Scale AI moves to scale supply chain AI startups with new funding, partnerships

MaRS discovery district
Cluster partners with MaRS to support second Supply AI cohort.

Scale AI, Canada’s artificial intelligence (AI) cluster, has announced it is investing $24 million to support five AI projects in supply chain operations. The federally and Québec government-supported AI cluster is also partnering with MaRS to support the commercialization of 12 Canadian supply chain solutions AI startups.

A number of startups and partners are sharing in the $24 million investment. AlayaCare, CIUSSS du Nord-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, Bien Chez Soi, Polytechnique Montréal, for example, are receiving $800,000 to use AI to optimize care worker resources, using data to streamline the organization of shifts by geographic area, schedules and skills.

The largest investment of $3 million went to London Drugs Limited, Deloitte, TAP, Sanctuary AI, and Atlantia to develop an AI-powered supply chain model focused on forecasting supplier demand.

Other projects include a smart platform for optimizing agricultural yield; AI-driven retail sales demand forecasting; and an AI-based quality control platform for improving productivity across the steel sheet products supply chain.

The $24 million follows previously announced funding of nearly $130 million since the start of the 2021–2022 fiscal year.

RELATED: Scale AI, partners invest $29 million into five artificial intelligence projects

Scale AI acts as an investment and innovation hub to accelerate the rapid adoption and integration of AI and contributes to the development of a Canadian AI ecosystem. Based in Montréal, funded by the federal and Québec governments, Scale AI has nearly 120 industry partners, research institutes and other players in the AI field.

Julien Billot, CEO of Scale AI, noted the cluster is currently funding more than 40 industry projects across Canada with a total investment value of nearly $300 million, in sectors ranging from retail business to transport, healthcare and energy.

As part of Scale AI’s partnership with MaRS, the 12 selected startups will participate in the Supply AI program at the innovation hub to refine their products, create and put in place scaling strategies, and grow their teams.

“The pandemic has exposed massive fault lines in our supply chains and this cohort of AI innovators are working overtime to solve many of these problems,” said Jon Dogterom, senior vice president of Venture Services at MaRS. “The partnership will accelerate their progress and ultimately strengthen supply chains here in Canada.”

This cohort of artificial intelligence companies spans the worlds of high precision robotics, autonomous vehicles, and carbon emissions reduction. The group includes a maker of first-and last-mile delivery robots, a company that reduces food waste by creating logistics efficiencies, and another that is using AI to create more sustainable forests while reducing the cost of lumber.

The startups in the cohort are Audette Analytics Inc., Bluicity Inc., Cyberworks Robotics Inc., Gray Routes AI Inc., Indie Tech, Lim Geomatics Inc., Moselle Inc., Preteckt Canada, Symboticware Inc., Synkar Autonomous Inc., Taiga Robotics Corp., and Vigilant AI Inc.

MaRS will work with the cohort ventures to grow their revenue, help them access capital and attract the right talent, as well as tap into new markets and enable operations, while Scale AI invests up to $50,000 into each startup.

This is the second iteration of the Supply AI program and this strategic collaboration between MaRS and Scale AI. Startups from the first cohort include autonomous trucking company NuPort Robotics, smart email platform Sedna Tech and supply chain analytics provider The Owl Solutions.

In the most recent federal budget, Canada’s five-year-old Innovation Superclusters Initiative got rebranded. Now calling the program Canada’s Global Innovation Clusters, the federal government is extending the initiative. The budget has proposed an additional $750 million over six years.

The budget also announced the creation of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, which will promote collaboration between AI hubs Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Montreal, and Edmonton. It will be dedicating $125 million towards the launch of this strategy.

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel's reporting and writing on technology has appeared in, Canadian Business, Report on Business Magazine, Canada's National Observer, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post, among many others. He lives off-grid in Nova Scotia.

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