Chen and Trudeau

BlackBerry to Receive $40 Million from Canadian Government

The Canadian government is adding $40 million in federal money to a $310.5-million pledge from BlackBerry aimed at supporting the development of self-driving car technologies in Kanata.

BlackBerry’s spending will come over the next 10 years and, alongside the money from the federal government’s Strategic Innovation Fund announced on Friday, is expected to create a total of 800 new jobs and nearly 1,000 co-op placements. In addition to the AV spending, BlackBerry is also committing $5 million to develop new cybersecurity solutions with government and industry partners.

With this funding, BlackBerry QNX will develop new automated control systems, upgrade and secure communications in vehicles, and improve vehicle safety and security by expanding its advanced driver-assistance system. BlackBerry QNX will also develop and use concept cars as labs for technology and software development.

The race for a top spot in the new economy has already begun, and if we want to see Canadians take the lead, we need to have their backs. That is why our government is investing $40 million in BlackBerry QNX to design and develop a new software platform for the cars of today and tomorrow. This investment will create good, middle class jobs for Canadians, make our cars safer and more secure, and further position Canada as a global hub for innovation.” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

According to the government, Canada’s expertise in emerging technologies is attracting significant investments in autonomous and connected-vehicle research from global firms such as General Motors and Ford and tech players like Uber, Google and Nvidia.

The QNX technology being developed for cars also has applications for medicine, the military, drones, industrial automation, nuclear power plants and high-speed rail, said senior BlackBerry executive John Wall.

More immediately, the developments will make cars safer, he said.

“I think in 2025 your car’s not going to be very different than it is today, except it’ll have more safety features, and that will trickle down to even the less-expensive vehicles,” Wall said.

“What I would like to see out of all of this is less accidents and less fatalities related to cars.”

While BlackBerry is working toward fully self-driving cars, they are not expected to be commercially available in a big way before 2035 or 2040, he said.

The pace of technological development aside, consumers also have to be psychologically ready for the advent of autonomous vehicles, something that might take time.

In addition, there are myriad regulatory issues to be worked out in jurisdictions around the world to ensure the new applications have government approval and meet common standards, Wall said.

“The technology may be moving faster than the regulatory bodies are moving.”

John Chen, Executive Chairman and CEO, BlackBerry added,

BlackBerry is trusted by automakers and Tier 1s around the world to protect hardware, software, applications, and end-to-end systems from cyberattacks. Thanks to the Canadian government’s commitment we’re now in an even stronger position to deliver on the demand for BlackBerry’s safe and secure QNX software. Together we will spur innovation, create great jobs, educate the workforce of tomorrow, and solidify Canada as a world leader in automotive technology.”

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