How Montreal Became the Capital of Artificial Intelligence

When one thinks of the talent pool in Quebec, one can’t help but think of the Olympics. In the winter games, Quebec has notoriously dominated the podium, winning more medals than any other province. Last year’s 12 French-Canadian medals are proof of that.

But today, Quebec is gaining international acclaim for a different kind of talent pool: the one surrounding the booming world of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) Over the past few years, Montreal has been steadily molded into an A.I. hotbed, attracting talent and businesses from around the world to work in its burgeoning tech environment. In this article, we’ll discuss how Montreal became North America’s focal point for A.I., and what that means for international workers looking to make the move to Canada.

 

FROM BRAIN DRAIN TO BRAIN GAIN

Much like birds in the winter, countless Canadian and international workers were once guilty of flocking south to the United States in search of glorified tech jobs. Affectionately titled the “Brain Drain”, Canadian policy makers continually lamented over the academic prowess being lost to our southernly neighbour.

Fortunately, thanks to Montreal’s resurgence in the tech sector, that trend is finally starting to reverse. Over the past two years, Montreal has attracted some of the world’s foremost research divisions, including: Facebook AI Research, Microsoft Research, Google Brain, Deepmind, and Samsung Research. And beyond these conglomerates finding refuge in Montreal’s deeply academic roots, an increasing number of tech startups are choosing Montreal as their final landing spot. That includes Techstars, one of the world’s best accelerators, launching its first AI-focused hub in the city. The result? Just like huskies in the Arctic, more talent is starting to dash north, especially to Montreal.  

 

WHY A.I. IN MONTREAL?

There are three reasons A.I. has taken flight in Montreal:

  1. A collaborative A.I. ecosystem
  2. Increased funding and support
  3. Montreal as a remarkable landing spot for international workers.

 

SHARING IS CARING: The initial A.I. seed planted in Montreal can be attributed to Yoshua Bengio. Widely recognized as the pioneer of modern day Artificial Intelligence, Dr. Bengio is a French-native-turned-Canadian who studied engineering and computer science at Montreal’s McGill University. Since graduating, his commitment to developing Montreal’s A.I. community has never waned. He has almost single-handedly fostered a collaborative sharing environment between the world’s preeminent A.I. minds, which is the first reason the city is so revered for its A.I. aptitude. Instead of the cut-throat, dog-eat-dog world of the south, Montreal has harvested a synergetic A.I. community that thrives when everyone succeeds.

 

MORE FUNDING, MORE A.I. FUN: This community has given the Canadian government and other businesses a resounding reason to inject funding into Montreal’s A.I. space. Over the past 2-years, the Canadian government has supplied over $332 million into Artificial Intelligence research through grants, initiatives and investments. And international conglomerates aren’t too far behind on that trend: Element AI, one of Montreal’s leading Bengio-founded startups, has attracted $137.5 million USD from Microsoft, Intel and Nvidia. Google has even pledged $4.5 million USD to Montreal’s Institute of Learning Algorithms (MILA). All this funding is allowing A.I. businesses to attract top talent while developing a burgeoning A.I. research space.

 

MONTREAL FOR ALL: Unlike some American cities, Montreal is a welcoming and inviting landing spot for skilled international workers. With a diverse population and friendly environment, brilliant minds from the far eastern parts of our planet feel more comfortable moving to Canada than to a more nationalistic United States. Also, Montreal currently ranks 12th out of 140 countries in terms of livability, and has some of the lowest cost of living in Canada. Compared to the almost unlivable Silicon Valley Bay Area, Montreal is wonderful step in the right direction for the world’s top tech talent.

 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IF YOU’RE MOVING TO CANADA?

The Canadian government has taken massive steps in making it easier for businesses to attract skilled talent. And that’s great news for those looking to move to Canada. Thanks to Canada’s Global Skills Strategy, Canadian businesses now have a serious advantage in drawing talent through either the Global Talent Stream or the newly favourable Two-Week Work Permit processing system. This article on economic mobility gives a superb rundown of both these programs if you’re eager for more information.

Now, all this hype around the A.I. industry may have you brimming with excitement to move to Canada. Fortunately, we’re here to help you navigate a process which can seem a bit daunting at first. ARIANNE has been helping families and professionals relocate to Canada since 1996, and we’re equipped with comprehensive Online Relocation Guides and vast supply of Blog Information to help you handle your move effectively. Planning for a big move to Canada isn’t Artificially Intelligent—it’s just plain intelligent.

2018-12-06T09:58:32+00:00By |Business, Immigration, Montreal|0 Comments

About the Author:

Josh Gladstone is a Canadian copywriter, blogger and storyteller. He’s been obsessed with travel since Columbus first set sail—“Columbus” being the name of his bathtub sailboat as a toddler. He’s lived in Hong Kong, Germany, Spain and France, so when it comes to travel stories, Josh lets his passport do most of the talking.

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