Startup CEOs on how to keep the artificial intelligence ball rolling in Canada

The Globe and Mail | | Sep 29, 2018

stephen piron of Dessa - Startup CEOs on how to keep the artificial intelligence ball rolling in CanadaThe next time you pull out your smartphone and ask Siri or Google for advice, or chat with a bot online, take pride in knowing that some of the theoretical foundation for that technology was brought to life here in Canada.

Indeed, as far back as the early 1980s, key organizations such as the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research embarked on groundbreaking work in neural networks and machine learning.

Academic pioneers such as Geoffrey Hinton (now a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto and an advisor to Google, among others), the University of Montreal’s Yoshua Bengio and the University of Alberta’s Rich Sutton produced critical research that helped fuel Canada’s rise to prominence as a global leader in artificial intelligence (AI).

Stephen Piron, co-CEO of Dessa, praises the federal government's efforts at cutting immigration processing timelines for highly skilled foreign workers.

Canada now houses three major AI clusters – in Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton – that form the backbone of the country’s machine-learning ecosystem and support homegrown AI startups. In fact, Toronto boasts one of the highest concentration of AI startups in the world, while Montreal is leading the way in producing deep-learning research.

“More and more [Canadian AI] companies are gaining investment … the amount of money is increasing dramatically,” says Oshoma Momoh, chief technical advisor for Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District, incubator to a plethora of AI firms.

See:  Why startups are leaving Silicon Valley

Among the tech heavyweights that have made significant AI investments north of the border are Uber Technologies Inc., Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc.'s Google, Adobe Systems Inc., LG Electronics Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. and Amazon.com Inc.

Federal and provincial governments have also been keen to support the sector, with the aim of building a sustainable countrywide AI ecosystem and buttress Canada’s position as a leader in the field.

The vexing question is how Canadian institutions and business leaders can work together to maintain momentum. We asked leaders of some of the country’s top AI firms for their take.

Andy Mauro, CEO, Automat Technologies Inc., Montreal, a maker of conversational marketing software

“I think the government did a great job of recognizing the research leadership out of the University of Toronto and the University of Montreal, including celebrating and funding it.

I think we should continue doing that. Supporting local, homegrown startups headquartered in Canada is debateably a better generator of economic prosperity for Canada than attracting Facebook, Google and Amazon, even though those are sexy names that look good in press releases.

"I believe the government should capital-match any startup that has raised venture funding – especially U.S. venture capital – and has decided to base their business in Canada. That would be a very bold strategy to help capitalize startups.”

Stephen Piron, co-founder, Dessa, Toronto, a business software firm

“There are fortuitous geopolitical things going on that make Canada extra-attractive. One thing the government can do is to encourage people to move here and not put up walls. They have a visa that we’ve used to get experienced, talented technical people from overseas in between two to four weeks.

See:  Technology is the ‘most profound force bearing down’ on big banks, ex-Barclays boss says

"I think they need to do more things like that to encourage the best and brightest to come here. We recruit from around the world, and the stars are aligning where global talent would consider moving to Toronto, where maybe they would not have made that decision before.”

“It’s all about continuing to invest in the things that are working. That’s probably where governments can think about incentives for locating AI or machine-learning labs here.

"It would not be a bad idea to see a larger venture fund dedicated just to machine learning and AI. A decade ago, when mobile was emerging, for example, there were funds dedicated to mobile. There’s momentum, so we need to keep that going by somehow having startups, the private sector, government and education coming together in the right way.”

Canadian universities need to keep turning out great tech talent, or sooner or later the supply will dry up, says Kerry Liu of Rubikloud Technologies.

Andrew Williamson /Rubikloud

Kerry Liu, CEO, Rubikloud Technologies Inc., Toronto, an enterprise retail software firm

“Canada has some incredibly strong university programs focused on AI. McGill University and the University of Waterloo are two examples that are generating a lot of really great talent in this industry.

"The threat here is that we have to make sure the education available to students continues to keep pace with advances in the industry. Schools need to keep turning out great tech talent, or sooner or later the supply will dry up. High school and university curriculums alike will fail if they don’t adapt to include the skills that have direct business impacts.

