03 Feb 2022
News
5 minute read

IBM Research launches the first Discovery Accelerator in Canada

In partnership with the Government of Quebec, IBM Research is launching its fourth Discovery Accelerator, and the first in Canada. A new quantum computer will be installed in the province, alongside a new HPC cluster for AI, to help accelerate research in sustainability, therapeutics, and semiconductors.

IBM Quantum System One

In partnership with the Government of Quebec, IBM Research is launching its fourth Discovery Accelerator, and the first in Canada. A new quantum computer will be installed in the province, alongside a new HPC cluster for AI, to help accelerate research in sustainability, therapeutics, and semiconductors.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a series of revolutions take place in computing. The fields of AI, cloud, and quantum computing are pushing industries and society at large forward in ways unimaginable just a few decades ago. But when we’re able to leverage some of these technologies, or all three together, the potential for discovering new materials, finding novel drugs, or tackling some of the world’s toughest problems increases dramatically.

We’ve come to call this accelerated discovery, and it’s now a core thesis for much of the work we’re undertaking at IBM Research. The world is rapidly evolving, and we need to match that speed in uncovering discoveries to tackle some of the most urgent problems society is wrestling with, from mitigating the impact of climate change to new drugs to address the challenges of human health the world over.

Today, we’re launching the Quebec-IBM Discovery Accelerator and planning to deploy an IBM Quantum System One in Bromont, Quebec, alongside a new high-performance computing cluster for AI in the province, to do just that.

This new initiative, which will be our fourth Discovery Accelerator and first in Canada, will build upon our history of investment into the province. We have a strong foundation with the University of Sherbrooke, and built our first quantum hub in Canada at the university in 2020. We also have an ongoing partnership with Mila, a leading AI research institute based in Montreal, to accelerate the development of trusted, open-source AI capabilities, and demystifying the “black box” nature of machine learning models.

We also have our development and manufacturing facility in Bromont, which is IBM’s largest semiconductor assembly and test facility. It will host this Discovery Accelerator’s quantum computer — the fifth dedicated IBM quantum system installed in the world. Our plan with this Discovery Accelerator is to help accelerate the pace of research in a range of fields.

Bromont
Bromont, Quebec. Credit: Getty Images/Nav preet Amole

One area of focus will be on sustainability. Given how urgent it is to address the threats of climate change, we’re hoping to be able to accelerate the pace of research in fields like carbon capture mitigation and energy storage. Greenhouse gases are likely to lead to higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 2025 than even the warmest periods of the Earth’s history in the last 3.3 million years.

We’ve already started exploring how AI can help us create better structures to capture carbon, and how using hybrid cloud and high-performance computing can help develop new carbon capture and storage capabilities. We’re excited by what can be achieved when this research is supercharged by quantum computers and a global community of researchers.

At the Discovery Accelerator in Quebec, we want to accelerate the rate of discovery across many areas of materials for advanced manufacturing, energy, therapeutics and beyond. We want to help find new materials at a faster rate than ever before, whether that’s materials for more efficient semiconductor production, or uncovering new molecular candidates for effective antivirals.

It’s an area of research we’ve focused on in recent years, using AI and high-performance computing to trawl through all the data on a given material, suggest candidate materials to test, and even automating the testing process. Recently, we’ve used a combination of AI, automation, and computing power to uncover a range of new materials, from new peptides to combat antibiotic resistance with AI, to photoacid generators, materials used to manufacture computer chips.

In the case of semiconductor research, we’re aiming to build upon our long history in semiconductors at IBM’s Bromont development and manufacturing facility to push research into the future of computing forward.

We’re aiming to create a community built upon open scientific research in Quebec.

We’re excited to dive deeper into these research fields with partners in Quebec, and by the potential for quantum computers to take the work even further. We want to create models for discovery that can leverage the potential of quantum computers as well as the utility of classical computers: We’re working to introduce new capabilities that take advantage of today’s classical computing resources that we hope will help bring about quantum advantage faster, allowing us to accelerate the rate that we can tackle some of the world’s most difficult challenges in energy, materials and chemistry, and elsewhere.

We’re aiming to create a community built upon open scientific research in Quebec. The necessity for accelerating discoveries has never been clearer and the ability to do so with AI, quantum computers, and high-performance computer has never been greater. The Quebec-IBM Discovery Accelerator will be a key catalyst for discovery in Canada and beyond.

If you are a Canadian business or university interested in collaborating with us in Quebec, please contact us.

Date

03 Feb 2022

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