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New International AI Research Hub Launched in Montreal

July 21, 2020


A new international hub for artificial intelligence (“AI”) research based in Montréal has officially launched, adding to Montréal’s reputation as a world-leading hotspot for AI activity. The International Centre of Expertise in Montréal for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (“ICEMAI”), will focus on responsible AI and data governance, as well as facilitating collaboration between private, public, and academic partners. The hub’s creation was led by Montréal International, a public-private non-profit tasked with promoting global investment in the Montreal region.

ICEMAI is part of the Global Partnership on AI (“GPAI”), an international initiative led by Canada and France that aims to promote the responsible use of AI. The governments of Canada and Quebec have committed to providing $15 million dollars to the GPAI over the next five years, which will include continued financial support for the ICEMAI hub in Montréal, among other funding objectives. Other members of the GPAI include countries such as Australia, Japan, Singapore, Mexico, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.

The GPAI will focus its work on four research topics, which will be divided between the ICEMAI centre in Montréal and a similar centre of expertise based in Paris. ICEMAI’s research will be directed towards the responsible use of AI and data governance, while the Paris centre will address the future of work, and the innovation and commercialization of AI. In light of the current circumstances, the GPAI will also examine how AI can be used to develop technological solutions to better respond to pandemics such as COVID-19.

The two hubs will form partnerships within local and national AI ecosystems and work closely with the GPAI Secretariat, housed at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The partnership will focus on fostering closer collaboration between industry, government and civil society stakeholders to encourage the ethical growth of the AI industry. In support of this goal, ICEMAI will plan the first annual GPAI Multi-Stakeholder Experts Group Plenary, which will be held in Montréal in December 2020.

ICEMAI recently kick-started its activities with the announcement of its new Board of Directors. The centre’s new interim executive director will be Jacques Rajotte, a former lawyer and senior executive with over a decade of experience in international development. In addition to Mr. Rajotte, the Board of Directors is composed of:

  • Patrice Bachand, Head of Partnerships and International agreements at the Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie in Québec;

  • France Brosseau, Vice-President, International Organizations, Montréal International;

  • Lyse Langlois, Executive Director, International Observatory on the Societal Impacts of AI and Digital (OBVIA);

  • Samuel Marleau-Ouellet, Director, Artificial Intelligence Hub, External and Trade Policy Branch, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada; and

  • Marc-Étienne Ouimette, Head, Public Policy and Government Relations, Element AI.

This exciting initiative puts Canada at the forefront of influencing the important developments that will be required along with the evolution of AI technology and leaves Canada well-positioned to make important contributions to the policies and restrictions that will be necessary with the advent of this technology.

Author: Brittni Tee


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