Alberta Innovates is injecting $30 million into the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii). The money will be used to build the province’s artificial intelligence (AI) pipeline and accelerate research.
“This announcement is a huge vote of confidence in the work Amii is doing to expand Alberta’s AI capacity and build on its global AI leadership,” said Cam Linke, CEO of Amii.
Amii is one of Canada’s three centres of AI excellence as part of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy. The other two are Mila in Montreal and the Vector Institute in Toronto.
Amii describes itself as an Alberta-based non-profit institute that supports world-leading research in AI and machine learning, and translates scientific advancement into industry adoption. Alberta Innovates is the provincial crown corporation tasked with supporting innovation in the province.
The government investment is the allocation of a previously announced commitment to AI. The $30 million for AI overall is part the provincial government’s new innovation strategy, which was given $73 million in the 2022 budget.
The AI commitment from the current provincial leadership follows the United Conservative Party pausing a former Alberta NDP investment of $100 million when it first came into power in 2019.
The University of Alberta was the first university in Canada to create a standalone computing sciences department, from which Amii emerged. In January 2023, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research provided $30 million for 20 research chairs at the University of Alberta and Amii to support AI research as part of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy.
“Alberta is a world leader in artificial intelligence research and commercialization,” said Nate Glubish, Alberta Minister of Technology and Innovation. “Our continued funding for Amii will attract investment and create jobs in our fast-growing tech sector.”
The Alberta government said that the investment solidifies the province’s place as a leader in AI and in developing new and emerging technologies that solve the world’s latest challenges.
Amii works with companies across sectors, including energy, healthcare, and agriculture. The institute said that fostering Alberta’s AI and machine learning ecosystem is at the core of its work, and that it advances leading-edge research by funding academic work and empowering industry leaders to invest in Alberta’s talent and expertise.
The institute claims that it also helps grow business capabilities and capacity in AI and machine learning for startups, SMEs, and enterprise clients to support their growth, improve operations, and solve complex problems.
For example, in 2021, Attabotics, a Calgary-based robotics supply chain startup, partnered with AltaML and Amii to develop new AI and machine learning capabilities.
The goal of the three-way partnership was to optimize efficiency and productivity in Attabotics’ supply chain infrastructure. The endeavour combined Attabotics’ expertise in fulfillment with AltaML’s experience in developing AI solutions, and Amii’s research expertise.