More:  For Canada’s tech to thrive, startups must grow up

"Also, although the AI industry focuses a lot on tech talent – developers, analysts, data scientists – selling AI is a whole other skill set – sales, marketing, finance. If the necessary step is to commercialize and sell an AI product, the talent needs to be cross-disciplined.”

Continue to the full article --> here


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Startup CEOs on how to keep the artificial intelligence ball rolling in Canada The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

Latest news - Startup CEOs on how to keep the artificial intelligence ball rolling in CanadaFF Logo 400 v3 - Startup CEOs on how to keep the artificial intelligence ball rolling in Canadacommunity social impact - Startup CEOs on how to keep the artificial intelligence ball rolling in Canada

Financial Times | OpEd by Brian Brooks | Jan 12, 2021 Lenders run by algorithms and blockchain technology will require 21st century regulation The writer is the US acting comptroller of the currency In 1961, Popular Science magazine envisioned self-driving cars. The reality arrived sooner than anyone anticipated, and before safety regulators could adapt. Most automotive laws — on speed limits, giving signals, drink-driving — had been designed to protect against dangerous drivers, not dangerous cars. Autonomous vehicles brought new risks that legacy rules never considered. As one headline on the Wired website put it: “Who’s Regulating Self-Driving Cars? Often, No One”. Banking is headed down the same road. And it’s being driven by the technology behind decentralised finance, or DeFi. But just as the original rules of the road protected us from other drivers, so our current bank regulations exist mainly to prevent human failings. See:  Intro to yield farming and the latest developments in DeFi At the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, we require every bank to have officers responsible for its safety — such as a chief risk officer and a chief audit executive. We limit how much banks can lend to their directors ...
Read More
Self autnomous banking - Startup CEOs on how to keep the artificial intelligence ball rolling in Canada
Neo Financial and Concentra | Jan 13, 2021 CALGARY, Alberta--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Neo Financial (Neo), a Calgary-based fintech company created by two of the co-founders of SkipTheDishes, has announced a first-of-its-kind collaboration with Concentra Bank (Concentra), a Schedule 1 bank that is quietly fuelling innovation. Through this relationship, Neo is the first Canadian fintech company to offer a CDIC-eligible high-interest savings account that works like an everyday banking account. The accounts are held at Concentra, a Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) member bank. Together, Neo and Concentra have opened the door for innovation that has historically not been accessible within Canada’s consumer banking sector. “Canada’s banking sector continues to trail other countries, using technology that is more than 50 years old, and unable to innovate. This is why we set out to rebuild it from scratch. We wanted to create a seamless consumer-first experience, specifically for Canadians,” says Andrew Chau, Founder and CEO, Neo Financial. “Our collaboration with Concentra Bank is a great example of how new technology companies can work with industry partners to innovate better and faster to ensure Canada doesn’t fall behind.” “We’re different from many banks—we’re open to creative ideas and solutions for our customers and we’re less ...
Read More
NEO and Concentra - Startup CEOs on how to keep the artificial intelligence ball rolling in Canada
IMF Blog | Catalina Margulis and Arthur Rossi | Jan 14, 2021 Countries are moving fast toward creating digital currencies. Or, so we hear from various surveys showing an increasing number of central banks making substantial progress towards having an official digital currency. But, in fact, close to 80 percent of the world’s central banks are either not allowed to issue a digital currency under their existing laws, or the legal framework is not clear. To help countries make this assessment, we reviewed the central bank laws of 174 IMF members in a new IMF staff paper, and found out that only about 40 are legally allowed to issue digital currencies. Not just a legal technicality Any money issuance is a form of debt for the central bank, so it must have a solid basis to avoid legal, financial and reputational risks for the institutions. Ultimately, it is about ensuring that a significant and potentially contentious innovation is in line with a central bank’s mandate. Otherwise, the door is opened to potential political and legal challenges. See:  The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Central Bank Digital Coins (CBDCs) Now, readers may be asking themselves: if issuing money is ...
