CIFAR Names First 29 Chairs to Artificial Intelligence Cohort

In order for a country to stay at the top of the AI industry, they need an abundance of talented researchers and funding.

Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) is doing their part with their announcement today of the first cohort of the Canada CIFAR AI (CCAI) Chairs. The announcement of the new 29 researchers and their funding was made at AICan, the first annual meeting of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy. The funding for this first cohort, as well as following ones, comes from the $125 million dedicated to Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, which was first announced back in early 2017 as a way to attract and keep the world’s top AI researchers.

The list of 29 includes some of Canada’s leading AI minds, such as Yoshua Bengio, the scientific director of Mila and world-renowned leader in the space; Joelle Pineau, the site lead for Facebook’s Montreal AI lab; Christopher Pal, a principal research scientist at Element AI; and more. Check out the full list here.

“Artificial intelligence is becoming more and more valuable to Canadians every day,” said Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. “Doctors use it to diagnose cancer. Musicians use it to write songs. Space scientists use it to search for alien life. And thanks to our world-first national AI strategy, Canada is a global leader in this game-changing technology. Our government will continue to support CIFAR as it helps Canada grow into an international AI hub, creating more jobs and economic growth as a result.”

Of the 29 chairs announced today, 14 were recruited and 15 were retained. It comprises of nine women and represents nine universities across the country. The 29 researchers will split $30 million in funding. The AI Chairs program will look to retain more than 50 leading AI researchers in total, and they will all be nominated by and affiliated with one of Canada’s three national AI institutes: Amii in Edmonton, Mila in Montreal, and Vector in Toronto. Four researchers will go to Amii; 14 to Mila, and 11 to Vector.

“We are delighted to launch the Canada CIFAR AI Chairs program with this announcement and the AICan event. This huge investment is yet another demonstration of our commitment to attracting and retaining the very best AI talent in Canada,” said Elissa Strome, executive director of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy at CIFAR.

The selected chairs were reviewed by an international scientific advisory committee made up of leaders from Google, DeepMind, Stanford, and many other organizations. The goal for these chairs will be to enhance Canada’s overall AI profile, increase collaboration both domestically and internationally, and translate Ai discoverings into socio-economic benefits for Canada as a whole.