Take the quantum leap in Ontario, Canada

MRI scanners the size of smartphones. Imaging devices that 'see' around a corner. Instantaneous interplanetary long-distance, without a delay.

Sound farfetched? Those – and other advances we can't even imagine yet – are on the horizon. The world is on the cusp of a great technological revolution, one based on quantum physics, the branch of physics that allow for particles to exist in multiple states at the same time.

It's a phenomenon that leads to an exponential increase in computing power -- opening up possibilities that will impact every industry, from communications to energy, mining, defense, security, health, clean tech.

The race to harness the quirks of the quantum world is on. There's a lot at stake – by 2024, the estimated global market for quantum technologies will be US $10.7 billion – and corporate tech giants worldwide are jockeying for advantage.

Increasingly, they're looking to Ontario. The reason is simple.

8 of the most promising quantum leaders in Ontario

The province got an all-important head-start in quantum research. In fact, Ontario "fired the starting gun" nearly 20 years ago, according to Dr. Raymond Laflamme, Canada Research Chair in Quantum Information, and an acknowledged pioneer and world leader in theoretical and experimental quantum information science.

Ever since then, both the Ontario and Canadian governments have invested heavily – $1 billion in the last decade alone – to put into place the infrastructure and brains to lead, and win, in the quantum revolution, with Waterloo's Quantum Valley at its core.

First came the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in 1999. Created by BlackBerry co-founder Mike Lazaridis, a visionary determined to position Ontario and Canada at the forefront of this next technological revolution, the Waterloo-based research institute quickly established itself as the leading global centre for scientific research, training and educational outreach in foundational theoretical physics. Three years later came the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo which aims to transform fundamental discoveries into practical technologies with widespread impact. Today, these two institutes, with their state-of-the-art labs and equipment, are home to 300-plus researchers and students – some of the world's best and brightest scientists – all focused on creating technologies that harness the power of quantum information science.

Next came the Quantum NanoFab Facility (now the QNFCF facility) for developing and testing devices for quantum information research and the newly created Quantum Valley Ideas Lab, which aims to accelerate commercialization of new products.

Then, there's Quantum Valley Investments, which provides commercialization funding, expertise and support for researchers who develop breakthroughs in quantum information science that will lead to new commercializable technologies and applications.

Another key region in Ontario, Canada's quantum field is in the province's capital, Toronto. The Creative Destruction Lab at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management introduced a Quantum Machine Learning Program, the first of its kind in the world. Launched in 2017, the program assists seed-stage, technology firms scale rapidly into globally competitive enterprises. CDL predicts that by 2022 it will have created more commercially viable, well-capitalized, revenue-generating quantum machine learning companies than the rest of the world combined.

Also in partnership with the University of Toronto, Fujitsu Laboratories has set up an R&D centre to develop quantum computing innovations and accelerate the practical uses of those technologies. Together with the essential infrastructure, Ontario boasts a massive talent advantage.

And, to attract students to the field, there is the University of Waterloo's annual Quantum Cryptography School for Young Students. Grade 11 and 12 students get a first-hand look into the physics and mathematics of quantum mechanics and cryptography and meet and collaborate with some of the most renowned researchers in the field.

Ontario is primed for the quantum world. And, it's determined to keep its leadership position and capitalize on the tremendous opportunities of quantum technologies.

May 24, 2018
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