A boost for artificial-intelligence research in Montreal

Gift from Microsoft follows company’s planned acquisition of Maluuba
Published: 18 January 2017

To help spur artificial-intelligence research in Montreal, Microsoft will provide a gift of $1 million to McGill University.

Microsoft President Brad Smith, joined by the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and Dominique Anglade, Quebec Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation, announced plans to expand the company’s presence in Montreal’s burgeoning AI ecosystem by doubling the size within the next two years of Microsoft’s new AI research and development organization (Maluuba) in Montreal.

As part of its investment, Microsoft will provide gifts for AI research to the Université de Montréal and to McGill. Each gift will be funded over a five-year period.

“Thank you to Microsoft for this investment in Montreal’s AI strengths,” said McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier. “McGill and Université de Montréal researchers are doing cutting-edge work in artificial intelligence. This kind of collaboration with an industry leader is crucial as researchers ask, and answer, the kinds of questions that are reimagining our physical, digital, and even biological, worlds.”

Microsoft last week announced its intent to acquire Maluuba. Founded in 2011 by University of Waterloo graduates, Sam Pasupalak and Kaheer Suleman, Maluuba is part of Montreal’s growing concentration of the world’s leading AI researchers. Maluuba announced last month it is partnering with the Reasoning and Learning Lab in McGill’s School of Computer Science to teach machines to understand common sense, a complex and challenging aspect of natural language understanding.

Microsoft's gift to McGill "will allow us to recruit and support the best graduate students in this field,” said McGill computer-science professor Joelle Pineau. "What is particularly exciting is to see large companies recognize the importance of fundamental research, and support research projects that are carried out in the open."


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