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Samsung Launches AI Centre in Toronto

Toronto lab to help lead global AI research & development; joins UK, and Russia as part of a network of Global AI Centres

Samsung Research America (SRA), announced that it is establishing a state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI) centre in Toronto, as part of a new venture to tap into and contribute to the flourishing AI industry growing in Canada’s largest city. The opening of the Toronto AI Centre comes on the heels of the company’s global announcement of two additional and newly established AI Centres in Cambridge, UK and Moscow, Russia. The Toronto Centre will work in partnership with the company’s Silicon Valley team to pioneer AI research and development for the region.

Located in Toronto’s downtown core at MaRS Discovery District, the new Samsung AI Centre will contribute to building the connected future by accelerating the adoption of intelligence on multiple devices ranging from household appliances to cars. The Toronto AI Centre is a part of a network of research Centres dedicated to research and development in the field of AI. The Centre is the second Samsung AI Centre to be established in North America, with the other in Mountain View, California. The North America AI Centres are led by senior vice president, Dr. Larry Heck, a renowned expert in machine learning for spoken and text language processing, who also co-leads the expansion of Samsung’s AI Centres around the globe.

“Toronto and the GTA are epi-centres of machine learning and one of the world’s foremost hubs for AI research and development. Home to not only world-class talent, but also some of the most innovative start-ups in the artificial intelligence field,” said Dr. Larry Heck, Co-Head of Global Artificial Intelligence Research. “We are looking forward to contributing to this vibrant AI community and to help push the field forward as we move towards our goal of making all Samsung connected devices intelligent by 2020.”

With a rich history in innovation and discovery, Toronto serves as an ideal place for research and development for speech recognition, where machine-learning technology was applied many years before it was widely applied to other fields. The vision is that the Samsung AI Centre will now serve an important role in the advancement of AI with a focus on language understanding and computer vision technologies that will ultimately reduce the friction between the user and the device/service, whether it be mobile phones, TVs, appliances, or cars.

The Toronto centre will be led by Dr. Sven Dickinson, newly appointed as the head of the Toronto lab, professor on leave and past chair of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto. Dr. Dickinson is an expert in computer vision technologies, especially in the field of object recognition. He will play an integral part in Samsung’s research of core AI technologies that entail language, vision and other multi-modal interactions.

Samsung will officially celebrate today’s announcement of the Toronto AI Centre with an opening ceremony and presentations at MaRS Discovery District from key Samsung business leaders and special guests including Samsung’s CEO of Consumer Electronics, Hyun-suk Kim, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade, Dr. Larry Heck, Senior Vice President of Samsung Research America, and key stakeholders and partners from major universities in Canada.

“Canadian ingenuity and innovation is getting noticed and together with our investments in skills and superclusters focused on next generation products like artificial intelligence, the world’s investors are choosing Canada. Congratulations to Toronto and to Samsung for recognizing Canada is the place to be!” said Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade.

Key contributing factors for the location selection include the availability of key AI talent, including leading AI researchers at the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo who have had longstanding relationships with Samsung. Establishing an AI Centre in Southern Ontario also enables Samsung to better collaborate with regional start-ups and expand the current ecosystem. As one of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs, MaRS Discovery district supports promising innovators and ventures tackling key challenges in the sectors of cleantech, finance & commerce, and work & learning. In addition, and importantly, the vast MaRS community fosters cross-disciplinary collaboration which drives breakthrough discoveries and new solution for global audiences.

“We are proud to welcome Samsung to MaRS,” said Yung Wu, CEO, MaRS Discovery District. “We both recognize the important role Toronto – and Canada – play as a destination for innovation talent, research and start-ups. We look forward to collaborating and connecting with the Samsung team on a variety of exciting opportunities as this project comes to life.”

Today’s announcement compliments earlier 2018 news of plans to launch additional AI centres in North America. Dr. Darin Graham will spearhead the opening of new labs in Canada as the head of Samsung’s Canadian AI Operations. Until recently, Dr. Graham helped lead the creation and formation of the Vector Institute – the renowned Canadian AI research institute, as a member of the founding team. The opening of AI centres in Canada will allow Samsung to expand its outpost for industry collaboration and talent recruitment in the major AI hubs in North America.

“Investments like this are proof that Canada is truly a world-leader in artificial intelligence. Our talent and innovation ecosystem make us an attractive place for companies to grow and create well-paying jobs for Canadians. Our government is proud to partner with companies like Samsung, as we continue advancing our machine learning knowledge and further establish our place on the world stage as an AI leader,” said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

To date, Samsung has had great success in leveraging Canada’s unique R&D talents for global impact. The Company’s Vancouver-based R&D centre has contributed to a number of in-market innovations and more than doubled its workforce, since opening with over 100 employees. With the addition of the AI centre in Toronto, the company plans to increase the R&D in Canada from current 100 to 200 in the near future. Additional developments and talent in Canada have been recognized through Samsung Electronics Canada subsidiaries, AdGear Technologies Inc. in Montreal and SigMast Communications Inc. in Halifax, Nova Scotia.