Deloitte to launch AI Institute initiative in Canada

On Wednesday, Deloitte is set to launch a new artificial intelligence (AI)-focused virtual initiative in Canada, aimed to foster research and AI adoption across industries.

The initiative, which is being called the Deloitte AI Institute in Canada, will bring together practitioners, clients, and ecosystem partners, such as academics and research institutions, to exchange knowledge and information regarding the field of AI.

Deloitte is one of a number of large firms that have recently sought to invest in Canada’s AI ecosystem.

The initiative will also host virtual events allowing Canadian medium-to-large organizations to better understand AI, learn from more mature organizations, and create an ecosystem of AI partners that can help them adopt AI or scale up its use.

The institute will not have a physical location, but will instead be run remotely. It will be led by Audrey Ancion, who has served as senior manager of Deloitte’s AI division, called Omnia AI, and Anam Sivia, an AI strategy consultant at Deloitte.

Deloitte’s AI institute started as a United States initiative in June 2020. It was later announced in October there would be a global expansion of the initiative. Other global locations include China, Germany and the United Kingdom, among others. Deloitte declined to disclose the funding behind the Canadian initiative to BetaKit.

The institute is holding its inaugural event Wednesday, which explores the uses of AI and how stakeholders can build trust in the technology and drive its adoption.

“Our purpose is to advance Canadians’ knowledge of topical AI issues by highlighting exciting research developments, business applications and invaluable thought leadership on both the risks and power of AI,” said Ancion. “The institute provides an unparalleled opportunity to demonstrate how AI is already transforming organizational decision-making, creating dramatic efficiencies and adding new capabilities while powering sustainable, value-building activities.”

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Deloitte has a long history of operating in Canada and within the tech ecosystem. In February, Deloitte acquired TWG, a Toronto-based application development and data engineering consultancy.

Deloitte is one of a number of large firms that have sought to invest in Canada’s burgeoning AI ecosystem in recent years. Google has granted Montréal-based AI research institute Mila approximately $8 million into Montreal’s MILA research institute. Firms such as Samsung, SAP, Ericsson, and Unity Labs have also all sought to increase their AI research and commercialization activities in Canada.

The federal and provincial governments have also implemented policies aimed to boost the Canadian AI ecosystem, such as increasing talent from universities, the development of a national AI strategy, and encouraging global companies to set up in Canada. In addition to investment, Canada’s capabilities in AI are also supported by strong academic research. An October report from Element AI found that Canada punches above its weight in terms of AI researchers as a proportion of overall talent pool. Notably, Element AI was recently acquired by ServiceNow for a lackluster $230 million USD.

Regarding Deloitte’s new AI initiative launch, managing partner AI and Data at Deloitte Canada Jas Jaaj noted, “The AI Institute will help boost Canada’s leadership in AI, enhance the development of trustworthy AI solutions and empower knowledge-sharing across the country, becoming a nexus for thought leadership and ideas.”

Image source Pixabay.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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