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Despite COVID-19, Ontario's AI Sector Continues to Grow, Report Finds

October 25, 2021


Vector Institute’s second annual report on Ontario’s artificial intelligence (AI) ecosystem has found that Ontario’s AI sector continued to grow in size and strength in 2020-21, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report, published annually by Vector in collaboration with Deloitte, found that Ontario’s AI sector performed well during 2020-2021 on a number of key metrics. Among other promising statistics, the sector saw an increase in venture capital (VC) investment, research and development (R&D) spending, and the number of jobs created compared to the previous year.

Vector’s report found that $2.16 billion in VC investment flowed into the province last year, an increase of $254 million compared to 2019-2020. Since March, Ontario has also seen a number of major, $100 million-plus AI company funding rounds, including Untether AI, Gatik, and Waabi.

Despite a slight drop in hiring numbers during the early days of the pandemic, the sector has rebounded to become a strong employment generator for the province. The AI sector created 7,253 new AI jobs in Ontario during 2020-2021, almost doubling the numbers from the previous year. Of these jobs, 2,922 were held by highly-qualified professionals who graduated from AI-related programs, with salaries greater than $70,000 per year.

While the total number of AI companies created rose slightly, total AI patent filings, typically an indicator of commercialization trends, were down. Nonetheless, the report estimates that median AI R&D spending also grew last year, rising by a factor of 5.5 to 6.3 since 2019-2020.

Ontario is home to a large and growing AI ecosystem, which has nurtured some of the country’s biggest AI start-up success stories, such as Tenstorrent, Deep Genomics, and Ada. The province is a critical part of the Government of Canada’s Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, which aims to promote collaboration between four of the country’s largest AI hubs, including Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Montreal, and Edmonton.

As reported by BetaKit.

By: Brittni Tee


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