Engaging With Canada’s AI Ecosystem

15th June 2023

This year, Chat GPT’s ability to generate coherent responses to human input has raised general public awareness about AI’s potentially transformative and disruptive capabilities, with some pundits predicting that the impact of AI will be at least equal to the mass adoption of television, the internet, or the use of smart phones. Canada is a leader in the AI space, making it a prime event destination for associations looking to host conferences focused on AI.

Words Marc de Faoite

Leadership in AI

On a national level, Canada has long established its dedication to leading the world in the development of this exciting new technology.

The Canadian government has committed over $1 billion to support the development of AI and technology-related research and initiatives in Canada. Between 2015 and 2018, it produced the most AI patents per capita among G7 nations and China while, in 2017, Canada became the first country to release a national AI strategy – the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy. The Strategy identifies three major AI centres: TorontoMontréal, and Edmonton

The AI expertise of these cities, combined with their accessibility, cosmopolitan feel, natural settings, and focus on responsible event planning, make them ideal event destinations for associations interested in hosting events focused on the near-endless potential of AI.

Edmonton: a Hotbed of AI Research 

For the past 25 years, the University of Alberta has ranked in the top three in the world for AI research, while Edmonton is also home to the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (AMII) and the Kule Institute for Advanced Study (KIAS). Two Edmonton-based AI companies (AltaML and Trust Science) featured on a list of Canada’s Top Growing Companies in 2022

Edmonton’s AI community includes prominent figures in research, academia, and industry, which has facilitated the attraction of corporate labs and research partners from major companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM. This, in turn, makes it easier for event organizers to access local keynote speakers and arrange site tours of ground breaking facilities. Additionally, the size and diversity of the industry in Edmonton make it easy to access potential and relevant sponsors.

Edmonton © Travel Alberta

Edmonton has a track record of hosting successful AI events, including the 2022 AI Week, which welcomed over 2,000 people from 38 countries, over 100 speakers and consisted of 50 different events. In May 2023, Edmonton will host Upper Bound 2023, poised to be Canada’s largest convergence of applied AI professionals and researchers. 

Montréal: A Hub for Canada’s AI Leaders

There are more than 27,000 workers with AI skills in Montréal. The city is first in Canada for university funding research, with nearly $2bn per year, and there are over 14,000 university students enrolled in AI-related programs. Google, Microsoft, and Meta, have made Montréal their AI R&D centre, while MILA, with over 1,000 researchers, is the world’s largest academic research lab in deep learning and reinforcement learning.

Scale AI – Canada’s AI supply chain supercluster – and the Montréal AI Ethics Institute are also operating here, while Montréal-based companies like Korbit Technologies are leading the AI space globally. This concentration of intellectual capital offers event planners vast opportunities for collaboration, networking, and learning at events. 

Montréal is also a trailblazer when it comes to integrating technology into events.  At the Palais de Congrès de Montréal for instance, event planners can collaborate with RE-AK Technologies to measure participant satisfaction and emotions generated by events using biometric data.

It’s no wonder, therefore, that the city has successfully hosted various AI-related conferences, including the World Summit AI Americas, the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Law, and the Annual Conference on Neural Information Process Systems. Meanwhile the 36th Canadian Conference on Artificial Intelligence (CANAI) took place at McGill University early June, 2023. 

Montréal’s strengths in deep learning expertise and its experience in hosting AI related events make it a compelling destination for event planners looking to create impactful events.

Toronto: a Rising Global Hub for AI Events

With the world’s highest concentration of AI start-ups, Toronto is the third-largest technology hub in North America and is rapidly becoming a global centre of excellence for AI. 

The Vector Institute, a non-profit research institute that partners with top companies such as Google, Shopify, Uber, and all five major Canadian banks, is based in Toronto, as is Google, while tech giant Meta has chosen the city as the base for its Canadian Reality Labs and AI research teams. 

© Destination Toronto

Toronto has hosted several events related to AI, including Collision – which brought over 30,000 attendees to the city in 2022, and Big Data and AI Toronto, with more events planned for 2023 including the Advanced Research Society for Science and Sociology’s International Conference on Artificial Intelligence, and the 4th International Conference on Big Data, Machine Learning and Applications (BIGML).

Event planners can rely on Destination Canada Business Events, with a sector specific specialist available to provide insight, support, and guidance in organizing successful events.  To get in touch with Destination Canada’s team, contact Virginie De Visscher, Senior Director, Business Events, Destination Canada, at

Toronto’s multiculturalism and safety – the city was ranked the second safest city in the world by the Economist’s Safe Cities Index 2021 –  combined with local and leverageable expertise and excellent conference infrastructure make it an ideal place for hosting AI events.

Elsewhere in Canada

Edmonton, Montréal and Toronto are just three Canadian cities with thriving AI ecosystems. There are many more destinations from coast-to-coast-to-coast in Canada that also excel in this space. 

Canada’s reputation as a leader in AI innovation make it an attractive destination for hosting AI and technology events, while its commitment to sustainability, combined with its scenic beauty, multiculturalism, safety, and world-class venues and accommodation, make it a destination that your attendees will want to visit time and time again.

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