Skip to main content
ArticleArtificial Intelligence

Canada experiencing boom in AI commercial activity

By 08/07/2020November 22nd, 2021No Comments

Artificial intelligence firms have become models of innovation in Canada over the past decade, with the number of firms increasing along with amount of investment and business initiatives in the sector.

A report authored by the University of Toronto with data compiled and analyzed by Global Advantage Consulting Group highlighted that Canada is now ranked fifth globally for commercial AI-focused ventures, a measure reflecting startup activity, investment and business initiatives.

Canada’s capacity for AI research and development is spurring an increase in commercialization and productivity. Canada ranks second in the world in higher education institutions offering AI-related majors since 2018. The report states that smart, targeted policies can reverse the trend of Canada falling behind other OECD countries in this area.

AI clustersAI sector poised for upsurge

Global Advantage Consulting Group’s research found that the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy accelerated employment, innovation and growth in the AI sector. Investments in fundamental research through CIFAR ($125 M), Government of Ontario ($50 M), industry partners ($80 M), Canada 150 Research Chairs Program, and federal tri-agencies are preparing the AI sector for a technology boom and dynamic partnerships with industry that will fuel commercialization of ideas.

According to Global Advantage research, there are more than 660 active AI startups in Canada which have raised almost $3 billion over the past decade. Toronto has the densest cluster of AI startup firms in the world with 273 in the greater Toronto region and 47 more in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge.

The report also found that University of Toronto is one of the world’s cutting-edge universities for research output and application of AI tools. The school has more than 110 faculty focused primarily on AI-related research. The number of active AI startups helped launched by University of Toronto over the past decade has doubled, with 81 currently operating and 57 formed since 2015. These firms have raised $183 M and created more than 600 jobs over the past five years. Some of the most successful startups spun-out of the university include Blue Dot, Deep Genomics, Sysomos, and Phenomic AI.

Sound policy is the key to growth

Through investing in research and talent, governments can further boost economic growth and create successful firms in emerging sectors. The success of the Pan-Canadian AI strategy shows that government action can lead to an increase in private R&D investment and presents more opportunities in fields in which Canada has a strong research base. Public and private sector collaboration will be demonstrated as one of the ways to drive successful commercialization and global competitiveness if the government can replicate the success of its AI strategy in other sectors.


Click here to find a briefing deck summarizing the results of our assessment of AI activity, performance, and impact over the past decade in Canada and, within this context, showcases the evolution of Toronto’s AI cluster and investment opportunities to strengthen its capacity to grow.