June 3, 2021

Mphasis's decision shows how great research universities can improve their communities

A message from President Ed McCauley
UCalgary has played a significant role in attracting tech company Mphasis to Calgary. BRENDAN MILLER /Postmedia file

Years from now, people will look back on this week as one of Calgary’s best. Because this is the week we learned that our hometown will build on its leadership in quantum technologies — and in the process, create up to 1,000 jobs immediately, with more to come as new companies are created in the space.

The University of Calgary, the government of Alberta and Mphasis, a leading technology company specializing in cloud and cognitive services, have formed a strategic partnership. One that will expand Alberta’s Quantum Computing Ecosystem by creating a technology hub, the Quantum City Centre of Excellence, at UCalgary.

The timing couldn’t be better for Calgary. Good news has been overdue. For an idea of what this could mean, and why I believe this will be a watershed week, let’s look at Pittsburgh.

In the late 1970s, the bedrock of its economy, the steel industry, collapsed due to cheap imports. A city that was once home to more Fortune 500 companies than anywhere except New York and Chicago entered a depression. Unemployment hit 18 per cent. Most people who could leave, did, leaving Pittsburgh with one of the oldest populations in America.

An odd place, perhaps, for a university to start a robotics institute in 1979. But that’s just what Carnegie Mellon University did, and Pittsburgh is now a leading robotics hub that grew around the technology the university invented. Success begat success and Pittsburgh became a leader in other areas of technology as well as medicine. Today, 80,000 people work in its science, technology, engineering and medical fields.

The same can happen here.

Read more on the Calgary Herald website