The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) announced today the first group of artificial intelligence (AI) chairs at its first annual meeting of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy.

The Canada CIFAR AI chairs one part of the four-pillar plan of Canada’s $125 million Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, which is designed to retain 50 researchers. Today at the meeting 29 researchers were named to the council which will “form the research backbone of a robust and sustainable AI ecosystem that will help maintain Canada’s leadership role in the development and application of machine learning,” stated the press release.

The Chairs, made up of academics and early-career researchers, were nominated by and affiliated with one of three national AI institutes: The Alerta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii), the Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute (Mila) and Toronto’s Vector Institute.

First 29 chair members of the CIFAR. Source: CIFAR.ca

“We are excited about these outstanding researchers taking up Canada CIFAR AI Chairs across the country. The Pan-Canadian AI Strategy has enabled us to retain those who laid the groundwork for AI and attract top scientists to Canada from abroad. This is a major step forward for Canada and an essential foundation for growing Canada’s global leadership in AI research and innovation,” Alan Bernstein, president and CEO of the CIFAR said in the release.

The group of 29 was chosen by an international scientific research committee made up of scientists from around the world including from Google’s DeepMind project and Facebook.

The CIFAR was chosen by the Government of Canada in 2017 to lead the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy in collaboration with the AI research institutes in Montreal, Edmonton and Toronto.

The 29 CIFAR chairs have approximately $30 million in funding between them, represent nine universities across the country, 14 were recruited specifically for this council, while 15 are retained and only nine of the members are women.

Both government and private funding are backing CIFAR. On Oct. 9, the RBC Foundation announced it will donate $1 million over three years to the institute. CIFAR is expected to work closely with RBC’s AI lab, Borealis AI.

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