University of Waterloo

BlackBerry and University of Waterloo to launch new innovation program

New, five-year, “multi-million dollar” innovation program designed to drive research-powered innovation in Canada

BlackBerry and the University of Waterloo are to launch a new, five-year, “multi-million dollar” innovation program designed to drive research-powered innovation in Canada. The two organizations will work together in a unique program designed to fast-track the development of research and technology into market-ready products.

Through the program, BlackBerry and the University of Waterloo plan to focus on cybersecurity, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and safety assurance technologies.

BlackBerry’s Advanced Technology Development Labs group, which is a team of over 120 software developers, architects, researchers, and security experts, will work with the University toward the common goal of identifying, exploring, and creating groundbreaking technologies.

The primary focus will be to develop and conduct research projects—beginning with the University’s Faculties of Mathematics, Engineering, and Science, in conjunction with the Waterloo Artificial Intelligence Institute and the Waterloo Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute—to refine BlackBerry’s product ideas through prototyping and R&D challenges. This will include the development of new business partnerships with faculty members and students who have commercial aspirations for their invented intellectual property.

“At BlackBerry, we are constantly searching for ways we can advance the development of innovative technologies to secure and protect our increasingly hyperconnected world,” said John Chen, Executive Chairman and CEO, BlackBerry.

“We are thrilled to be doubling down on that mission while helping to foster the next generation of innovators and imagineers as part of our expanded partnership with the University of Waterloo and look forward to working with them to investigate new ideas with a view to taking them from hand-scribbled diagrams to fully formed technologies ready for the global marketplace.”

Focus areas for the research activities include cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and safety assurance to align with BlackBerry’s core business areas such as BlackBerry IVY, the company’s recently announced Intelligent Vehicle Data Platform.

Building on a partnership spanning over three decades, this agreement represents the most comprehensive and concerted effort yet to combine the unique strengths of BlackBerry and the University to turbocharge the company’s technological innovation.

Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo, called the agreement “an important milestone” in the organizations’ “long-standing partnership.”

“We are delighted to work with BlackBerry in the coming years to tackle disruptive, global challenges,”

“This agreement is an important milestone in our long-standing partnership, and further cements the University’s unique position at the heart of a critical innovation community—where talent, world-class research and entrepreneurial spirit come together to connect ideas and impact.”

As part of the agreement, BlackBerry will become one of three founding partners of the Gateway for Enterprises to Discover Innovation (GEDI), an office at the University that streamlines corporate engagement. GEDI helps companies establish unique partnerships with the University of Waterloo spanning research, talent, training, and Waterloo’s robust entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Additional collaboration highlights include:

  • An annual $10,000 BlackBerry Cybersecurity and Privacy Excellence Scholarship, awarded as part of BlackBerry’s membership with the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute
  • Collaboration with various schools and groups within the University of Waterloo, including Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business, Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business, Problem Lab, and other student innovation programs
  • Cross-campus co-curricular learning opportunities like hackathons.

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