RBC steps up investments in AI with new Montreal lab

Mark Henderson
November 22, 2017

Montreal has attracted two Canadian financial institutions to its emerging artificial intelligence (AI) cluster. The Royal Bank of Canada has announced more investments in AI research with a new AI lab to open in the city. It also announced a joint, $4-million investment with Bank of Montreal for the Creative Destruction Lab, also in Montreal. The Borealis AI lab of the RBC Institute for Research will open early next year, working with McGill Univ professor and lab advisor Jackie Cheung. The collaboration will allow RBC  to focus on Cheung’s research expertise in natural language processing, including computational semantics, natural language generation and automatic summarization. RBC said Cheung’s expertise in NLP has applications in financial services and other industries, including the analysis of unstructured text in public and proprietary bank datasets. The lab will also work closely with Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA) headed by Dr Yoshua Bengio, while growing research partnerships with McGill Univ and the Univ of Montreal where Bengio is a professor. The investment in Montreal’s Creative Destruction Lab (CDL-Montreal) will help a new cohort of startups working on AI projects. The first cohort of 28 startups, mostly headed by PhD holders, is scheduled to start December 15 and end in June 2018. The average financing that each startup will get is $900,000. The startups will work closely with Bengio who is recognized internationally for his work in data science, operational research and AI. CDL-Montreal is a collaboration between HEC Montréal and the Univ of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. There are also CDLs located in Toronto, Calgary, Halifax and Vancouver.

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