The University of Waterloo’s renowned artificial intelligence (AI) research and academic programs, including plans to train IT professionals and business executives in the field, received a significant boost today with the federal government’s commitment of $230 million to support the supply chain and logistics excellence consortium led by the SCALE AI supercluster.
The funding announcement made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G7 Multistakeholder Conference on Artificial Intelligence taking place in Montreal follows the selection last February of SCALE AI as part of the Innovation Superclusters Initiative. Over the five-year program, Quebec and Ontario industry partners will at least double the federal contribution.
The federal investment will enable SCALE AI to digitize supply chains within the consortium that will bring together the retail, manufacturing, transportation, infrastructure, and ICT sectors.
The headquarters of SCALE AI will be established by the Institute for Data Valorization (IVADO) in Montreal, while Waterloo’s Faculty of Engineering will set up a SCALE AI Technology Centre.
The Technology Centre will connect industry partners with Waterloo’s R&D expertise and facilities in operational AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), secure wireless communications including 5G, intelligent robotics, and supply chain management and data analytics. SCALE AI will build on Waterloo Engineering’s long history of successful industry partnerships, entrepreneurship and commercialization.
Working in collaboration with industry leader the OPTEL GROUP and other partner companies, SCALE AI’s goal is to support the development and adoption of new technologies crucial for enhancing Canada’s position as an exporter to international markets.
These new technologies will enable companies to be attuned and responsive to the changing demands of markets, followed by the timely delivery of products and services. Moreover, SCALE AI’s talent development program will help to address Canada’s acute shortage of skills for this new industry by training and re-training Canadians to meet the rapidly increasing demand for digital skills.
Building a strong economy and job creation pipeline
“This is a first for Canada - the merging of AI and supply chain expertise from IVADO, Waterloo and industry to implement a major national initiative that will prepare Canada for the 21st century global supply chain network,” said Pearl Sullivan, dean of Waterloo Engineering and executive director of the Waterloo SCALE AI Technology Centre.
“There are numerous economic growth and job creation opportunities in which our sectors synergistically develop and adopt AI for business," added Sullivan. "This is critical for Canada’s position as a leader in these fast-paced technologies.”
Along with a range of undergraduate and graduate AI programs, Waterloo Engineering will also collaborate with the Waterloo Institute for Artificial Intelligence (Waterloo.ai) to offer “reverse co-op” workshops and courses. The hands-on immersive curriculum will be designed for industry professionals to increase both their AI user knowledge and skills.
One of the companies involved in SCALE AI is Nulogy that is focused on developing an agile customization platform to enable the world’s leading consumer brands and their suppliers to bring differentiated products to market through a responsive, sustainable, and cost-effective supply chain.
“We are proud to be a part of SCALE AI and grateful to the Canadian government for supporting the thriving Canadian AI ecosystem,” said Jason D. Tham, CEO of Nulogy and a Waterloo Engineering alumnus. “This funding will allow us to invest significantly in our data team and leverage visionary leaders from both academia and the business community to generate more value for our global customers.”