EDMONTON’S ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE ECOSYSTEM
Edmonton is known as one of Canada’s youngest and fastest growing major cities. It’s also increasingly known for its ingenuity. The last couple of years saw a significant growth in artificial intelligence, health innovation and technological entrepreneurship in Edmonton. When the Canadian government announced the recipients for the $125 million-dollar post-secondary AI funding, some might have been surprised to see Edmonton’s Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute alongside schools in Toronto and Montreal. But Edmonton — and the University of Alberta in particular — has been a centre for world-class artificial intelligence research longer than outsiders might realize. AI companies—start-up, scale-ups and experts alike—are drawn to Edmonton for the world class research institutions, entrepreneurial culture, and dedication to science and technology, making it the perfect destination for AI focused meeting and conventions.
All of these things are amplified through Edmonton’s continued growth and investment in the ‘innovation corridor’, a series of hot spots that run from NAIT to the University of Alberta, through the downtown core – a channel where innovation, entrepreneurship, the arts, creativity and vibrant urban life intersect.
The Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (AMII) at the University of Alberta, part of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, works to enhance understanding and innovation in a number of subfields of machine intelligence. AMII researchers hail from the University of Alberta’s Department of Computing Science, the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry and the School of Public Health; and it is this robust ecosystem of research that is helping AMII to make ground breaking discoveries in numerous areas. This work is just part of a staggering range of AI projects in the city including health tech projects in prosthetics, location of brain tumours, self-driving cars and even wildfire prediction tools.
Lately, it’s Richard Sutton who is catching people’s attention on the U of A campus. He’s a pioneer in a branch of artificial intelligence research known as reinforcement learning—which some say is complementary to the deep learning research, receiving the bulk of the attention in recent years. Jonathan Schaeffer, Dean of the Faculty of Science at the U of A, and his team have their hands in a staggering range of AI projects, including the development of self-driving cars that can navigate winter roads, image processing to better pinpoint the location of brain tumours, and fMRI analysis that helps psychiatrists become more effective in diagnoses of patients.
Edmonton has the start-up culture, entrepreneurial mindset, and comparatively low cost compared to other large cities. So, you can see why a lot of established tech companies are choosing Edmonton to set up base, companies like BioWare, and now Edmonton is the new home of DeepMind’s first international lab. Owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, DeepMind works with the University of Alberta and is one of many examples of Edmonton’s flourishing startup culture. Another is the Edmonton Research Park, which, apart from housing more than 55 companies in a diversity of fields, offers dedicated space and ample resources to help cultivate early-stage companies and research initiatives.
The real magic of AI are the new capabilities that it’s enabling every year; things that will have a transformative effect on today’s world. The 30th Canadian Conference on Artificial Intelligence took place in Edmonton last May in collaboration with the Canadian Graphics Interface and the Computer and Robot Vision conferences. Conferences like this, surrounded with a bolstering and exciting AI industry like Edmonton’s, helps to showcase Canada’s ingenuity and global leadership in intelligent systems. This ecosystem of research and innovation can help initiate collaboration not only between visiting groups, but also with local associations, educational institutions, and influencers.
Edmonton Tourism’s Meeting and Conventions team can help connect groups to Edmonton’s intellectual capital and industry leaders through the DMO’s influencer program, which connects groups with ambassadors who can help them tap into local industry networks. Talk to our Business Development Managers today to get connected.