Canada’s artificial intelligence sector is fuelling innovation, job creation and private sector investment – and University of Toronto researchers and entrepreneurs are playing a central role in that success, according to a report by Ottawa’s Global Advantage Consulting Group.
The report, prepared for U of T, found that Canada’s unique combination of public investment, private capital, research capacity and talent has generated over 50,000 jobs and attracted nearly $3 billion in investment since 2010, with the number of active AI firms in Canada doubling to more than 670 since 2015.
U of T alone has produced 81 active AI startups, according to Global Advantage, a research and analytics firm that provides ecosystem mapping and analysis services to private and public sector clients. In total, AI-powered startups connected to U of T have raised $183 million in funding and created over 600 jobs in the last five years, the report says.
Vivek Goel, U of T’s vice-president, research and innovation, and strategic initiatives, says the report offers further evidence of the success of the federal government’s Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, launched in 2017 with a $125-million commitment over five years.
“Canada, and Toronto in particular, have long been recognized as global hubs of AI research thanks to the pioneering work of people like [U of T University Professor Emeritus] Geoffrey Hinton, but in the past many people trained in U of T’s machine learning group ended up going abroad to work for big tech companies,” says Goel.
“This report shows that the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy has helped create the conditions necessary to retain that talent in Canada – presenting opportunities to be involved in further research and training – so we can have the talent supply needed to fuel Canadian research, innovation and application in business sectors.”
As an example, Goel cites the impact of the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence, launched three years ago with $50 million in support from the government of Ontario and another $80 million from industry partners, in “taking what was happening in the university, connecting it with the business community and getting it out into the marketplace before people in other countries could do it.”
The investment in Canada’s AI research foundation is now yielding important applications and advances in the fight to contain and treat the COVID-19 virus. A few of the research projects detailed in the report – titled Canada’s AI Ecosystem: Government Investment Propels Private Sector Growth – include:
Health-related AI applications have drawn particular interest from private sector investors, with over 15 per cent of AI-related private investment between 2015 and 2019 going to companies operating in health care and related areas like cloud computing and cybersecurity.
Deep Genomics, an AI-powered drug discovery startup co-founded by U of T Professor Brendan Frey of the Edward S. Rogers Sr. department of electrical and computer engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, is one of many AI startups in the health-care space. The company has so far raised $61 million, including a recent $40-million Series B financing, as it works to develop a drug candidate for Wilson disease, a rare and potentially fatal genetic disorder, based on calculations performed by its systems.
Brendan Frey of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering co-founded Deep Genomics, which has so far raised $61 million as it works to develop a drug candidate for a rare and potentially fatal genetic disorder (photo by Johnny Guatto)
U of T startups are also applying AI to a variety of other problems, from medical imaging to quantum computing and consumer research. The report underlines that Canada is an innovation leader in the AI sector, producing the most AI patents per million people among the G7 countries and China, while Toronto “has attracted the densest cluster of AI startups in the world.”
Blue J Legal, a Toronto startup co-founded by three members of U of T’s Faculty of Law, uses AI to predict the outcomes of tax and employment law cases. The company launched its Canadian tax law product in 2017 and employment law offering in 2018. In 2019, it expanded into the U.S. tax law market, where it has already secured more than a dozen law firms as clients.
Both Blue J Legal and Deep Genomics emerged from U of T’s expansive entrepreneurship ecosystem, having received early support from CDL and UTEST – two of U of T’s many startup accelerators.
Several of U of T’s AI startups will be in focus this week during Collision at Home, the online edition of one of the world’s fastest-growing tech conferences, which draws speakers, entrepreneurs, inventors, investors and business leaders from around the world. The event is being held virtually this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But U of T entrepreneurs, researchers and students will still have a major presence, with more than two dozen U of T startups scheduled to participate.
A rendering of the Schwartz Reisman Innovation Centre on College Street (rendering by Weis/Manfredi)
In all, U of T’s AI programs attracted $244 million in research funding between 2015 and 2019 – a period that saw substantial increases in funding for AI research from the federal government. This, in turn, has allowed Canada to outperform many countries in two key metrics: field-weighted citation impact of AI research publications and academic-corporate collaborations, the report says.
The report also notes that the expanding AI ecosystem around U of T is attracting philanthropists in addition to investors. That includes a $100-million gift to U of T from business leaders Heather Reisman and Gerald Schwartz. The money is being used to construct the Schwartz Reisman Innovation Centre, a 750,000 square foot complex that will anchor U of T’s cluster of AI and biomedical researchers, as well as entrepreneurs and their startups. It will also be home to the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society, which will explore the social implications of AI and other emerging technologies.
“If you look at the most successful innovation ecosystems, they always have an anchor academic institution – a leading global university; they always have anchor multinational corporations and they have a thriving startup ecosystem,” Goel says.
“We have all those pieces coming together around the AI and tech sector here.”
Shell Makes Bet on Digital LNG Trading With GLX Investment – BNN
(Bloomberg) — Royal Dutch Shell Plc, the world’s biggest liquefied natural gas merchant, is making a bet on the trade’s digital future by taking a minority investment in the online platform developer GLX Digital.
