Taking collaborative innovation to a higher level

Recipient: SOSCIP (Southern Ontario Smart Computing Innovation Platform)
Region: Southern Ontario
Program: Prosperity Initiative; Investing in Commercialization Partnerships
Total funding allocated: up to $40 million

The SOSCIP consortium gives academic researchers and companies unparalleled access to Canada’s most advanced computing platforms. Researcher Fei Chiang pictured.
The SOSCIP consortium gives academic researchers and companies unparalleled access to Canada’s most advanced computing platforms. Researcher Fei Chiang pictured.

Driving innovation is the focus of SOSCIP—an ambitious research and development consortium that is supporting ground-breaking scientific advances in areas with significant commercialization opportunities. Originally established with funding from FedDev Ontario’s Prosperity Initiative, and expanded with a contribution from the Investing in Commercialization Partnerships initiative,  SOSCIP brings academia and industry together to accomplish life-improving research that has led to job creation and prosperity in southern Ontario.

“From the beginning, FedDev Ontario has played an important role in the development and success of SOSCIP,” says Elissa Strome, Executive Director of SOSCIP. “Similar to FedDev Ontario, we believe that collaboration fuels innovation and ultimately contributes to a better, healthier and sustainable economy.”

SOSCIP is a collaborative R&D platform that pairs academic researchers, small- and medium-sized companies, along with IBM as a lead industry partner, to harness advanced computing and big data analytics technology. It was created out of the understanding that researchers and industry could work together to bring about successful innovation strategies.

The consortium owns multiple advanced computing resources operated by partner academic institutions across the province. These include a cloud-based platform that provides project partners free access to IBM data analytics software and Canada’s fastest supercomputer—the IBM Blue Gene/Q—which is particularly suited for large-scale modelling and simulation applications. 

Since its beginning in 2012, SOSCIP has grown to include 15 of Ontario’s most research-intensive academic institutions that are committed to solving problems that improve our everyday lives—from our cities and health, to cybersecurity and advanced manufacturing. The results of this important collaboration have been extremely positive and the number of active projects is growing.

Analytics 4 Life (A4L) was one of the first start-ups to benefit from SOSCIP. A4L uses artificial intelligence to develop machine-learned solutions to identify and assess disease, and IBM’s cloud infrastructure and computing power is supporting the development of the company’s mathematical models. A4L is currently running a clinical trial with over 1,200 participants to help find a better and noninvasive way to diagnose cardiac dysfunction.

“Having access to SOSCIP’s resources has accelerated our development timeline,”says Sunny Gupta, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer. “Without SOSCIP, it would have been much more difficult for a small company like A4L to obtain the funding and computational power necessary to analyze billions of data points.”

Spring 2017 marks the five-year anniversary of SOSCIP, something that Strome says is “both humbling and inspiring.” There are more than 40 active projects and over 150 students and post-doctoral fellows actively engaged in research and gaining invaluable skills.

“It’s difficult to pinpoint one great achievement,” says Strome. “Our achievements are found in the continued support and expertise that we offer our researchers and industry partners.”

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Having access to advanced tools like IBM’s BlueGene/Q supercomputer to process and analyze data underscores the real value that collaboration between the public and private sectors can offer.
Sunny Gupta, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Analytics 4 Life, SOSCIP project partner
With support from FedDev Ontario, SOSCIP has an opportunity to become a sustainable and successful model for industry-academic collaboration, driving innovation to enable continued economic success for Ontario and Canada.
Elissa Strome, Executive Director of SOSCIP