5 reasons why Montréal leads the way in AI

published on November 8, 2018
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Montréal’s place at the forefront of Artificial Intelligence research and development is easy to spot across the city. Home to internationally renowned think tanks and trendsetting major corporations involved in groundbreaking innovation, Montréal is an AI powerhouse. Here’s five reasons why.

01. Montréal: City of science and knowledge

Learning and science are in Montréal’s DNA, and the city is at the forefront in the fields of neuroscience, oncology and cancer research, aerospace and higher education (not to mention a constant presence atop the lists of best cities in the world for students). The city’s hunger for the new keeps Montréal on the cutting edge of many fields, and we’ve shared some of the local accomplishments in the field of AI before.

This proud history has named Montréal as a global hub of AI research and education, home to organizations like the Institute for Data Valorisation (IVADO) whose focus on Big Data and AI has received millions in funding, and the University of Montréal’s MILA (Montréal Institute for Learning Algorithms) where the most celebrated – and largest – group of deep learning researchers in the world delve deeper every day, including superstar researcher Yoshua Bengio.

02. Home to the heavy hitters

Few other cities can boast a list of the biggest players in the world of AI as Montréal, whose findings influence and expand based on local proximities. Heavy hitters like IBM (working directly with MILA), Jumio (working on ID verification and machine learning in their new AI lab), Google (who donated $4.5-million to MILA and launched a Google Brain AI research lab in the city headed by deep learning specialist Hugo Larochelle), Samsung (whose AI lab at UdeM links directly with Seoul National University), Microsoft (behind a $135-million injection into the innovative Element AI incubator), Thales (whose cortAlx Centre of Research and Technology in Artificial Intelligence eXpertise collaborates with MILA) and Facebook (whose FAIR research lab is headed McGill University’s noted researcher Joëlle Pineau) are all active in the city, ensuring Montréal’s place on the vanguard of AI.

All in all, over 91,000 qualified workers in 5,000 facilities pave the way forward, with nearly 9,000 university-level students in the fields of AI and Data-related programs training to join them – all calling Montréal home.

03. Financial support

As a province, Quebec has invested heavily in the development of AI within its borders. Quebec’s AI cluster of connected organizations and research centres has received $100-million in funding to further inspire collaboration and connectivity within a constantly growing sector, while the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy has received an additional $40-million for research completed in connection with MILA.

Furthermore, the University of Montréal received $93.5-million and McGill University was granted $84-million for their AI-related projects from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (composed of $900-million in funds), demonstrating a national recognition of Montréal as a true AI hub. Funding examples like these have kept Montréal as the number one University research hub in Canada.

04. A startup scene unlike any other

With hundreds of recognized AI-related startups active in Montréal, the city is also a hotspot for entrepreneurial endeavours of any size capturing the world’s imaginations. Some of the fastest risers include Element AI, the voice recognition bot-builders Automat, the business development AI algorithm of Fuzzy.ai, Imagia’s medical image data analysis systems, the Coveo search platform utilizing AI performance analysis, and Fluent AI’s multi-lingual voice recognition system with more hitting the scene every month.

05. AI’s ethical heartbeat

As the birthplace of the Montréal Declaration for a Responsible Development of Artificial Intelligence (drafted at the Forum on the Socially Responsible Development of Artificial Intelligence hosted at the city’s major conference centre the Palais des congrès de Montréal in late 2017), Montréal has also taken a responsible position on the further development of AI. With this spirit, it comes as no surprise that the city’s place at the forefront of international AI initiatives is taking flight with the city recently named as the host location for the annual World Artificial Intelligence Summit through 2021, the 2018 Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NEURIPS) as well as the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) Organization’s 2021 convention.

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