The Government of Canada announced a significant investment to launch a National Quantum Strategy, committing $360 million over seven years and signaling its intention to grow the interconnected Canadian quantum industry into a global leader. Announced on April 19 as part of the 2021 federal budget, this commitment will support research into quantum science and technologies and bolster an emerging quantum industry, helping to unite research institutes and industry partners from coast to coast. The announcement follows years of concerted effort. At UBC, Andrea Damascelli and Karl Jessen have worked closely with Gail Murphy, Vice-President, Research and Innovation, and her team to keep the Canadian quantum sector competitive on the global stage.
For the Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute (SBQMI), this represents an opportunity for us to further develop our key priorities, including our Grand Challenges. Basic science is an important investment for Canada, as the discoveries made at the fundamental level will be critical for decades to come, especially related to quantum materials and quantum devices. We are grateful for this significant commitment from the Government of Canada, and we look forward to working with our colleagues at UBC, in government and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, and across the country to develop and implement the strategy.
A national strategy for quantum science and technology research has been a priority for academic and industry interests across Canada for a number of years, as start-up funding for a number of significant research initiatives through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) is approaching its end.
In 2015, CFREF awarded $66.5-million—the largest-ever government investment in a single UBC research program—to enable SBQMI to scale up and develop further leadership in quantum materials and devices research and innovation. Since then, SBQMI has grown considerably, developing world-leading infrastructure and expertise, and further expanding its critical partnerships such as the Max Planck-UBC-UTokyo Centre for Quantum Materials.
Canada was an early front-runner in quantum technology and is home to some of the first quantum computing start-ups, including D-Wave and 1Qbit in our region, which have gone on to influence the global quantum computing industry. SBQMI continues to enjoy a fruitful relationship with industry partners like these, connecting over research and training opportunities with the aim of nurturing talent in quantum technology fields.
To ensure the sustainability and productivity of Canadian quantum science research, a strategic, united approach to funding this effort was necessary and will provide the foundation for Canada’s future success. Many academic centres and industry groups have already formed partnerships, and it is in that collaborative spirit that the strategy was first proposed: we can pose bigger questions—and solve bigger problems with real impact—when we work together. We look forward to being a vital part of Canada’s quantum ambitions.