Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The commercialization bandwagon

When the Perimeter Institute was unveiled five years ago, it was described as "a Canadian institute dedicated solely to the study of theoretical physics." But, according to a group called the Toronto Region Research Alliance—yes, they say Waterloo is in the "Toronto Region"—PI is now in the commercialization business.

According to a TRRA news release, PI is "working to translate foundational ideas in physics and quantum computing into commercialized applications" along with UW's Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC). And it says PI wants additional money from the government to do this.

I hadn't heard that PI was underfunded, or that it was in the business of creating technology-based products. I'm not sure that it would make either claim, but when there are tax dollars to be handed out, organizations become very flexible in how they present themselves. "Commercialization" is the colour governments are buying this year, even if it's not clear that they even understand what that is.

The local representation in the TRRA consists of UW president David Johnston, Open Text chairman Tom Jenkins, and Kitchener mayor Carl Zehr. U of G president Alastair Summerlee is also a member. We can never get organizations in this region (other than UW) to use the "Waterloo" brand, but apparently we can get people behind the idea of promoting the area under the "Toronto Region" banner.

Also see "Commercialization is about products"

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