Ontario’s supercomputing superventure strengthens its wow factor

April 30th, 2013

10 new projects announced at SOSCIP’s first anniversary symposium

Paul Fraumeni

Treating leukemia.  Standardizing patient health records.  More efficient scheduling of airplanes and urban transportation systems.  A low-cost sensor system for water quality monitoring.

Those areas are only a few initiatives being addressed through the 10 new projects (bringing the total to 34) announced this month by the Southern Ontario Smart Computing Innovation Partnership (SOSCIP).

Launched as a revolutionary idea in research-government-business collaboration a year ago, SOSCIP marked its first birthday in April with a research symposium in Toronto.

“I’m amazed at the number of projects launched in the past few months,” Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research and Innovation, told a packed house at IBM’s downtown Toronto location.  “Info tech, health and urban infrastructure, water and energy.  These are critically important to our economies, our communities and our province.”

SOSCIP is a partnership extraordinaire when it comes to using big data and high performance computing (HPC) for real-world problems.  The initiative includes the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, IBM, the University of Toronto, Western University, McMaster University, University of Ottawa, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Queen’s University and the University of Waterloo.

It was founded with a $210 million investment ($175 million from IBM, $20 million from the federal government and $15 million from Ontario).  At the heart of SOSCIP is the IBM BlueGene/Q supercomputer – one of the fastest in the world – which is located at U of T’s SciNet HPC facility.  SOSCIP also includes cloud computing and agile computing platforms at Western.  And IBM has built a data centre in Barrie, Ontario that will create 145 new jobs.

“True change by way of this project has been achieved by people working together, people of different talents and strengths,” said Professor Paul Young, U of T’s vice president, research and innovation, who acted as master of ceremonies at the symposium.  “One of the most exciting features of SOSCIP is the unique way it brings together leading university researchers from across Ontario to work with innovators from IBM and with experts from local and regional companies and government.  It’s an all-star team that will make an important impact on research, innovation and prosperity in Ontario.”

Gary Goodyear, federal Minister of State for Science and Technology, concurred with Young, saying, “We know that partnerships are important to moving forward in today’s economy and we are proud to support this collaborative research and innovation platform in Ontario.”

In addition to creating 145 new jobs, IBM notes that its involvement in SOSCIP marks a first for the company in Canada.  “The IBM research and development centre is the first time we have an IBM research in Canada,” said Pat Horgan, IBM’s vice president, manufacturing, development and operations.  “We consider it a great privilege to be a part of this initiative.”

 Professor Paul Young’s Smarter Planet blog post

Celebrating SOSCIP's first anniversary (from left): U of T's Prof. Paul Young; Ontario Minister, Research and Innovation, Reza Moridi and IBM's Pat Horgan.