BlackBerry co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin have established a $100-million fund to commercialize quantum computing, an emerging field they say could revolutionize information technology.
They say the Waterloo region in southwestern Ontario could be a focal point for new jobs and new industries, much as California's Silicon Valley became a hub for advances in conventional computing.
Lazaridis and Fregin collaborated to found the company formerly known as Research In Motion in 1984, which became Canada's leading high technology company through its pioneering efforts in smartphones.
The company recently changed its name to BlackBerry in keeping with its main product line.
Fregin, 53, retired from RIM in 2007 after serving as vice-president of operations.
Lazaridis is the more prominent of the two, having served as co-chairman and co-chief executive of the company with Jim Balsillie until early last year when they were replaced in those posts by Thorsten Heins.
Lazaridis was also a driving force behind the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, which was conceived as a world leading centre for research.
He and Fregin say they believe the new fund will complement the institute's work.
"Nothing you see in the classical technology world can prepare you for what you will see in the quantum technology revolution," Lazaridis said in a statement.
Quantum theory explains the behaviour of particles and energy at extremely small scales — smaller than atoms that were once considered the building block of all matter.
Quantum computing could make use of the phenomenon to make computations faster than digital electronic technology, which is the basis of conventional computing.