Montreal has a reputation. You know what we’re talking about: the festive spirit, the European flair, the French language, great food, etc. Once known as the city of a thousand bell towers (due to our close ties with the Catholic church), we’ve completely reinvented ourselves over the past few years.

Montreal is now a leader in innovative artificial intelligence in Canada, heck…the world! AI labs, incubators and tech companies are popping up at an accelerated rate and they’re creating a new hub of technology, the Silicon Valley of the North, if you will.

How did this all happen? Keep reading to learn more about the rise of AI in Montreal:

The Academic Hub

When most people talk about “the future”, they’re often referring to the younger generations, the people with the ideas that will bring us into the next phase of human evolution. In 2017, Montreal was named the top city in the world for students. The website Top Universities made this decision based on several criteria. Firstly, the province of Quebec has some of the lowest tuition  in North America. Along with quality of our universities in the city, student mix, employer activity and desirability, Montreal was able to beat Paris, the winner for the past 4 years. Great, but why is that important for the development of AI?

This badge of merit will have a lasting impression on young people who finish their academic studies and are deciding where to enter the workforce. At the “Forum IA Responsable”, Jodie Wallis from Accenture Canada, declared that 65% of future jobs haven’t been created yet and many companies are having a hard time finding the people they need to do the jobs that are critical in our technological evolution.

Not only is Montreal ahead of the curve, it’s also leading the way for pioneers in the field and developing local talent. Did we also mention that it’s incredibly affordable compared to other big cities? This academic hub for deep learning is opening the door for Montreal as a leading force in the industry. Being the obvious choice for the workforce of tomorrow, has allowed Montreal to access a pool of talent most cities can only dream of.

If education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world, a booming number of opportunities and the presence of AI pioneers such as Yoshua Bengio and our very own Carolina Bessega have played a big role in the first part of our newly found “reputation”.

A Blend of Giants and Startups

There are many big fish in Montreal’s small pond. Although the likes of Google, Microsoft, Samsung and Facebook saw our potential and have given us notoriety, the influence of successful startups cannot be ignored, and Montreal has its eyes wide open. Everyone has to start somewhere, so with that in mind, our city has put resources into helping our local startups grow. The more we’ve branched out and developed our own division of the AI industry, the more we forged Montreal’s unique identity in the world of technology. Long-term, we won’t need to define ourselves as a version of something that already exists, but rather, call ourselves by a name that defines what we’re about.

How has this been possible? Businesses in the technology sector in Quebec and Canada have been able to prosper due to tax credits and grants. The opportunity and flexibility helps explain why so many tech companies start or move here, and why so many foreign investors are looking our way.

A Worthy Investment

Why have people invested in Montreal? Well, there are two reasons that investors and the government would infuse cash into the advancement of AI. The first is, not surprisingly, profit. Here’s an eye catching figure, the gaming industry is worth approximately 100 billion dollars, yet statistics reveal that by 2021, consumer spending on mobile gaming apps alone is set to approach 105.2 billion U.S. dollars. That’s just one tiny piece of the pie. Better yet, AI isn’t a one trick pony, since its contribution is seeping into every single industry you can think of. Medical, entertainment, manufacturing, transportation, finance and customer service? Yes to all of them. Carpe diem has never been more relevant.

Investing in innovation doesn’t exclusively generate revenue, it also creates jobs. Projections valued the AI industry at $2.42 billion U.S. dollars for 2017 – and that’s only the beginning. Who is behind all this growth, innovation and progress? People. They are at the core of this industry and as corny as it may sound, we can’t do it without them. Ideas are useless until people can develop them into something real. This boom has created jobs and we all know that it’s a top priority for elected officials and political parties. The more jobs you can create, the longer people tend to want you in office. It makes sense that after seeing the growth and potential business ventures, that the Canadian government jumped on the bandwagon and declared that they would invest 125 million dollars into artificial intelligence strategy. With everyone on board, it became harder and harder for the world to exclude us from the narrative. If you want to be a part of the tech revolution, you probably have Montreal on your short-list of destinations. If you still do, we highly recommend you take the plunge!

Quebec has come a long way since “la grande noirceur”. This steady momentum on all sides has played a role in our newly built reputation. We are benefiting from a number of important advantages and if we continue forging ahead, investing in people and developing new and brilliant ideas, la belle province will likely have a seat at the table during the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Learn more about our job opportunities here.