August 2022 – On August 22, Mila played host to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a delegation of prominent business leaders, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
August 2022 – Mila held its first Robotics Summer School, organized by Professor Glen Berseth (Mila/Université de Montréal) in collaboration with Mila partners Ahead.IO Labs Inc. and NVIDIA.
September 2022 – Mila's research community passed the 1,000-member mark.
September 2022 – Mila launched the Mila Entrepreneurship Lab, a program that develops the entrepreneurial spirit of young business leaders who have emerged from the Mila community.
October 2022 - Mila's scientific director and founder is recognized as the 3rd most influential scientist in the world according to the Stanford University’s top 2% Scientists directory.
September 2021 – Mila welcomed over 50 distinguished guests for the launch of AI Québec, a book about Quebec's strong and unique artificial intelligence ecosystem.
March 2022 – Kareen Rispal, France’s Ambassador to Canada, awarded the insignia of Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur to Yoshua Bengio for his outstanding scientific contribution in the field of artificial intelligence.
June 2022 – Yoshua Bengio, founder and scientific director of Mila, joined the ranks of Quebec luminaries who have entries in the 2023 Petit Larousse illustré dictionary, such as the late surgeon Lucille Teasdale and endocrinologist Michel Chrétien.
As of September 2022, Mila counts more than 1,000 researchers (master’s, doctorate and postdoctorate, interns and visiting researchers) and students (professional master’s, DESS).
349 Mila researchers have received grants and scholarships since 2021, a 21% increase compared to the previous year.
Research projects involving Mila-affiliated faculty members jumped from 321 to 447, a 39% increase.
Mila has seen consistent and substantial growth among its faculty, reflecting its ability to attract talent and create a thriving research community.
From April 2021 to March 2022, Mila researchers published 547 peer-reviewed articles, 35% of which were co-authored by industry collaborators.
Since 2021, the number of employees supporting Mila’s research activities and operations grew from 71 to 105, representing a staggering 48% increase.
Mila professors have garnered prestigious awards and nominations for excellence over the past year:
McGill Associate Professor Doina Precup—Canada CIFAR AI Chair, Research Lead at DeepMind in Montreal and Mila Core Academic Member—named Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada for her fundamental contributions to reinforcement learning and her contributions to the use of machine learning (ML) in medicine that have made a difference in practice.
In 2022, Mila’s Founder and Scientific Director Yoshua Bengio was named a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur—the highest French order of merit—for his outstanding scientific contributions and his commitment to the development of responsible AI. Professor Bengio was also named recipient of Spain’s Princess of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research.
Golnoosh Farnadi, Canada CIFAR AI Chair, Mila researcher and Assistant Professor at HEC Montréal, received the Google AI Research Scholar Program Award in April 2021 for her research addressing algorithmic fairness in decision-focused deep learning. She also won the Facebook 2021 Research Award for Privacy Enhancing Technologies for her project on fair and privacy-friendly ad targeting using federated learning.
This past January, Mila and UdeM Assistant Professor Guillaume Lajoie was named a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Neural Computation and Interfacing. In October 2021, Professor Lajoie was awarded the prestigious Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain Pilot Award for a joint project with the University of Washington that explores the use of brain-machine interfaces to uncover computational principles of motor behaviour learning.
In September 2021, Karim Jerbi—Full Professor at Université de Montréal and Canada Research Chair in Computational Neuroscience and Cognitive Neuroimaging—was inducted into the Royal Society of Canada in recognition of his outstanding research at the intersection of neuroscience and AI.
Nature Biotechnology, May 2022 Issue: Disease signatures in high-dimensional biomedical data detected using a visualization algorithm
As part of the Mila COVID-19 genomics taskforce, Associate Professor at UdeM and Canada CIFAR AI Chair Guy Wolf and his team released a paper presenting Multiscale PHATE, a new multiresolution visualization method that can learn and visualize abstract cellular features and groupings.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), September 27, 2022 Issue:
Mila and IVADO’s Guillaume Dumas—researcher at the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre and Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at Université de Montréal—and his colleagues introduce a novel neurocomputational model of the human brain that could bridge the gap in our understanding of AI and the biological mechanisms underlying mental disorders.
