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Dr. Tom Corr, President and CEO, Ontario Centres of Excellence

By Dr. Tom Corr

High performance computing was once the domain of big corporations, governments and universities. But not anymore. Global economic pressures to innovate and compete are intense, and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs or SMEs), recognized as economic powerhouses around the world are being ushered into the world of big data.

Thanks to an innovative and unprecedented partnership between Ontario Centres of Excellence, IBM, seven Ontario Universities, the Province of Ontario and FedDev, high performance computing (HPC) resources and technical expertise are now available to small-to-medium sized enterprises (SME) in Southern Ontario – businesses that are looking to expand their research capabilities.

Today we are pleased to announce that an additional 31 research projects have been added to this portfolio, enabling more than 20 Ontario SMEs to participate in this truly advantageous partnership.

Access to HPC technology for research purposes has typically been outside the reach of many small businesses. While Canada has developed some world-class computing infrastructures, HPC resources for small businesses in Southern Ontario have been nonexistent. Now, companies chosen to participate in what is called the Southern Ontario Smart Computing Innovation Platform (SOSCIP) will have access to leading Canadian academic research talent, as well as an HPC platform that includes IBM’s Blue Gene/Q system, recently proclaimed the fastest supercomputer in Canada, a state-of-the-art Cloud and Analytics platform, and an Agile computing infrastructure. All projects will also have access to technical support personnel.

The only limit on the potential benefits associated with tapping into HPC resources is a company’s imagination. The IBM-led research partnership model aims to develop a supercomputing “ecosystem” that supports business; gives them access to world-class researchers and a research infrastructure; and the opportunity to conduct R&D in a supportive environment. As simulation and modeling replaces the need to construct prototypes, the cost savings and pace of development for the manufacturing sector alone easily supports the business case for investing in HPC.

OCE has a special role to play in making small and medium-sized businesses aware of the opportunity presented by the IBM-led HPC partnership. We need to explore how businesses can use big data to create value and gain the know-how and technical support needed to succeed. Starting early this year, we will begin hosting a series of information sessions in key cities across the province to educate SMBs about high performance computing and how it can help make them more competitive.

The effort is in keeping with our mission to help advance the province’s innovation agenda through the production of breakthrough products and services that put us at the top of national and global markets. And it starts with empowering SMEs with advanced research capabilities.

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