Alberta investing $23 million towards U of C's Quantum City

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The Government of Alberta is investing $23-million in a quantum physics hub headquartered at the University of Calgary, Premier Jason Kenney and members of his cabinet announced Thursday.

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Quantum City is a partnership between the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta and the University of Lethbridge as well as the province and polytechnic schools in the province. Global tech firm Mphasis has also joined the partnership after setting up its Canadian headquarters in downtown Calgary earlier this week.

University of Calgary president and vice-chancellor Ed McCauley said the collaborative centre will help drive research in quantum technologies in Alberta and will help nurture local talent to fill jobs that are expected to be created in the next several years.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks with Ed McCauley, president and vice-chancellor, University of Calgary, as a group tours the lab areas at the University of Calgary Schulich School of Engineering in Calgary on Thursday, June 9, 2022. Jim Wells/Postmedia

“The investment today is really to support talent creation in the province, as well as our ability to certainly deal and create in some of these technologies,” said McCauley. “We hope companies like Mphasis and other companies around the world will take up support in the area around building-up fabrication facilities where we can collaborate with industry to prototype to scale and test those devices.”

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Quantum City director Dr. Barry Sanders said quantum technology is needed as the province continues to try and diversify its economy. He said at least 20 nations have national strategies aimed at developing the field and Alberta has a chance to be a leader.

“Alberta has really good strengths, you know, natural resources, transportation, agriculture, tourism, etc. and those are all important. But as our province grows and increases its population, it also needs to diversify what it does,” said Sanders. “Where does it matter? It matters that our universities are great, people will want to study here, jobs will be created. And we’re attracting companies in and we also expect to generate startups.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney tours the lab areas at the University of Calgary Schulich School of Engineering in Calgary on Thursday, June 9, 2022. Jim Wells/Postmedia

Sanders said quantum technology has a multitude of applications in various fields with researchers and companies applying it to areas of climate change, medical technology, oil and gas among other fields. He said young Albertans can look to the field as an opportunity for them to consider for their studies while others already in the workforce could look at it as an opportunity to re-skill.

Kenney said he doesn’t have a dollar figure on the amount of investment the province hopes to bring in through quantum technology but said the sector could produce thousands of jobs.

“All of the major tech companies with whom we speak about potential investments in Alberta, talk to us about connections to our research universities for the actual product, the actual research output, but also for the development of a skilled labour force,” said Kenney. “We are hoping to attract more federal and private sector investment.”