Expanding the Perimeter with The Stephen Hawking Centre at PI

Canada's Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI) has announced ambitious plans to strengthen its position as a leading research institute.

Canada’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI) has announced ambitious plans to strengthen its position as a leading research institute. The comprehensive advancement program, 'Expanding the Perimeter', will continue to bring together public and private sector partners with a passion for the transformative power of basic research, building on PI’s celebrated and highly successful public-private funding model.

'Expanding the Perimeter', has recently secured the funding required to double the Institute’s physical research space. A further $28 million has been raised towards PI’s goal of significantly increasing its funding base in order to support its expanding research operations. The advancement program, which aims to vault the Institute into a world-leading role, was announced at the Quantum to Cosmos Festival before a large audience composed of leaders in the science and technology community.

Building on Success

“Perimeter Institute’s successful first decade was made possible through a unique combination of personal philanthropy and public support, from sponsors including Mike Lazaridis and the Governments of Ontario and Canada,” said PI Director Neil Turok, speaking at one of the Institute’s 10th Anniversary events. "This excellent start provides the base for our proposed expansion, and opportunities for the participation of additional partners. We welcome individuals and organizations that value the importance of basic research and wish to invest in PI." 

"Just one major discovery in theoretical physics is literally capable of changing the world, as when Maxwell discovered a unified description of electricity and magnetism, and Marconi applied his ideas to send the first radio signals.  Or when Einstein’s new ideas about light, as tiny particles or ‘photons,’ eventually led to the laser, medical imaging equipment, CD players, and more," said Turok. "Today, quantum theory is leading the way toward tomorrow’s computers and communication systems, which will vastly exceed the capabilities of current technologies. This historically proven cycle of innovation is fuelled by the foundational thinking that drives the research chain."

Among participating speakers was renowned Professor Stephen Hawking, who took part in the announcement via multimedia from Cambridge, UK.  Prof. Hawking said, "Perimeter Institute is a very exciting venture. Its chosen scientific focus, quantum theory and space-time, is very close to my heart.  I am strongly supportive of the Institute’s bold expansion plans and its ambitious research and training programs."

"With a mix of excellent scientists, inspirational visitors, and first rate students recruited from around the world, I expect exciting discoveries will be made," Prof Hawking stated, referring to the unique research environment at PI. "Our field of theoretical physics has been the most successful and cost-effective in all of science. Where would we be today without Newton, Maxwell, and Einstein? Many great challenges lie ahead. Where this new understanding will lead, is impossible to say for sure. What we can say with confidence, is that expanding the Perimeter of our knowledge will be the key to our future."

First Investments

The 'Expanding the Perimeter' announcement included an update on the 55,000 square foot expansion of the award-winning research facility.  The new addition, already underway, will be known as the Stephen Hawking Centre at Perimeter Institute

"We are delighted that Stephen has allowed his name to be associated with this expansion," said Dr. Turok. "He is an inspirational figure, famous both for his cutting edge research into quantum theory and spacetime and for his excellent mentorship of young scientists. At the heart of the Stephen Hawking Centre at Perimeter Institute will be our world-class training program, Perimeter Scholars International, helping to prepare the next generation of brilliant theoretical physicists”.

To that end, news was released on the first investments in 'Expanding the Perimeter.'  On the infrastructure side, $35m has been raised or pledged from the private and public sectors for the building expansion, including over $10m from each of the Canada Foundation for Innovation and Ontario’s Ministry of Research and Innovation. This builds upon past federal support of $80m and provincial support of $76m, contributed over Perimeter Institute’s 10 year history.

To support its ambitious research and training program, Perimeter has recently raised $28m toward an advancement target of $400m over the coming years. The Institute aims to secure its long term future through its endowment efforts and the ongoing commitment of its government partners. As a centre which aspires to support the growth of theoretical physics research and training across Canada and internationally, PI aims to work collaboratively with like-minded institutional partners in its advancement initiatives.

Additional Comments

Gerard Milburn, of the University of Queensland and Chair of PI’s international Scientific Advisory Committee, spoke on Perimeter’s history and prospects for the future. "PI’s success comes as no surprise to us on the Scientific Advisory Committee who have seen up close the commitment to excellence and innovation that characterizes the Institute.  For the start of its next decade, PI has developed a bold expansion plan, which could establish the institute as a major global centre for theoretical physics in the years to come, as well as a major innovation in research training.  The commitment to training the next generation of theoretical physicists will ensure that the Institute's influence will extend far into the future. Canada has handed the world of Science a remarkable gift."

Mike Lazaridis, founder and Board Chair of Perimeter Institute, said "This 10th Anniversary gives us pause to celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of Perimeter Institute. We have built a strong foundation for the future. With our partners, PI is positioned to make vital contributions to fundamental knowledge that will shape our world in ways that we can only imagine.   The best is yet to come."


About Perimeter Institute

Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement. 


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