Liberals give BlackBerry $40M to support futuristic car development

Liberals give BlackBerry $40M to support futuristic car development
QNX Founder Gordon Bell shows an autonomous vehicle in the lab at BlackBerry QNX Headquarters in Ottawa on Friday, Feb 15, 2019. CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA  BlackBerry is getting $40 million in federal funding to help develop technologies that make cars safer, more connected to cyberspace and, eventually, capable of driving themselves.

The company is putting $310 million of its own money into the initiative, expected to create 800 jobs over the next decade at BlackBerry’s campus in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata, as well as support 300 existing jobs there.

The one-time smartphone leader is now working on advanced systems for vehicles and will put the federal money toward software development for the next generation of autonomous vehicles as well as skills training for workers.

BlackBerry says its QNX software is already in tens of millions of cars, guiding systems related to driver assistance, hands-free features and entertainment consoles.

BlackBerry QNX is to develop new automated control systems, upgrade and secure communications in vehicles, and improve vehicle safety and security by expanding its driver-assistance system.

The company says these are milestones along the road to truly driverless cars, which are still years away from becoming widely available to consumers.

The federal money is coming from the government’s Strategic Innovation Fund, a program intended to stimulate development of innovative products.

During an event Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the money is a sign the government has the backs of Canadian technology companies that want to lead in a new economy.

Trudeau says his government will support companies both large and small looking to take risks in a growing and transforming global economy.

Liberals give BlackBerry $40M to support futuristic car development
The Blackberry logo located in the lobby of the company’s B building in Waterloo, Ont. on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. The Liberal government is giving $40 million in federal money to BlackBerry to help the company develop self-driving car technologies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Ryan