Northern Exposure: Vector Institute Our Latest Bet on AI in Canada

by Kristin Bryson

Our announcement this week that we’ll invest $5 million in the newly formed Vector Institute is the latest example of our work with Canada’s thriving artificial intelligence community.

When the Toronto-based AI research organization approached us for help, we were quick to join in, along with Google and some of Canada’s top corporations.

It’s a natural combination. We’ve worked for years to drive technology that supports AI. And Vector’s other sponsors in areas like finance, healthcare and automotive are prime candidates for implementing GPU deep learning to create smarter, more efficient products for their large customer base.

It’s also a great opportunity for us to expand our activities in the key Canadian market.

We opened our first Canadian office in Toronto in 2015, and we’re turning it into a hub for top AI talent. And through our AI startup program, Inception, we’re working with dozens of startups in the Toronto area alone.

“We’re excited to be an active sponsor of the Vector Institute helping students, researchers and companies adopt AI,” said Kimberly Powell, senior director of Deep Learning at NVIDIA. “This is why we joined the institute’s mission of expanding the global footprint of AI experts, innovations and ideas.”

Modern AI — powered by access to vast quantities of data and the parallel processing power of GPUs — has deep roots in Canada. Geoff Hinton’s work at the University of Toronto on back-propagation and Stochastic Gradient Descent approach helped ignite the big bang of modern AI — deep learning.

Hinton, now with Google, will serve as the Vector Institute’s chief scientific advisor. He’ll be joined by a team of prominent AI scientists affiliated with the University of Toronto. Together, they aim to produce the world’s largest number of deep learning AI graduates.

It’s an effort that’s spurred excitement far beyond the tech industry. In addition to Google, we’re joining ScotiaBank, Accenture and more than 30 other inaugural corporate sponsors who have committed more than $80 million to support the new organization. The Canadian government and the province of Ontario are also kicking in close to $100 million.

To be sure, AI will be driven by innovators from around the globe. At the same time, we’re confident Canadian AI innovators — such as NVIDIA Inception members Deep Genomics,, Element AI and Imagia — will have a global impact. And, thanks to the Vector Institute, more Canadian innovators like these are coming.