machine learning, canada machine learning, artificial intelligence, AI

Machine Learning in Canada

Our past five blogs discuss how machine learning is revolutionizing a variety of industries. Canada has been a leader in the development of this technology from the get-go. This post will provide you with a brief history and current snapshot of machine learning in the country.

Brief History

The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research’s (CIFAR) interest in further developing artificial intelligence technologies dates back to 1982. After a pause in the mid-1990s due to lack of available technology, AI development efforts regained speed in 2002 thanks to Geoffrey Hinton, an Engineering Fellow at Google and manager of Brain Team Toronto. He brought together psychologists, neuroscientists, ophthalmologists and electrical and computer engineers to further develop and renew interest in the field. In doing so, he was able to reinvigorate interest in AI among graduate students and the startup community. In 2014, Montreal had the highest concentration of machine learning researchers in the world.


What initially began as academic interest has rapidly grown into a strong corporate focus. Business leaders see the potential that artificial intelligence has to revolutionize processes across multiple industries. Some research teams are bought by corporations attempting to be on the cutting edge of machine learning, while other groups are branching out and creating their own businesses with funding from venture capital firms. Recently, startups such as Maluuba, Deep Genomics, Thalmic Labs, Blue J Legal, Eigen Innovations, and Winterlight Labs have all received multi-million dollar financing deals.

David Mulet, an Associate Director of Machine Learning with Creative Destruction Lab at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management says, “Investors like Canada because there is less competition for deals, and investors are able to find interesting entrepreneurs developing interesting technologies they can’t find elsewhere.”

As the demand for AI growth continues, more and more companies are moving their AI divisions to Canada.

Moving Forward    

Canada’s reputation in the world of AI and machine learning continues to hold strong. The startup community is substantial, the research talent is here, and a variety of groups are actively working on AI development projects. In fact, according to CIFAR, Canada is only second to the United States in their machine learning research and investment in programs to further advance its capabilities. Yet, with many of the great minds responsible for the growth of AI in the early 2000s now running AI groups at big companies, there is a shortage of young researchers and developers needed to continue the forward motion of innovation.  

Canada’s solution? The Vector institute. The Toronto-based establishment’s mission is to “drive excellence and leadership in Canada’s knowledge, creation, and use of artificial intelligence to foster economic growth and improve the lives of Canadians.” With a focus on attracting global talent and commitment to research as well as education, Canada is continuing their legacy as a prominent force in the world of machine learning.

If you’d like to learn more about machine learning in Canada or see how your business can benefit from the advancements in this innovative technology, contact us today.