On January 28, Mila – Quebec Institute of Artificial Intelligence officially inaugurated its new premises at the O Mile-Ex complex, in the presence of the Minister of Economy and Innovation for the government of Quebec, Pierre Fitzgibbon, and more than 200 partners and players in the Quebec artificial intelligence ecosystem.
Mila is implementing the Strategy for the Development of Quebec’s Artificial Intelligence Ecosystem made public by the government of Quebec in June 2018, which key orientations aim to ensure the development and sustainability of the Quebec artificial intelligence (AI) research hub, to develop digital science talents to meet the Quebec’s needs, and to accelerate the development and adoption of artificial intelligence solutions.
“The new Mila is a research center that focuses on business innovation, talent development for businesses, new business creation, and technology transfer,” said Pierre Boivin, co-chair of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Cluster Steering Committee and chairman of the board for Mila. “Mila will receive a contribution of $80 million over five years from the Ministry of Economy and Innovation of the government of Quebec. Mila will also get $44 million in funding from CIFAR as partner in the development and implementation of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy. The private sector will also add a significant financial contribution to the development of Mila.”
“To create more wealth, Quebec must maintain its leadership in artificial intelligence and commercialise the technologies that stem from it. Mila represents a major asset for the dynamism of this community of innovation. University research, training, technology transfer and social dialogue will enable Quebec to develop this now inevitable sector of the economy,” confirmedPierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy and Innovation.
All phases of the innovation process
Mila is a unique concept created by McGill and the University of Montréal with the support of HEC Montréal and Polytechnique Montréal. The project brings together, in an off-campus setting, the strengths of these institutions in cutting-edge academic research on artificial intelligence. In order to transform this powerful research into economic development, Mila gathers all phases of the innovation process, from academic research to early stage student projects, to start-ups, to real companies that will commercialize their applications or products.
“MILA has created a convergence of AI talent and research support in Montreal, and McGill is proud to contribute to this vibrant, urban hub of intellectual, cultural and scientific activity,” said Martha Crago, Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation), and a member of the MILA Board of Directors. “Trained in this world-leading research and innovation centre, the next generation of researcher talent from McGill and Université de Montreal will enter the workforce prepared both to harness the opportunities afforded by AI and to meet the challenges it poses to us all.”
McGill has made a strategic commitment to AI research and dedicated machine learning training. The University provides excellent opportunities for the interdisciplinary study in the Reasoning and Learning Lab in the School of Computer Science and at the Centre for Intelligent Machines, an inter-departmental inter-faculty research group. Six of McGill’s recognized leaders in AI, including Doina Precup, Joelle Pineau, and Jackie Cheung, are among the members of the MILA’s teaching and research team. Currently, 81 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are undertaking study and training at MILA.
“Mila and its members carry strong values that we have enshrined in the Montreal Declaration for the Development of Socially Responsible Artificial Intelligence.” These values tint the entire Quebec artificial intelligence ecosystem of which Mila is the heart, the soul and the gray matter,” said Guy Breton, co-chair of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Cluster Steering Committee and rector of the Université de Montreal.
In the heart of Mile-Ex
Built on more than 90,000 sq. ft in a recycled building on Saint-Urbain street, in the heart of Mile-Ex, the new modern spaces will house more than 375 members of the Mila family and 125 researchers and experts from partner companies and institutions. Mila will host research professors; research students at the master’s, PhD, and postdoctoral levels; technology development experts; a technology transfer centre; an Espace CDPQ | Axe IA hosting nine start-ups; a dozen corporate labs; a space dedicated to student start-ups; and several spaces to spark interaction and inspire creativity and innovation.
“Today we are making an important step,” said Valérie Pisano, president and chief executive officer. “We will maintain our leadership in advanced research in artificial intelligence through the increase of our number of research professors, now 35, and student researchers. We will help our university partners to graduate each year more than 250 holders of a professional master’s degree in artificial intelligence to meet an urgent need of Quebec companies. We will also contribute to the creation and development of new AI companies by stimulating encounters and collisions between our researchers, our partners and our neighbors in this Mile-Ex district where AI is in buzzing.”
“The new Mila will accelerate the development of artificial intelligence in Quebec, and it will allow us to prioritise a socially responsible utilisation of AI and a dialogue on related issues so that this technology is developed to serve and benefit society at large,” said Yoshua Bengio, scientific director of Mila.
The first Computer Laboratory for Adaptive Systems, later called MILA, was created at the University of Montreal by professor Yoshua Bengio in 1993. The new Mila was started in 2017 by the University of Montreal and McGill University with the support of HEC Montréal and Polytechnique Montréal. It brings together the highest concentration of research and development in deep learning and reinforcement. In its new premises at the O Mile-Ex complex, Mila will create a unique space for innovation in artificial intelligence and technology transfer that will make use of interactions with industry and spark the emergence of start-ups while integrating the social impacts of technology in its projects. For more information about Mila, visit mila.quebec.