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Canadian Artificial Intelligence News - February 2022

Updated: May 3, 2022

Welcome to the Ask AI news roundup where we highlight the latest innovations, investments, and breakthroughs in the Canadian artificial intelligence sector. Stay up-to-date by subscribing to our podcast and monthly newsletter and following Ask AI on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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MONTREAL - A panel lead by Concordia University will be considering how artificial intelligence can be used to enhance natural remedies to help alleviate climate change at the Global Council for Science and the Environment 2022 Virtual Conference being held in June 2022. “There is potential to address climate challenges with nature-based solutions and artificial intelligence, but there are also risks of relying too heavily on this approach,” said Damon Matthews, Concordia University Research Chair in Climate Science and Sustainability and professor of geography, planning and environment. View event

ALBERTA - Aerium Analytics has been awarded $1 million in funding last month to collaborate with the University of Alberta to create an autonomous drone to scare off the birds. The Alberta-based drone company is hoping to take a project keeping birds off of tailings ponds in the oilsands to the next level. The current version of the drone, used in the oilsands since 2019, requires a pilot. The drone mimics a peregrine falcon, "the most world-renowned and feared aerial predators" according to president and CEO Jordan Cicoria. Full story

A demonstration of the Robird, a drone that simulates a peregrine falcon, which keeps birds off of tailings ponds.
A demonstration of the Robird, a drone that simulates a peregrine falcon, which keeps birds off of tailings ponds.


MONTREAL - Mila researcher and University of Montreal law professor Catherine Régis has been named co-chair of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) working group on responsible AI. "We are grateful for this recognition of Québec expertise in responsible artificial intelligence," says Benjamin Prud'homme, Executive Director, AI for Humanity at Mila. "As a legal scholar with expertise in AI governance and regulation, Catherine Régis is an outstanding choice for this position." Full story

Catherine Régis, the new Co-chair of GPAI’s Working Group on Responsible AI
Catherine Régis, the new Co-chair of GPAI’s Working Group on Responsible AI

CANADA - Data from Statistics Canada show in 2019, only 28 per cent of women are enrolled in mathematics, computer and information sciences in Canadian universities and colleges – and far less women are going on to establish a career in these fields of research. Beyond academia, women account for only 22 per cent of professionals in the AI sector, according to the United Nations. View report

CANADA - A new report entitled 'Canadian Urban Mobility 2.0' published by Transport Canada and headed by Julian Faid, a graduate the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences sheds light on future of mobility in Canada’s big cities. In collaboration with urban planning PhD student Bogdan Kapatsila and design master’s graduate Sarah Jackson, the Transport Canada report expands on Faid’s master’s thesis research by taking it from five to eight cities, creating a municipal innovation index. The report was presented at the Conference Board of Canada national mobility roundtable on February15, 2022. View event

Julian Faid, University of Alberta graduate and lead author of Canadian Urban Mobility 2.0
Julian Faid, University of Alberta graduate and lead author of Canadian Urban Mobility 2.0


QUEBEC - Winter Farm, the turnkey agro-tech solution provider has announced that it has been awarded $2.9 million by Sustainable Development Technologies Canada (SDTC) for the implementation of phase II of its project located in Vaudreuil and for the development of CERVEAU, an artificial intelligence-based system to automate decisions pertaining to grow room controls. Alain Brisebois, President and CEO said; "CERVEAU will become an additional asset that will make our operations and those of our grower partners more productive, ecological and profitable." Full story

CANADA - Sprout AI, a Canadian company with manufacturing headquartered in Panama, designs and manufactures scalable, hermetic, AI-controlled aeroponic grow habitats that can be installed in any existing or new indoor space. The company has recent advanced to the next version of its technology which and is now seeking patent as it shifs into commercial production., says Chris Bolton, the company’s CEO. Full story

Sprout AI’s cultivation technology is contained within a sealed “habitat”
Sprout AI’s cultivation technology is contained within a sealed “habitat” that includes LED lighting


