The University of Toronto and Université de Montréal have received a combined $325 million from the federal government for artificial intelligence (AI) research initiatives.
The funding is part of a broader $1.4 billion investment into 11 universities across the country. It comes through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), which funds post-secondary research.
The research initiatives that are being invested in span clean arctic shipping to child health, and responsible AI.
The University of Toronto is receiving the largest grant with $199 million for its “self-driving” AI lab, Acceleration Consortium. The lab looks to combine AI, robotics, and advanced computing to discover new materials and molecules for applications that span medication to biodegradable plastics. The lab was created in 2021 with the aim of reducing the time and cost of bringing advanced materials to market.
The Université de Montréal is also receiving funding for AI with a $124 million grant for a project that focuses on creating “robust, reasoning, and responsible” AI. The financing is going specifically to IVADO, the joint research group led by the Université de Montréal alongside its affiliated schools Polytechnique Montréal and HEC Montréal, and partners Université Laval and McGill University. With the federal grant, IVADO is launching R3AI, which is focused on preventing “potential dangers” of AI systems and implementing a “rigorous framework” to guide AI algorithm development.
The focus on AI for both schools and especially its responsible development with IVADO, adds to the ongoing efforts in Canada at the federal, academic and private sector levels, to make the tech safe as it moves towards mass adoption.
Also in the tech space, York University has been allotted $105 million of the $1.4 billion, alongside Queen’s University, to study the potential risks and benefits of technology for humanity.
The other universities getting grants include McGill University, which is receiving $165 million for creating an inclusive approach to genomic-based RNA therapeutics. Also in the health realm, the University of Ottawa is getting $109 million to study the connection between the heart and brain, and the University of Calgary has $125 million for children’s health research.
There are also research projects focused on sustainability. These include Dalhousie University, which is allotted $154 million for ocean-specific climate action, the University of Victoria with $83 million for accelerating community energy transformations, and Concordia University with $123 million to help study decarbonized communities.
The Memorial University of Newfoundland has been granted $91 million for an initiative that brings together Inuit communities to develop clean Arctic shipping policies. Finally, Toronto Metropolitan University is getting $98 million to study migrants.
Feature image courtesy University of Toronto. Photo by David Lee.