In the same week that Canada placed 12 out of 25 when it comes to automated vehicle readiness, a massive new investment has been announced for a Canadian company to develop autonomous technology.
BlackBerry has announced a total $350 million investment in autonomous innovation, with $40 million coming from the federal government’s Strategic Innovation Fund and the other $310.5 million coming from BlackBerry themselves. This new funding will allow BlackBerry to create 800 new jobs over the next 10 years and maintain 300 existing ones.
The investment is actually going into BlackBerry QNX, a unit of BlackBerry dedicated to developing secure software for a wide range of connected vehicles. The Waterloo-based BlackBerry has been working with leading brands recently through their QNX unit to establish partnerships in the connected car market. In late 2017, they partnered with Qualcomm to work on virtual cockpit controllers, telematics like eCall and Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything technology, control gateways, digital instrument clusters and infotainment systems.
More recently, BlackBerry has worked with Chinese search giant Baidu to build a safety operating system for their open autonomous driving platform Apollo, as well as QNX’s CarLife, DuerOS, and HD maps. If that wasn’t enough, BlackBerry has even entered the connected trucks market through a partnership with Pana-Pacific, enabling their use of BlackBerry Radar in 2,800-plus truck dealerships across North America.
“The race for a top spot in the new economy has already begun, and if we want to see Canadians take the lead, we need to have their backs,” said Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, who was in attendance at BlackBerry for the announcement. “That is why our government is investing $40 million in BlackBerry QNX to design and develop a new software platform for the cars of today and tomorrow. This investment will create good, middle-class jobs for Canadians, make our cars safer and more secure, and further position Canada as a global hub for innovation.”
Beyond the large investment for connected cars, $5 million will go to collaborative cybersecurity initiatives between pub, private and post-secondary institutions.
“BlackBerry is trusted by automakers and Tier 1s around the world to protect hardware, software, applications, and end-to-end systems from cyberattacks,” said John Chen, CEO of BlackBerry. “Thanks to the Canadian government’s commitment we’re now in an even stronger position to deliver on the demand for BlackBerry’s safe and secure QNX software. Together we will spur innovation, create great jobs, educate the workforce of tomorrow, and solidify Canada as a world leader in automotive technology.”
BlackBerry recently partnered with L-SPARK to create a new accelerator program that allows SMEs to access QNX technology and use it to scale their company. BlackBerry acquired QNX from Harman International in 2010, and at that point, its function was to to further connect smartphones with in-car infotainment systems.