Montréal, world leader in artificial intelligence

published on January 25, 2024
Industry News and Leaders Trends and Technology What's New in Montréal

Montréal’s place at the forefront of artificial intelligence research and development is easy to spot across the city, which is home to internationally renowned think tanks and trendsetting corporations involved in ground-breaking innovation. The Canadian government chose Montréal as headquarters for SCALE AI, Canada’s AI supply chain supercluster. Companies such as Google, IBM and DeepMind all have regional offices in the city. In short, Montréal is an AI powerhouse.

A meeting of genuine intelligence

This coming April, Montréal will host World Summit AI. It’s the global community gathering of minds in the realm of artificial intelligence; the type of event where the most influential conversations on AI and the future of technology take place.

The 2024 edition presents an exciting opportunity to network with the brightest AI brains. The event is also known for having the best-of-the-best speakers. Past speakers include leaders from Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Alibaba, Tencent, Intel, NASA, Uber and IBM Watson, to name but a few.

Home to an international AI lab

A variety of Montréal research organizations joined forces in 2022 to form the ILLS International Research Laboratory, focused on artificial intelligence. The centre unites McGill University, École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), Université de Montréal’s Mila - Québec AI Institute, France’s Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Paris-Saclay and the École Centrale Supélec.

The ILLS focuses on five main areas of research: fundamental aspects of artificial intelligence, real-time machine learning, robust autonomous systems, natural language and speech processing, and applications to computer vision, signals and information processing. It also promotes interdisciplinary collaborations in the development of new methodologies and their integration into widespread learning systems.

A global hub of AI research and education

Montréal’s place at the forefront of international university cities has been recognized year after year, as the city continues to be named the best student city in the Americas. Greater Montréal’s 11 higher learning institutions house over 155,000 students, including the largest number of university researchers in Canada. McGill University and Université de Montréal are ranked among the world’s best learning institutions, and the city is also home to the Institute for Data Valorisation (IVADO).

Université de Montréal’s Mila composes the largest and most renowned group of deep learning researchers in the world. Mila’s director, Yoshua Bengio, is a pioneer in the study of deep learning and the winner of the 2018 Turing Award. His research has been cited several thousand times in international studies. 

More than 250 doctoral students and researchers in Montréal make up the world’s largest academic concentration, developing a broad range of AI-related topics, from language processing to reinforcement learning and computer vision.

But the movement doesn’t stop there. Several grassroots organizations including MTL DataMTL Machine Learning and Data Driven MTL all operate in the city, alongside 125 Meetup groups with over 45,000 members connected to startups and independent initiatives.

The heavy hitters

The world’s heaviest hitters in cutting-edge technologies have also flocked to Montréal, both furthering existing operations and founding their own.

  • Google has invested heavily in the city’s research initiatives (including multi-million dollar donations to Mila) and launched its own Google Brain AI research lab in Montréal headed by deep learning specialist Hugo Larochelle.
  • The Microsoft Research Lab (formerly the ground-breaking deep learning startup Maluuba, acquired by Microsoft) is just part of their dedication to the city’s development as a centre-point in AI study, development and business.
  • IBM Research has opened a lab working directly with Mila, advancing AI development through academic collaboration.
  • Meta’s FAIR research lab, headed by McGill’s noted computer researcher and Governor General’s Innovation Award-winner Joëlle Pineau, has played a vital part in the company’s innovative research.
  • DeepMind’s Montréal office — the company’s second in Canada — is headed by noted Associate Professor in the School of Computer Science at McGill, Doina Precup.
  • Borealis AI’s Montréal research centre, housed in a converted textile factory, is a place where AI products are designed, built and implemented to shape the future of finance.
  • The Havas Group AI Innovation Centre’s Montréal office focuses on the role of AI in customer experience — using the city’s annual trendsetting C2 conference as a work study subject.
  • Huawei, in collaboration with Polytechnique Montréal, founded the NSERC/Huawei Industrial Research Chair in Future Wireless Technologies (AKA the Future Wireless Chair, or FuWiC).
  • Montréal’s Samsung AI Centre works directly with Seoul National University, strengthening the international flow of information and development.

This list could go on! For a more complete overview of Montréal’s AI scene, check out Montréal International’s industry profile.


Read this next: The future of AI for #eventprofs
Discover more ways that Montréal works for you