In March 2013, Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin established the Quantum Valley Investment Fund in Waterloo, Canada, to provide financial and intellectual capital for the development and commercialization of quantum physics and quantum computing breakthroughs. The initial size of the fund, which is backed by Messrs. Lazaridis and Fregin, is $100 million.
For more than a decade, Messrs. Lazaridis and Fregin have worked to bring together in Waterloo the best and brightest minds from around the world in physics, engineering, mathematics, computer science and materials science to collaborate on cutting-edge quantum research. The Quantum Valley Investment Fund is designed to provide the financial and intellectual capital needed to transform ideas and early-stage breakthroughs into commercially viable products, technologies and services.
"The technologies that are being developed in Waterloo will shape the 21st Century even more than the digital revolution changed the world in the 20th Century," Mr. Lazaridis said. "And just as the discoveries and innovations at Bell Labs led to the companies that created Silicon Valley, so will the discoveries and innovations at research centers in Waterloo transform the region into an area known as 'The Quantum Valley.'"
Mr. Lazaridis is not alone in his belief that work being undertaken on quantum technologies in Waterloo will have a wide-ranging impact. During the dedication in fall 2012 of the new Quantum-Nano Centre at the University of Waterloo, funded by Michael and Ophelia Lazaridis, Stephen Hawking said, "This institution will advance our understanding of matter and movement, illuminating deep mysteries with the light of scientific discovery." Dr. Hawking is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, a position first held by Sir Isaac Newton, and regarded as the leading theoretical physicist of our time.
In addition to founding the Quantum-Nano Centre, Mr. Lazaridis established in 2000 the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI), where he serves as Board Chair. PI has been widely recognized as a leading international centre for Physics research, training and outreach. His efforts have also helped
generate important private and public sector funding in support of the Institute. Mr. Lazaridis also founded The Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo. He has donated more than $170 million to Perimeter, and more than $100 million to IQC.
In 1984, Messrs.Lazaridis and Fregin co-founded BlackBerry (formerly Research In Motion). They invented the BlackBerry device, created the smart phone industry, and built Canada's largest global tech business. Mr. Lazaridis served in various positions including Co-Chairman and Co-CEO of RIM from 1984 to 2012. He is currently Board Vice Chair at BlackBerry, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and has been named to both the Order of Ontario and Order of Canada. He was awarded Canada's most prestigious innovation prize-the Ernest C. Manning Principal Award-listed on Maclean's Honour Roll as a distinguished Canadian in 2000 after opening Perimeter, named as one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People, and honored as a Globe and Mail Nation-Builder of the Year.
Mr. Lazaridis holds honorary doctoral degree in Engineering from the University of Waterloo (where he formerly served as Chancellor), as well as a doctor of Laws McMaster University, University of Windsor and Université Laval. In addition to his many professional and personal accomplishments, Mr. Lazaridis also won an Academy Award and an Emmy Award for technical achievements in the movie and TV industries for developing a high-speed bar-code reader that greatly increased the speed of editing film.
Mr. Lazaridis is of Hellenic heritage, born in Istanbul. He and his family moved to Canada in 1966, settling in Windsor, Ontario. At age 12, he won a prize at the Windsor Public Library for reading every science book in the library. In 1979, he enrolled at the University of Waterloo to study electrical engineering. During his last year at university, he co-founded RIM.