Mila and La Caisse Partner to Launch New Quebec AI Hub

Two of the biggest names in Quebec technology are coming together to help ensure the province remains at the forefront of AI research.

Mila (Quebec’s Artificial Intelligence Institute) and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec have announced a partnership to support the AI industry with the creation of a brand-new complex home to several AI startups. Called the Espace CDPQ | Axe IA, this new hub will be located in the O Mile‑Ex Complex on Saint‑Urbain Street. Espace CDPQ, which was created by la Caisse, has been around for a while now as its own investment and development hub, representing a network of over 1,250 businesses.

Espace CDPQ | Axe IA will only bring in young companies that have the potential to accelerate rapidly as well as have mapped plans to launch products. These AI startups must also be willing to participate in the community the new hub will create, as well as the larger community within Mila.

“We are thrilled about this partnership with la Caisse, as it will enable us to realize several aspects of our mission, particularly with regard to research and technology transfer. We will work with the resources at Espace CDPQ | Axe IA to take concrete steps to speed up the development of the selected start-ups,” said Valérie Pisano, president and CEO of Mila.

The application process to Espace CDPQ | Axe IA opened recently and companies were chosen based on four key criteria. The first point was the company’s technology, which means the company has to have short and long-term plans when it comes to measurable results. The second point was synergy, or how well the company can take advantage of being in a world-renowned AI ecosystem. Third was the entrepreneurial team, and how well they can scale their technological and business growth. Finally, the last point was the company itself, and what their intention to commercialize an AI product looks like.

Nine companies have been invited to join the Espace CDPQ | Axe IA over the coming months, listed below. They will all spend 12 months in the space and be able to access Mila resources and experts.

  • Paladin AI is creating a training platform using AI dedicated to flight crews, technicians and pilots.
  • InVivo AI uses AI to rationalize and mitigate the risks associated with the development of new drugs by predicting their toxicity.
  • Cognitive Chem is developing an independent laboratory dedicated to the discovery of molecules aimed at finding a cure for certain types of cancer.
  • Arctic Fox AI uses deep-learning algorithms to optimize imaging analysis aimed at identifying neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
  • UEAT simplifies the lives of restaurant owners by designing online ordering solutions using innovative technology.
  • Mnubo delivers IoT data analysis tools and solutions using AI to connected product and equipment manufacturers, allowing them to track performance and use.
  • Human First facilitates communications among human live chat agents by predicting and automating responses.
  • ENKIDOO enables small retail businesses to optimize the use of their data on sales and inventory, thereby improving management decision making.
  • NOTIO Technologies connects and correlates data in real time, enabling cyclists to improve their performance.

“With this partnership, la Caisse is pursuing its commitment to helping Québec businesses in this new economy thrive and expand,” said Michael Sabia, CEO of la Caisse. “By establishing Espace CDPQ | Axe IA within Mila, our goal is to strengthen the collaborative culture between the academic and business communities. Our approach aims to drive the commercialization of new AI projects in Québec.”

La Caisse is one of the largest venture firms in Canada, recently investing $200 million into Plusgrade and leading a $166 million round for Lightspeed last year. Mila is one of Canada’s leading AI research institutes (as well as one of the world’s top AI minds, Yoshua Bengio) and 14 researchers from the organization were recently selected in the first cohort of the Canada CIFAR AI Chairs, where they will split $30 million funding with 15 other scientists.