Canada continues to leverage its current AI strengths while fostering the best conditions for companies to scale up quickly

November 1, 2021

5 Min Read

Artificial intelligence is transforming the way that we live and work.

Companies are using AI to become more efficient and solve complex problems.

As AI is a rapidly developing space that will impact businesses, industries, and society worldwide, countries will have to adapt to and continuously drive AI developments quickly. Canada continues to leverage its current AI strengths while fostering the best conditions for companies to scale up quickly.

Canada is a leader in the global AI landscape, recognized internationally for the quality of its research, skilled talent pool, and contributions to AI innovation. Canadians are taking top spots on the global AI stage. For example, early pioneers Geoffrey Hinton (University of Toronto) and Yoshua Bengio (Université de Montréal) were two Canadians to win the Turing Award in 2018 for their advanced research in deep learning.

Furthermore, Canada is playing a pioneering role in setting up the responsible use of artificial intelligence. The Université de Montréal worked closely with Fonds de recherche du Québec to recently unveil the Montréal Declaration for Responsible Development of Artificial Intelligence. This collection of ethical standards for artificial intelligence development is the result of almost a year of study and consultations with individuals, experts, public policymakers, industry players and civil society organizations.

Investing in Canada: FDI post COVID

Canada's economy is coming back strong in 2021 after the severe global downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gross Domestic Product grew by 20% between April 2020 and April 2021, and the OECD has upgraded its economic forecast for GDP growth to 5% this year. Inward foreign direct investment in the first quarter of 2021 was 87% higher than the 10-year quarterly average. Kearney's FDI Confidence Index again, ranks Canada in top two of FDI Confidence for third year in a row.

Canada offers global investors numerous advantages. It is one of the lowest-risk jurisdictions in the world, ranked #1 in macroeconomic stability. Canada provides a predictable political and economic landscape with open access to the world. And, of course, Canada has talent - the most educated workforce in the world. If investors can't get skills through Canada's domestic talent, the Global Skills Strategy allows highly skilled global talent to enter Canada within two weeks.

With its inviting business climate, access to large and growing markets and diverse, entrepreneurial and well-educated workforce, Canada is an excellent place for global business to invest and grow. Its diverse talent, low business tax rate, impactful government support and strong geographical and sectoral clusters provide the foundation for innovation, growth and success.

Global AI Companies Establishing Roots in Canada

Canada's dedication to investing in AI is showing, and companies are taking notice. Twitter announced intentions to launch an engineering hub in Canada and made dozens of hires in 2021. "We have folks that are from Canadian schools or have Canadian backgrounds, and they've just been successful in growing their careers here," said Tristan Jung, a senior engineering manager involved with Twitter's hiring, in a video call from the Bay Area. "The thought process was why don't we just go to the source instead of having to pull them all into the Bay Area? Toronto was the best place to do so."

Brex, a fintech giant, agrees with that proposition. "The phenomenal growth of Vancouver's technology industry and its embrace of skilled immigrants are inextricably linked," said Henrique Dubugras, co-founder and co-CEO of Brex about the opening of its Vancouver office. "Brex's growth and the global diversity of its workforce share a similar connection. We're thrilled to announce our new office in a location that is so rich in global talent."

Canada's Commitment to AI

In 2017, Canada became the first country in the world to release a national AI strategy: The Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy. The federal 2021 budget earmarked up to $443.8 million over 10 years to advance research and innovation in the AI field, develop a skilled talent pool, and enhance thought leadership. The strategy, created by international research organization Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), has been instrumental in making Canada a first mover and one of the leading global players in the AI space. Through the strategy, funding has been allocated to three of the largest AI research institutes of Canada—Amii in Edmonton, Alberta, Mila in Montréal, Québec, and the Vector Institute in Toronto, Ontario (all located amongst Canada's top AI hubs)—and to another 80 CIFAR Chairs. The goal is to recruit and retain the world's leading researchers in AI and provide them with long-term, dedicated research funding to support their research programs and help them train the next generation of AI leaders in Canada.

In addition, the federal government's Scale AI Supercluster initiative aims to accelerate the integration of AI across all industries to reshape business models and elevate the workforce. Scale AI comprises home-grown and international companies in Canada that are actively accelerating the integration of artificial intelligence across industries. Members of the Supercluster, such as Shopify and Bombardier, are recognized for their tech novelty, competitiveness, and market potential.

The Future of AI in Canada

Although the COVID-19 pandemic created challenges for all industries and for foreign direct investment globally, Canada’s AI industry represents an emerging opportunity. As the world continues to shift virtually, interest in the industry is dramatically accelerating due to the increase in the use of digital technologies. This trend is expected to continue through and beyond 2021, and Canada is well-positioned to continue to be a leader in AI thanks to excellent talent, robust industry support, government commitment through the Scale AI initiative and a track record of innovation.

If you are interested in expanding your technology company to Canada, please visit Invest in Canada, and join us at the AI Summit Silicon Valley, November 3-4, 2021.

Invest in Canada is Canada’s global investment attraction and promotion agency. Facilitating global investment that spurs job growth and makes Canada stronger, Invest in Canada is the foreign investor’s primary point of contact. Our customized services help global companies unlock investment opportunities in Canada.

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