Recently, the Government of Canada revealed its highly anticipated National Quantum Strategy (NQS), which is a comprehensive, collaborative, and forward-looking plan to further advance quantum science and technology in Canada – an industry that the National Research Council (NRC) projects to reach $139 billion by 2045, as well as create over 200,000 jobs and $42 billion in returns for Canada.
Strategy Background and Funding
Guided by the multi-faceted advancements that quantum technologies can provide, the NQS was drafted following considerable collaboration and consultations with various stakeholder groups, including academia, industry, and not-for-profits. Building on the $360 million that was designated in Budget 2021 towards the design and delivery of the industry, the NQS has allocated an additional $141 million in federal funding towards quantum research, $45 million to talent, and $169 million for commercialization.
The Strategy in Detail
In order to further grow Canada’s quantum ecosystem and solidify its position as a long-term industry leader, the NQS has designated three key missions and pillars that the federal government will pursue.
The following three NQS missions are intended to guide the ongoing collaboration between government, academia, industry, and not-for-profit organizations, as well as to outline the federal government’s required support.
Mission 1: Make Canada a world leader in the continued development, deployment, and use of quantum computing hardware and software—to the benefit of Canadian industry, governments, and citizens. In order to realize the potential of quantum computers and achieve this mission, a multitude of near-term research and development concerns must be addressed, including hybrid computing capacity, quantum simulators, and use cases for quantum computers. As the designated strategy to mitigate these concerns and further this mission, the federal government will aim to accelerate the development of Canadian quantum computing hardware, software, and algorithms, as well as to foster a range of platform-diverse expertise.
Mission 2: Ensure the privacy and cybersecurity of Canadians in a quantum enabled world through a national secure quantum communications network and a post-quantum cryptography initiative. To achieve this mission, the Government of Canada will prioritize work pertaining to the security of current and future data systems, especially through the development of post-quantum cryptography and a national quantum communications network. These actions are expected to create opportunities for Canadian firms to gain involvement in both domestic and international markets, thus enhancing the collective security of Canada and its allies.
Mission 3:Enable the Government of Canada and key industries to be developers and early adopters of new quantum sensing technologies. Canada must act fast in order to solidify its position in the ever-expanding global quantum sensing technologies market, which is expected to reach nearly $550 million USD by 2026. To advance its position as a global leader in quantum sensor development and utilization, the federal government will encourage and explore market opportunities, including further supporting research investments, developing industry standards, and increasing the technology’s accessibility in Canada.
To successfully pursue and realize the above three comprehensive missions, it is expected that the Government of Canada will release a supplementary rollout plan to provide additional details on the associated initiatives.
In support of the three NQS missions and the greater quantum landscape in Canada, the NQS is reinforced by the following three coordinating pillars: Research, Talent, and Commercialization.
Pillar 1 – Research: Recognizing that Canadian quantum research is essential to industry progression and the development of better solutions, the Government of Canada will continue to encourage and assist research programs under the NQS. This includes the newly established Quantum Research and Development Initiative ($9 million over six years) and the creation of the following three new streams of quantum-specific NSERC Alliance Grants:
Alliance – Quantum ($62.5 million over seven years) to reinforce, coordinate and scale up Canada’s domestic research capabilities;
Alliance – Consortia Quantum ($40 million over seven years) to develop large-scale research collaborations across institutions that connect to government needs and industry applications; and
Alliance – International Quantum ($30 million over seven years) to allow Canadian academic researchers to connect to international opportunities.
Pillar 2 – Talent: Canada must attract, build, and develop a world-leading and diverse quantum workforce in order for the industry to succeed. Through expanding upon Canada’s efforts to date to improve the talent pool and pipeline, the NQS will provide additional supports to the programming delivered by Mitacs ($40 million over six years) and NSERC CREATE ($5.4 million over six years). These NQS funding initiatives are intended to strengthen academic and professional quantum expertise, create internship opportunities, and generate linkages with international talent pools.
Pillar 3 – Commercialization: Through successfully developing research and new technologies, an expanded Canadian industry with meaningful commercial outcomes will follow. In order to support commercialization and procurement that will bring new quantum technologies to market, under the NQS the federal government will:
Provide funding to expand the NRC Internet of Things: Quantum Sensors Challenge and launch the Applied Quantum Computing Challenge ($50 million over seven years);
Support Global Innovation Clusters ($14 million over seven years) that will accelerate industry growth and collaboration;
Assist Canadian businesses in finding solutions to pressing quantum challenges by facilitating operational-prototype testing of late-stage R&D through Innovative Solutions Canada ($35 million over seven years); and
Ongoing regional development agency support (CED $23.3 million over seven years, FedDev Ontario $23.3 million over seven years, PrairiesCan $9.4 million over seven years, PacifiCan $14 million over seven years).
To pursue the Strategy direction and achieve quantum success, the Government of Canada will release additional information, funding calls, and support programs over the coming months. In reflection of the NQS’ ambitious aims and collaborative nature, two considerations are immediately apparent.
Firstly, the opportunities and demand for those who can contribute to the Canadian quantum industry will expectedly rise over the coming years. And secondly, industry players and representatives should be prepared to closely engage and collaborate with the federal government as Canada’s quantum ecosystem continues to evolve.