plus menu chevron-down twitter linkedin facebook

Bridging the Gap in Montreal’s flourishing AI Ecosystem

Announcing Techstars Montreal AI Accelerator

March 12, 2018

It’s no secret that Montreal’s artificial intelligence sector is booming. Home to some of the world’s strongest academic AI research institutes, Montreal has both drawn the attention of the major tech giants and the brightest minds interested in developing the field. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, DeepMind and Samsung have all set up labs to take advantage of city’s research talent, and AI-driven businesses with global ambitions, like Element AI which raised an historic $103 million in 2017, are also proliferating.

Given this distinct competitive advantage, Montreal is the perfect place to launch an AI-focused accelerator program and add another important building block to the city’s AI capabilities. Today, Real Ventures, in partnership with Techstars, is thrilled to announce the launch of the Techstars Montreal AI Accelerator, which will bring Techstars’ world-class program to a second Canadian city. This time the focus is on startups that advance the development and application of AI across all industries.

“The addition of the Techstars Montreal AI Accelerator is a significant complementary addition to our ecosystem,” said Hélène Desmarais, Chairman of the Board and CEO, CEIM and Co-Chair of SCALE.AI, Canada’s AI-focused supercluster initiative. “Techstars’ track record of supporting high potential entrepreneurs coupled with Real Ventures’ approach to ecosystem building and deep knowledge of the city’s AI networks, align perfectly with SCALE.AI’s goals to bolster Canada’s leadership in AI, shape a new global supply chain platform and accelerate industry adoption of AI-enabled technologies.”

By establishing the program in Montreal, the Techstars Montreal AI Accelerator can pull on top global talent for mentorship and support. Participating startups will benefit from the most concentrated pool of AI researchers worldwide, as well as close proximity to other strong AI communities in Toronto, Waterloo and New York.

“It’s important that the latest developments in artificial intelligence are accessible to the next generation of entrepreneurs so that we can make major positive change in our society,” said Yoshua Bengio, AI pioneer, scientific director of the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA), and co-founder of Element AI. “By attracting more talented entrepreneurs to Montreal, the Techstars AI Accelerator can help ensure that the latest AI research is integrated into technologies that are accessible to everyone.”

“Building on our long-standing relationship with Techstars and the positive experience Real Ventures has had in Toronto with the first Techstars Accelerator in Canada, we felt it was vital to bring an AI-focused accelerator program with global reach to Montreal,” said Real Ventures partner, John Stokes. “With Techstars’ reputation and international network, it will be possible to attract extremely high-caliber and globally-minded startups to the ecosystem and create a positive feedback loop that will lead to greater success all round.”

Real Ventures and Techstars are also pleased to collaborate with existing organizations like Montreal’s Institute For Data Valorization (IVADO) and CDL-Montreal, who can provide support to the cohort’s startups, from academic perspective to business acumen.

The program kicks off in September 2018 and will conclude with Demo Day in December during NIPS 2018 in Montreal. Applications are open until May 13, 2018. Startups focused on (but not limited to) the following themes are encouraged to apply:

  • Deep Learning, machine learning, reinforcement learning
  • The advancement of image recognition and other domain/industry specific applications
  • Speech recognition, linguistics and natural language processing (bonus points for multi-lingual systems!)
  • IoT / sensor systems and autonomous vehicles / drones
  • Predictive analytics and recommendation systems (domain/industry specific applications)
  • Diverse application of AI in control systems, agent enablers and cognitive computing
  • “Augmenting” human experts across industries including supply chain, advanced manufacturing and robotics; smart mobility, transportation and smart city; cybersecurity, automated vulnerability assessment and intelligent remediation; health and medical advancement, from personalized medicine to genomics data processing; financial modeling, fraud prediction and detection; media creation, production, distribution and monetization.

Interested entrepreneurs should check out the Application Toolkit.

We are also looking for corporate partners who want to double down on AI in Montreal and invest in the ecosystem. Please email morgan.berman@techstars.com for more information.

Read the announcement on our blog.