$20-million investment expands smart computing partnership

Researchers from Western and the University of Toronto, along with other university and industry partners, are celebrating an investment of up to $20 million from Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) to advance an innovative public-private big data and advanced computing partnership. Ontario Minister of State Gary Goodyear announced the funding at the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Discovery conference earlier this week.

“This investment will open the doors for a number of small- and medium-sized businesses, who can benefit from access to smart computing platforms,” Goodyear said. “These new partnerships will lead to the discovery and development of innovative new technologies and will help build a healthy information infrastructure here in southern Ontario.”

The additional investment will expand the partnership into areas such as mining, advanced manufacturing, digital media and cybersecurity.

Representatives from U of T received the funding on behalf of the Southern Ontario Smart Computing Innovation Platform (SOSCIP) consortium.

Western is honoured to be a major partner in the SOSCIP initiative,” said John Capone, Western vice-president (research). “Like our SOSCIP partners, we are dedicated to fostering collaborative research opportunities that will lead to innovations of critical importance to society. The funding announced today is a reaffirmation that SOSCIP’s consortium model is working and facilitating research that will not only provide practical solutions to some of society’s biggest problems, but also holds tremendous potential for commercialization and economic good

Formed in April 2012, SOSCIP is a research and development consortium that supports collaboration between academic researchers and industries using advanced computing and big data analytics. Its existing infrastructure includes IBM agile, advanced computing and big data analytics platforms, which will be expanded through this project. The project has a total cost of more than $90 million, including leveraging of more than $70 million of additional investment.

Current members of SOSCIP include seven founding universities – Western, Toronto, McMaster, Queen’s, Ottawa, Waterloo and the Ontario Institute of Technology, as well as Ontario Centres of Excellence and IBM Canada. Four additional four universities joined the consortium in April 2014 (Carleton, Ryerson, York and Wilfrid Laurier) and six new institutions are expected to join over the next four years.

Thus far, funding through this project will support the addition of 40 new collaborative projects, in the areas of mining, advancing manufacturing, digital media and cybersecurity, including at least eight with medium-sized businesses.

The contribution is through FedDev Ontario’s Investing in Commercialization Partnerships initiative.

As the lead industry partner, IBM Canada will contribute $65-million of agile, advanced computing infrastructure and big data analytics software as well as related support through research, IT and business expertise.