June 27, 2019



Gilles Brassard, Quantum-Safe Canada (QSC) Academic Steering Committee

CIFAR fellows awarded 2019 Micius Quantum Prize

May 8th, 2019


Gilles Brassard, a member of the Quantum-Safe Canada (QSC) Academic Steering Committee has recently awarded a 2019 Micius Quantum Prize along with Charles Bennett for “their inventions of quantum key distribution, quantum teleportation, and entanglement purification.” 

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This is the quantum threat, and what it means in plain terms is that Canada’s – and every country’s – national security and economic prosperity will be at risk as government, communications, transportation, banking, energy and other critical infrastructure systems become vulnerable to hostile actions.

Danger meets opportunity 

May 6th, 2019

The Globe and Mail newspaper has published “The quantum threat to cybersecurity:  Danger meets opportunity”, an op-ed by Tiff Macklem of the Rotman School and Michele Mosca and Brian O’Higgins of QSC:

“By now, most of us know that quantum computing is coming and will bring an almost unimaginable increase in computing power. The ability to perform previously impossible calculations is expected to enable wonderful advances in, for example, the development of new life-saving drugs and novel energy-saving materials. Canada’s leadership in quantum computing and artificial intelligence provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our businesses to be at the vanguard of the application of these new technologies.” 

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Canada is in the vanguard globally in both cryptography and quantum information science, and strong in cyber security applications and services.

The Quantum Threat to Cyber Security

April 16th, 2019

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) publishes a revised version of QSC’s February submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security:

“…  Many people have heard of quantum computing, know that it’s coming and are aware that it will bring an almost unimaginable speed-up in the ability of computers to perform many kinds of calculations. This will allow wonderful advances in, for example, our ability to discover new materials and design new life-saving drugs. Unfortunately, powerful quantum computers will also enable the hacking of today’s “unbreakable” encryption in minutes.” 

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Crossing the chasm – still a relevant challenge

April 8th, 2019

Angela Mondou, author, entrepreneur and founder of ICE Leadership Inc., shared her insight into technology commercialization at the CryptoWorks21 Distinguished Lecture March 12.

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Canada must respond proactively to the quantum threat, implementing the elements that will enable an orderly and timely transition to quantum-resistant cryptography.

QSC introduces parliamentary  committee to the quantum threat

February 27th, 2019

Quantum-Safe Canada Managing Director, Dr Michele Mosca, and QSC Board Chair Brian O’Higgins appeared as invited witnesses before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, which is conducting a study of Cybersecurity in the Financial Sector as a National Economic Security Issue.  Their testimony was drawn from a written brief, The Quantum Threat to Cybersecurity, which was submitted to the Standing Committee beforehand.

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"It's like having a child who does way better than you and it's awesome."
Image of Marc Morin

The “Blood, sweat, tears, toil and triumphs” of commercialising technology 

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019


In his own words, Marc Morin is “addicted to the game.”

Morin is the CEO and co-founder at Auvik Networks, pronounced awe-vik, as in awesome. “It’s like having a child who does way better than you and it’s awesome,” Morin explained at the CryptoWorks21 Distinguished Lecture last fall. Elaborating on his evolving role as a CEO in a tech company, he shared lessons learned­—the mistakes he made and the things he got right—during his personal journey as a serial technology entrepreneur.

Prior to launching Auvik Networks, Morin co-founded several successful companies including PixStream and Sandvine. With the kind of experience and exuberance he brings, it’s hard not to feel infected by startup fever.

Through his experiences growing and selling successful software companies, Morin gained a wealth of knowledge in the entrepreneurship and technology sphere. The title of his talk: “What I’ve Done and What Know”.

Through Waterloo’s co-op program, Morin got his first job in technology at Hewlett-Packard (HP) which set him along a career path in business. The experience also planted the seeds of the idea of software networking at a time when people thought that nobody would want “more than one PC in the house”. After his first startup PixStream was bought by Cisco, he created Sandvine. Morin later established Emforium but admits that the work he was doing at Sandvine resonates more with the work he’s doing at Auvik.

What should aspiring entrepreneurs consider? Morin warns “don’t be dogmatic”; after all, when faced with the unpredictability of entrepreneurship, “would you rather be right than rich?” Tongue-in-cheek, Morin connected with the audience using humour to elaborate on the lessons he shared.

For example, when young entrepreneurs ask him for advice:  “First thing I say is get a job.”

Whether that’s the importance of personal experience, or how they adapt to the unpredictability of entrepreneurship, there were many witty bits of wisdom he shared.

Throughout the lecture he emphasized the importance of cultivating relationships, whether it came to building your team –“the best team wins!”—or strengthening rapport with potential investors.

Finally, Morin opened the stage to discussion. The audience took the opportunity and picked his brain on everything from the value of his business degree to the minute details of leading a startup and the differences between Canadian and American investors.

"I never understood what it was like to lose sleep until I became an entrepreneur."

The cell phone chip Manku developed to see radio frequency.

