Canadian leadership in artificial intelligence is no longer a secret, and U.S. private equity is primed to benefit.
Perhaps the most famous face on the booming Canadian AI scene is University of Toronto – and Google - pioneer Geoffrey Hinton, but AI expertise extends beyond the vaunted Toronto-Waterloo tech corridor.
In Quebec, AI animates one of five innovation superclusters subsidized by the federal government. Known as the AI-powered supply chains supercluster, it aims to help small and medium-sized business scale up by using AI to build intelligent supply chains in multiple industries. The supercluster rests largely on the work of Professor Yoshua Bengio, who continues to advance the country's reputation in deep learning at the University of Montreal and at the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms.
Further west, U.S. private equity will note the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute in Edmonton.
Canada's AI pole position follows the footprint it staked out in 2017, when it became the first country to release a national AI strategy.
For private equity, the Canadian AI scene offers uncommon opportunity. The country's tech sector in general has seen growing investment by private capital. It also benefits from tax incentives provided by the country's world-class scientific research and experimental development program and by support from the Strategic Innovation Fund.
However, tech companies – and AI among them - sometimes struggle to access larger-scale funding. U.S. private equity can help fill that gap.