Last week, Google announced the opening of a new artificial intelligence lab in Toronto. Concurrently, it announced an investment into the Vector Institute, a public-private institute affiliated with the University of Toronto whose goal is to develop and commercialize both AI talent and new concepts.
Google’s aim is to stay ahead of the hotly competitive market for artificial intelligence talent and Toronto, like Montreal, is internationally recognized as a hub for that talent.
While Google is clearly jockeying for the ‘inside track’ on the University of Toronto’s top AI grads, the re-establishment of Toronto as a leading artificial intelligence hub should broadly benefit the startup community as a whole. As research, ideas and talent move out of the laboratory setting and begin to commercialize, a wide variety of benefits will likely be seen across industry verticals. Indeed, well-known Ontario startups are already using machine learning to revolutionize everything from transportation to insurance to tax law.
The recent federal budget, which includes an AI strategy, is heavily invested in this theory, and the resulting public and private investments should help drive the development of the sector for years to come. Hopefully Google’s investments are the first of many private-sector responses to Canada’s innovation strategy.