The ride of your life: surviving and thriving in the startup world

April 6th, 2018


The concept for his latest startup is something straight out of a superhero movie. Just like Batman used high-frequency sonar signals from millions of cell phones to visualize the location of villains throughout Gotham City in Dark Knight, entrepreneur Taj Manku is developing new software that could soon allow our cell phones to see in the dark. “Our cells phones are like lightbulbs radiating radio frequency light, the problem is that our eyes can’t see the spectrum,” said Manku, who gave a lecture on the ups and downs of startup life last Tuesday as part of Cryptoworks21. “What if we could build software into every cell phone chip that could use this spectrum to see in the dark?”


Manku is no rookie to the demands of turning a big idea into a business. He created four successful startups in a row over 20 years after leaving his job as an engineering professor. He knows what it takes to not just survive, but also thrive as a startup.

“There is definitely the feeling that all the weight was on my shoulders to make it work,” he said of his early days as an entrepreneur. “I never understood what it was like to lose sleep until I became an entrepreneur.”

His first foray into the startup world was with Sirific, a company he formed in the early 2000s to meet the needs for mobile data — think back to the days of data sticks. Then came Pravala Networks, a shift away from hardware into software, which Manku says brought with it a whole different way of doing business.

“Software is a whole different ball game because everyone wants it for free,” he said. “The most important thing you can do as an entrepreneur is make sure you have a partner who shares your vision for the company, especially when working with complicated business models like software sales.”


After Pravala, Manku did a stint creating and obtaining patents. But it wasn’t long before he was back at the helm of another startup, this time as CEO of Cognitive Systems Corp.

Together with his business partner, Oleksiy Kravets, Manku is paving the way for even smarter smart phones.

One day this could mean that instead of getting up to turn off the alarm on your phone in the morning, you could just wave at it in the dark to stop the buzzing. Other uses include security without cameras and home automation.

But Manku acknowledges they have a lot of work to do first to get massive deployment of the technology.

“A great idea is only 10% of being a successful entrepreneur. The other 90% is all the hard work it takes to make it real.” And that is something they don’t show in superhero movies.


Quantum-Safe Canada welcomes measures in Budget 2018 to address cyber security, including quantum safety

March 1st, 2018

OTTAWA, ON (March 1, 2018) – Proposals in the federal Budget 2018 to invest significant additional resources to ensure the security of Canada’s digital infrastructure are both timely and welcome, according to Quantum Safe Canada.

First, the Government of Canada proposes investments of $507.7 million over five years, and $108.8 million per year thereafter, to fund a new National Cyber Security Strategy, which is expected to be released within weeks.

The National Cyber Security Strategy is to focus on three principal goals: 1) Ensure secure and resilient Canadian systems; 2) Build an innovative and adaptive cyber ecosystem; and 3) Support effective leadership and collaboration between different levels of Canadian government, and partners around the world. Quantum-Safe Canada has been working alongside the Government and other key partners in identifying the necessary components of the national strategy, and looks forward to playing a meaningful role in its implementation.

Second, the Government also proposes to commit $155.2 million over five years, and $44.5 million per year ongoing, to the Communications Security Establishment to create a new Canadian Centre for Cyber Security. By consolidating operational cyber expertise from across the federal government under one roof, the new Centre will establish a single, unified Government of Canada source of unique expert advice, guidance, services and support on cyber security operational matters, providing Canadian citizens and businesses with a clear and trusted place to turn to for cyber security advice.

This approach is in accordance with the approach put forward by Quantum-Safe Canada in our discussions with federal officials over the past year. We naturally look forward to continuing this tradition of constructive engagement toward important national goals.

Third, the Government proposes to provide the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) with renewed funding of $15 million over three years to continue to undertake high-calibre quantum research. Since its inception, IQC members have conducted fundamental research, training and outreach pertinent to key elements of the Quantum-Safe Canada vision, and we are pleased to see this renewed funding.

Quantum-Safe Canada was established to drive the efforts necessary to prepare for and respond to the quantum threat to encryption and cybersecurity — and to grasp the opportunities that exist in properly managing that threat.  It is a not-for-profit organisation directed by a group of highly accomplished leaders from Canada’s academia, government and industry.

For additional information, please visit www.quantum-safe.ca or contact Bill Munson, Director of Research and Policy Analysis at bill.munson@quantum-safe.ca

QSC leadership hosts workshop on Standards and Standardization

February 12th, 2018

CryptoWorks21 convened a valuable workshop on standards and standardization in the Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum Nano Centre on January 11. The workshop was intended to introduce companies and academics in the quantum / cryptography ecosystem to the pertinent features of the standards landscape. There is a growing awareness of the strategic value of standards to export-ready companies and of the need for more Canadian organizations to become engaged in standardization efforts as a means of accessing global markets.

Hosted by Dr. Michele Mosca, the workshop featured presentations by Mariane Huard, Sector Specialist with the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), and Mark Pecen, Senior Executive at ISARA Corporation and Chair of the Technical Committee Cyber working group for Quantum-Safe Cryptography (Cyber QSC) at the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

Mariane Huard walked attendees through a helpful deck that moved from the basics of standards (which are published documents that establish specifications and procedures) and standardization (the preparation and adoption of, and conformity to, standards), to the place of standards at various points in the innovation process, to standardization trends in the ICT sector, to the numerous international standardization efforts focused specifically on quantum-safe cryptography.

