Last summer, when DeepMind — Google’s U.K.-based artificial intelligence (AI) company — announced that it was opening its first international office in Edmonton, it was proof that the city’s pioneering AI research had gained global recognition. 

For decades, out of the limelight, University of Alberta researchers and Edmonton tech entrepreneurs have been developing cutting-edge AI. In fact, the University of Alberta is ranked third in the world for artificial intelligence and machine learning by csrankings.org.

Innovate Edmonton, a division of the Edmonton’s Economic Development Corporation (EEDC), wants Edmonton recognized as a world leader not only in AI, but in big data and health innovation as well.

“We are aiming to amp up and fuel growth in the city’s tech and innovation sector,” says Cheryll Watson, Vice President of Innovate Edmonton. She notes the momentum is growing thanks to support from Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, who recently called on local investors to throw their support behind local start ups.

In addition to its strength in AI, Edmonton is learning on additional key differentiators that make the city a great location for innovations. Alberta Health Services, headquartered in Edmonton, is Canada’s largest province-wide, fully integrated health system, delivering services to four million people and providing researchers and entrepreneurs with an ideal, strategic opportunity to create and experiment. Likewise, the city has been an early adopter of open data protocols, achieving global recognition for its programs.

“We’re very proud of Edmonton’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” says Watson. “While Silicon Valley plays an important role in raising capital and helping to grow tech business, Edmonton is one of the world’s leading innovation hubs. We’ve just been very quiet about it. It’s time for that to change."


Three Edmonton Companies You Need To Know

SAM

Every day, more than a billion tweets, photos, and videos are shared on social media, creating a rich reservoir of raw data and the perfect place for researchers to mine important information on a host of issues. SAM, a Startup Edmonton company, is turning social media chatter into real-time knowledge by using AI to monitor social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram and alert users to breaking news events as they happen. Newsrooms and organizations around the world already use SAM.

SCOPE AR

The aerospace, automotive, manufacturing, and military industries, among others, generally require extensive training of their staff and diligent maintenance procedures. Scope AR uses augmented reality (AR) to provide step-by-step interactive and visual guidance for training and maintenance purposes. The product can be used to overlay instructions onto any equipment being worked on. By simply downloading the application to any smartphone or tablet, workers can connect to an expert in real-time, and the expert is able to draw on and annotate anything they might be looking at. The company has been quietly building an impressive list of customers since being founded in 2010, such as Boeing, Tesla, Toyota, Lockheed Martin, and NASA.

DRUGBANK

A highly successful spinoff from the University of Alberta, DrugBank is the world’s largest online database of drug and drug target information. Started at the University of Alberta in 2006, it’s often described as an online drug encyclopedia because it provides both the composition of a drug as well as its structure. Used by millions of researchers, pharmacists, and companies around the world, including the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, DrugBank is enabling the discovery of new drugs and the repurposing of existing drugs to treat new and rare illnesses.