Vector Institute awards nearly $2 million in scholarships for Ontario AI students

Vector Institute
Vector wants to take a bite out of the tech talent crunch.

The Vector Institute has distributed almost $2 million among 110 winners for its scholarship program dedicated to bolstering Ontario’s artificial intelligence (AI) talent pool.

Vector has doled out 461 AI scholarships to date.

Valued at $17,500, the Vector Scholarship in Artificial Intelligence (VSAI) is a merit-based award that recognizes top candidates pursuing either one of the over 20 Vector-recognized master’s programs, or individual AI study paths in Ontario.

This group of 110 constitutes the fifth round of VSAI recipients. The winners include students pursuing studies in a range of programs, including engineering, computer science, health informatics, and business analytics.

Vector claims that more than 850 Vector-affiliated students from AI master’s programs, including VSAI recipients, have been hired by Ontario firms to date.

VSAI recipients and students enrolled in Vector-recognized AI master’s programs gain access to events and networking opportunities with AI researchers, clinicians, and teams from top Canadian employers. They also receive access to Vector’s Digital Talent Hub, career development and networking events, and AI-specific career support programs.

There has been an ongoing tech talent shortage in Canada, which doesn’t exclude the AI space. KPMG’s Business Outlook Poll, which was released last year, found that nearly 80 percent of the businesses it surveyed say they need more workers with digital skills, however, more than two-thirds of the respondents face difficulties in finding and hiring talent.

By financing postgraduate education in AI, Vector aims to help to fill that talent pipeline, and address the need for more AI talent.

Since VSAI was launched in 2018, Vector has doled out 461 total scholarships, with many of its recipients joining newly created AI master’s programs. The organization also noted that more than a thousand students will graduate from Ontario-based AI master’s programs this year, ahead of the province’s target to graduate 1,000 AI master’s students per year by 2023.

RELATED: Ontario gov’t investing $30 million in Vector Institute as part of Amazon HQ bid

Launched in 2017, Vector works with institutions, startups, and the government to build AI talent, as well as to develop and sustain AI-based innovation to foster economic growth.

Along with Montréal’s Mila and Alberta’s Amii, Vector is working with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) to lead the $125 million Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, which was introduced in the federal government’s 2017 budget.

Vector also received a $30 million investment from the Ontario government in 2017 as part of the province’s strategy to foster more STEM talent. It was noted at that time that the funding will go towards helping the institute work with schools to create more AI specialists.

Featured image from Vector Institute’s website.

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a journalism student at Ryerson University and a staff writer for BetaKit. Follow her on Twitter @charlizealcaraz

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