Toronto, ON - A consortium of seven universities led by the University of Toronto and Western University are collaborating with IBM and the Ontario and federal governments to establish a new Ontario-based, $210 million dollar research and development initiative that will focus on pressing challenges in cities, water, energy, and healthcare.
IBM will provde up to $175 million through December 2014 in the project, forming the “IBM Canada Research and Development Centre” to serve as a foundation for the research initiative. Ontario's provincial is providing $15 million towards the creation of the centre.
The federal government will contribute $20 million to allow a consortium of seven southern Ontario post-secondary institutions and IBM to install two high-performance IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputers and develop a cloud computing and agile computing platform to underpin the initiative’s research collaboration. The university consortium will have access to a new Barrie-based IBM data centre once it is fully operational in the fall of 2013. Other Canadian researchers and small to medium-sized enterprises will also be invited to join the consortium.
It will help university and industry researchers use high performance and cloud computing infrastructure to better manage and analyze massive data sets to solve critical world challenges. Areas of focus for the research collaboration will include:
- Problems facing cities, including rapid urbanization and aging infrastructure.
- Healthcare challenges associated with rising healthcare costs due to chronic diseases, including afflictions of the brain, and the lengthy development cycle for new medicines.
- Water conservation and management within cities and across watersheds including wild areas, industrial and agricultural use.
- Efficient energy conservation and management through the application of advanced weather modeling and smart grid technologies.
- Software innovation in high performance computing platforms.
The virtual structure of the network will allow IBM research staff to work side-by-side with many of Canada’s world-renowned, top scientists, and the partners say they expect it to accelerate commercialization opportunities and strengthen Canada’s digital infrastructure.
“Canada needs more knowledge-based industries to diversify our national economic portfolio beyond the current over-weighting of commodities and natural resources and help eliminate our identified innovation gap’,” said Professor David Naylor, president, University of Toronto. “This collaborative initiative takes direct aim at these issues by creating modern research networks that bring advanced computing capacity to bear on important issues such as: water monitoring, management and distribution; energy monitoring and management; urban planning and traffic management for intelligent cities; and the cross-walk of brain science with artificial intelligence.”