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BlackBerry inventor starts quantum technology fund aiming to turn “Star Trek” devices into reality

BlackBerry Inventor Starts Fund to Make Star Trek Device Reality

By Hugo Miller & Jon Erlichman

Mike Lazaridis, inventor of the BlackBerry smartphone, is starting a C$100 million ($97 million) quantum technology fund that’s aiming to turn devices like the medical tricorder from “Star Trek” into reality.

The fund, called Quantum Valley Investments, is being financed exclusively by Lazaridis and Doug Fregin, an old friend and co-founder of Research In Motion Ltd. (BB), the company behind the BlackBerry. The goal is to commercialize technologies from a cluster of research labs that have been bankrolled by Lazaridis. At least one startup has signed up with the fund and the first products may emerge in the next two to three years, he said.

“What we’re excited about is these little gems coming out,” Lazaridis said in an interview in Toronto. “The medical tricorder would be astounding, the whole idea of blood tests, MRIs — imagine if you could do that with a single device. That may be possible and possible only because of the sensitivity, selectivity and resolution we can get from quantum sensors made with these quantum breakthroughs.”

Lazaridis, who stepped down as RIM’s co-chief executive officer 14 months ago, is putting his time and fortune into quantum computing and nanotechnology — sometimes referred to as the “science of the small” — which uses atomic-sized technology in fields ranging from medicine to cryptography.

Quantum Computing

He opened the Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre in his hometown of Waterloo, Ontario, last September, financing the effort with a $100 million donation. That lab complements the Institute for Quantum Computing and the more-than-decade-old Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, both founded with more than $250 million of Lazaridis’s own money and additional funds he helped raise.

The Quantum Valley fund will probably focus on one to two dozen companies, he said. It may take a few years to make the investments, said Lazaridis, who declined to name the startups that are under consideration.

“We’re being very strategic with the funds,” he said. “This is not a venture capital fund that we’re all used to.”

Noninvasive medical-testing equipment — the real-life versions of the scanning devices used by “Star Trek” medics — will probably be a focus of the fund.

Continue reading BlackBerry inventor starts quantum technology fund aiming to turn “Star Trek” devices into reality

Pakistan Corruption Report

Rs. 83 Billion loss caused to exchequer, says NAB

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has submitted to the Justice Bhagwandas Commission a report on the wrongdoings it says have been committed by the government functionaries and oil industry people in the pricing of petroleum products causing a loss of Rs83 billion to the nation over a period of five years.

The Supreme Court constituted a few months ago the high-level commission led by former SC judge Justice Rana Bhagwandas to hold a probe into the fixing of oil prices and to suggest measures to plug loopholes in the pricing mechanism to ensure fair prices of petroleum products to consumers.

The apex court had taken serious notice of the petroleum ministry’s non-cooperation and instructed the government to provide all information to the commission so that it might reach a judgment.

The NAB report that covered petroleum pricing mechanism between June 2001 and June 2006 was originally submitted to the then president Gen Pervez Musharraf and prime minister Shaukat Aziz on June 13, 2006 by the then NAB chairman Lt-Gen (retd) Shahid Aziz.

The report was never made public but the NAB chairman was removed unceremoniously shortly after it was submitted to the presidency and the prime minister.

The NAB report has now been provided to the Justice Bhagwandas Commission which is expected to submit its final report to the apex court by June 30.

According to a former deputy chairman of NAB, Maj-Gen Muhammad Siddique, senior management of “Pakistan State Oil Company Limited (PSO) and others are involved in massive misappropriation/misuse of authority and forgery in the import of HSD (high speed diesel) and its subsequent sale in the country and … committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices” as defined in relevant laws.

The report prepared by a three-member investigation team and exclusively available with Dawn concluded that “it is sufficiently evident that (functionaries in the) ministry of petroleum in collusion with the Oil Companies Advisory Committee (OCAC), oil industry and Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) have engaged themselves in corrupt practices for generating colossal undue financial gains for refineries and OMCs at the cost of public and economy as a whole”.

It said the federal cabinet in June 2001 entrusted the role of oil price fixation to OCAC under monitoring by the director-general of oil but none of the directors-general performed the task of monitoring and some of them even expressed ignorance about the cabinet decision. The entire price fixation by OCAC “remained non-transparent/dubious and the DG Oil/Ministry did not play any role, violating the cabinet decision”.

As a result of faulty policies, the profits of Shell Pakistan, Caltex and PSO increased by 232 per cent, 281 per cent and 252 per cent between 2001 and 2004-05. Likewise, the profits of Attock Refinery, National Refinery, Pak Refinery and Parco jumped by 4331 per cent, 3578 per cent, 1717 per cent and 597 per cent, respectively, between 2001-02 and 2004-05.

The report said that a loss of over Rs11 billion was caused to the exchequer because of a redundant oil pricing formula for petrol (motor spirit) while another Rs34 billion loss was caused due to wrongful addition of premiums on the import parity prices of petrol and high speed diesel between July 2001 and April 2006.

Likewise, the report pointed out that the petroleum ministry failed to cap the distribution margins of the OMCs and dealers when the petroleum prices touched the roof and provided a benefit of Rs9 billion to the OMCs and dealers between December 2004 and May 2006.

“The ministry despite having assured the ECC in the summary of capping the margins, failed to cap OMCs’/dealers’ margins resulting in their exorbitant profit margins,” the report said.

It calculated a financial impact of more than Rs18 billion that was `erroneously’ earned by the oil marketing companies and dealers in five years because the OCAC charged commissions even on government taxes, particularly on 15 per cent GST, that was clearly in violation of laws.

The report said that a loss of another Rs6 billion was caused to the government by “illegal removal of 40 per cent upper cap of profits” to the refineries, making a total loss of Rs82.90 billion.

It said under the federal cabinet decision, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) was established in March 2002, requiring the government to immediately transfer monitoring and regulatory function of petroleum prices to Ogra. However, the transfer of regulatory role to Ogra “was delayed by the ministry for more than four years. The gas regulation and licensing function were transferred to Ogra, but POL pricing was withheld for four years”.

Similarly, “the deemed duty in the guise of tariff protection was allowed to refineries without seeking specific legal approval/issuance of SRO”. —By special arrangement.

June 25, 2009

Courtesy: Dawn, ISLAMABAD, & Pakistan Corruption Reporter

Source- http://corruption-reporter.blogspot.com/2009/06/rs-83-billion-loss-caused-to-exchequer.html