Edmonton-based artificial intelligence (AI) company AltaML and Montréal health-focused Amplitude Ventures want to fuel more Canadian AI and biotech companies.
The two organizations have penned what they call a “strategic alliance” to source investments as well as projects where they can work together.
The partnership follows the more than $200 million close of Amplitude’s precision health fund last year. The fund’s thesis is based on supporting three regions: Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver (due to various expertise in precision health). However, one of Amplutide’s vertical focuses is AI, and the AltaML partnership allows the venture firm to tap into the notable Alberta AI market.
“Alberta, through Amii (the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute) and leading companies like AltaML, has taken its place alongside MILA in Montreal and the Vector Institute in Toronto as a globally-renowned Centre of AI and machine learning excellence,” said Nancy Harrison, a venture partner with Amplitude. “There’s already a vibrant tech community and world-class medical school in province that, when coupled with this AI leadership and strategic partnerships like the one we’re announcing with AltaML, brings Alberta more fully into the national dialogue about the convergence of biotech and AI.”
AltaML is an AI-focused software company that partners with organizations to co-develop solutions. AltaML’s customers are primarily enterprise-level organizations undergoing digital transformation, but the company is also developing AI software products it plans to launch into “large markets.”
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Some work AltaML does with companies results in spinoffs or joint ventures. AltaML then provides resources to accelerate those companies. Ventures the company claims to have helped launch to date include AlphaLayer, BlueMarvel.AI, System3, Sylvester.ai, and Jurisage; with AltaML claiming there are several more underway.
This isn’t Amplitude’s first connection to Alberta: the fund received investment from Alberta Enterprise Corporation last year.
Kristina Williams, Alberta Enterprise Corporation’s president and CEO, expressed hope that the AltaML partnership will further Amplitude’s ability to “make a difference for Alberta companies.”
“From our viewpoint, this partnership with Amplitude VC is a recognition of Alberta’s expertise in medical science and AI, and an expression of the opportunity that exists between our groups to create and grow world-class Canadian biotechnology companies,” said Alex Hope, health lead for data science and product at AltaML.
Hope will be a shared team member between AltaML and Amplitude, overseeing the development of machine learning solutions for various health initiatives.
“Innovation in the sector is becoming increasingly dependent on machine learning technologies to clarify our understanding of biological systems, and support the development of therapeutics,” Hope added in a statement to BetaKit. “This fact has brought both sides together to leverage each other’s expertise.”
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Amplitude’s portfolio includes six investments in AI companies, to date. Most notably, the venture firm invested in Deep Genomics last year in what was one of the largest rounds for a Canadian AI company. The $226 million CAD, Softbank-led round for Deep Genomics helped expand the company’s deep learning to create drug therapies tech.
Amplitude claims the partnership with AltaML isn’t about sourcing deals.
“It’s about bringing together the AI and ML expertise of AltaML and the life science company building expertise of Amplitude,” the firm told BetaKit. “We will collaborate to build new companies across the country and will apply expertise to our existing portfolio companies that are increasingly using AI to increase the speed and efficiency of product development.”
“Machine learning will play a critical role in essentially every area of biology and applied health,” added Hope. “Alberta is on the global stage for both its AI and biomedical research and capabilities. As leaders in our respective spaces of AI and biotech, our aim is to strengthen developmental capacity in Alberta, with the long term goal of building upon the Alberta AI/ML expertise in health care to establish a global centre of excellence.”