This study examines opportunities for Canada to utilize current strengths in Artificial Intelligence (AI) to attract high-quality foreign direct investment (FDI). To lay the necessary groundwork, this research provides an overview of recent AI activities and developments, both in Canada and other global AI hubs, including the United States and Europe. It highlights examples of AI applications across sectors such as digital technology, agriculture, life sciences and others. Through in-depth analysis of key informant interviews (KIIs) with industry leaders from over eight countries and seven sector verticals, this study unravels core business needs filled by AI, international knowledge of Canadian advancements in the space, and perceptions of Canada as a destination for AI-based investment. Combined, this study sheds light on how potential investors from around the world view Canada’s presence in AI research, commercialization, as well as the opportunities and barriers to continued growth. This study includes an analysis of overall strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) in relation to Canada’s AI-based FDI-attraction strategy. Building on existing ICTC research on AI and its applications, this research suggests that Canada is viewed as an attractive destination for AI investment by some of the world’s top business leaders. Key attributes tied to this perception are a highly skilled talent base, strong educational institutions with innovative programming, and a friendly immigration climate that attracts skilled mid- and senior-level AI talent needed to fill critical roles.

This research was conducted using questions that sought to extract insights on AI applications, Canada’s AI ecosystem, and investment considerations. It does not directly take into consideration the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which has undoubtedly shifted global priorities, needs, and investment potential. Further detailed research is required to more fully understand the impacts of COVID-19 on AI developments and investment.

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To cite this report:

Cutean, A., Hamoni, R., Herron, C., Schuller, K. (July 2020). Betting on Red and White: International Investment in Canadian AI. Information and Communications Technology Council. Ottawa, Canada.

Designed by Ray Brand.