Microsoft donates $6M to MILA

Credit: Robert Scoble

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Microsoft, the technology giant, announces a major investment in the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms.

Technology giant Microsoft today announced it is donating $6 million to the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA) headed by Université de Montréal computer science professor Yoshua Bengio. A donation of $1 million was also announced for McGill University. The new funds are part of a drive by Microsoft to double its investments in artificial intelligence in Montreal.

The announcements were made at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland by Microsoft's president, Brad Smith. He was accompanied by Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard; Canada's Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains; and Quebec's Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation, Dominique Anglade.

"Microsoft is excited to engage with faculties, students and the broader tech community in Montreal, which is becoming a global hub for AI research and innovation,” said Smith. “Today’s news, along with the opening of Microsoft Vancouver and our ongoing work to create a new Cascadia Innovation Corridor connecting Vancouver and Seattle, reinforces the important role that Canada plays in Microsoft’s global business.”

'An entire ecosystem' of AI

For Professor Bengio, Microsoft's investment is a vote of confidence from the industry on the quality and utility of the work being done in the laboratories of UdeM. "An entire ecosystem is being put in place to make Montreal a veritable hub of research, training and application of artificial intelligence," he said. "We're particularly happy that Microsoft is also investing in Maluuba, a Waterloo, Ont. company that chose to open its deep-learning research labs in Montreal to take advantage of the presence of MILA. This reflects a commitment towards the entire Montreal community working in the field of artificial intelligence."

“Microsoft’s investment is proof of Canadians’ world-renowned expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning," said Bains. "This emerging field of research has the potential to revolutionize computing by transforming vast amounts of information into useful insights. The future of every industry, from finance and health to manufacturing and transportation, will be shaped by advances in artificial intelligence. And research conducted in Canada will play a defining role in developing this enabling technology, which will create better jobs and opportunities for Canadians."
 
Added Couillard: “Microsoft has chosen to focus on Quebec talent, on the know-how of our researchers as well as on our expertise and innovative technologies. In a constantly evolving global economic context, artificial intelligence is a sector at the cutting edge of technology that helps propel societies towards the digital economy. It’s a sign of recognition and confidence in Quebec's strengths."

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