Technology & Science

BMO gives Perimeter Institute $4M

The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics receives its largest corporate donation ever: $4 million from BMO Financial Group to help lure more theoretical physicists to Canada.

The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics received its largest corporate donation ever on Monday: $4 million from BMO Financial Group to help lure more theoretical physicists to Canada.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based institute will match the donation with another $4 million from its endowment to fund the first of five chairs to be named after scientists whose insights defined modern physics: Isaac Newton, James Clerk Maxwell, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr and Paul Dirac.

The first  chair will be named after Newton, an English physicist whose work in the 1600s described the universal laws of gravitation and motion, laying the groundwork for the modern scientific description of the physical universe.

"Theoretical physics has driven the most important insights and technological advances in the history of humankind," Mike Lazaridis, the centre's founder, said in a release. "Although the outcomes from basic research may not be immediate, they are inevitable."

Lazaridis, co-founder of BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion, launched the centre in 2000 with a donation of $100 million. Since then, it has become renowned in the world of theoretical physics as a meeting place for the top minds in the field.

Legendary British physicist Stephen Hawking spent six weeks at the centre earlier this year as a visiting scholar. Hawking is best-known for his cosmological discoveries and insights, including his work on the physics of black holes.

BMO's $4 million is the largest single donation it has ever made in support of science.