TORONTO - The Vector Institute, the artificial intelligence organization based at the MaRS tech hub in Toronto, has teamed up with telecommunications company Telus Corp., consulting firm Deloitte and diagnostics and pharmaceuticals business Roche Canada to help health care professionals learn more about the symptoms that people with a long-lasting form of COVID experience. “AI is very good at taking large sets of large amounts of data to find patterns,” said Cameron Schuler, Vector’s chief commercialization officer and vice-president of industry innovation. “It’s for stuff that is way too big for any human to actually be able to hold this in their brain.” Full story

MONTREAL - Students at the Neurosurgical Simulation and Artificial Intelligence Learning Centre using an AI-based tutoring system learned surgical skills 2.6 times faster and achieved 36 per cent better performance compared to those who received instruction and feedback from remote instructors. An AI-powered tutor called the Virtual Operative Assistant (VOA) used a machine learning algorithm to teach safe and efficient surgical technique and provided personalized feedback, while a deep learning Intelligent Continuous Expertise Monitoring System (ICEMS) and a panel of experts assessed student performance. Full story

Students use an AI-powered tutor called the Virtual Operative Assistant (VOA)
Students use an AI-powered tutor called the Virtual Operative Assistant (VOA)

MONTREAL - Congruence Therapeutics, a biotechnology company working at the interface of computational and experimental drug discovery to design novel small molecules for diseases of protein misfolding, announced today the closing of a US$50 million in series A financing. The deal was led by Amplitude Ventures and Fonds de solidarité FTQ, with participation from Lumira Ventures, Investissement Quebec, and others. Commented Dr. Clarissa Desjardins, founder and CEO; "Our industry faces a watershed moment where the application of novel computational tools, including machine learning, is poised to disrupt traditional drug discovery," Full story


TORONTO - Toronto start-up Waabi has created a virtual environment where AIs teaches itself how to drive. This encompasses a huge range of factors from object reconstruction, camera and LiDAR input and real-time scenarios. “Right now most approaches to self-driving are just too slow to make progress,” said founder and CEO Raquel Urtasun, who divides her time between the driverless-car industry and the University of Toronto. “We need a radically different one.” Full story

TORONTO - After a two-year collaboration and investment from the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN), Fleet Complete and Pitstop have announced the completion of their development of an advanced AI-powered platform for predictive maintenance of engines, brakes, and tires to benefit commercial fleet operations. Fleet Complete CEO Tony Lourakis stated; "We are very proud to have gained a long-term partner like Pitstop from this project, building a great analytics platform that will have an immense impact on fleets. Vehicle downtime has a ripple effect on the entire supply chain and logistics ecosystem" Full story


TORONTO - Cohere Inc., the Toronto-based artificial intelligence startup that delivers natural language processing (NLP) models founded by University of Toronto alumni has raised US$125 million as it looks to open a new office in Silicon Valley. The latest financing round, led by New York-based Tiger Global Management, and including returning Canadian-based investor Radical Ventures, comes just 5 months after Cohere secured $US40 million in venture capital financing. Other notable investors included Turing Award winner Geoffrey Hinton, Fei-Fei Li, Pieter Abbeel, and Raquel Urtasun. Full story

Cohere co-founders Ivan Zhang, Nick Frosst, and Aidan Gomez
Cohere co-founders Ivan Zhang, Nick Frosst, and Aidan Gomez

CANADA - Two major artificial intelligence research institutes, Mila and Vector Institute, have recently partnered with major Canadian banks, including BDC anbd TD bank. Both institutes are currently working with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), along with Amii of Edmonton, to lead a $125 million Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, which was introduced in the federal government’s 2017 budget. Full story

MONTREAL - Deeplite, a Montreal-based provider of AI optimization software designed to make AI model inference faster, more compact and energy-efficient, announced it has sponsored the tinyML Foundation as a platinum partner and a member of its strategic partner advisory board. Deeplite is a charter member of regional tinyML Meetups in Canada through its local chapter in Montreal, as well as Toronto. According to Davis Sawyer, chief product officer and co-founder;“Being a Platinum Strategic Partner of the tinyML Foundation helps us advance the technology vision of tinyML and bring it to real-world applications. Full story

