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Quebec grants $23.4M to scale AI

SCALE AI will contribute to the development of Quebec’s artificial intelligence talents


Confirming its commitment towards the development and qualification of Quebec’s workforce in artificial intelligence (AI), SCALE AI has received $23.4-million in funding for the 2019-2023 period from Quebec’s Ministère du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale (MTESS). 

“We are at a key moment of research and innovation in artificial intelligence. By developing cutting-edge training in this field, we ensure that our economy’s transformation will take place in an efficient and sustainable manner,” says Jean Boulet, Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity. “This project will make it possible to adapt the current workforce and support companies in the implementation of solutions that compensate for labour shortages and increase their productivity.”

AI-based business challenges

This financial support will permit SCALE AI, an investment and innovation hub based in Montreal, to support training activities for Quebec workforce on AI-based business challenges, tools and techniques. More than 25,000 professionals, managers and executives will take part in these training programs by 2023 in order to update their skills and prepare them to respond to economic and business transformations. SCALE AI’s academic partners will deliver these courses.

“This tangible support from the Government of Québec will help propel Quebec businesses of all sizes into the future, giving them and international head-start. SMEs and large companies will be equipped to face the revolution resulting from the introduction of AI,” declared SCALE AI CEO Julien Billot. “Developing IA expertise ensures an increase in productivity for our businesses and thus benefits Quebec’s entire territory,” added Billot.

Academic Collaboration

Quebec has developed university research centres in the field of artificial intelligence that are envied around the world. However, AI is still confined to only certain parts of the Quebec economy that are in direct contact with these research centres. “It is absolutely essential to deploy this knowledge so that all economic actors in Montreal and across Quebec can benefit from it,” says SCALE AI Board Co-Chair Hélène Desmarais. The objective is to mobilize universities, research centres and CEGEPS in the main economic centres of Quebec in order to offer a wide array of AI training courses that are adapted to the changing needs of the market for individuals and companies.

“The presence of leading AI researchers, particularly at IVADO, MILA and its affiliated institutions including HEC Montréal, Polytechnique Montréal, Université de Montréal and McGill University, provides a strong influence and a major vehicle for attracting new talent and leading-edge training. We must take advantage of the presence of these leading university research centres to train future AI teachers from academic institutions in the major regions of Quebec that are able to offer AI training,” added Desmarais.