Executive Director of Applied AI Programs, Vector Institute
Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer, Quickplay
Canada has become a global hub for artificial intelligence (AI) research and talent and its adoption is already transforming business and our lives. But there is an urgency to keep this momentum going, so more Canadian businesses, no matter the size, can achieve efficiencies and elevate their competitive advantage.
AI and machine learning can be used to solve a variety of challenges, but it was the labour shortage plaguing the global mushroom industry that inspired Ontario-based Mycionics to create a robotic harvesting system for mushroom farms. While this cutting-edge technology has proven to solve labour challenges, it has also improved mushroom quality and the harvest yield.
“Our technology is paired with deep learning, so we can not only understand growth rates and distribution, CO2 levels, and airflow, but machines can precisely pick, trim, weigh, and pack the mushrooms,” says Michael Curry, CEO of Mycionics. “Farmers now have data to make decisions, which can lead to discoveries that will create businesses efficiencies.”
Accelerating AI growth
Curry adds that its technology integrates seamlessly into an existing operation and isn’t dependent on the size of an organization but on the problem that needs solving. “There’s no reason why small businesses couldn’t benefit from AI,” he says. “It’s only when you start to research and understand the power of AI that you can begin to see the opportunities.”
Artificial intelligence is an emerging technology that requires continuous development and adoption across all levels of the Canadian economy to attract the best talent from around the world. The Vector Institute has gained global accolades since its launch five years ago.
“This is the most important technology of our lifetime, and the use of AI is being seen across all sectors — fighting climate change, predicting natural disasters, managing global supply chains, and even recommending what we watch on our favourite streaming service,” says Craig Stewart, Executive Director of Applied AI Programs at the Vector Institute. “We don’t want to miss out on the economic and social benefits that AI can deliver.”
Taking the guesswork out of AI
AI has the potential to unlock growth for Canadian businesses, and Vector’s approach is to make the technology accessible for small and medium-sized businesses through its FastLane program. Even if an organization is new to AI or already an adopter, companies gain expertise in building and scaling applied AI solutions.
The program offers AI capabilities enabled by Vector’s engineering team, access to leading research, the support of Vector’s Industry Innovation team that has experience accelerating applied AI across multiple sectors, and support connecting companies with high-calibre AI talent.
Toronto-based Quickplay, which helps media companies build streaming services, utilizes AI across multiple layers of its business and has found success in its partnership with Vector. “I would encourage businesses to tap into these programs. Vector helped us acquire talent and establish tools that accelerated our use of AI,” says Juan Martin, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Quickplay. “It’s not about whether you should use AI, but where it will bring value to your organization. AI is already silently working behind the scenes in much of our lives; the challenge is finding the opportunities and applying the science to get the value.”
It’s not about whether you should use AI, but where it will bring value to your organization.
“AI has never been as accessible and attainable as it is now in Canada,” says Stewart. “And government funded programs are available to help de-risk the investment. The future for Canadian business is bright if we adopt AI, but we must get going and fast.”