CALGARY (660 NEWS – Tom Ross) — With the towering offices once filled with oil companies providing the backdrop, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley made an announcement to increase high-tech investment in the province on Wednesday.
“We all know that we need to do more. And we need to diversify beyond our energy sector,” Notley said, from the observation deck on top of the Calgary Tower.
Notley announced a $100 million investment to attract more artificial intelligence based high-tech companies into Alberta, and expand on local initiatives.
As the technology around AI continues to improve and expand, its digital tentacles will reach many sectors that are crucial to the economy.
“Turning the world-class research going on in Alberta into successful tech companies, and solving world problems in health, in energy, agriculture, forestry, manufacturing, and frankly every sector with solutions built right here in Alberta,” Notley added.
The investment is on top of a $50 million commitment made last year to help create 3,000 new high-tech training seats at post-secondary schools in Alberta.
Part of the funding will go to the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Aimii), and they will be opening a new office in Calgary as a result.
“We’ll be able to expand our work to industrial partners, to work with industrial partners and help transform the economy across the entire province,” said Aimii CEO John Shillington. “Machine intelligence is being hailed as the fourth industrial revolution, and it will have far-reaching impacts on organizational efficiency, effectiveness and competitiveness.”
The province hopes this will lead to the creation of over 140 new companies and result in more than 6,000 trained and skilled Albertans.
“We’re also targeting the talent. So the folks who have the expertise in that area that are looking to find an environment within which they can get the supports they need to collaborate with other experts and build of each other’s ideas,” said Notley.
While the plan is still in the early stages, Minister of Economic Development and Trade Deron Bilous believes it will generate lots of interest.
“Especially when you look at the U.S, you’ve got companies that are looking at coming into Canada because of new restrictions on the H1B visas and for other reasons. So, we know that Alberta is the most competitive province in the country and this really is a signal to the world that Alberta is a tech province.”