RIM Founder Invests $100 Million to Create Canada’s Ultimate Hive of Technological Innovation

Mike Lazaridis, who founded Research In Motion in Waterloo and pioneered the BlackBerry, poured $100 million into what will open tomorrow as the Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre.

Located in Waterloo, this centre has high hopes of recreating the conditions that made AT&T’s Bell Labs a famous epicentre of incredible technological innovation half a century ago. Bell Labs is often credited as a significant early contributor to what eventually became Silicon Valley.

The research centre is designed to produce breakthroughs in technology, particularly technology involving things nearly as small as an atom. It’s “absolutely” going to be the Bell Labs of the 21st century, Lazaridis affirmed yesterday in an interview with Bloomberg. “That reality got clearer and clearer to me as we got closer to the ribbon-cutting.”

Mike resigned as chairman of RIM at the start of this year. The company was doing poorly then and worse now, leaving an unfortunate black stain on an otherwise bright legacy. But RIM’s shortcomings have freed up Mike’s time quite a bit, which could prove better for Canadian innovation long-term.

“We can’t offer them ocean, beaches or mountains, but we can try and offer them the best environment, the best collaborators, the best equipment that would be conducive to them making the breakthroughs of their lifetime,” Mike said of the bright minds who will flock to his centre. “One of the best ways to describe this is we’re trying to break the known laws of physics.”