Read More
IMF survey on CBDCs - Startup CEOs on how to keep the artificial intelligence ball rolling in Canada
FCA | Jan 14, 2021 This performance scorecard highlights some of the information available on personal current accounts (PCAs), and can help customers choose their provider by highlighting: good and poor performers how easily they can carry out day-to-day banking activities the reliability of the service they receive These metrics should also increase the incentive for firms to offer better service, helping customers to get the most out of their personal current accounts. Detailed below are 3 sources of data consumers can use to compare personal current account providers. These metrics only relate to service and not to the quality or price of products. Personal current account service quality metrics These independent league tables show customers how the 19 largest personal current account providers rank on quality of service and online and mobile banking services, making it easier to compare providers. This is information required by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Quality of service is determined by how likely customers would be to recommend their provider to friends and family. Online and mobile banking services is determined by how likely customers would be to recommend their provider’s online and mobile banking services to friends and family In August 2020, ...
Read More
Banking service quality 1 - Startup CEOs on how to keep the artificial intelligence ball rolling in Canada
Coindesk | Nikhilesh De and Ian Allison | Jan 13, 2021 The crypto industry has its first federally chartered bank: Anchorage. Crypto custodian Anchorage has secured conditional approval for a national trust charter from the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), making it the first national “digital asset bank” in the U.S. The safekeeping, management and trading of digital assets have been regulatory stumbling blocks for large financial institutions – but those obstacles are gradually being removed. The OCC, a part of the Treasury Department charged with keeping banks safe but also competitive, has now issued three interpretative letters that lay the groundwork for banks to custody crypto, participate in blockchain networks and become payment providers using the tech. “In granting this charter, the OCC applied the same rigorous review and standards applied to all charter applications,” the bank regulator said in a statement. “By bringing this applicant into the federal banking system, the bank and industry will benefit from the OCC’s extensive supervisory experience and expertise.” See:  OCC says Federally regulated banks can use stablecoins to conduct payments and other activities “We are a national bank. The only difference is our business line, that we’re doing ...
Read More
Nathan Mccauley - Startup CEOs on how to keep the artificial intelligence ball rolling in Canada
HSE | Sarah H. Brennan | Jan 9, 2021 2020 US Summary If we put the last quarter of 2020 aside, this year could be marked by the sheer number of SEC enforcement actions and settlements in the crypto space, with more rumored to be in the works. However, the U.S. ended 2020 with a bang in the form of a flurry of proposed crypto regulations in Q4 with varying degrees of controversiality. Notably, the proposed STABLE Act and Mnuchin's midnight rulemaking on self-custody have caused a bit of an uproar, which we touch on in more depth below. See:  Vitalik’s 2020 Year End Thoughts from Singapore Absent these recent rulemakings, there has been an unevenness in the Trump administration’s approach to the space and the last four years at the federal level haven’t been marked with any significant level of regulatory coordination or cohesive policy at the federal level. However, to pick upon some themes that we will talk about in this year-end review, regulators have vacillated between: (i) a focus on enforcement vs. prescriptive guidance, (ii) a tech specific vs. tech agnostic approach, (iii) aggressive views of jurisdictional reach vs. deference, and (iv) state, federal, and global coordination ...
Read More
crypto US regulation 2020 in review - Startup CEOs on how to keep the artificial intelligence ball rolling in Canada
Altfi.com | Aisling Finn | Jan 11, 2021 Fintechs flourished on Seedrs, maintaining the title of the most invested-in sector, with £78m invested in fintechs through the platform. Crowdfunding platform Seedrs saw investments through its platform top £293m in 2020, hitting a milestone of £1bn invested to date on Christmas Day. Fintech remained the most invested-in sector, scooping £78m collectively, with other areas seeing huge increases in investment, for instance, healthcare firms saw a 292 per cent jump in investment in 2020. Seedrs says over 70 campaigns raised over £1m on the platform, with big fintech names such as money management app Snoop, which raised £10mhere have been nearly 14,000 investor exits on its secondary market to the tune of £5m, Seedrs says. Jeff Lynn, executive chairman and co-founder of Seedrs, said: “Given the huge challenges that 2020 posed for all businesses, it is a source of great pride for the Seedrs team that have come to the end of the year having delivered meaningful growth across all key metrics.” See:  Regulation Crowdfunding Cap in the US moves from $1.07M to $5M on March 15, 2021 NCFA Response to the Modernizing Ontario’s Capital Markets Consultation Taskforce The record figures come ...
