It's equal parts general research lab and startup incubator, with employees working to develop new and improved techniques in artificial intelligence that might not be fully realized for years, while also commercializing products and services that can be sold to clients today. It was co-founded by Yoshua Bengio -- one of the pioneers of a type of AI research called machine learning -- along with entrepreneurs Jean-François Gagné and Nicolas Chapados, and the Canadian venture capital fund Real Ventures. The Series A round was led by Data Collective, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm, and included participation by Fidelity Investments Canada, National Bank of Canada, and Real Ventures. In September, the Canadian government announced $213 million in funding for a handful of Montreal universities, while both Google and Microsoft announced expansions of their Montreal AI research groups in recent months alongside investments in local initiatives.
Not only did the institute get a more than $100 million boost from the government as part of Canada's Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, more than 30 companies invested over $80 million to support Vector's success. It includes the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA), the Institute for Data Valorisation (IVADO) and the recently launched Element AI (an artificial intelligence startup factory). If you think of the Canadian technology and innovation sector as a startup company, then Prime Minister Trudeau is the CEO, major universities and incubators are the R&D centers and AI is the business plan. If the vision and business plan to expand Canada's technology hub is right, major tech companies and VCs will start pouring in the money.
Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau wears Accenture's AI-enabled DAQRI Smart Helmet during the launch of the Vector Institute for AI at the MaRs Discovery District in Toronto, Ont. Ben Holfed of Accenture's AI practice, left, helps Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau, right, use a DAQRI Smart Helmet during the launch of the Vector Institute for AI at the MaRs Discovery District "We are excited to work with the Vector Institute on this unprecedented collaboration in Canada, to explore how business, government, academia and innovators can continue to master AI – which increasingly is becoming the predominant way to create new business, economic and social value," said Bill Morris, senior managing director and Canada president of Accenture. Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau wears Accenture's AI-enabled DAQRI Smart Helmet during the launch of the Vector Institute for AI at the MaRs Discovery District in Toronto, Ont. Ben Holfed of Accenture's AI practice, left, helps Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau, right, use a DAQRI Smart Helmet during the launch of the Vector Institute for AI at the MaRs Discovery District
As well as an enviable array of natural resources, Canada also boasts incredible support for entrepreneurs, both homegrown and international. Fast-forward to the nineties and the Canadian government expanded its Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax incentive program to allow for assistance to companies performing research and development. Ryerson University's Digital Media Zone incubator is also a resource for early-stage companies worldwide, as are a range of University of Toronto incubators and accelerators. Other financial support includes 500 Startup's Canadian fund; the Scientific Research and Experimental Development Program, a federal tax incentive for companies conducting research; and the Industrial Research Assistance Program, which provides entrepreneurs with funding and advisory services to help them develop technology.
The Canadian government, joined by more than two dozen private institutions such as Google and Air Canada, will invest more than $150 million to create an AI research center within the University of Toronto, named the Vector Institute. Canada will contribute $50 million over five years, part of the $125 million Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy included in the country's budget that passed last week. Ruslan Salakhutdinov, once a University of Toronto professor, leads Apple's AI research team while also teaching at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Yann LeCun, originally from France, did post-doctoral work at the University of Toronto with Hinton, and now leads Facebook AI Research.
The Canadian government recently announced that it'll invest C$170m in The Vector Institute in Toronto, who's job will be to do research into the advancement of AI, and then help to implement their findings into AI start-ups and even big technology companies. Google, who invested $5m into the institute, has now announced that they'll also be setting up an AI lab in the Canadian city of Toronto. However, what Google hopes this lab will achieve is allow them to keep a keen eye on the AI talent coming out of the city, which is quickly becoming an important player in artificial intelligence research. With regards to Canada's invested interest in AI, they're quickly establishing the city of Toronto as a hotbed for the new technology, and with the current United States government's stringent immigration laws, Canada will be hoping that they'll be able to lure emerging talent away from Silicon Valley.
The funding strategy will be channeled through the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. Discussing the significance of the funding Dr. Alan Bernstein, who is the president of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, said: "The Canadian government clearly recognizes the importance of artificial intelligence as a platform technology that cuts across many areas of innovation today." In Canada, research organizations linked to the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research program have made fundamental advances in artificial intelligence. Examples include techniques developed make computers better at seeing patterns and making accurate predictions based on the patterns.