Consul General Nick Baker

Nick Baker

Consul General, Montreal

16th November 2017 Montreal, Canada

The next tech boom: Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)

Artificial Intelligence is booming in Montréal, and Canada more broadly.  Computer algorithms can analyse vast quantities of data and establish patterns, with a myriad of potential applications. From voice recognition, translation services and directing autonomous vehicles to informing policing through crime analysis and diagnostics in healthcare, the potential is enormous.


Google, Microsoft, IBM, and Facebook have already made huge investments in Montreal’s AI cluster, which is bidding for super-cluster status from the Canadian Federal government.  They are drawn by the pool of talent, anchored by the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, at Université de Montréal whose director is one of the foremost thinkers in machine learning, Professor Yoshua Bengio.

It’s not just global tech companies that are piling in, Canada’s Federal and Provincial governments spy a big opportunity and are providing funding too.  Their priorities are: attracting and retaining talent; creating the right business environment to support start-ups in accessing venture capital and commercialising and marketing their products; and addressing the technology’s ethical questions, such as data protection and confidentiality.

We are making sure that UK is riding this wave too.  We’re already helping A.I. companies invest in the UK, including Element A.I., founded by Prof. Bengio, Imagia and sportlogiQ.   We also have world-class expertise to offer.  The Alan Turing Institute, which is the National Institute for Data Science, is a global centre of excellence.  It was founded by five UK universities: Cambridge, Oxford, Edinburgh, UCL and Warwick, but also works with partners in industry, government and the third sector.  There are a number of promising UK companies in the field.  One of them, Deep Mind, has already set up research centres in Montreal and Edmonton.

To build on the collaboration that is already taking place between the UK and Canada, we brought over a UK delegation of researchers, businesses and government representatives to both Montreal and Toronto.  They visited the top research institutions and businesses, we held a UK/Canada roundtable and hosted networking events to develop a greater understanding of each others’ A.I. ecosystems and create further connections. With the collaboration of the Digital Catapult and the UK’s Knowledge Transfer Network, we are planning a return visit from Canada to the UK in January 2018.

Using A.I. to apply Montreal street art to a selfie with Element A.I. and Innovate U.K
Using A.I. to apply Montreal street art to a selfie with Element A.I. and Innovate U.K

This came hot on the heels of the Prime Minister’s visit to Canada in September when, together with Prime Minister Trudeau, she announced a £100m joint UK-Canada science and innovation fund.  One of its priorities is A.I. There is plenty to do to make sure that the UK and Canada are ahead of the pack.  So, if you would like to get in on the action, please contact our Science and Innovation officer, Mario Rivero-Huguet at:

1 comment on “The next tech boom: Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)

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About Nick Baker

Nick took up his appointment as Consul General, Montreal in July 2014. Nick joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2001.