A|I: The AI Times – Apple scoops up Waterloo startup DarwinAI

Plus: Canada may be losing ground in AI research race.

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DarwinAI acquired by Apple amid Big Tech arms race

Speaking on condition of anonymity, multiple sources familiar with DarwinAI confirmed to BetaKit that Apple reached a deal to acquire the startup. One confirmed that the acquisition has now closed and that Apple has acquired the entire company—including DarwinAI’s employees, tech, and intellectual property.

Founded in 2017, DarwinAI’s platform applies AI to visual quality inspection processes for manufacturers, with a goal of improving product quality and production efficiency.

CNBC reported in 2021 that Apple likes to do quiet acquisitions of smaller companies to integrate technically talented staff that can help the company speed expansion into new fields.


OpenAI announces new board members, reinstates CEO Sam Altman

The appointment of the four new board members — and reappointment of Altman — comes after OpenAI received criticism for its board’s all-male makeup and the nomination of Summers, who has a history of making unflattering remarks about women. The Congressional Black Caucus flagged the board’s lack of diversity in a letter sent in January, noting the importance of the Black perspective in building tools to help mitigate AI bias.


Monadical launches Developer Capital to fund early-stage AI startups with help from its team of software devs

Canada has gained another artificial intelligence investor in Developer Capital (DevCap), but this one looks a bit different from your standard venture capital firm.

DevCap is structured as an investment corporation with no management fees and the capacity to move quickly, which enabled it to close $2.5 million CAD in funding and begin investing in pre-seed and seed-stage startups in only three months.

“We think the next mega tech companies are going to be born in 2024 and beyond, and we don’t want to miss the start,” Steiner, DevCap’s CEO, told BetaKit in an exclusive interview.


World’s first major act to regulate AI passed by European lawmakers

The European Union’s parliament on Wednesday approved the world’s first major set of regulatory ground rules to govern the mediatized artificial intelligence at the forefront of tech investment.

The regulation is expected to enter into force at the end of the legislature in May, after passing final checks and receiving endorsement from the European Council. Implementation will then be staggered from 2025 onward.


Ex-BDC partner aims to back early-stage “AI frontier” startups with Defined Capital

After nearly a decade with the Business Development Bank of Canada, Mark Trevitt has launched his own venture capital fund to invest in nascent artificial intelligence and data companies.

Trevitt left the Crown corporation last year to found Vancouver-based Defined Capital as its managing partner. Through Defined, the former BDC partner plans to focus on early-stage technology startups across North America that are “shaping the AI frontier.”


Canada may be losing ground in AI research race, analysis suggests

Canada’s claim to AI fame comes from a core group of computer scientists whose work over the years helped establish the field today. But a new analysis suggests the country may be starting to slip in the research race.

In 2019, 10 per cent of the “most elite” two per cent or so of AI researchers were based in Canada, according to calculations by MacroPolo, a branch of the Chicago-based Paulson Institute think tank. In 2022, it was three per cent. The U.S. was by far the biggest site of top-tier talent in the field, with 65 per cent and 57 per cent, respectively, in those years. 

(The Logic)

Applied Intuition lands $6B valuation for AI-powered autonomous vehicle software

Autonomous vehicle software company Applied Intuition has raised $250 million in a round that values the startup at $6 billion, as it pushes to bring more artificial intelligence to the automotive, defense, construction and agriculture sectors.

The fresh capital — all equity — will go toward funding “the most ambitious projects that we have, without flooding the company and breaking our culture,” co-founder and CEO Qasar Younis told TechCrunch in an interview.


Minerva thinks it can stop the flow of dirty money faster with AI

In Canada, intelligence agencies estimate between $45 billion and $113 billion is laundered each year, and finding bad actors is easier said than done.

This problem is what prompted CEO Jennifer Arnold and co-founders, COO Victor Tay and CTO Damian Tran, to build Minerva, an anti-money laundering software platform that uses artificial intelligence to help financial institutions proactively identify client risk from onboarding to exit.

Minerva is designed to do all the legwork for financial investigators, from the moment they receive a case. The platform collects, aggregates, and analyzes all of the relevant data points to create a client risk profile.

“Now, that six, seven, eight-hour case really could take maybe a maximum of an hour, if that,” Arnold said.


Physical Intelligence Is Building a Brain for Robots

Physical Intelligence’s thesis is that the time is right for a new approach to building robotics AI models. The company looks to merge the techniques used to build language models with its own techniques for controlling and instructing machines. The end goal would be to create an AI that works as a type of general purpose robotics system.

(BNN Bloomberg)

$85 million in combined investments will build up Calgary’s tech hubs

This week, Calgary became a hot target for tech investment.

California-based cybersecurity company Fortinet announced it was going to invest $30 million CAD to create a cybersecurity technology hub in downtown Calgary.

Fortinet expects to secure space in downtown Calgary, acquire equipment, and start hiring immediately, the company said in a statement, noting it intends to add more than 100 staff by the end of 2025.

The Government of Alberta also committed $55 million in its 2024 budget for a new multidisciplinary science hub at the University of Calgary.

The $450-million facility, expected to open in 2029, will include a student success centre to teach workplace skills, host startup incubators, and industry collaboration spaces for internships and hands-on learning.

Empathy closes $47M for AI to help with the practical and emotional bereavement process

Death, as the famous saying goes, is one of the inevitable certainties of life.

A startup called Empathy has built a platform to help navigate this tricky space, and now with some 40 million people using the platform it’s raised $47 million more in funding to grow.

Empathy’s platform incorporates a mixture of AI and human guides to help people with all of the different aspects of the bereavement process, from counselling services and AI to help write obituaries through to services to help automate the process of shutting down all of the dozens of cloud services that the deceased might have used as well as help with settling more complex financial affairs.


Saskatchewan government doubles cap of startup investor tax credit to $7 million

The Saskatchewan Technology Startup Incentive offers a 45 percent tax credit to individuals who invest in eligible tech startups in the province. Previously capped at $3.5 million, as of April 1 of this year, the program’s annual disbursement cap is now $7 million.

Saskatchewan tech ecosystem leaders lauded the province’s decision to double the program cap, with Jordan McFarlen, director of Conexus Venture Capital, telling BetaKit this decision “signals that the government believes in the tech sector.”

“We’re a huge fan of what Innovation Saskatchewan and the government have created. It’s provided such a great boost to the ecosystem,” he added.


Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl is a staff writer and newsletter curator at BetaKit with a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University. He's interested in tech, gaming, and sports. You can find out more about him at alexriehl.com or @RiehlAlex99 on Twitter.

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