Mike has publicly shared his belief that the quantum physics capacity that is being developed in the Waterloo Region of Canada is becoming the “Bell Labs of the Twenty First” century that he believes will lead to the establishment of the “Quantum Valley” in the Region.
Understanding this analogy requires an explanation of the original Bell Labs that was established by AT&T in New Jersey the early part of the twentieth century. The original Bell Labs traces its foundation to the audacious goal set by the CEO of AT&T in 1909 namely the development of a trans-American phone line from New York to San Francisco in time for the World Fair in San Francisco that took place in 1915. It’s important to understand that at the time the technology did not exist to make this possible. In fact when researchers were consulted on the goal they said that it was impossible. The newly appointed head of the research lab that would develop into Bell Labs, recruited the best young researchers from around the world, he set them up at a facility in New Jersey and provided them with resources and the foundations for Bell Labs were established. The development of the vacuum tube by these researchers made AT&T’s audacious goal possible. Thereafter for the following decades researchers at Bell Labs were instrumental in the invention of the transistor (for which three of its researchers won the Nobel Prize), fibre optics, cell phone networks and many other technologies that transformed society as it previously existed.
William Shockley was one of the three Bell Labs researchers that were awarded the Nobel Prize in connection with the invention of the transistor. In 1955, Shockley left Bell Labs and established The Shockley Semiconductor Company in Palo Alto, California to commercialize silicon based technologies that had been developed at Bell Labs. Shockley’s employees included Eugene Kleiner who was subsequently one of the founders of Silicon Valley Investment Firm Kleiner Perkins as well as Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce who later established Intel. Although the enterprise failed, Shockley’s employees went on to establish other ventures in the area and so began the foundations of the Silicon Valley that exists today.
Mike believes that IQC and Perimeter are the corner-stones of the “Bell Labs of the Twenty First Century” akin to the original Bell Labs in New Jersey, but focused on its own bold goals namely the development of quantum based technologies including the holy grail – the quantum computer. He believes that these organizations in collaboration with others in the Waterloo Region and across Canada will continue to play and will increasing play a leading role, globally, with respect to the development of breakthrough technologies based on Quantum Information Science.
The “Quantum Valley” is the completion of the analogy. Mike and Doug believe that we can establish in the Region of Waterloo a commercialization infrastructure focused on quantum technologies and that we can build upon the culture of entrepreneurialism and innovation that already exists in this Region with the same kind of success achieved by pioneers of Silicon Valley.