Canada’s Food Price Report: how an algorithm co-developed by Mila researchers played a key role in this year’s forecasting
N-BEATS, a multi-task learning model developed by researchers at Mila and ServiceNow Element AI, was instrumental in developing this year’s forecasting model. Instead of basing its predictions on all 300 economic variables considered, N-BEATS is univariate, meaning it only uses the historical consumer price index (CPI) to predict future CPI. In learning to forecast, it trains not only on CPI but on each of the individual economic time series.
Published every year since 2010 by Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph, Canada's Food Price Report provides a forecast of Canadian food prices and trends for the coming year in Canada, with an estimated market reach of more than 200 million people in 50 countries each year.
To spotlight the members of its talented community, Mila launched the Life at Mila video series in the spring, featuring laid-back interviews with Mila students. Six videos have been released thus far.
In this instalment, meet Dongyan Lin, a PhD student at McGill University. When she is not exploring Montreal’s parks and enjoying its famous bagels, Dongyan studies how neuroscience and AI can complement and advance one another.
Click here to view the full series. More videos coming soon!
In June 2022, the government of Canada launched the second phase of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, bolstering Canada’s leadership in the sector.
This second phase of the Strategy, which received an investment of more than $443 million in the 2021 Budget, will enable Mila and the entire Canadian AI ecosystem to attract world-class talent, increase its capacity for cutting-edge research, and drive the commercialization and adoption of AI, while ensuring that ideas and knowledge developed in Canada continue to be implemented locally.
In May 2022, the Quebec Ministry of Economy and Innovation announced the new Quebec Research and Innovation Investment Strategy (SQRI2), which will invest more than $217 million in AI research and innovation over five years. $125 million will be allocated to support several key areas for Mila: excellence in AI university research, training, implementing AI adoption initiatives in business, AI business incubation and bootstrapping, and ensuring that companies take into account the societal impacts of AI and digital technology.
Due in large part to cutting-edge research and government investment in recent years, Quebec has joined the ranks of the world’s AI leaders. In March 2022, a study by Tortoise Media ranked Quebec 7th in the world in AI, ahead of countries with vastly larger populations such as France, the Netherlands and Australia.
The major investments in AI of recent years in Quebec and Canada are already bearing fruit. According to a study by PwC Canada, they propelled a $1.9 billion increase in the province's GDP between 2017 and 2021; the $800 million invested by the two levels of government have supported an average of more than 3,000 very well-paid jobs per year and generated more than $400 million in tax revenue during the same period.
Quebec's AI expertise, particularly in deep learning, also increases Montreal’s drawing power. According to a July 2022 study published by Montréal International, the sector’s strength was one of the main reasons for the record investments in Montreal by companies based outside Quebec in the first half of 2022.
AI is already transforming global economic activity, and Mila is lending its expertise to industry partners across operational activities, from applied research projects to consultations and startup growth.
In 2021–22, the number of Mila industry partners jumped from 84 to 105, a 25% increase.
Of those 105 organizations, 67 are Canadian.
23% of Mila’s industry partners belong to the health and life sciences sector.
This past June, Mila launched its AI Activation program to help organizations, including small and medium-sized businesses, begin the process of adopting high-level machine learning.
Through advisory mandates spanning a few months, our applied machine learning scientist teams guide organizations towards the advanced use of AI to improve their productivity, generating positive impacts on society.
In the summer of 2022, Alloprof and Mila collaborated together, harnessing modern deep learning techniques, to improve Alloprof’s Help Zone, an online platform where students can ask a question about their school work and get an answer from another Alloprof user or moderator.
