IVADO’s R3AI project gets $124.5-million grant from Canada First Research Excellence Fund

Credit: Getty

In 5 seconds

Federal minister François-Philippe Champagne today announced a $124.5-million grant to support research, teaching and knowledge transfer in artificial intelligence.

R3AI IVADO's project to develop artificial intelligence that's robust, reasoning and responsible, has been awarded a $124.5-million grant from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund. The project is led by IVADO, a consortium made up of Université de Montréal (UdeM), its affiliated schools Polytechnique Montréal and HEC Montréal, and partners Université Laval and McGill University. The grant will be leveraged to generate a total of $500 million over seven years to support AI research, teaching and knowledge transfer at IVADO.

“This major grant confirms Montreal’s global leadership in AI and will support a very ambitious project,” said Luc Vinet, IVADO’s chief executive officer. “R3AI will focus on the key issues raised by AI and also increase AI adoption in all sectors, from health technologies to education and social systems.” This challenge will be taken up by group led by UdeM computer science professor and IVADO scientific director Yoshua Bengio, along with several hundred researchers from a variety of disciplines, including 48 soon-to-be-hired professors.

The three R’s

The R3AI project aims not only to create the AI of tomorrow but also to develop the science behind socially responsible AI adoption. The ‘R3’ refers to what IVADO sees as the three essential characteristics that must be prioritized in AI development: “robust” (AI must rely on sound models and applications), “reasoning” (AI must be explainable, causal and modular), and “responsible” (AI must be ethical and inclusive).

Another goal of R3AI is to use AI to accelerate discoveries in the sciences. To begin with, the project will target four sectors: the discovery of new molecules, remediation for environmental emergencies, the development of “learning health systems,” and supply chain management in the context of uncertainty.

In general, the project’s mission is to harness AI to serve society. More than 150 business and civil society partners supported the grant proposal and will be associated with the project. IVADO is also committed to involving Indigenous and other under-represented communities in both research and knowledge mobilization activities.

This new initiative comes with a year and a half to go in the Données au service des Canadiens  project, which led to the creation of IVADO under a $93-million grant from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund in 2016. In addition to confirming Montreal’s position as a global leader in AI, the R3AI project will give Canada a major competitive advantage in this sector, in a way that aligns with its values.

If Montreal is recognized today as a world centre for artificial intelligence, it is thanks to the unparalleled expertise found in our universities, the many partnerships we have established and the support of governments, which do not hesitate to invest in our ecosystem. The IAR3 project will consolidate our gains and take us much further. We will realise the vision we have carried since the first successes of this technology: to drive the development of AI that meets humanity's expectations not only in terms of progress and productivity, but also in terms of collective well-being, justice and equity. — Daniel Jutras, Rector of Université de Montréal

Polytechnique Montréal is thrilled to see the Canadian government’s continued confidence in IVADO, in which our teams have been invested from the beginning. We will draw on our long tradition of collaborating with sector partners to help keep Canada at the forefront in this highly strategic field. We are now more determined than ever to apply the expertise of our researchers and their quality research to make a positive impact on society. — Maud Cohen, President of Polytechnique Montréal

HEC Montréal is proud to co-lead this ambitious project, a role made possible by our cutting-edge expertise in AI and management sciences. The work carried out under R3AI will have a major impact on advancing science in many areas, and on the development and implementation of responsible AI within organizations and society, both in Canada and globally. More than ever, we need inclusive solutions that respond to the great economic and societal challenges of our time. — Federico Pasin, Director of HEC Montréal

“McGill is proud to add its research strength to R3AI. This bold partnership, between five leading institutions in the field, will fundamentally transform AI as it currently exists and will generate both societal and economic benefits for all Canadians. We are grateful for the transformative support of the Government of Canada and our numerous partners across sectors who are playing a crucial role in advancing this knowledge ecosystem with the aim of developing a more responsible AI that acts in service of our society.” – Deep Saini, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, McGill University — Deep Saini, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University

Many concerns have recently been raised–and rightfully so–about the uncontrolled development of AI. But we must not lose sight of AI’s immense potential to improve the well-being of people around the world. I am delighted that Université Laval is one of the main institutional partners in this major project, which will contribute to developing AI that is robust, ethical and responsible – AI that will benefit all of society. — Sophie D’Amours, Rector of Université Laval


IVADO is an interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral research, training and knowledge mobilization consortium whose mission is to develop and promote a robust, reasoning and responsible AI. Led by Université de Montréal with four university partners (Polytechnique Montréal, HEC Montréal, Université Laval and McGill University), IVADO brings together research centres, government bodies and industry members to co-build ambitious cross-sectoral initiatives with the goal of fostering a paradigm shift for AI and its adoption.

Media contact