Vector Institute Releases First Annual Ontario AI Snapshot

January 28, 2021

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January 28, 2021

Today, the Vector Institute released its first annual Ontario AI Snapshot, published in partnership with Deloitte Canada, based on market research that included a survey of executives and readily-available data.

Launched in 2017 with support from the Province of Ontario, Canada’s CIFAR Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, and over 40 industry sponsors and a mandate to drive AI research excellence  to foster economic growth and improve the lives of Canadians, the Vector Institute is accountable for reporting on its impact and the health of the surrounding Ontario AI ecosystem.

The snapshot is welcome news and an important baseline for Vector’s founders, who, four years ago, hypothesized that a critical mass of AI talent would enable significant investment, job creation, and commercialization.

Among its highlights, this year’s report (2019-20) indicates that Ontario’s AI ecosystem is strong and well-positioned for resilience and growth as evidenced by the expansion of Vector’s research community from a few founding faculty to over 500 researchers, enrollment of over 1,000 master’s students in AI programs across the province, nearly 20,000 AI jobs created and retained, millions of dollars invested in AI R&D, $1.9 billion in VC investment, and commercialization of AI by approximately half of businesses surveyed.

The 10 metrics that comprise the snapshot – focused on jobs, investment, application, and commercialization – will serve as benchmarks for measuring the collective progress of governments, businesses and institutions in further strengthening Ontario’s AI ecosystem.

2019-20 Ontario AI Snapshot Metrics

Indicators of Talent & Job Market

  • Over 1,000 AI master’s students enrolled and at least 302 AI master’s students graduated in Ontario, and expansion of Vector’s research community to 500 researchers, including 120 faculty, 60 undergraduate students, 91 master’s students, 195 PhDs and 35 post-doctoral fellows.
  • An estimated 3,683 AI jobs created and 16,205 AI jobs retained.
  • An estimated 1,602 well-paying jobs created and held by highly qualified professionals (HQPs) graduated from AI-related programs.
  • 55 new AI-related patents filed.

Indicators of Investment and Adoption Activity

  • Between $97 million and $824 million was spent on AI research and development in Ontario in 2019/20 (i.e., budgeted R&D expenditures and allocation of external funding).
  • In 2019/20, there were an estimated 12 companies moving to the Ontario AI ecosystem and 166 companies investing in it.
  • $1.9 billion in venture capital investments flowed into Ontario’s AI ecosystem in 2019/20.
  • An estimated 32 new AI companies were established in Ontario in 2019/20.
  • Nearly half (44 percent) of business executives consider AI to play a strategically important role in achieving their company’s business objectives.
  • More than half (53 percent) of Ontario companies have commercialized AI products or services or use AI to sell their core products or services.

“We are thrilled to introduce a report that both celebrates the accomplishments of Vector’s partners and surrounding ecosystem and provides a benchmark for measuring our collective efforts. The report validates Vector’s Three-Year Strategy and what we have heard anecdotally from businesses from day one: that AI is strategically important and that a robust supply of AI talent combined with knowledge translation programs for industry in turn generate demand, investment, commercialization, and societal impact.”

–       Garth Gibson, President & CEO, Vector Institute

“Vector’s AI snapshot is compelling evidence of the impact of investments made through the CIFAR Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, which have grown a critical mass of AI talent in Canada and set into motion a positive feedback loop of talent, investment, research, and commercialization. Our Government is determined to do what is necessary to keep Canada’s first mover advantage by building on our history of AI research excellence to spur and scale positive economic and societal impact.”

–       François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

“Vector’s snapshot is an important benchmark for our collective progress. It is exciting evidence of Ontario’s status as a thriving hub of AI talent that is a catalyst for investment and innovations in business and health care across Canada. Ontario companies are ahead of the pack; approximately half of the executives surveyed indicated AI is strategically important and being commercialized within their companies. As nearly half of Canadian companies seek to hire external AI talent, Ontario’s 1,000 AI master’s students are well placed to enter the workforce, drive digital innovation and foster economic development.”

–       Ross Romano, Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities

“The findings outlined in the Vector Institute’s snapshot show a well-developed and thriving AI ecosystem in Ontario. With thousands of jobs created, close to $2 billion in venture capital investment and a growing talent base, Ontario is well-positioned to extend its leadership role in artificial intelligence research, innovation and technologies around the globe. Here at home, the sector has created approximately 20,000 AI jobs and hundreds of AI-enabled companies. This is good news for the future success of the sector and important for the province’s economic recovery and growth.”

–      Vic Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade

Report Methodology

The Vector Institute and Deloitte relied on a combination of research and external databases.

A Modus Research Panel – Canada’s gold standard for B2B research across sectors – was engaged to conduct a survey of 151 business executives and senior managers in enterprises and universities operating in Ontario, all of whose organizations are either AI developers, offer AI services, use AI to drive their services, or had immediate plans to use AI.

In addition, market research was conducted using government patents databases and QUID, a company/industry research portal.

Finally, some results were interpolated using a combination of university outreach and data from the Vector Institute.

About the Vector Institute

The Vector Institute drives excellence and leadership in Canada’s knowledge, creation, and use of AI to foster economic growth and improve the lives of Canadians. Vector’s Three-Year Strategy aims to advance AI research, increase adoption in industry and health through programs for talent, commercialization, and application, and lead Canada towards the responsible use of AI. Programs for industry, led by top AI practitioners, offer foundations for applications in products and processes, company-specific guidance, training for professionals, and connections to workforce-ready talent. Vector is funded by the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada through the CIFAR Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, and industry sponsors.

About Deloitte

Deloitte provides audit and assurance, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax, and related services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. Deloitte serves four out of five Fortune Global 500® companies through a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries and territories bringing world-class capabilities, insights, and service to address clients’ most complex business challenges. Deloitte LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership, is the Canadian member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and its member firms.

Our global Purpose is making an impact that matters. At Deloitte Canada, that translates into building a better future by accelerating and expanding access to knowledge. We believe we can achieve this Purpose by living our shared values to lead the way, serve with integrity, take care of each other, foster inclusion, and collaborate for measurable impact.

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