AltaML, Waabi, and TrojAI are among the country’s artificial intelligence (AI) startups to watch over the next year, according to the Vector Institute.
This week, Vector launched its inaugural report that highlights 20 Canadian AI startups. The roster was compiled after analyzing over 150 companies in the space that have achieved major milestones in 2021 and 2022, including funding rounds and projects won.
As the first kind of its report, according to Vector, the startups in the list were selected to reflect the key regions of AI innovation across Canada, as well as demonstrate diversity in executive leaderships and AI applications.
Launched in 2017, Vector is a non-profit that works with institutions, startups, and the government to build AI talent, as well as to develop and sustain AI-based innovation to foster economic growth. The organization is funded by the federal and Ontario governments through the Pan-Canadian AI strategy, as well as industry sponsors.
Based in Edmonton with offices in Calgary and Toronto, AltaML is an AI-focused software company that partners with organizations to co-develop solutions. Its clients are primarily enterprise-level organizations undergoing digital transformation.
AltaML has established several partnerships to support tech and tech talent in Canada, and in May, the Government of Alberta announced it was creating an AI lab, powered by AltaML. The startup has raised $19.9 million in total funding to date, according to Vector, including $3.25 million from the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund in 2020.
Waabi, which emerged from stealth last year with $100 million CAD, focuses on autonomous vehicles. It is led by Canadian AI luminary Raquel Urtasun and uses a new generation of AI algorithms to “teach the self-driving brain to drive on its own,” as Urtasun said. Urtasun is one of the co-founders of Vector.
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Headquartered in Saint John, TrojAI develops solutions to protect AI platforms from adversarial attacks on training data and AI models, such as poisoning or embedded Trojan and evasion attacks.
Earlier this year, TrojAI secured $3 million in seed funding from a round led by Seattle’s Flying Fish Ventures and the Atlantic Canada venture capital fund Build Ventures. TrojAI previously closed a $750,000 CAD equity funding round in early 2021.
A number of companies on the list raised capital this year, including Avidbots, BenchSci, BrainBox AI, Cohere, Private AI, and Xanadu, which raised a $100 million USD Series C round that brought its valuation to $1 billion USD.
In other major milestones, Certn completed two acquisitions, starting off 2022 with its acquisition of Credence, and later acquired Intercheck in October.
Signal 1, which has connections to Vector, exited stealth in April with $12.7 million CAD in all-equity seed funding. Tomi Poutanen, one of Signal 1’s three co-founders, also took part in the creation of Vector in 2016, alongside Waabi CEO Urtasun and other AI leaders in the country.
Here are all of the startups named in the Vector AI20 for 2023:
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