Montreal’s burgeoning AI and machine learning ecosystem just got a boost.
Today, the Canadian Press reported that the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA) at the Université de Montréal will receive $4.5 million over three years from Google to support its research. Google will also open an AI research group at its Montreal office.
“(AI) will affect pretty much every economic sector; right now is just the tip of the iceberg,” Yoshua Bengio, head of MILA, told The Canadian Press. “One of the things we are going to see more of is how these technologies affect how we interact with computers.”
Bengio said that MILA has attracted interest from “most” major IT companies, including some funding, though no specifics on which IT companies were provided. In October, Bengio was among the three-person team that announced Element AI, a Montreal-based ‘startup factory’ that will connect entrepreneurs and enterprises to develop technologies that can be spun off into AI companies.
Shibl Mourad, head of engineering for Google’s Montreal office, said that this will set the stage for turning Montreal into a super-cluster of AI expertise. He said for the past ten years, Bengio, considered by many to be integral to the development of deep learning technology, and his colleagues have put Montreal ahead in research compared to their competitors. The lab Bengio leads is one of the largest in the world dedicated to studying deep learning.
Bengio hopes that Google’s investments will put Montreal on the radar of global talent and corporations to support the development of Montreal’s AI ecosystem.
“We’d like to see more of that, and we’d like to attract people who aren’t Canadians to Montreal,” Bengio said.