Quantum: the next techno boom in Québec
(Sponsored) Quebec is well on its way to carving out a place for itself on the global quantum scene. Quebec is working on this positioning, notably through significant investments in research for several decades, and through the development and establishment of an ecosystem that will foster the emergence of companies with strong growth potential as the technologies mature.
Since 2008, the Institut transdisciplinaire d’information quantique (INTRIQ) brings together world-renowned researchers from the universities of Montreal, McGill, Sherbrooke and Polytechnique Montreal, with additional collaborators from the University of Ottawa, the University of Chicago, the National Research Council of Canada and the private sector. The scientific direction of INTRIQ is assured by one of the fathers of the field in the person of Professor Gilles Brassard, a pioneer in cryptography and quantum teleportation. Today, with nearly 40 researchers and more than 150 students, INTRIQ is a key player in federating the Quebec research effort in quantum information.
Supported by a $360M Canadian quantum strategy and by investments in quantum of more than $200M for the next 8 years, Quebec is building and already includes about 60 companies developing quantum technologies, notably in the computer science and in the sensor and imaging sectors.
These investments have recently led to the creation of a new Quantum Institute at the University of Sherbrooke and, in collaboration with IBM, to the opening of the only quantum hub in Canada that facilitates access to the IBM Q System One quantum computer for Quebec researchers and entrepreneurs. The new Quebec-IBM Discovery Accelerator will also help advance Quebec’s expertise in artificial intelligence (AI), semiconductors and high-performance computing. The acquisition of an IBM quantum computer will allow Quebec to take giant steps forward in areas such as artificial intelligence and modeling,” said Quebec Premier François Legault at the launch of the initiative in February 2022.
Quebec also has significant assets in terms of skilled labour. Quebec researchers are already leaders in AI and globally respected luminaries, including Yoshia Bengio, recipient of the 2019 Turing Award. More recently, Professor Alexandre Blais of the Université de Sherbrooke joined the Quantum Systems Accelerator (QSA), a consortium of quantum information researchers led by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), giving Quebec a leadership position. This workforce can also count on the support of some 30,000 university students enrolled in programs related to quantum technologies, which allows Quebec to hope for the best in the future development of the ecosystem in Quebec.
Quebec’s positioning in quantum technology on the international scene also requires the development of strategic partnerships that will eventually promote the integration of Quebec companies and organizations in quantum technology in the new supply chain being created, particularly in North America. To this end, Quebec is pursuing talks with its American partners, including the Quantum Economic Development Consortium in Silicon Valley, and intends to be active in the search for solutions that will promote the development of the sector between Canada and the United States.