Mike Lazaridis, co-founder of Research in Motion, announced an extra $50 million donation to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo Wednesday night. The new money pledged by the Blackberry maker brings his total personal contributions to the Institute to $150 million.
The announcement was made Wednesday night before 600 people at the Waterloo Collegiate Institute, home of the Institute’s public lecture series, who gathered to listen to a public lecture. John Wilkinson, Ontario Minister of Research and Innovation, was on hand to celebrate the announcement as well as past provincial investments of $65 million to the Institute. The government of Canada, another partner of the institute, was also recognized for its contributions.
Since the Institute opened in 2001, the non-profit physics research centre has housed 85 resident researchers and churned out hundreds of papers, earning it international fame.
Lazaridis, who founded the Institute in 1999 and is now chairman of its board, said, “The power of human understanding and new ideas has a long and proven history in transforming society – such as Maxwell’s unification of electricity and magnetism, and Einstein’s insights about the nature of space, time, and light. Today’s scientists are pushing our fundamental understanding even further. They are working on the most challenging problems we have ever known and they are calculating new solutions that, over time, will improve our society – intellectually, materially, and by stimulating future generations of researchers to dig even deeper.”
“Ontario’s commitment to fundamental and applied research has not only been informed but also inspired by Mike’s personal commitment to innovation, and his contributions to the Perimeter Institute,” said John Wilkinson, Ontario minister of research and innovation. “This new investment will strengthen the Institute and the government‐industry partnerships that have made it possible, and help us to continue to attract the world‐class talent and the scientific knowledge Ontario needs to compete in the 21st century.”
Research in Motion executives have done their share to kick-start research in Canada. In addition to Lazaridis’ Institute, RIM’s other co-founder Jim Balsillie put $20 million of his own money towards launching the Centre for International Governance Innovation, a international-politics think tank in Waterloo, in 2001. Lazaridis put in $10 million. In June 2007 Balillie announced a $50-million donation to the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and the Centre for International Governance Innovation. The money will fund research into Ontario’s economy and establish the Balsillie School of International Affairs.
Then in September Balsillie announced another donation — and challenged fellow business leaders to follow his example. Balsillie kick-started the opening of the Canadian International Council — a think tank that will look into Canada’s role on the global stage — with a $1-million personal gift. Balsillie also asked Canada’s corporate elite to shell out. He said that by spending $100,000 each year to support a research fellow, companies can help the council tackle important global topics like Arctic sovereignty, energy, and the environment.
Read Paul Wells’ article on RIM’s tranformation of Waterloo here.