AI-focused Institute will be supported by over $150 million from gov’t, big five banks

geoffrey hinton

According to a report from The Toronto Star, a new institute is launching in Toronto with the goal of commercializing AI research.

The non-profit Vector Institute, which is affiliated with the University of Toronto, will hire approximately 25 new faculty and research scientists. The federal government is providing at least $40 million from its $125 million Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy announced as part of the federal budget.

Reportedly, two dozen companies have committed millions in funding over 10 years, including $5 million each from companies like Google, Air Canada, Loblaws, and Canada’s five biggest banks. It will be backed by over $150 million in combined public and corporate funding.

Geoffrey Hinton, considered the deep learning pioneer based on research he completed at U of T, has been based in Google’s headquarters in California since 2013. However, he will act as the chief science advisor at the new institute and work in Google’s Toronto offices.

“It’s certainly the case that there will be other researchers who will want to come back from the States — I’ve had inquiries from quite a number,” Hinton told The Star.

The centre is also creating an ethics working group to promote transparency in machine learning, while some members will also be focused purely on research.

“We want those firms to grow to be a great worldwide supplier of AI capability, so that we turn this into a service export to the world, and not have a situation where all Canada does is produce PhDs and send them south,” said Ed Clark, chair of the Vector Institute board and business adviser to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Photo via University of Toronto

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang is BetaKit's News Editor.