The Ontario government is providing a combined $77-million investment into the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence and the Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI) to fund programming that aims to advance the province’s tech sector.
OCI is receiving $50 million through the provincial government’s $107-million Critical Technology Initiatives program, which supports non-profit organizations focused on advancing innovation made in Ontario. The Vector Institute will receive up to $27 million.
Originally created in 2002, OCI functions as an “innovation program delivery partner,” mandated to support and help commercialize the research and development in the province.
OCI is under the umbrella of the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, with its chair and up to six of its 13 board members being appointed by the minister. It went through a rebrand in 2020, and was formerly known as the Ontario Centre of Excellence.
According to the Ontario government, its investment into OCI will be used to launch new initiatives that will help small and medium-sized Ontario businesses develop “critical technologies” in sectors like mining, agrifood, and advanced manufacturing.
OCI runs several initiatives for different verticals, including the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN), which supports the development and demonstration of automotive technologies and mobility solutions such as connected, autonomous, electric, and smart-mobility technologies.
The Vector Institute, a Toronto-based independent non-profit focused on AI research, will use the funding to continue helping companies connect with Vector’s AI engineers, researchers, and AI professionals to “accelerate the safe and responsible adoption of ethical AI.” In a press release, the province said this will make it easier for Ontario companies to develop AI applications, while also encouraging collaboration and new partnerships.
Beyond its collaboration efforts with industry and academic partners, Vector also offers AI training programs such as bootcamps on topics like natural-language processing and computer vision. It also provides access to talent services to help companies compete by hiring in-demand AI talent.
Earlier this year, Vector partnered with Kitchener-Waterloo tech hub Communitech to bring its talent-recruitment platform and FastLane AI training program to that organization’s community of tech founders.
Established in 2017, Vector is funded by the federal and Ontario governments through the CIFAR Pan-Canadian AI strategy, as well as industry sponsors.
Featured image courtesy Ontario Centre of Innovation.