Read More
seedrs jeff lynn - Startup CEOs on how to keep the artificial intelligence ball rolling in Canada
The New York Times | Steve Lohr | Jan 10, 2021 Tim Berners-Lee wants to put people in control of their personal data. He has technology and a start-up pursuing that goal. Can he succeed? Three decades ago, Tim Berners-Lee devised simple yet powerful standards for locating, linking and presenting multimedia documents online. He set them free into the world, unleashing the World Wide Web. Others became internet billionaires, while Mr. Berners-Lee became the steward of the technical norms intended to help the web flourish as an egalitarian tool of connection and information sharing. See:  PwC Report: Canadian Digital Trust Insights 2021: Cybersecurity comes of age But now, Mr. Berners-Lee, 65, believes the online world has gone astray. Too much power and too much personal data, he says, reside with the tech giants like Google and Facebook — “silos” is the generic term he favors, instead of referring to the companies by name. Fueled by vast troves of data, he says, they have become surveillance platforms and gatekeepers of innovation. Regulators have voiced similar complaints. The big tech companies are facing tougher privacy rules in Europe and some American states, led by California. Google and Facebook have been hit with ...
Read More
Tim berners lee - Startup CEOs on how to keep the artificial intelligence ball rolling in Canada
Hardbacon | Julien Brault | Jan 15, 2021 In my time as a business reporter, I was at the forefront during the decline of the country's 2000s tech giant, BlackBerry. BlackBerry launched its mobile app store in 2009, a year after Apple launched the App Store. Everyone knows the rest of the story. See:  NCFA OpEd: Canada’s Open Banking Consultations: Let’s Get it Done! While BlackBerry executives praised themselves for having better sound quality and a more efficient keyboard, what people wanted when they bought a smartphone were apps. Today, the Canadian banks are making the same mistake by refusing to put control of financial data back into the hands of their users, as the European banks are already doing. In fact, since September 14, 2019, European open banking regulations (PSD2) force banks to allow their customers to share their data with third parties according to a standardized protocol. In other words, their customers can choose to share their bank information with an online loan app or even with a budgeting app. In Canada, the federal government created the Advisory Committee on Open Banking in 2018, which delivered its first report in 2020, which was very favorable to open banking ...
Read More
open banking vault with data - Startup CEOs on how to keep the artificial intelligence ball rolling in Canada
Crowdfund Capital Advisors | Sherwood Neiss | Jan 14, 2021 Today the Securities and Exchange Commission entered into the Federal Register the amendments to Regulation Crowdfunding. Specifically, facilitating capital formation and expanding investment opportunities by improving access to capital in private markets. These include: Raising the offering limit in Regulation Crowdfunding from $1.07 million to $5 million; Amending the investment limits for investors in Regulation Crowdfunding offerings by: removing investment limits for accredited investors; and using the greater of their annual income or net worth when calculating the investment limits for non-accredited investors; Extending for 18 months the existing temporary relief providing an exemption from certain Regulation Crowdfunding financial statement review requirements for issuers offering $250,000 or less of securities in reliance on the exemption within a 12-month period; Permitting Regulation Crowdfunding issuers to “test-the-waters” prior to filing an offering document with the Commission in a manner similar to current Regulation A and, Establishing rules that permit the use of Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV) that function as a conduit for investors to facilitate investing in Regulation Crowdfunding issuers. See:  NCFA Response to CSA on NI 45-110 Harmonized Securities Crowdfunding Rules View the Federal Register and Final Rule --> here The ...
Read More
Federal register RegCF increase caps to 5M - Startup CEOs on how to keep the artificial intelligence ball rolling in Canada