Electronic Products & Technology

Applied Brain Research recognized as technology pioneer

EP&T Magazine   

Electronics Engineering Software Engineering Supply Chain AI AI artificial intelligence artificial intelligence software software tools tools

World Economic Forum selects Waterloo-based AI software firm among the world’s most promising and diverse class of such pioneers

Applied Brain Research Inc. (ABR), a Waterloo-based firm that produces a suite of neuromorphic AI software tools and applications, has been selected as one of the World Economic Forum’s “technology pioneers”. Selected among hundreds of candidates, ABR focuses on enabling developers to rapidly build AI systems that run on all major computing platforms, including the emerging class of neuromorphic computer chips, which were designed based on the human brain, such as Intel’s Loihi research chip. Neuromorphic applications built with Nengo use less power to compute AI networks than CPUs or GPUs, especially for advanced, highly recurrent, leading-edge AI networks. 

On the way to ABR’s long range goal to deliver the first truly functional service robot control system, ABR has used Nengo to build Reach, the world’s first neuromorphic adaptive robotic reaching system, and Spaun, the world’s largest functional brain simulation.

Applied Brain Research Inc. was spun-out of the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience (CTN) at the University of Waterloo. Dr. Chris Eliasmith, Chief Science Officer and co-CEO of ABR, studies the functioning of the human brain at the CTN. Using Nengo, Dr. Eliasmith and his team created Spaun, the world’s largest functional human brain simulation, composed of over 6 million spiking neurons that performs twelve cognitive tasks, including learning to follow arbitrary instruction sequences.

Pioneers are early-stage companies involved in the design, development and deployment of new technologies

The World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers community are early-stage companies from around the world involved in the design, development, and deployment of new technologies and innovations poised to have a significant impact on business and society.


This year’s cohort is the most diverse ever, both geographically and in terms of gender. A majority (54%) come from regions outside the United States and Silicon Valley, with 6 continents represented, and 25% of the companies are female-led. There is also a wide variety in the technologies the pioneers focus on, including artificial intelligence, big data and internet of things (IoT), biotechnology, blockchain, autonomous vehicles, cyber security, vertical farming and other agricultural advances, decentralised microgrids, and robotics.

Following ABR’s selection as Technology Pioneer, Chair and co-CEO Peter Suma of ABR will be participating in the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions. This meeting, also dubbed “Summer Davos” will be held in Tianjin, China, September 18-20. Many Pioneers will also attend the Annual Meeting in Davos, in January 2019, and continue to contribute to Forum initiatives in the course of the next two years.

AI tools to capture the power of fully-parallel, asynchronous, neural computation for advancing AI

“We welcome Applied Brain Research to this diverse group of technology pioneers,” says Fulvia Montresor, Head of Technology Pioneers at the World Economic Forum. “ABR and its fellow pioneers are front and centre in shaping the ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution and we believe they will be transforming society and industry in a positive way in the years to come.”

“We are honoured to be among this year’s class of inspiring Technology Pioneers,” said Suma. “ABR has the opportunity to give the world leading AI tools to capture the power of fully-parallel, asynchronous, neural computation for advancing AI toward meaningful cognitive computing. Our whole team is very appreciative of the support of the World Economic Forum.”

The Technology Pioneers were chosen by a selection committee of more than 60 academics, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and corporate executives. The committee based its decisions on criteria including innovation, potential impact, and leadership. Past recipients include Airbnb, Google, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Palantir Technologies, Spotify, TransferWise, Twitter, and Wikimedia.

All info on this year’s Technology Pioneers can be found here: http://wef.ch/techpioneers18




Stories continue below

Print this page

Related Stories