Research In Motion’s co-founder Mike Lazaridis is engaging in a new venture. With the help of a $100 million donation, the Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre opens tomorrow in Waterloo, Ontario.

The centre looks to recreate the conditions that made AT&T’s Bell Labs a hive of technological innovation in the early 1960’s and laid the groundwork for the success of Silicon Valley. Its purpose is to produce breakthroughs in the science and technology of things approaching the size of an atom.

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It’s “absolutely” going to be the Bell Labs of the 21st century, Lazaridis said yesterday in a telephone interview with Bloomberg. “That reality got clearer and clearer to me as we got closer to the ribbon-cutting.”

Since resigning from the board at RIM, Lazaridis is devoting most of his time to help get the Quantum-Nano Centre off the ground. His plan is to form a cluster of cutting-edge research with the decade-old Institute for Quantum Computing and Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

They hope the facilities will be enough to lure the brightest minds in the field to Canada, Lazaridis said. “We can’t offer them ocean, beaches or mountains, but we can try and offer them the best environment, the best collaborators, the best equipment that would be conducive to them making the breakthroughs of their lifetime,” Lazaridis said. “One of the best ways to describe this is we’re trying to break the known laws of physics.”

via Bloomberg