Japan-based Denso announced today that it is opening a new satellite research and development (R&D) lab in Montreal that will focus on developing artificial intelligence technology for the automotive industry.

Denso is a $48.1 billion global company that “develops advanced technology and components for nearly every vehicle make and model on the road today,” according to the press release.

This is not the company’s first foray into the Canadian market, it previously teamed up with Blackberry Ltd. in a bid to develop and own automobile displays. Along with Intel, Blackberry, and Denso are creating a human machine interface (HMI) platform that connects car operating systems.

According to the release Denso has also had some presence in Canada for more than 46 years.

Government officials from the federal government, Quebec and Montreal were all on hand to make the announcement for the new lab including the premiere of Quebec François Legault.

He called the announcement of the AI-focused lab “very strong signal” to all investors that “Montreal is the place to do business.”

“We believe that in the next few years, artificial intelligence will lead to productivity gains of up to 1.4 per cent per year globally. In Quebec, this means our nominal GDP would increase by over $4 billion every year,” he said in the release, “the fact that a company of Denso’s calibre saw…decided to set up its new research center here is a great source of pride.”

Prime minister Justin Trudeau was also quoted in the release as saying he is “delighted that Denso has chosen to open a new R&D lab in Montreal,” noting that Montreal is a growing hub for artificial intelligence and investment in the field.

This new innovation lab is part of what Denso is calling its “second founding.” It announced in October its shifting company strategy to grow beyond its current vehicle-centric focus and expand its software solution products to “help guide the future of mobility.”

As part of this shift, the company is opening up labs around the world. It currently has 220 facilities in 35 countries that work on a variety of developing systems including powertrain, mobility, thermal and electrification and electronic systems.

Kenichiro Ito, the CEO of Denso’s North American headquarters stated in the release that Denso chose Montreal for its local talent and global expertise in the field of AI.

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