GLX is among a handful of companies using web-based trading to modernize the world of physical commodities and help deepen liquidity. Since creating its online LNG auction hub, the Perth, Australia-based company has shifted toward helping customers create their own digital trading systems.
Shell is the highest profile investor in GLX, which also include Australia’s Woodside Petroleum Ltd. and Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd. It dominates global LNG trade, handling about 22% of the world’s volume, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. Neither Shell nor GLX would disclose the value of the investment or size of the stake.
“This digital platform is a natural step in the continued evolution of the global LNG market and as a leading LNG player, we are keen to be part of this,” Steve Hill, an executive vice president for Shell, said in a statement. “The sophistication of the GLX software in combination with the high caliber and quality of the management team gives GLX a strong base for the future.”
Founded in 2015, closely held GLX has about 23 employees and is trying to grow to 40 in the next year, Chief Executive Officer Damien Criddle said by phone. It has about 75 companies signed up, and revenue from subscriptions is up approximately 600% year-on-year and is “in the seven figures,” he said, without providing further details. The company isn’t profitable yet as it focuses on growing and eventually expanding into other commodity sectors.
Criddle said the company’s shift away from controlling its own online LNG marketplace and toward helping companies build their own has resonated with traders, who prize the privacy of their deals.
“We’re digitalizing the LNG chain, but we’re not standing in the middle collecting data,” Criddle said. “What became clear to us is that while our customers like data, they don’t like sharing their own data, and we respect that.”
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Norway's KLP drops investment ban on Brazil's Petrobras as governance improves – TheChronicleHerald.ca
BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s Petrobras said on Monday it is again eligible to receive investments from Norway’s largest pension fund, KLP, which had blocked investments in the state-owned oil firm following revelations of a sprawling corruption scheme.
Petroleo Brasileiro SA , as Petrobras is formally known, said considerable improvement in its governance following the so-called Operation Car Wash corruption probe led KLP to declare Petrobras as eligible for investment.
KLP did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Operation Car Wash uncovered Brazil’s largest-ever corruption scheme in which hundreds of politicians and businesspeople were implicated in exchanging bribes for public contracts with Petrobras.
In a 2016 statement announcing its exclusion of Petrobras from its portfolios, KLP said it had 33.74 million NOK ($3.57 million) invested in Petrobras shortly before the decision was made.
(Reporting by Jake Spring and Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Leslie Adler)
Firm Capital Mortgage Investment Corporation Announces July 2020 Dividend – GlobeNewswire
TORONTO, July 13, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Firm Capital Mortgage Investment Corporation (the “Corporation”) (TSX: FC) is pleased to announce that its board of directors has declared a monthly cash dividend of $0.078 per common share (subject to adjustment in the discretion of the board of directors) payable on the date set out below to holders of common shares of record at the close of business on the record date set out below:
|Record Date||Dividend Payment Date|
|July 31, 2020||August 17, 2020|
The Corporation has in place a Dividend Reinvestment Plan (“DRIP”) and Share Purchase Plan (“Plan”) that is available to its shareholders. Shareholders are reminded that they can participate in the Corporation’s Dividend Reinvestment Plan and Share Purchase Plan. Participant shareholders pay no commission for common shares issued from treasury.
DIVIDEND REINVESTMENT PLAN (DRIP)
The DRIP allows participants to have their monthly cash dividends reinvested in additional common shares of the Corporation. A 3% discount will only apply if the weighted average trading price, calculated during the five trading days immediately preceding each dividend payment date, is higher than $14.10.
SHARE PURCHASE PLAN
Once registered with the DRIP, participants have the right to purchase additional common shares, totaling no greater than $12,000 per year and no less than $250 per month.
For further information, including answers to frequently asked questions about the DRIP, please refer to our website: www.firmcapital.com, and select Firm Capital Mortgage Investment Corporation under the heading Fund Management, which also includes enrollment information. If you have any questions, please contact Investor Relations at the Corporation by calling (416) 635-0221.
ABOUT THE CORPORATION
Where Mortgage Deals Get Done®
The Corporation, through its mortgage banker, Firm Capital Corporation, is a non-bank lender providing residential and commercial short-term bridge and conventional real estate financing, including construction, mezzanine and equity investments. The Corporation’s investment objective is the preservation of shareholders’ equity, while providing shareholders with a stable stream of monthly dividends from investments. The Corporation achieves its investment objectives through investments in selected niche markets that are under-serviced by large lending institutions. Lending activities to date continue to develop a diversified mortgage portfolio, producing a stable return to shareholders. The Corporation is a Mortgage Investment Corporation (MIC) as defined in the Income Tax Act (Canada). Accordingly, the Corporation is not taxed on income provided that its taxable income is paid to its shareholders in the form of dividends within 90 days after December 31 each year. Such dividends are generally treated by shareholders as interest income, so that each shareholder is in the same position as if the mortgage investments made by the Corporation had been made directly by the shareholder. Full reports of the financial results of the Corporation for the year are outlined in the audited financial statements and the related management discussion and analysis of the Corporation, available on the SEDAR website at www.sedar.com. In addition, supplemental information is available on the Corporation’s website at www.firmcapital.com.
For further information, please contact:
Firm Capital Mortgage Investment Corporation
President & Chief Executive Officer (416) 635-0221
Boutique Mortgage Lenders®
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