This text is taken from Courrier de l’ économique. Click here to subscribe.
Is Quebec’s Silicon Valley located in… Bromont?
Bromont, ski and mountain bike town. Bromont, gateway to Estrie for many Quebec lovers of the outdoors and local products. Bromont… new Canadian technological epicenter.
It was the American President, Joe Biden, who collectively alerted us during his visit to the country last spring. Quite literally, in fact, since during a speech to parliament, he did not fail to talk about the importance of producing computer chips locally, precisely.
In front of Canadian elected officials, he repeated something that he had already said alongside leaders of companies like Intel, Micron and Qualcomm: producing your own technological components locally is vital to the North American economy.
In the process, the federal government announced $36 million in aid to Ranovus, a manufacturer of computer components with 200 employees located in Kanata, a suburb of Ottawa.
Like many other industries, the Canadian semiconductor sector is represented by a sector body. The Canadian Semiconductor Council is based in Markham, Ontario. Ask them where the technological heart of the country beats and they will say Ontario, without a doubt. Its directors are all executives of foreign companies with some representation in the greater Toronto area.
The Canadian Semiconductor Council misses the days when Nortel and Tundra Semiconductors, in particular, both based in Ottawa, made Canada a leader in this industry.
Last March, Biden praised the merits of… Bromont. IBM currently employs more than 1,000 people there in a factory which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year and which produces more than 100,000 computer chips every week.
With any luck, the presidential speech will accelerate the creation of a computer chip manufacturing hub that will start in Bromont and stretch to Albany, New York, a project that we are hearing about for several months already.
quantum and knock
In Bromont, business people hope to be able to create a regional semiconductor manufacturing hub comparable to the battery industry that is emerging in Bécancour.
But that’s not all.
A little before the end of September, IBM — again — will inaugurate Canada’s most powerful quantum computer. This one too will be located in Bromont. This will be the fourth quantum computer put into operation by IBM outside the United States.
This will not be the first quantum computer to see the light of day in Quebec. Earlier this year, the Calcul Québec organization officially inaugurated its own machine, located at the ETS, available to all interested public sector researchers.
IBM will also work with the Quebec community of computer science and quantum researchers. Because even if the first computers see the light of day, it remains to program the systems and the applications which will take advantage of their anticipated disproportionate power.
“We have a partnership with the Quantum Institute of the University of Sherbrooke, we want to make our technology available to other Quebec companies,” indicates to Le Devoir the president of IBM Québec Technologies, Nathalie Le Prohon.
Mme Prohon wants to see Quebec position itself early in the emergence of quantum, to produce intellectual property that will pay off big the day this technology is accessible to the general public.
The chips produced by IBM in Bromont are “ready for quantum,” she assures. In other words, there is potential for economic and technological growth to be seized for Bromont — imagine a Silicon Valley on the east coast!
Already, this potential is perceptible from Washington. Do Ottawa and Quebec see the same thing?