The University of Alberta will establish an Artificial Intelligence-Supercomputing Hub for Academic and Industry Collaboration - "the AI-Hub" - equipped with high performance computers capable of processing vast amounts of raw data in hours instead of days. This will dramatically accelerate the development and commercialization of products and technologies in a more cost-effective manner. The facility will help attract and retain talent and provide training in AI for western Canadian companies. The project is expected to assist 40 small- and medium-sized enterprises, train 100 highly qualified personnel, and result in $15 million in increased business revenues and productivity gains.
Federal funding will also support marketing initiatives to increase the profile of Alberta's AI sector, which includes showcasing local industry at the AI and Interaction Digital Entertainment (AIIDE'18) International Conference. The conference is being held at the University of Alberta and marks the first year that the event has been hosted outside of the United States.
Canada's Innovation and Skills Plan is an effort to make our country a world-leading centre for innovation, while creating more good, well-paying jobs, and strengthening and growing the middle class. The investment is an example of this vision in action.
Sectors whose products and technologies may benefit from supercomputer capabilities include manufacturing, health, transportation (autonomous vehicles) and smart infrastructure. As a computer science institution, the University of Alberta is ranked third globally in the areas of AI and Machine Learning. Growth in the AI sector is anticipated to increase global GDP by $15.7 trillion USD by 2030.
"Artificial Intelligence presents exciting new opportunities to generate prosperity for Canadians through new and innovative high-quality jobs. Our government's investment in this facility will bring together industry and academia to help diversify our economy, enhance our competitive edge and put innovative products and technologies on the global market", stated the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada.
"The AI-Hub will help Canada and Canadian businesses compete in the global innovation race to bring new technologies and products to market and bolster our economy. The Government of Canada is proud to support the University of Alberta in its efforts to help establish Alberta as a leader in the artificial intelligence sector", stated the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Natural Resources and Member of Parliament for Edmonton Mill Woods.
"We are grateful for the financial support from our government and industry partners that makes this possible. We expect hundreds of students, faculty and small- and medium-sized enterprises to benefit from this supercomputer facility. This project will lead to economic growth and raise the profile of Western Canada's AI expertise and ecosystem nationally and internationally", stated Dr. Edmond Lou, Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Alberta.
"It is exciting to see academia, industry and the government coming together to invest in essential information systems infrastructure needed for the next generation technologies in the areas of artificial intelligence, natural language processing, machine learning and data analytics. The AI-Hub at the University of Alberta will allow innovative ideas from academia and industry move towards commercialization path and will create high quality professional jobs in the region", stated Mehadi Sayed, President and CEO of Clinisys EMR Inc.