Gaming software company Unity expanding Montreal office, opening AI lab

Unity

Unity Technologies, a San Francisco-headquartered video game software development company, is creating a new artificial intelligence lab in Montreal, and expanding its existing office in the city.

Unity’s Montreal office expansion is expected to create 450 new jobs.

As part of Unity’s Montreal office expansion, the lab will recruit artificial intelligence experts, developers, and engineers. Montreal will be home to Unity Labs’ second branch, after San Francisco, where engineers and machine learning experts “create prototypes for the technology of the future.”

“It’s important to me that Unity has a thriving office in Montreal because it’s home to a dynamic community comprised of top tech talent, gaming studios, and indie creators,” said André Gauthier, Montreal studio head and development director at Unity. “One of Unity’s most important differentiators is our community and we look forward to growing and fostering that in Montreal.”

The mission of Unity Labs is to explore how game authoring, AI, deep learning, computer visualization, VR, and AR will influence how games will be created and played over the next decade. The lab develops prototypes, releases new technologies, publishes research papers, and works with academia and partners on advanced research.

Montreal has seen the emergence of other AI innovation hubs and research centres in the last month. Samsung opened its second AI lab in partnership with the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms last week. Ericsson also opened an AI-focused accelerator in Montreal last month to focus on the research and development in AI and automation. Ericsson’s hub is slated to create 30 new jobs in the city, while Unity said its office expansion will create 450 jobs, although Unity is looking to recruit internationally.

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Unity has already taken part in recruitment missions organized by Montréal International, an investment promotion agency for Greater Montreal, which looks to provide local companies with opportunities to recruit highly skilled international talent.

“Greater Montreal is enjoying unprecedented recognition among foreign investors,” said Hubert Bolduc, president and CEO of Montréal International. “Since 2016, Montreal International has facilitated around 60 foreign investment projects worth close to $2 billion, helping to create close to 6,400 jobs in the artificial intelligence, video game and visual effects industries alone.”

Founded in Denmark and established in Montreal in 2011, Unity develops tools for individuals and companies to create, operate, and games. The company claims more than half of all mobile games are made with its platform, including Angry Birds, Pokémon Go, and Super Mario Run. Unity has also taken its real-time 3D platform into verticals such as automotive, media, entertainment, architecture, engineering, and construction.

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“It is thanks to the presence of companies like Unity, among other things, that Quebec can continue to compete with the top global players in video games and artificial intelligence,” said Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of the Economy and Innovation.

The news of the office expansion comes several days after former Unity vice president of global talent acquisition Anne Evans filed a lawsuit against the company, accusing CEO John Riccitiello of sexual harassment. As first reported by TechCrunch, in the suit, Evans accuses the company of retaliation, wrongful termination, and failure to prevent discrimination. Unity released a statement to Polygon arguing the allegations against Riccitiello were “false,” and that Evans “engaged in serious misconduct and established multiple instances in which she demonstrated a gross lapse in judgment.”

Image courtesy Mélanie Joly via Twitter

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Writer, globetrotter, drone pilot & David Attenborough enthusiast