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Sector Scoop: The Latest AI News from Waterloo

From major AI acquisitions to innovative AI applications, Waterloo is on the move and there’s lots to catch up on. Read on for the latest AI news from Waterloo.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the way we work, create and communicate – and the pace of change is unprecedented.

Business leaders, researchers and visionaries in Waterloo, Canada, are staying ahead of the curve by investigating the many exciting applications of AI, from art to science to customer service and beyond.

We’re home to one of the world’s top tech schools, hundreds of cutting-edge tech companies and the next generation of tech talent who will be key influencers in how the world embraces the never-ending possibilities of AI.

Here’s a quick snapshot of what makes Waterloo’s AI ecosystem so special:

  • Waterloo is home to 130+ companies working in applied AI, including machine learning, data science and analytics, human-machine interaction, smart robotics and more.
  • Waterloo has 8 research centres and 19 research labs specializing in AI.
  • The University of Waterloo is #1 for research output per capita in AI, Computer Science and Engineering in North America.
  • The University of Waterloo is a key partner in the $290M SCALE.AI Supercluster, an industry-led consortium dedicated to boosting Canada’s leadership in applied AI.
  • Waterloo Region is ranked the #1 small tech talent market in North America, growing by 52% from 2017-2022, according to CBRE.

Working within such a thriving AI cluster gives companies access to advanced technologies, ongoing research and a pool of skilled talent. This type of environment facilitates collaboration, accelerates innovation and ultimately positions companies for long-term success.

Top AI stories from Waterloo

We’ve compiled the top stories from the past few months to show how Waterloo is keeping up with advancements in AI.

OCC Launches New Hub to Advance AI in Ontario, April 10, 2024

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) announced the launch of its Artificial Intelligence (AI) Hub. The AI Hub is a collaboration between industry and academia designed to drive AI adoption among Ontario businesses and encourage evidence-based policymaking from the government.

The hub aims to address barriers to AI adoption, including talent gaps, ethical considerations and privacy concerns, through courses, policy advocacy and networking events, positioning Ontario to “optimize its AI advantage.”

Canada Boosts AI Ambitions with $2.4B Investment, April 8, 2024

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a $2.4B investment aimed at strengthening Canada’s leadership in artificial intelligence (AI). Announced alongside local and federal officials at the University of Waterloo, the investment will accelerate job growth in the AI sector, enhance productivity for researchers and businesses and promote the responsible use of AI.

The funding will support several key initiatives, including the creation of the AI Compute Access Fund and the Canadian AI Sovereign Compute Strategy, supporting AI startups and investing $100M in the NRC IRAP AI Assist Program to help SMEs scale and improve productivity with AI.

Apple Reportedly Acquires DarwinAI, March 24, 2024

Local startup DarwinAI, which specializes in AI for visual quality inspection in manufacturing, has been acquired by Apple. Although neither party has officially confirmed the news, multiple sources familiar with the acquisition revealed that Apple has acquired the entire company, including its employees and technology.

Founded in 2017, DarwinAI applies AI to improve product quality and production efficiency, with notable clients including Fortune 500 corporations like Honeywell and BMW.

Real Estate Personalizes Lead Interactions with AI, March 19, 2024

QuickCasa is revolutionizing the real estate industry by introducing AI-powered personalized interactions for housing providers like realtors and property managers. The platform uses cognitive AI scoring to understand the lead’s ideal property requirements, streamlining lead engagement and pre-qualification processes and allowing for more efficient and tailored interactions with potential clients.

The Kitchener-based startup participated in local programs such as Fierce Founders and ElevateIP, which provide valuable mentorship and resources for their growth and development.

WatSPEED Harnesses AI for Patient Wellness, March 15, 2024

WatSPEED, the University of Waterloo’s professional and executive education division, is launching a new program called “Leveraging AI to Improve Health Care in Canada” to enhance Canadian healthcare. Developed with input from top healthcare leaders, the program aims to equip executives with AI knowledge and tools to improve patient outcomes and organizational success.

With a curriculum curated by experts covering AI implementation, ethical considerations and more, the program offers a blend of online and in-person sessions to accommodate diverse learning needs. Registration is now open.

UWaterloo Changes the Game with New Approach to Sports Analytics, March 14, 2024

The University of Waterloo, in collaboration with Stathletes, is using AI to analyze hockey players’ movements and interactions on the ice by processing video footage from NHL broadcasts. This technology, unlike traditional tracking systems, can discern player directionality and interaction, providing valuable insights into strategic decision-making and game outcomes.

Overcoming challenges such as rapid player motion and equipment interference, the researchers aim to refine the AI to also track the puck, potentially revolutionizing sports analytics and extending applications to robotics and other domains beyond athletics.

Kitchener Explores AI for Enhanced Customer Service, February 21, 2024

The City of Kitchener is exploring the use of AI to enhance customer service at City Hall. Presentations by experts highlighted both the potential benefits and risks associated with AI implementation, including concerns about job displacement and biases.

Practical applications such as a chatbot for accessing municipal information and a language translation tool for city signs were showcased, emphasizing the aim to improve service delivery without replacing city staff.

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic sees AI as a means to optimize resources and prioritize areas of greater need within the city: “I can see it being helpful in the future as we deliver services to our residents and be able to then potentially put those staff resources that perhaps maybe won’t be needed in some of those areas into other areas that are bigger priorities for the city.”

Deep Learning Framework Revolutionizes Medical Image Analysis, January 29, 2024

The University of Waterloo, in collaboration with McGill University and the National Research Council of Canada, has introduced an innovative approach named Trustworthy Deep Learning Framework for Medical Image Analysis (TRUDLMIA) to enhance medical diagnosis using AI tools.

Led by Professor Alexander Wong, the team addresses the challenge of data bias and trustworthiness in medical AI by employing a three-stage system that leverages supervised and self-supervised learning techniques.

TRUDLMIA is designed to improve diagnostic accuracy and trust in various medical specialties, including COVID-19, pneumonia and melanoma, while also preparing for future pandemics and syndromes.

University of Waterloo Innovates with AI Art Assistant, January 24, 2024

Researchers at the University of Waterloo have developed an AI-assisted digital art tool aimed at enhancing the expression of art therapy patients who were affected by the pandemic.

The tool, named DeepThInk, was created in collaboration with art therapists and combines traditional drawing and painting features with an “AI brush” that generates complex images based on user suggestions.

The goal is not to replace human artists but to augment their abilities, emphasizing the importance of the creative process in art therapy. DeepThInk is a free, open-source tablet app and is the perfect example of ongoing efforts by Waterloo researchers to apply technology in innovative ways.

FluidAI Announces Investment in Medtech Manufacturing, January 17, 2024

FluidAI Medical, a leading medical technology company, announced a $25M investment to fund research for product enhancements and the development of an automated assembly line.

The company aims to meet the growing international demand for its AI-powered monitor, which detects postoperative gastrointestinal leaks and ultimately helps reduce complications from late detection.

With over $1.4M in government support, FluidAI’s expansion helps position Waterloo Region as a leading hub for both manufacturing and healthcare innovation.

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