Microsoft is betting big on Québec as the tech giant earmarks $685 million CAD ($500 million USD) to expand its cloud computing and AI infrastructure in the province over the next two years.
Microsoft’s investment is aimed to support the construction of multiple data centre locations in Québec, which it expects to launch over the coming months. The firm expects these centres to expand the firm’s computing capacity by approximately 240 percent over the next three years.
“Microsoft is sending a strong message that our region has become an important hub for the development of artificial intelligence.”
“These investments will not only provide Quebec’s private and public sector organizations with more capacity and added resiliency to transform operations but will also enable a trusted and secure foundation to scale solutions faster to market and compete globally, securing Quebec’s future in the digital economy,” president of Microsoft Canada Chris Barry said in a statement.
According to an Ernst & Young report released today, Microsoft’s existing presence in Québec already contributes $6.4 billion annually to the province’s GDP and supports over 57,000 jobs.
Microsoft said it plans to align these new data centers with its 2030 sustainability targets, which include reducing carbon emissions, enhancing water efficiency, and minimizing waste. The organization plans to use low-carbon materials in the construction phase and implement cooling technologies to reduce diesel fuel consumption once the centres are operational.
“By choosing to locate in the Québec-Lévis economic zone, Microsoft is sending a strong message that our region has become an important hub for the development of artificial intelligence in Quebec,” added Bernard Drainville, deputy for Lévis and minister responsible for the Chaudière-Appalaches region.
In recent years, Québec has become a magnet for large tech corporations, largely due to the growth of its AI sector. The province is home to numerous AI research institutes, such as Montréal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA), and hubs run by Google, Thales, Ericsson, and IBM.
Microsoft has been a particularly active participant in Canada’s AI sector in recent years. In addition to running its own research lab in Montréal and inking deals with organizations like MILA and the University of Waterloo’s Artificial Intelligence Institute, the firm has also directly invested in or acquired Canadian AI startups like Two Hat and Maluuba.
In addition to its world-renowned AI sector, Québec is also becoming a fast-growing hub for quantum computing, another area Microsoft has taken an interest in. Just last week, the firm participated in a $100-million USD funding round for and initiated a strategic partnership with Vancouver-based quantum startup Photonic.
Feature image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.