On March 20, 2023, Ericsson Canada announced the launch of a new quantum research hub in Montreal to “explore quantum-based algorithms for accelerating processing in telecom networks and distributed quantum computing” in partnership with the University of Ottawa and the University of Sherbrooke. Four weeks later, the federal government announced a five-year partnership with Ericsson that will see $470-million invested in new facilities and projects related to 5G Advanced, 6G, cloud radio access network, core networks, quantum computing, and AI for mobile networks.
The new Montreal Quantum hub finds itself in a strategic location that leverages the presence of two of Ericsson’s Canadian offices in Ottawa and Montreal, along with two of Canada’s quantum research institutes: the University of Ottawa’s Nexus for Quantum Technologies Institute (NEXQT) and the University of Sherbrooke’s Institut quantique.
Before this collaboration, Ericsson (the Swedish parent company of Ericsson Canada) had been considering the role of quantum computing in the telecom industry since at least 2017, when it published a blog post about post-quantum cryptography in mobile networks. In 2019, Ericsson researchers described potential near-term and long-term applications of quantum computing for the telecom industry as well as quantum computing algorithms for the radio access network.
In Ericsson’s press release, Anne Broadbent (Associate Professor, Research Chair in Quantum Information and NEXQT Fellow) and Stefanos Kourtis (Assistant Professor, Université de Sherbrooke and Institut quantique) noted that the University of Ottawa and the University of Sherbrooke will be able to contribute their expertise in areas such as distributed computations, secure communications, quantum networks, and hybrid quantum-classical and quantum-inspired protocols.
Through this collaboration, knowledge and skill sharing between the academic institutions and Ericsson, supported by government funding, promises projects that will benefit both the telecommunications industry and the development of quantum networks in Canada.
These announcements also arrive on the backdrop of Canada’s National Quantum Strategy, which was formally launched earlier this year. Under the strategy’s commercialization pillar, the Canadian federal government aims to provide long term R&D support in quantum technologies, recognizing the intensive research required to advance quantum technologies to higher technology readiness levels. Given Canada’s small domestic market, international partnerships will be key to the growth of Canada’s quantum industry.
This partnership between Canadian academic institutions and Ericsson Canada marks an opportunity for Canada to demonstrate global leadership in cross-disciplinary and collaborative quantum technology development.
The applications of quantum computing are vast, and more tripartite partnerships between government, academia, and industry are likely to emerge to support further quantum technology development and commercialization as Canada’s quantum ecosystem grows. These partnerships support not only commercialization efforts, but also foster new research and talent opportunities for the Canadian quantum community.