How Toronto is looking to become a tech capital for AI

Sofia Caro Valencia
By Sofia Caro Valencia April 18, 2023

Last month, Salesforce’s venture arm invested more than US $200 million in Toronto-based Cohere, an AI company which develops language-processing technology. Now that the world has witnessed the impressive capabilities of ChatGPT and generative AI, there’s been a significant surge in the development and interest in this field.

As a result, the Canadian AI sector is experiencing a continuous rise in its momentum. Radical Ventures, also a Toronto AI-focused venture capital firm, launched another fund at the beginning of the year aiming to raise US $500 million.

Toronto’s technological and innovative future seems promising as global AI leaders continue to invest in the city. With their presence and support, Toronto is on track to becoming a hub for cutting-edge technological advancements.

What is it about the city that is luring the AI scene?

Toronto is a metropolis teeming with activity, boasting a lively capital city, a dynamic nightlife, and a thriving culinary and artistic scene. Its rich multicultural landscape serves as a strong foundation for its growth as the next global artificial intelligence hub, making it an alluring destination for those seeking to be a part of its burgeoning tech industry.

The city is now the top dog for technology professionals, second to New York and Silicon Valley, the rise to a tech powerhouse can be attributed to a combination of government support, funding from prestigious universities like University of Toronto and the increasing involvement of major players in the industry. 

In November last year, the government announced an investment of $30 million to a robotics and AI innovation company that plans to develop human-like robots.

“As a leading digital nation, Canada is taking ambitious steps to harness the potential of artificial intelligence. By investing in companies like Sanctuary, we are leveraging Canadian expertise in AI to develop and commercialize innovative technologies. This initiative will help maximize the economic potential of AI for Canadians and further cement our AI leadership on the global stage,” said François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. 

The Six, was declared by the BBC as the most multicultural city in the world.

In 2021, immigrants comprised over 23% of the total population of a country that has historically been a strong advocate for immigration. Toronto’s position as the primary gateway to Canada has allowed it to cultivate a uniquely diverse cultural landscape that is unparalleled in many other parts of the world. You can enjoy great Italian pasta and authentic hummus, just like you can listen to Ordu, Spanish and Mandarin all in the same room.

The incredible array of cultures and religions intermingle, resulting in a unique and vibrant celebration of festivals like Holi, Christmas, Chinese New Year, and Passover. It’s a melting pot of diverse communities, including Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, and countless others, each adding their own colorful traditions to the city’s tapestry. 

The diverse pool of talent and demographics plays a significant role in the success of numerous startups and corporations serving various industries. And technology is one of the leading verticals with a wide offering of tech talent that is the result of an open immigration policy. The welcoming atmosphere that promotes immigration is further enhanced by the significant presence of tech behemoths such as Amazon, Google, Netflix, Salesforce, Uber, and Accenture, which have established a foothold in the region.

A great example of the progress that has been made in the industry is The Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence strategy that was released in 2017, making Canada the world’s pioneer of a national AI strategy. Vector Institute, one of the largest AI research centers in the country, is located in Toronto and is benefiting from the funding support via the Pan AI Strategy. The center aims to train, educate and develop the best AI professionals to advance AI application and commercialization. 

The future is bright for Toronto with a continuous flow of companies entering the tech scene

Celebal Technologies, an Indian software services company that specializes in AI and Big Data, just announced the opening of research centers with the goal of developing technological tools for business solutions.

All in all, the city has a promising landscape that is only forecasted to improve and grow alongside the different stakeholders; the government’s support, private and public funding, research capacity and tech talent.

And to grow its AI ecosystem, remaining agile and quick to react to the different market demands will be key and will be the differentiating factor that sets apart the city in order to capitalize on its current position.