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$65 million investment from IBM Canada to enable innovative industry-academic collaborations at U of T and 13 partner institutions

Technology supports research into climate change, transportation and more

Climate change scientists measure Arctic sea ice (photo by NASA via flickr)

A new $65 million investment from IBM Canada Ltd. will enable the Southern Ontario Smart Computing Innovation Platform (SOSCIP) to add new areas of focus – mining, advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity and digital media – to its collaborative R&D mandate and double the number of academic institutions in the SOSCIP consortium. 

IBM’s investment comes in the way of agile, advanced computing infrastructure and big data analytics as well as related support through research, IT and business expertise.

U of T is a founding member of the SOSCIP consortium, which is now composed of 14 post-secondary institutions as well as Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and IBM as the lead industry partner. Created in 2012, SOSCIP supports collaborations between academic researchers and small- and medium-sized companies using advanced computing and big data analytics. The ultimate goal is for these projects to bring new products and services to market. 

Read more about SOSCIP at U of T

Together with OCE and Mitacs, which will contribute funding to support SOSCIP projects and provide high-tech training opportunities for students and post-doctoral fellows, IBM’s latest investment was critical to securing the matching funding required to generate the support of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). As a result, SOSCIP is able to launch a major expansion of its activities.

In addition to the four new areas of focus and new academic members, SOSCIP will place a strategic emphasis on commercialization and partnerships with medium-sized companies to help them adopt advanced computing and big data analytics technologies.  

“U of T, Western and our SOSCIP colleagues have already benefitted immensely from our partnership with IBM Canada. Now, thanks to this additional $65 million investment by IBM, SOSCIP has been able to launch its second phase of operations, using state-of-the-art computing to solve critical problems in areas of great social, economic and environmental importance,” said U of T President Meric Gertler. “This latest investment will enable SOSCIP to add new areas of research focus. It will also support more opportunities for students and post-doctoral fellows to gain skills and experience in high-tech settings.” 

SOSCIP was founded with a focus on research into five core areas—cities, health, energy, water and advanced computing. Using state-of-the art technology, such as the IBM BlueGene/Q (the fastest supercomputer in Canada and one of the fastest in the world), research has progressed by way of scientists such as U of T Engineering Professor Eric Miller, who is analyzing urban transportation and Professor Richard Peltier, who is investigating climate change. 

In addition to U of T, SOSCIP is co-led by Western University.

“Western is very proud to co-lead the SOSCIP project with the University of Toronto and its team and we are thrilled to have such a strong relationship with IBM as our lead industrial partner,” said Amit Chakma, president of Western University. 

“With this additional investment, we will continue to move ideas into practice by increasing confidence in the digital economy through improved online security, by empowering health professionals to more quickly provide accurate diagnoses and by preparing businesses to identify risks and take advantages of new opportunities. This is where research has impact in our communities.”

The president of IBM Canada, Dino Trevisani, said “We believe one of the best ways to address the innovation gap this country is facing is for academia, industry and government to work more collaboratively on common initiatives. Our partnership in SOSCIP is driving Canadian competitiveness and growth by pairing global industry expertise with academia, providing access to technology tools otherwise out of reach and fueling made-in-Canada innovation that can move quickly out of the labs and into the market.” 

The other founding partners in SOSCIP are McMaster University, Queen’s University, University of Ottawa, University of Waterloo and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, IBM Canada Ltd. and OCE. Four additional universities joined SOSCIP in April 2014: Carleton, Ryerson, York and Wilfrid Laurier. In August of this year, OCAD University, Seneca College and the University of Windsor also joined the consortium. 

(See the original of the photo used courtesy of NASA via flickr)