BlackBerry QNX is going all in on self-driving cars by opening a new Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Centre (AVIC) in Ottawa.
Housed inside BlackBerry QNX headquarters, the AVIC will bring the company’s partners together in order to develop production-ready software for connected and self-driving cars. A major component of the centre involves creating more jobs for Canadians, QNX head John Wall said in a phone interview with ITBusiness.ca: BlackBerry wants to attract more talent, and is willing to invest in that talent in order to retain it. The AVIC represents the beginning of that strategy.
“We hope it’s a place where we can attract a lot of talent and retain a lot of talent by working on really exciting technology that is both exciting from an innovation perspective, but that is also commercially successful,” Wall said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was at the AVIC launch event on Dec. 19 to show BlackBerry that it has the government’s support.
“With the opening of its innovation centre in Ottawa, BlackBerry is helping establish our country as the global leader in software and security for connected car and autonomous vehicle development,” Trudeau said. “This centre will create great middle-class jobs for Canadians, new opportunities for recent university graduates, and further position Canada as a global hub for innovation.”
BlackBerry’s relationship with the government is expected to continue being an important one moving forward, according to both parties. The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario has already approved BlackBerry QNX to test autonomous vehicles on Ontario roads, and the company has been discussing future moves with the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Navdeep Bains.
In addition creating Canadian jobs, the company’s other key goal is building a richer ecosystem of tech industry partners across Canada, Wall said.
“I’m a firm believer that you learn by doing,” he told ITBusiness.ca. “By working on a car with our partners, we are going to learn a lot more than if we were just designing stuff in a lab. The goal here is to have better integration and grow collaboration between ecosystem partners here in Canada and abroad.”
The AVIC isn’t the first time BlackBerry has indicated its interest in the automated vehicle sector. Back in October, the company announced a deal with car manufacturer Ford to develop in-car software. While Ford itself won’t specifically be driving the innovation behind the AVIC, the manufacturer is one of a number of OEMs currently working with BlackBerry, though at the moment its deal with Ford is the only one made public by the software company.