6 Key Investment Areas for Canada’s AI Goals

By harnessing the full potential of AI responsibly, the country aims to equip every generation with the tools to thrive in the evolving economy.
6 Key Investment Areas for Canada’s AI Goals
AI-generated image by vecstock

The Canadian government recently unveiled a $2.4 billion investment plan aimed at fortifying Canada's position as a leader in AI. These measures seek to accelerate job creation, enhance productivity, and ensure responsible AI development and adoption.

“AI has the potential to transform the economy. And our potential lies in capitalizing on the undeniable Canadian advantage. These investments in Budget 2024 will help harness the full potential of AI so Canadians, and especially young Canadians, can get good-paying jobs while raising our productivity, and growing our economy,” says Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.

Key Investments:

  1. Infrastructure development: A significant portion of the investment ($2 billion) will be allocated to building and providing access to cutting-edge computing capabilities for researchers, start-ups, and scale-ups. This initiative aims to attract global AI investment, foster talent acquisition, and bolster the competitiveness of Canadian businesses.

  2. Support for startups and adoption: $200 million will be dedicated to supporting AI start-ups and accelerating AI adoption in critical sectors such as agriculture, clean technology, healthcare, and manufacturing. This funding, facilitated through Canada's Regional Development Agencies, aims to drive innovation and economic growth.

  3. Assistance for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs): A $100 million investment in the NRC IRAP AI Assist Program will empower SMEs to scale up and enhance productivity by integrating AI solutions into their operations.

  4. Workforce development: To address potential disruptions caused by AI, $50 million will be allocated to the Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program, providing skills training to workers in affected sectors.

  5. AI safety measures: The establishment of a Canadian AI Safety Institute, supported by $50 million in funding, will focus on ensuring the safe development and deployment of AI technologies.

  6. Regulatory framework: Strengthening the enforcement of the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act with a $5.1 million allocation for the Office of the AI and Data Commissioner to deploy responsible AI governance.

AI in Canada

According to official reports, the Canadian government has allocated over $16 billion to support scientific research, cultivate local talent, and attract global researchers since 2016. Additionally, more than $2 billion has been invested to stimulate growth in Canada's AI sector and digital infrastructure.

The country was an early adopter of a national AI strategy in 2017. The Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, with Phase 2 announced in 2022, has received funding exceeding $443 million. This strategy aims to uphold Canada's global AI leadership, enhance business competitiveness, and foster digital economy growth.

Federal research agencies, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), have collectively awarded $936.8 million in AI-related research funding since 2017-18.

The National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) has contributed $705.8 million to AI-related firms since 2017, supporting over 1,100 firms and nearly 4,000 projects in AI and Big Data Technology.

Furthermore, the NRC Digital Technologies Research Centre has invested over $27 million in collaborative AI projects, focusing on areas like natural language processing (NLP), Indigenous languages, and high-performance computing.

Renewed funding in 2023 for the Global Innovation Clusters, including Scale AI, reached up to $284 million. Scale AI facilitates collaboration in AI and supply chain management research by bridging industry, academia, and research institutes.

Canada has also invested substantially in rapidly growing AI-related companies through the Strategic Innovation Fund, backing entities like Sanctuary AI and semiconductor firm Ranovus to spur innovation and economic growth.

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