May 5, 2021

Building an artificial intelligence centre second to none

What do Attabotics, AltaML, and the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) have in common?

They’re all from Alberta. They’re all global leaders. They’re all our clients.

On April 28, 2021, Attabotics, AltaML and Amii announced their intent to develop capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. The goal is to further optimize efficiency and productivity in Attabotics’ innovative 3D supply chain robotics for warehouses.

Together, the three organizations say they will carry out projects that combine AI technologies with IoT (Internet of Things) infrastructure. This will allow them to achieve more efficient IoT operations, improve human-machine interactions and enhance Attabotics’ data management and capabilities.

Creating the necessary preconditions for success

One of Alberta Innovates’ major strategies is to advance the development and use of artificial intelligence as an enabling tool to create prosperity and make Albertans’ lives better.

Last week’s announcement is a sign our investments in artificial intelligence are beginning to pay off for the province.

“This new partnership between Attabotics, AltaML and Amii highlights how we are creating the conditions for a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in which companies are collaborating among themselves to find new, real-world applications for this powerful technology,” said Alberta Innovates CEO Laura Kilcrease.

An engine powers a vehicle to move forward. But we don’t always think about how we’ve gotten from one place to another, Kilcrease notes.

“Much like an engine, Alberta Innovates has been moving innovation forward in the province. Through long-term investment in areas once described as emerging, we laid the research keystone into place to create the necessary preconditions Alberta companies are now able to take advantage of,” she says.

“We put our expertise, facilities and funding to work behind the scenes so our partners and clients can achieve breakthroughs that activate our economy in the short, medium and long term. Our impact gains visibility through the successes of those we work with – from researchers in university labs to entrepreneurs who use our programs to take their ideas from startup to scale.”

Establishing an artificial intelligence and tech sector

Alberta Innovates played a key role in establishing a world-leading AI sector in Alberta by funding AI research at the University of Alberta dating back two decades. We are a major funder of Amii – a globally preeminent centre of AI research and application – and have also supported AltaML and Attabotics in becoming commercial successes. Now these two Alberta companies are joining with Amii in applying AI/machine learning to create further business impact.

By combining Attabotics’ transformational work in advanced robotics for supply chains, Amii’s leadership and expertise in AI research and AltaML’s track record in applying AI for business, the three are poised to demonstrate and validate Alberta’s reputation as a global centre of innovation – specifically, the province’s leadership in the research and application of these technologies.

The partnership will also support the growth of Alberta as an innovation hub and contributes to an ecosystem where technology and innovation continue to thrive, the partners said in announcing their collaboration. “This partnership shows the power of public-private partnerships and is further proof of Alberta’s leadership in the research and application of AI,” said Cam Linke, CEO of Amii.

Building on Alberta strengths in emerging technology

When three of our clients come together to develop emerging technologies that hit several of our strategic priorities, we can’t help but be happy. The Alberta Innovates Business Plan explains how we invest in companies and research that advance data-enabled innovation, digital technology for business transformation, and innovative production and distribution in Alberta.

“We’re proud to be a part of an ecosystem where other robotic companies and related businesses can bloom,” Brad Simpson, Attabotics VP of Corporate Development, said in an earlier interview with us. “Alberta Innovates and others have created an environment that provides companies access to capital and more, allowing them to launch and scale in Alberta or Canada, and we’re very grateful for this.”

Read our story about Attabotics raising $50M to support their work evolving warehousing and logistics practices.

“I’m incredibly proud of Alberta,” said AltaML co-CEO, Nicole Janssen. “One thing I’d like to say to Albertans is that we need to get some swagger. We really are amazing and we’re not telling our story.

“We’re not telling the world just how great we are and what we can be doing here with our emerging technology industry.” Watch this earlier video of Nicole and Alberta Innovates Technology Development Advisor Rick Davidson speaking about Alberta’s tech industry.

“Because of investments made decades ago—and I don’t know if I can stress this enough—we have a top three institution in arguably the most important technology in the world right now,” said Cam Linke from Amii. Listen to our Shift interview with Cam  for the whole discussion of Amii’s goal to support Alberta businesses and Alberta Innovates’ long-term support for Amii.