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Canadian AI News - August 2021

Updated: Oct 21, 2021

Welcome to the Ask AI news roundup where we highlight the latest in innovations, investments, and breakthroughs in Canada artificial intelligence sector. Please note that we add to this blog post as the month progresses. You can also stay up-to-date by subscribing to our monthly newsletter and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Please note that we include links to the LinkedIn profiles of key participants in these news stories, and that's no accident. A connected sector is a more intelligent and resilient sector and it is our sincere belief that Canadians working in AI should make every effort to connect and collaborate where possible.

If your team has big AI news to share, please consider submitting an Ask AI Team Check-In request. We'll share it via our podcast, YouTube channel, and monthly newsletter. 😀

AI and Sustainability News

QUEBEC - Computer scientist Olivier Leclerc, from the Center for Development and Research in Digital Intelligence (CDRIN) is developing an artificial neural network capable of recognizing five species of fish that northern gannets eat: mackerel, herring, capelin, sand pike and red fish. The project, called ReCAPP (for the automatic identification and classification of pelagic fishes in the Lower Estuary and Gulf of Saint Lawrence) aims to create a tool that combines underwater imagery and artificial intelligence in studying the biodiversity of marine ecosystems. Full story.

QUEBEC - BEAP.AI, a clean technology startup, and Norda Stelo, an established engineering firm, are joining forces to introduce artificial intelligence into the mining industry. The $1.2 million project, supported by Investissement Québec as mandatary of the Government of Québec, seeks to solve a major issue for this industry: how to use artificial intelligence to predict failures and the lifecycle of a series of static assets, such as pipeline networks, conveyor lines and buildings. Full story.

AI and Healthcare News

TORONTO - Researchers Laura Rosella and Vinyas Harish at the University of Toronto have used a machine learning model to analyze health data, collected between 2006 to 2016, of 2.1 million people living in Ontario. They found that they were able to use the model to accurately predict the number of people who would develop type 2 diabetes within a five-year time period. The machine learning model was also able to analyze different factors that would influence whether people were high or low risk to develop the disease. Full story.

VANCOUVER - Lululemon, Wysdom.AI, Queen's University, Microsoft Canada, Mitacs, and Canada's Digital Technology Supercluster have announced the launch of, a collaborative project focused on developing a new approach for personalized health and wellbeing. The $20-million project will develop a digital wellbeing platform for people to better understand their physical health and mental fitness through interactions with virtual agents. Judith Law, CEO of Anxiety Canada, said: "As we move out of the pandemic, it's more important than ever to put the wellbeing of Canadians front and centre". Full story.

MONTREAL - Danilo Bzdok, a researcher at The Neuro, McGill’s Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute, is using machine learning to identify patterns in human neurological and psychological data in order to uncover the relationship between lifestyle, personality and brain structure. The study, entitled "Dissecting the midlife crisis: disentangling social, personality and demographic determinants in social brain anatomy", is part of a series of investigations being run in the lab in collaboration with international organizations to measure the impact of social lifestyle on major neurodegenerative diseases. Full story.

MONTREAL - A new study shows that artificial intelligence networks based on human brain connectivity can perform cognitive tasks efficiently. A team of researchers from The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) and the Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute trained an Artificial Neural Network (ANN) to perform a cognitive memory task and observed how it worked to complete the assignment. The study, published in the journal Nature Machine Intelligence on Aug. 9, 2021, was funded with the help of the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, awarded to McGill University for the Healthy Brains and a host of research partners. Full story.

AI and Finance News

VANCOUVER — Marble Financial Inc., an AI-driven financial technology company that helps consumers better manage their cash flow and credit has announced an Application Programing Interface (“API”) licensing deal with Citadel Mortgages in order to provide their customers with direct access to MyMarble, the proprietary financial wellness platform. Full story.

TORONTO - Prodigy Ventures Inc. and FICANEX, it's wholly-owned subsidiary, has announced that Sydney Credit Union is the most recent financial institution to launch their customized AI-powered chatbot named Syd. The service will provide conversational banking for13,000 credit union members. Full story.

CALGARY - Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) will be welcoming 300 technology employees to a new Calgary innovation hub scheduled to launch in September 2021, the financial institution announced in a July 21 press release. RBC says it plans to create these jobs over the next three years in high-demand tech areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, site reliability engineering, data engineering, data analytics, and full-stack agile software delivery. New hires will join the institution’s global Technology & Operations team. Full story.

AI and Robotics News

HALIFAX - A team from Dalhousie University’s Institute for Big Data Analytics has become the first Canadian team to win at the international RoboCup, the world’s largest artificial intelligence soccer competition. The four-person team beat a range of fierce competitors from countries such as Japan, China, Germany, Romania, Brazil and Iran. Dalhousie University PhD student Mahtab Sarvmaili, who co-lead the team with research assistant Nader Zare, and chalks up the win to their supportive supervisors and increased support from the school’s Institute for Big Data Analytics. Full story.

TORONTO & EDMONTON - Promise Robotics, a venture launched in 2019 by founders Ramtin Attar – a former technology lead at a multinational technology company – and Reza Nasseri, the chief executive officer of Landmark Homes, is seeking to bring emerging technologies to the home building industry in order to address the industry’s biggest challenge: meeting the rising demand for housing amid a growing shortage of affordable homes. Full story.

AI Startup & Investment News

OTTAWA - The Federal Government of Canada has allocated $100 million to support integration of newcomers during the pandemic. The funding has been provided through the Immigration Department’s Service Delivery Improvement (SDI) program. The selected projects include a test of artificial intelligence in the development of settlement strategies for new immigrants. Full story.

TORONTO - Toronto-based drug development company Deep Genomics has raised $180 million (U.S.) in a Series C round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2, with additional backing from the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Fidelity Management and Research Co. LLC, True Ventures, Amplitude Ventures, Khosla Ventures and Magnetic Ventures. The company has built an artificial intelligence platform that accelerates drug development for rare genetic disorders. “It’s increasingly believed that most medicines of the future will be created by deep learning artificial intelligence" saaid Brendan Frey, Deep Genomics’ founder and CEO. Full story.

TORONTO — Blue J has raised US$9M Series B funding led by Generation Ventures to accelerate the development and adoption of its flagship tax analysis platform and announced a new tax diagramming solution. The round includes participation from returning investors Relay Ventures, Mistral Venture Partners and LDV Partners. In conjunction with the financing, Geoff Beattie, Chairman of Generation Ventures, is joining Blue J’s board of directors. Full story.

TORONTO - Deloitte Canada is acquiring early-stage engineering and applied artificial intelligence (AI) company Dataperformers Company Inc. to increase its capabilities in AI and machine learning, particularly in computer vision and machine learning operations (MLOps). By joining Deloitte, Dataperformers completes a host of acquisitions for the firm in 2021, bringing with it an experienced team of new and highly sought-after Montreal-based talent in the AI and computer vision space. Full story.

TORONTO - Nurosene Health Inc., a healthtech company focused on building a generation of better brains, has announced that it has entered an arm's length non-binding term sheet with NetraMark Corp, a private Ontario corporation that uses AI to support clinical trials, to acquire all of its issued and outstanding ‎shares. Full story.

TORONTO - Nine U of T Engineering professors have received support from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund (CFI JELF). “We are very proud of the research programs being put together by our faculty members, especially those at the beginning of their careers,” says Ramin Farnood, U of T Engineering’s Vice-Dean of Research. “This research support will help them continue to make positive, vital contributions to our society and the economy.” Full story.

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