NextAI, NEXT Canada’s offshoot program dedicated to supporting AI companies, has announced funding and partnerships to assist in its mission to foster Toronto as an AI hub.
NextAI was created after a brainstorming session with RBC and Magna last summer, with BDC Capital and Scotiabank joining later. To date, these partners have raised $5.15 million.
“Artificial intelligence is one of the most transformational technologies impacting business today, and Canada must remain at the forefront of exploring its commercial and scientific opportunities,” said Dave McKay, president and CEO of RBC. “NEXT Canada has a proven track record of helping foster entrepreneurship in Canada, and by partnering on NextAI we’ll help entrepreneurs from around the world develop their next AI ventures here in Canada.”
NextAI is also partnering with Google, IBM Canada, and NVIDIA, who will commit millions in hardware, access to technology, and services. They will also provide NextAI’s participants with funding, corporate mentorship, access to industry experts, customer trials, and valuable data sets.
“NextAI, like the programs before it, is devoted to fostering entrepreneurship in Canada, and creating a space for global talent to realize their potential with the help of key partners and mentors,” said Andrea Matheson, president of NEXT Canada. Matheson fully took the helm of NEXT Canada after co-president Peter Carrescia’s departure in November. “We’re thrilled to bring on the partners who are leaders in their respective fields and who will provide the program participants with invaluable knowledge and leadership.”
Besides mentorship and access to tech resources, the program provides participants with up to $200,000 in funding, and education from academics at Harvard, MIT, NYU, the University of Guelph, and the University of Toronto. The goal is to attract more talent from abroad and position Canada as a centre of excellence for AI. After opening applications in October, the program has received applicants from Ecuador, Israel, India, Italy, Germany, Mexico, and Scotland. Ten percent of applications came from the United States.
A previous version of this article stated the funding amount at $5.5 million. The actual amount is $5.15 million. We regret the error.