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Canadas Quantum Brain Trust Image Credit: Bloomberg Businessweek
Canadas Quantum Brain Trust Image Credit: Bloomberg Businessweek

Canada's Quantum Brain Trust

The man who co-invented the BlackBerry funds superfast subatomic research


Natalie Wong and Jeremy Kahn, with Hugo Miller

It’s early days for quantum computers, the still mostly theoretical subatomic processors so powerful they can make our fastest super computer look like an abacus. Mike Lazaridis, the co-inventor of the BlackBerry, says that when it comes to quantum technology, he’s learned his lesson. He won’t be iPhoned again.

After years of watching his brand wither during the iPhone era, Lazaridis stepped down as the company’s co-chief executive officer in 2012 and devoted most of his energy to researching quantum technologies, including computers, sensors, and a wide range of other gear. With former BlackBerry colleague Doug Fregin, he’s poured more than $450 million into quantum projects over the past two decades and now spends much of his time running the $80 million venture company Quantum Valley Investments from his office in Waterloo, Ont., where BlackBerry Ltd. got its start.

“You have to build an industry,” Lazaridis says. “You have to be very nimble, and you have to be connected to your customers, and that can’t be done with just one company.” In addition to funding a quantum computing effort, a goal being chased elsewhere by the likes of Google and International Business Machines Corp., Quantum Valley directly funds narrower projects that Lazaridis says could be commercialized within the next few years.

Classical computers interpret bits of data as either a 0 or 1, but data in quantum computing can e

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