A|I: The AI Times – The Toronto startup using quantum chemistry to clean the world’s water

Plus: Vector awards $2 million in AI scholarships for top Ontario graduate students.

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Xatoms is planning a quantum leap to clean the world’s water

It was on a backpacking trip to India at the age of 14 that Diana Virgovicova got her first glance at the human cost of water pollution.

Virgovicova observed that these critical waterways ran black, flowing with a hazardous mix of waste chemicals, dyes, and other pollutants. To her, it was immediately obvious that this was more than an environmental reality.

This experience would eventually lead Virgovicova to start her own company, Xatoms. The Toronto-based startup uses artificial intelligence and quantum chemistry to discover new molecules the company hopes will be able to help clean water around the world.

Virgovicova recently spoke to BetaKit about how her company is looking to use emerging technologies to clean the world’s most important natural resource.


Vector Institute announces nearly $2 million in scholarships for top Ontario AI graduate students

The Vector Institute announced 115 recipients of its 2024-25 Vector Scholarship in Artificial Intelligence (VSAI) this week. The $17,500 scholarships are awarded to top candidates enrolled in Vector-recognized master’s programs or pursuing individualized AI study paths at universities across Ontario.

Vector says it has awarded over 567 Scholarships in AI since the program launched in 2018.

(Vector Institute)

Shopify CEO says Canada must overcome “go-for-bronze” culture at BetaKit Town Hall

The BetaKit Town Hall at the University of Toronto’s Myhal Centre on Tuesday brought together all corners of the tech ecosystem to discuss the state of innovation in Canada, and what should be done to support it.

Addressing the 500 attendees—which included ecosystem leaders, major VCs, and fledgling founders—during his fireside chat with BetaKit board chair Staish Kanwar, Shopify CEO Tobias Lütke leaned into the theme of “tough love,” saying the country suffers from a “go-for-bronze” culture that is often lacking in courage and ambition.

The event also platformed the vantage points of entrepreneurs in different stages of their careers to dig into what challenges and opportunities they currently face in the ecosystem and what they think needs to change. Watch the discussion between early-stage founder Joella Almeida (MedEssist), scaling founder Ivan Zhang (Cohere), repeat founder Ali Asaria (Tulip), and ecosystem newcomer Jocelyne Murphy (Socratica) here.

Their ideas ignited discussions in-person and online, offering a pulse check on the state of Canadian tech. Many expressed optimism as multiple generations of the ecosystem galvanized around the debated issues for the first time in a while, but others were eager for more action.


Canadian companies’ AI policies aim to balance risk with rewards

When talent search platform Plum noticed ChatGPT sending ripples through the tech world and beyond, it decided to turn right to the source to lay out how staff could and couldn’t use the generative artificial intelligence chatbot.

It makes Plum one of several Canadian organizations codifying their stance around AI as people increasingly rely on the technology to boost their productivity at work.

Many were spurred into developing policies by the federal government, which released a set of AI guidelines for the public sector last fall. Now scores of startups and larger organizations have reworked them for their own needs or are developing their own versions.

These companies say their goal is not to curtail the use of generative AI but to ensure workers feel empowered enough to use it—responsibly.

(The Canadian Press)

QueerTech report finds change is lagging for 2SLGBTQIA+ tech workers in Canada

While more than a third of non-queer folks believe there has been progress for 2SLGBTQIA+ employees at Canadian tech companies, their 2SLGBTQIA+ colleagues aren’t quite feeling the same level of optimism.

This is one of many concerning findings in a new study published by Montréal-based non-profit QueerTech. The report features a survey and interviews with over 250 Canadian tech workers, including a representative group of 30 individuals who identify as members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.


Two Senior OpenAI Executives Leave Company

Two senior OpenAI executives—vice president of people Diane Yoon and Chris Clark, head of nonprofit and strategic initiatives—left the company earlier this week, a company spokesperson said.

The two resignations are the latest high-profile changes to OpenAI’s leadership in the aftermath of Sam Altman’s dramatic ouster and subsequent rehiring by the nonprofit board that runs the startup, events that highlighted its unusual corporate structure. Both executives were among the most long-tenured managers at the developer of ChatGPT, recently worth $86 billion in an employee share sale.

(The Information)

Hard Knocks: The lawyer behind some of Canada’s biggest (and quietest) deals

Not many people have behind the scenes access to Canada’s biggest tech exits and funding deals. Chad Bayne does.

As a partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP’s emerging and high-growth companies practice, he gets a front row seat to how these deals are really done. One of his top takeaways? That the loudest startup in the room isn’t always the one making the most progress.


AI Challenger Mistral Set to Nearly Triple Valuation to $6 Billion in Six Months

Mistral AI is nearing a deal to raise funds at a $6-billion valuation—nearly tripling its level from six months ago and giving the French startup added fuel to challenge Silicon Valley giants in the artificial-intelligence race.

Among the questions newcomers like Mistral face is whether they will be able to compete against the many billions of dollars that the tech giants, as well as Sam Altman’s OpenAI, have already committed to advancing the technology.

(The Wall Street Journal)

Why every business leader in Canada needs a Tech MBA

A new world of business calls for a new kind of business degree.

That was the thinking behind the launch last fall of the MBA in Technology Leadership—better known as the Tech MBA—by York University’s Schulich School of Business.

“We live in a completely different world, one that’s driven and constantly disrupted by technology,” said Detlev Zwick, Dean of the Schulich School of Business, one of Canada’s top-rated business schools. 


ElevenLabs Is Building an Army of Voice Clones

A tiny start-up has made some of the most convincing AI voices. Are its creators ready for the chaos they’re unleashing?

(The Atlantic)

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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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