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University of Alberta Receives $2.5 Million to Open AI Hub

Move aside Montreal and Toronto—Edmonton wants in on the AI sector.

A new $2.5 million funding grant will allow the University of Alberta to establish an Artificial Intelligence-Supercomputing Hub for Academic and Industry Collaboration. The funding is coming from Western Economic Diversification Canada, a program that seeks to invest in non-profits that will help strengthen the economy of Western Canada.

“We expect hundreds of students, faculty and small- and medium-sized enterprises to benefit from this supercomputer facility. This project will lead to economic growth and raise the profile of Western Canada’s AI expertise and ecosystem nationally and internationally,” said Dr. Edmond Lou, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Alberta.

The new lab will come equipped with high-performance computers capable of processing large amounts of raw data at a quick pace. The goal is to use this new hub as a space to train and develop AI and data science specialists in Western Canada and better prepare them for when they join companies in the region. This funding is expected to have an impact on up to 40 SMEs and train over 100 qualified personnel.

“Artificial Intelligence presents exciting new opportunities to generate prosperity for Canadians through new and innovative high-quality jobs,” said Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister.” Our government’s investment in this facility will bring together industry and academia to help diversify our economy, enhance our competitive edge and put innovative products and technologies on the global market.”

The $2.5 million in funding will also go towards raising the profile of Western Canada’s AI industry through marketing initiatives at the AI and Interaction Digital Entertainment (AIIDE’18) International Conference. The conference is being held at the University of Alberta and marks the first time it has been hosted outside of the U.S.

There has been a rush over the past year to bring more funding and recognition to the AI labs within Canadian post-secondary institutions. LG recently partnered with the University of Toronto to open an AI lab, while the University of Waterloo opened the doors to their own lab, dubbed Waterloo.ai.

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