Harper Government and IBM Partner to Support Opportunities for Innovation

BURNABY, BRITISH COUMBIA – 02 December, 2013: Academic research and industry were strengthened today thanks to federal funding for the Vancouver Institute for Visual Analytics (VIVA) announced by Andrew Saxton, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for North Vancouver, on behalf of the Honourable Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification.

“Innovation is an important engine of economic growth and job creation; here in British Columbia we’re fortunate to have cutting-edge research labs and groundbreaking entrepreneurs,” said Parliamentary Secretary Saxton. “By partnering with industry and academic institutions, our Government is working to bridge the gap between academia, training and industry and to ensure the continued success of western Canadian businesses and our entrepreneurs.”

An investment of $513,141 will help VIVA, a partnership between Simon Fraser University (SFU), the University of British Columbia (UBC) and industry, establish the Visual Analytics Research and Instructional Laboratories (VARILab) for visual analytics training and education at UBC and at SFU’s Burnaby campus. The funding will be used to purchase an IBM private cloud computing platform, providing students, faculty and VIVA’s industry partners with scalable, secure access to servers, storage, applications and services.

Concurrently, IBM is making an in-kind contribution of its leading analytics software applications, valued at $800,000. The software will enable VIVA researchers to, for the first time, visually analyze “Big Data” – a term given to the abundance of information generated by a growing list of sources such as smartphones, social networks, instrumentation, GPS and sensors.

“Organizations are operating in a world of accelerating complexity and massively available data,” said Dan Fortin, president of IBM Canada. “Our aim is to help VIVA work with its industry partners to turn that data into a strategic asset. Today’s investment supports IBM’s continued commitment to collaborate with academia and government to help further advance Canada’s ability to innovate, address a critical skills gap, and drive analytics research.”

Visual analytics is an emerging science and will enable future new industries. Companies who train employees in the field are finding the skills useful in creating practical solutions to data-related problems. IBM and VIVA are currently working with VIVA partners to apply the analysis of big data sets in a number of sectors including healthcare, aviation, insurance and oceanography.

“With the support of our partners in this project, VIVA now has an advanced infrastructure for virtual computation to conduct visual analytics applied research anywhere,” pointed out Dr. Fred Popowich, Director of the Vancouver Institute for Visual Analytics. “This enables research, training and education to be supported by the best technology and tools, and be made available from the new Laboratory located at MAGIC at UBC and from the laboratory here at IRMACS, on the SFU - Burnaby Campus. The infrastructure will also be accessible by other universities in Western Canada that are part of the Canadian Network for Visual Analytics (CANVAC), benefiting not only SFU and UBC students and researchers, but also western Canadian companies and universities."

Since 2006, the Harper Government, through Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), has invested in job-creating small- and medium-sized businesses, aerospace, marine and defence industries, and supported innovative entrepreneurs in pursuing emerging markets. By continuing to promote new economic opportunities, WD is helping to create jobs, economic growth, and long-term prosperity.

Contact Information: 

Leslie Plant 
IBM Media Relations, Canada 
laplant@ca.ibm.com
416.478.9840