If you didn’t already know, Canada is becoming a major hub for AI research. Samsung has opened up an AI Centre (that’s the Canadian spelling of Center) in Toronto. This is their second big lab in North America, with the other one being located near Google in Mountain View, California. This new location will help foster AI across a wide range of devices, including self-driving cars to smart appliances.
What might be even more interesting is where Samsung is going to be located. The new lab will be located in Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District, which is a non-profit whose goal is to bring together educators, researchers, social scientists, entrepreneurs and business experts under one roof. Founded by civic leaders, they have a mission that is equal parts public and private — an entrepreneurial venture designed to bridge the gap between what people need and what governments can provide. Which means, if Samsung is going to be located within this district, it can only mean great things for technology. Especially since there is a push to bridge the gap and encourage more public/private partnerships (P3’s).
According to KPMG, Toronto is set to become a world-leading tech hub. Currently coming in at number 12 on the list, Toronto beats out Boston, Chicago, and Hong Kong for leading hubs. Not only that, but 6% of global leaders said that Toronto is outpacing the competition as it competes with Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Global tech giants like Uber, Google Brain, Deep Mind and Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs are all expanding their research capacity and directing their investment dollars into Toronto. More than 300 fintech firms currently operate in Canada today, and that number is expected to grow to 1,000 over the next five years.
Let’s talk about Google for a moment. Google’s sibling company – Sidewalk Labs – has outlined their vision for making Toronto a hub in the field of urban innovation. Sidewalk Labs has been developing a project called Quayside. Wanting to take Toronto’s waterfront and turn it into a global hub for urban innovation. What is urban innovation? It would allow cities to solve existing problems through emerging technologies. For example – we might have the technology to be able to move away from driving and using cars, but cities don’t necessarily have the infrastructure in place to make that a reality. Enter – urban innovation.
But that’s not the only thing that urban innovation can help with. Cities in Canada spend a lot of money on clearing snow in the winter. Is there a way to build pathways that automatically melt snow? Again, the answer is yes. That technology currently exists, but it might be expensive or not sustainable in the long term.
Getting back to Samsung for a moment. I think that being in Toronto, and being part of this technology hub is going to be beneficial for artificial intelligence. In general, it seems like Toronto is a great place to be right now from a technology perspective. The Canadian Federal Government is also very much on board. They have budgeted $125 million to support a national AI strategy. This might just be icing on the cake for some companies, like Samsung, as they will do it just to stay competitive. There are so many opportunities for learning and discovery in Toronto right now, I can see why it’s making its mark globally.