TORONTO - Allen Lau, the CEO of a Toronto-based storytelling platform Wattpad, wants machine learning and monetization to play bigger role in the company and has included these ideas in a blog entitled “the Grand Plan” which he posted a year after the company was sold for US$600 million to Naver, the South Korean internet conglomerate behind the Webtoon digital comics platform. During the pandemic, Wattpad's screen time has soared and its user base has expanded to reach 94 million readers. View post

Allen Lau, Cofounder & CEO, Wattpad
Allen Lau, Cofounder & CEO, Wattpad

BRITISH COLUMBIA - Researchers at UBC Okanagan have come up with an easier way to examine the complex structure of fibres and multiscale materials. Using materials informatics and machine learning, the team has uncovered a new way to analyze the effectiveness of state-of-the-art fabric composites used in aerospace, construction, automotive and sports industries. According to Dr. Abbas Milani, a Professor in UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering “For example, if we want the wings of an aircraft to resist specific high shear forces, building a composite material with a particular microstructure will help us achieve that,” Full story

UBCO professor Abbas Milani and doctoral student Tina Olfatbakhsh
UBCO professor Abbas Milani and doctoral student Tina Olfatbakhsh

TORONTO - Sports and enterainment group MLSE has selected AWS as its official cloud provider and official provider of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning cloud services. MLSE will use AWS’s portfolio of AI/ML cloud capabilities to support how its teams play; how players stay healthy; how fans connect with each other and experience games; and how sports franchises operate internally. According to Humza Teherany, Chief Technology & Digital Officer at MLSE; "We can use data with our teams to help inform areas such as team selection, training and strategy to deliver an even higher caliber of competition. Full story


NEWFOUNDLAND - Three new course-based, master’s programs offered at Memorial University will help meet growing demand across technology sectors in the province. The software engineering and artificial intelligence programs are jointly offered between the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Faculty of Science. Dr. Greg Naterer, dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science stated; "The new master’s programs will help to increase Memorial’s reputation of offering timely and advanced programs in global areas of growth" Full story

HAMILTON - McMaster University and autonomous system developer, Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS), announced they are partnering to launch the Centre of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence and Smart Mobility. The university’s transportation research institute, the McMaster Automotive Resource Centre (MARC), will serve as the centre’s headquarters. Galen Chui, SVP of engineering, CTS stated;“Creating this Centre of Excellence delivers an ecosystem dedicated to improving the way people move around their towns and cities through the advancement of transportation technology and products" Full story

VANCOUVER - Canada's Digital Supercluster has announced a $3.5M investment in the Compass project, a platform that leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to create a social services safety net that aligns the needs of individuals, service providers and policymakers across the social services sector to streamline and improve wayfinding for Canadians and their families. Dr. Alina Turner, Co-Founder, HelpSeeker Technologies stated; "Unleashing our social responses to meet current and future challenges requires technology innovation to allow us to address the root causes of societal challenges." Full story

TORONTO - The University of Toronto's Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society has partnered with the Canada School of Public Service to teach federal public servants about artificial intelligence, a technology transforming sectors ranging from health care to law. More than 1,000 Canadian public servants have so far signed up for the online course's events so far. They include a mix of recorded lectures and moderated live panel discussions with scholars and industry leaders that are designed to explain what AI is, where it’s headed, and what public servants need to know about it. Full story

MONTREAL - Mila, the largest academic research institute in deep learning, is proud to announce a partnership with AI Sweden, the Swedish national center for applied artificial intelligence (AI). Settled in Mila's office spaces since Fall 2021, AI Sweden and Mila join forces to find collaborative synergies to strengthen the bond between both countries and bolster Sweden's competitiveness and advantage in AI. According to Yoshua Bengio, Mila's Founder and Scientific Director; "Sweden and Québec have a lot in common, and this partnership with AI Sweden means that we can share knowledge and strengthen each other's work to accelerate AI research and development in our communities. Full story


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