Artificial Intelligence : An Industry that Keeps Evolving

September 3, 2020

State of the AI industry in Canada

Canada has proven itself as a global leader when it comes to artificial intelligence. With its ecosystem of more than 850 start-up companies, 20 public research labs, 75 incubators and accelerators, and 60 groups of investors from across the country, it’s ranked 4th in the Global AI Index

The country’s three most famous research centers are found in Toronto (Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence), Edmonton (Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute), and Montreal, (Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms), and in 2017, received a $125M CAD grant over five years from the Canadian government to help with a Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy. This grant helps the centers hire more scientists, do more research, train more students and grow the AI ecosystem in Canada.

In June 2020, the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec announced a new Montreal-based international research hub, the International Centre of Expertise in Montreal for the Advancement of AI (ICEMAI), with the aim to facilitate collaboration between the private and public sectors, and the scientific community. 

With the help of world-leading experts like Yoshua Bengio, Montreal developed an expertise in AI, and in 2019, the city counted 19,500 workers with artificial intelligence skills, an increase of 22% over the 2018, according to Montreal International. This expertise has attracted global AI leaders, with the likes of Google, Microsoft, Samsung and Ericsson setting up research labs in the region. 

Using AI to fight COVID-19 

BlueDot is a Toronto-based company that uses artificial intelligence to predict the spread of infectious disease. According to Invest Canada, on December 30, 2019, it informed its clients about unusual pneumonia cases in Wuhan and were the first to predict the COVID-19 outbreak, showing once again Canada’s AI leadership. Since then, companies around the world  have been looking for new ways to join the fight against COVID-19 using artificial intelligence. 

For example, researchers at the Lawson Health Research Institute in London, UK,  are training an AI system to learn and recognize patterns in ultrasound lung scans of patients suffering from COVID-19 by comparing them with other types of lung infections.  

In May, CIFAR, a Canadian-based global research organization, announced fourteen AI research projects aiming to better understand and fight COVID. These projects explore a wide range of AI-related topics, including the use of medical imaging and AI to predict how sick someone will become after getting infected with COVID-19, understanding the mutation of the virus and mental health impacts of COVID-19 through analysis of social media, and predicting the course of the disease. These fourteen projects are expected to be complete in as early as one year.

Opportunities in the AI industry

According to Bloomberg, a Gartner survey of CIOs and IT leaders conducted in February found that companies were expecting to double their number of AI projects and 40% were planning to launch at least one one of them by the end of the year.  As the pandemic has accelerated the need for AI, Bloomberg believes these estimates will prove understated.  In fact, Inc. has partnered with researchers to identify populations vulnerable to COVID-19 and to act as an “early warning” system for future outbreaks.

Lockdowns around the world have also affected consumer behaviour in previous months and many people have turned to online shopping, pushing AI’s growth and development even further. As consumers start buying more online to avoid the risks of shopping in stores, they are, knowingly or not, giving sellers more data on their shopping habits and preferences. 

Choose the right data center colocation provider for your AI needs

As companies in every industry turn to AI for innovation and try to outperform their competitors, their choice of IT and data center partners becomes one of utmost importance. AI technology requires an immense amount of processing power, resulting in far bigger demands on data centers than traditional workloads. Working with new AI applications requires higher levels of computational power, which leads to a need for specialized power and cooling. We are expecting more providers to deliver AI infrastructure hosting solutions this year, and this might lead to businesses switching from their Capital Expenditures cycle to a more affordable Operating Expenses model like the Cloud but with the performance and security of an on-premise system.

When looking for a data center colocation partner to help with your AI applications, there are a few criteria you have to keep in mind, such as processing power to help save computation time and lead to a better experience, power management to ensure an efficient and reliable use of energy, cooling requirements and user experience, to avoid as much downtime as possible.

Partnering with a colocation partner such as eStruxture will help you control costs and efficiently manage power use. Our six facilities across Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary offer colocation with up to 30kW per cabinet, ensuring the high power density you need to run your AI applications. Plus, our partnership with Hydro-Quebec, one of the world’s leading hydropower producers, allows us to leverage clean and reliable energy, and our customers to benefit from the lower power rates in eastern North America.  If you are looking to launch your AI projects and are looking for a colocation partner, reach out to us via or via our contact form.

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