 new highly skilled jobs and establishing a new economic cornerstone for the country.
IBM Canada Ltd., the major private sector partner in this project, committed to provide a contribution valued at up to $175M through December 2014, in order to establish the IBM Canada Research and Development Centre to serve as a new focal point for IBM research in Canada and a cornerstone for the new network. The Government of Canada committed to provide up to $20M. The Government of Ontario committed to invest up to $15M.
Through the combined sponsorship, industry and academic collaboration, a new consortium called Southern Ontario Smart Computing and Innovation Platform (SOSCIP) was formed. The SOSCIP Consortium, consists of seven Ontario universities and the IBM Canada Research and Development Centre.
The new innovation framework is responsible for helping solve critical challenges by optimizing health care, solving complex city challenges, assessing climate change, and finding new efficiencies for energy and water management systems. The IBM infrastructure invested is supporting highly complex large scale data mining and analytics capabilities for advanced research and, ultimately, new commercial applications.
April 2013: Celebrating Success:
April 10, 2013, marks the one-year milestone for this initiative. Momentum is positive:
- The IBM Canada Research and Development Centre has hired more than 200 highly skilled researchers and developers to date. They are supporting agile research, cloud and big data analytics projects.
- The IBM Canada Research and Development Centre intends to focus 22 new roles to support SOSCIP projects. Ten are already on board. IBM is actively working with the academic partners to hire the next 12. Four will be supporting new projects announced today. Academics are paired with these researchers to accelerate the development of commercial applications.
- More than 34 SOSCIP research projects have been approved or initiated in the past 12 months, many collaborating directly with industry partners, and all supported by an IBM technology backbone that includes Blue Gene/Q, the fastest supercomputer in Canada, and advanced analytics, agile and cloud technologies.
Key to the success of the network is embracing a wide range of industrial partners, mostly small to medium-sized enterprise (SMEs), and providing them access to new technologies and expertise that would otherwise be beyond their reach. This unique innovation model, facilitating true collaboration between a global leader in technology, IBM, universities, Ontario Centre of Excellence and SMEs, will establish Ontario as a leading global centre for driving innovation in areas that are critically important to society: information technology, health, and urban infrastructure (water, energy, transportation).
New Projects Revealed
- UOIT and Kela Medical Inc.: Researchers will work on creating patient-centric universal health records. They will work on developing a cloud-based solution to aggregate, analyze and standardize patient health records over mobile devices. Clear and efficienc transter of information across medical practitioners will provide patients with a single integrated view of their health activities.
- Western University and Novus Environmental Inc.: Researchers will integrate weather projections with city infrastructure such as buildings or transportation networks to improve their design, sustainability and resiliency.
- University of Toronto and Chematria Inc.: Researchers will develop a tool to help predict leukemia inhibitors. The tool will simulate molecular behaviour to accelerate the selection of drugs for the treatment of leukemia.
Sampling of Existing Projects:
- University of Toronto: Researchers are working on new detailed climate projection and drive hydrological models to assess impact of global warming using dynamic downscaling specific to Grand River watershed.
- University of Waterloo: Researchers are leveraging the IBM Deep Thunder weather forecast model to build an improved reliability index for power and load. Researchers are also working on a project to build an application to provide energy efficiency recommendations to energy consumers.
- Western University: Researchers are applying stream analytics to functional MRI data to analyze brain activity in near real time.
- McMaster University: Researchers are building a toolkit for software certification. The first application will target medical devices.
- UOIT: Researchers are building a cloud-based service using streaming analytics to predict the health status of individuals, particularly premature children, 24-72 hours in advance of symptoms. They are also looking to bring the sophistication of urban teaching hospitals to rural/remote communities and extend early detection of infections in neonatal care to adult ICU.
- University of Ottawa: Researchers are developing a new healthcare privacy and security framework to address both patient care and medical studies.
- Queen’s University: Researchers are developing a new tool/platform to provide infrastructure to support ultra large scale services for big data analytics. The initial target is health applications but toolkit will be applicable to other domains.
The initiative is expected to help Canada and Ontario continue to increase competitiveness in the global economy and bring new globally unique skills in software engineering and production for future computing and technology platforms to both Canada and Ontario. Through applied innovation and public-private sector collaboration in mutual priorities, significant industrial and regional benefits can be realized.
This structure provides a framework for the development of a larger, more organized ecosystem of Ontario companies recognized as global leaders in healthcare, water, energy, cities. It provides an opportunity for more effective, coordinated stewardship of resource challenges. Innovations will have the potential to result in improved quality of life for Canadians and cost-savings by increasing efficiencies and productivity.
IBM Media Relations, Canada