Ontario government now pumps CA$77M more for tech innovation

 Ontario government now pumps CA$77M more for tech innovation

Image courtesy: Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Victor Fedeli’s Linkedin

The Ontario government has announced an investment of up to CA$77 million to foster tech innovation in the province. Two projects are recipients of this funding, specifically the Vector Institute and the Ontario Centre of Innovation. Government representatives announced this during the Collision Conference in Toronto last week. The grant will support Ontario companies in the development and market introduction of critical technologies. These include technologies such as 5G, ethical artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, cybersecurity, and robotics.

Ontario boasts one of North America’s largest information and communications technology (ICT) sectors, with over 400,000 ICT workers. Moreover, the province’s technology sector centers around the Toronto, Waterloo, and Ottawa regions. AI, 5G, and quantum technologies will contribute CA$29 trillion to the global economy by 2035.

The Ontario government’s CA$107 million Critical Technology Initiatives program funding supports initiatives led by not-for-profit organizations. Specifically, its focus is on initiatives that will accelerate the use of critical technology by Ontario companies and enable the development of innovative made-in-Ontario solutions.

The beneficiaries of this new funding are the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence and the Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI). Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade, emphasized the role of critical technologies in fuelling innovation and driving growth across various sectors, including automotive, life sciences, and advanced manufacturing.

Ontario government again backs Vector Institute after earlier pullbacks

The Vector Institute will receive CA$27 million to help more companies connect with Vector’s AI engineers, researchers, and AI professionals. This initiative aims to accelerate the safe and responsible adoption of ethical AI, helping SMB businesses increase their competitiveness with AI. It will also facilitate the development of AI applications by Ontario companies and promote collaboration and new partnerships.

“The Ontario government’s strong commitment to the Vector Institute has played a central role in building a world class AI ecosystem in this province. We are proud to be part of these efforts to support innovation and will continue to grow the AI talent and skills needed to advance Ontario’s leadership role in the safe and responsible development and deployment of AI.”

Tony Gaffney, President and CEO of The Vector Institute

It is worth noting that the Vector Institute has earlier seen the Ontario government commit and pull back significant funding. Founded in March 2017, Vector Institute launched with a huge CA$130M in funding, including CA$50M from Ontario & rest from corporates. Ontario promised the Institute an additional CA$30 million grant over three years in October same year. However, the Institute only received CA$10 million of the same, amidst broader spending cuts by the government.

The mission of Vector Institute is to aid in the development and application of AI technology. The Institute, which aspires to become a leading hub for AI, has lofty goals. It aims to graduate the most doctoral and master’s degree recipients in the world in deep learning and machine learning, as well as to power the federal government’s AI supercluster. The additional funding would help it move closer to its objectives.

Ontario Centre of Innovation continues its activity buzz

The Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI) will receive up to CA$50 million through the province’s Critical Technology Initiatives program. This funding will be used to launch innovative programming to assist small and medium-sized Ontario businesses in developing and adopting critical technologies in sectors including mining, agri-food, and advanced manufacturing.

The Ontario government’s support of technology development and adoption is vital. Ontario’s Critical Technology Initiatives will bring together large firms with innovative SMEs to build an ecosystem that leverages advanced technology assets and regional capabilities. We’re bridging industry needs with innovative SME-driven solutions and integrating different critical technologies to accelerate deployment across sectors.”

Claudia Krywiak, President and CEO of the OCI

There have been a few key developments at OCI in recent months. A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about OCI’s investment in the startup TROES, a commercial and industrial battery energy & storage technology leader. Apart from that, about a month ago, PharmAla Biotech Holdings Inc. received a CA$50K research grant from OCI in collaboration with the University of Windsor. In addition, OCI established a location in Kingston’s region for economic growth earlier this year, on Kings Street.

The new funding will enable OCI to fund more and more innovative startups from Ontario.

Also read: New healthcare fund set by Ontario government and Korean VC


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