The new IBM data centre in Barrie, part of a new research and development initiative launched by seven Ontario universities in partnership with the provincial and federal governments, is set for its official opening, tomorrow (Sept. 20).
The research and development initiative is a $210 million public/private investment, a significant part of which settled in Barrie, Mayor Jeff Lehman said when the news was announced.
“It is a huge honour for Barrie to be selected as the city to host a key component of the new IBM Canada Research and Development Centre’s high-performance environment. The fact that IBM chose Barrie over many other cities demonstrates to the global economy all Barrie has to offer and our competitive advantage.
“We also have the proven ability to help grow new sectors of the economy, with two major, branded data-processing centres (BMO and TD) already established here in Barrie.”
Barrie was picked by IBM for a number of reasons, which included reliable sources of hydro and water, says Hany Kirolos, the city’s director of economic development.
“We competed against 15 other cities, were short-listed and continued to aggressively highlight Barrie’s many benefits to IBM, their real estate broker and other stakeholders to ensure our success.”
The 10,170-square-metre LEED-certified centre is on Bayview Drive, near the Barrie Molson Centre. The project was expected to create 145 full-time research and development positions; construction was expected to indirectly create about 100 jobs.
The president of IBM Canada, John Lutz, said the initiative furthered Canada’s “competitiveness in the global digital economy, both now and in the future.
“Together with our government, academic and industry partners, we will apply new, collaborative approaches to Canada’s productivity and competitiveness challenges by more fully leveraging IBM’s 100-year legacy of research and development leadership here in Ontario.”
Universities involved are: the University of Toronto, Western University, McMaster University, Queen’s University, the University of Ottawa, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and the University of Waterloo.
The initiative will see the consortium of universities employ high performance and cloud computing infrastructure to research solutions to global concerns, such as resource management, urban infrastructure, and neurological disorders, according to a press release by MP Patrick Brown.
The federal and provincial governments are each contributed up to $20 million to the project.
“Our government is bringing key players together to give researchers and businesses in southern Ontario a competitive advantage in the world’s rapidly changing economy,” said Brown when the centre was announced.
The use of super-computing will enhance the ability to “manage the staggering volume of digital data society creates on a daily basis,” said Western president, Dr. Amit Chakma.
“From neuroscience to our environment and industrial applications, super-computing holds tremendous promise for helping us make complex research decisions more quickly, while mining data for better answers.”
Canada needs knowledge-based initiatives like the IBM Canada Research and Development Centre to diversify the economy, while closing the “identified innovation gap,” says Dr. David Naylor, president of the University of Toronto.
“The (centre) takes direct aim at these issues by creating modern research networks that bring advanced computing capacity to bear on important issues such as: water monitoring, management and distribution; energy monitoring and management; urban planning and traffic management for intelligent cities; and the cross-walk of brain science with artificial intelligence.”
The initiative is expected to generate new skills in data management and analysis, bringing software engineering and production to southern Ontario.