Artificial Intelligence: the tech giants may pave the way to champions in Quebec

Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images / Agence France-Presse
Montreal is part of the hubs of research in deep learning, a field that could find various applications in a variety of domains, such as autonomous vehicles.

Although the sector in québec’s artificial intelligence is mainly driven by the investments of the tech giants, the training effect of the last few months risk of promoting the emergence of champions local, considers the leader of a start-up company in montreal bought by Microsoft earlier this year.


Mohamed Musbah, head of products Maluuba, swallowed by the giant of computing, and believes that the decisions of Google, Samsung, Facebook and Thales open research laboratories in artificial intelligence in the metropolis will have a long-term impact. “I believe that the infrastructure is put in place to ensure that more and more companies can grow up to Montreal to become the next company multimillionaire “, he explained in an interview with The canadian Press, on the sidelines of the Forum Fintech, which took place in Montreal this week.


Montreal — and Maluuba, is one of the hubs of research in deep learning, a field that could find various applications in fields as diverse as medicine, or autonomous vehicles.


Recently, the director of the Institute of learning algorithms Montreal, University of Montreal, Yoshua Bengio, welcomed the arrival of large multinationals, but reiterated the importance of finding champions local.


The one who is one of the largest specialists in the field believes that Canada’s reputation is strengthened by its ability to attract the best researchers in the world because of the links between academic research and innovation. He feared, however, that, without the presence of local firms, the ideas developed in Canada are transformed into financial profits south of the border.

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Optimistic, Mr. Musbah abounds in this sense, considering that more and more young shoots in the sector of artificial intelligence will be able to make the rounds of financing in the metropolis. “The current context is of interest to investors. It is their job to analyze business opportunities. When they see what is happening, they become more interested, and this may encourage foreign investors to come here. “


For the person in charge of the activities of artificial intelligence at Microsoft, Alec Saunders, the ecosystem in quebec, more and more acknowledged, is in some way at the beginning of its growth cycle. In his opinion, the arrival of the giants allows you to lay the foundations of a business environment that, in time, could give rise to the emergence of a world leader.


“When players like Microsoft come in and engage with the community, it speeds up the cycle,” explained Mr. Saunders during an interview with The canadian Press. This happens everywhere we go. “


Mr. Saunders, a former BlackBerry, did not want to make assumptions on what awaits the sector in québec’s artificial intelligence as a whole. Citing his experience, however, he stated that, in all the cycles, some companies were bought by multinational companies, while others were able to carve out a niche by their own means.


“When we start to build something in an area, governments are interested in it, some players succeed and the entrepreneurs want to be a part of it,” explained Mr. Saunders.


It is not that Mr. Bengio, which advocates for the creation of an important pole of quebec in artificial intelligence because it is one of the twelve recommendations of the advisory Committee on the economy and innovation, which submitted its report to the prime minister Philippe Couillard at the end of September.