Ms. Huard closed with a description of SCC’s assistance to Canadian businesses as part of its work in supporting Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan. By working directly with Canadian innovators, SCC is providing tailored, end-to-end support to companies in developing effective standardization strategies to accelerate commercialization and remove barriers to the adoption of new Canadian technologies. Investing in standards development and conformity assessment activities is one way Canadian innovators are able to lead the creation of new markets, encourage complimentary innovation, influence future market rules and enhance market access.

Mark Pecen followed with a thought-provoking presentation titled “Standardization: A double-edged sword?” Workshop attendees heard both the positives and the negative sides of standardization; the positives, which are more obvious, include equipment interoperability, economies of scope, large-scale adoption potential and economies of scale. The negatives, which tend to be more nebulous, include the resulting constraints on future innovation because of the large ‘switching’ cost. Still, non-participation has severe consequences, including loss of industry leadership, the need to pay royalties because you weren’t at the table developing the standard, and being late to market. Mr. Pecen went on to stress the importance of government and academic participation in standardization. Having government involved will help ensure that industry standards and public policy are not in conflict. Having academics involved brings more innovations into the standardization process earlier, and also provides academics with opportunities to test their ideas in the commercial world.

Following an active Q&A session, participants were offered the opportunity to meet with Ms. Huard to learn more about SCC services in support of standards and innovation, or with IQC experts in quantum-safe cryptography.

Collaborating with the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Mathematics and their pool of talented researchers will give us more brain power to continually develop Canadian talent to support the demands of the cyber security industry.

Quantum-safe efforts supported by RBC investment in cybersecurity research

January 29th, 2018

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is opening a cyber security lab and investing $1.78 million into research at the University of Waterloo to develop advanced cybersecurity and privacy tools, announced January 29, 2018.

Cybersecurity researchers in the David R. Cheriton School for Computer Science and the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization are the recipients of a $1.78 million investment from RBC. Among other initiatives, the funding supports Waterloo researchers and educators working in post-quantum cryptography:

  • Post-quantum cryptographic research led by David Jao. This work will focus on a unique blend of pure mathematics and computer science that produces data encryption so strong that quantum computers cannot crack it. New cryptographic standards are necessary to produce quantum-safe cryptosystems for tomorrow’s computers.
  • CryptoWorks21, an enhanced education program focused on quantum-safe cryptosystems that is led by Michele Mosca, co-founder of the Institute for Quantum Computing. RBC will sponsor the annual CryptoWorks21 Industry Day, a graduate student scholarship, a thesis prize and support for professional teaching.

Waterloo is Canada’s leader at turning information and communication technology research into innovations that create economic advantage. Waterloo has world-leading research strengths in cryptography, security, privacy enhancing technologies, human-computer interaction, algorithms, networks and distributed systems, and mathematics relevant to cryptography.

These new initiatives directly support Quantum-Safe Canada’s vision of Canada as a global leader in quantum-safe cybersecurity.

Sherry Shannon-Vanstone opened her toolbox at the CW21 Distinguished Lecture – Tools for Commercialization

January 29th, 2018

“To the man that has only a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.” 
Abraham Maslow

Your toolbox needs more than just a hammer. Why? That’s exactly it – Why?

Sherry Shannon-Vanstone told a crowd of academics, business professionals and entrepreneurs that people don’t buy what you do, but why you do it. To explain what she meant, Shannon-Vanstone opened her toolbox and shared her tools to commercialize information technology.

The hammer Shannon-Vanstone first used was her mathematical knowledge. While the hammer pried open doors, especially as a woman in the 1980s, she quickly realized she needed another tool – the most important one – relationships. It was this tool that cultivated long relationships built on trust and loyalty that kept customers coming back.

Taking a leap, Shannon-Vanstone and her late husband Scott, a professor of mathematics at St. Jerome’s University and Waterloo’s Department of Combinatorics and Optimization, started a company that became Certicom. She changed her why to standardization and intellectual property. The company built a strategy based on the recognition that the industry required standardized protocols and that IP was a valuable commodity. When the Vanstones and their co-founders sold the company to BlackBerry, it held 400+ patents.

In 2012, the Vanstones started another company, TrustPoint Innovation Technologies. Their whys built the foundation of the company using the important tools Shannon-Vanstone had added to her toolbox. Their first project with the U.S. government for a vehicle-to-vehicle security protocol grew into a security export company based on relationships, standardization and IP.

The why continues to lead Shannon-Vanstone. Nine months ago, it led to the sale of her company to ETAS Canada (ESCRYPT), a Bosch Group company, because its why fit with her values. The Bosch Group gives back 97% of its profits to support education and hospitals, aligning with Shannon-Vanstone’s philanthropic work.

Information security is what Shannon-Vanstone has done, however it’s just an enabler to allow users to do more and do it securely. It’s not her why. Her why is what led to a successful career and successful companies.