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AI in Canada: How the Government of Canada invests in artificial intelligence and start-up innovation

By the Government of Canada

In the face of global economic challenges, the Government of Canada is continuing to make investments in projects to help innovative companies grow, including start-ups, to create well-paying middle-class jobs and to ensure Canada punches above its weight in a competitive global market.

Recently, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, announced an investment of $25 million in the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), a non-profit organization based at the University of Toronto that merges science-based projects with business expertise to help young companies scale up into creators of new jobs, processes and services.

The funding will help CDL gain insight into the success of start-ups. The research project using artificial intelligence (AI) tools will facilitate CDL supporting business ventures that harness emerging technologies such as AI, clean tech, energy, health, smart cities and space and quantum technologies. The CDL project will also support the growth of science-based business start-ups through mentorship and access to angel and venture capital. In addition, CDL will boost its engagement of young women in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields to ensure broad representation in the next generation of technology and business leaders in Canada.

CDL will run experiments with start-ups at the following sites in its Canadian network:

This investment is being made through the Strategic Innovation Fund, a program designed to attract and support high-quality business investments across all sectors of the economy by encouraging R&D that will accelerate technology transfer and the commercialization of innovative products, processes and services and will facilitate the growth of innovative firms. 

Here a few quick facts about the project:

  • In the first five years since its launch in 2012 by Professor Ajay Agrawal at the Rotman School of Management, CDL has supported 225 science-based start-ups, leading to the creation of an estimated 1,100 jobs.
  • The Strategic Innovation Fund is a $1.26-billion program that is helping Canada become a global leader in innovation.
  • In addition to the Strategic Innovation Fund, there are hundreds of programs and services to help businesses innovate, create jobs and grow Canada’s economy. With its simple, story-based user interface, the Innovation Canada platform can match businesses with the most fitting programs and services in about two minutes.
  • Venture capital is an essential part of the innovation ecosystem as it enables innovative technology companies and small businesses to survive and thrive. The Government of Canada supports innovative companies with venture capital investments through the Business Development Bank of Canada, the Venture Capital Action Plan and the new Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative.

Compliments of the Consulate General of Canada-Invest in Canada, a member of the EACCNY