To keep students from getting stuck on a question and giving up on their homework, it’s important to give them help right away when they come to a stumbling block. Thanks to AI, students who ask a question on Alloprof now receive instant individualized support while they wait to receive assistance from a peer or Alloprof’s team.
In summer 2022, Mila’s AI Activation team has done a demonstration for Dubois Agrinovation to show the potential of optimizing their operations in selling parts for farm irrigation systems. Mila developed a computer-vision-based system that lets Dubois Agrinovation’s employees, or their clients directly, quickly identify the spare part needed by their customers using only a photograph of it.
Handling request for parts without this system had been a painstaking process for the company’s employees and their clients. This streamlined process, made possible by Mila's system, can be accomplished by less experienced employees, and even allows Dubois Agrinovation's customers to identify parts on their own, thus enhancing the company's customer experience.
Mila’s Applied Machine Learning Research Team works with organizations on high-impact and challenging machine learning projects. The team's unique collaborative approach aims to design and implement cutting-edge solutions that benefit organizations by enriching their machine learning capabilities.
Since April 2021, 49 companies have benefited from technology transfers. Discover two innovative projects led by Mila’s Applied Machine Learning Research Team:
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is joining forces with Mila researchers to explore AI-based solutions for improving athlete anti-doping testing strategies. The goal is to optimize testing resource allocation by better estimating an athlete’s doping risk. The resulting solution will be combined with other tools and strategies used by anti-doping organizations to prioritize testing. This collaboration can potentially have a meaningful impact in fighting the use of doping in sports.
With the help of Mila, LUCID built an affective music recommendation system (AMRS) that leverages patients’ self-assessed responses to music. AMRS proposes audio experiences (in the form of track sequences) for patients using a reinforcement learning agent and a model that predicts the average affective response of a generalized anxiety patient to music. The agent selects the music from a list of available tracks based on the listener’s current and final targeted moods. The first version of this technology led to a successful commercial API product for therapeutic platforms now integrated into a globally distributed and clinically validated research iOS/Android app.
The Mila community is made up of passionate and curiosity-driven researchers with the potential to change the world through AI applications. The Mila Entrepreneurship Lab was launched in 2022 to nurture this entrepreneurial spirit and to support the growth of startups launched by Mila researchers at all stages of development.
The number of startups created by Mila researchers.
The number of startups that were awarded Mila Startup status by the Startups Committee, giving them access to funding, talent and various privileges via the Mila partnership program.
Mila PhD student Charles C. Onu is the Founder of Ubenwa, a Mila Startup whose mission is to make clinical diagnostic tools more widely accessible.
“Growing up in Nigeria, of all the socioeconomic challenges around me, the deficiencies in healthcare stood out the most. I’ve lost relatives due to simple inadequacies. It was always a question of how I can apply my science and engineering education to improve healthcare, and my path led me to AI.”
In 2022, Ubenwa raised $CAD 3.24 million to launch an app that can decipher baby cries to detect and diagnose medical conditions that have traditionally been difficult to diagnose, such as neurological issues caused by perinatal asphyxia.
Aeroport AI reduces aircraft preparation time and flight delays by using computer vision and deep learning to monitor and analyze aircraft ground handling in real-time, and provide delay alerts and predictions to optimize apron operations.
Apex seeks to understand economic and financial interactions through open market dynamics. The company develops large-scale AI-based supply and demand simulators to help decision-makers make more informed decisions at any scale.
Chapa is an Ethiopian financial service and data engineering company. Chapa provides merchants and entrepreneurs with solutions for payments and transaction issues.
Mohana aims to make it easier for people with lifestyle-related chronic conditions improve their well-being and symptoms. The startup product is designed around the key stepping stones of how one would work with a nutritionist or a naturopath.
SilicoLabs is a company conducting behavioural research to enable scientists to leverage emerging technologies, within a framework designed for interdisciplinary research and collaboration.
Raiv Computers is a neurotechnology startup developing advanced machine learning and AI tools to improve neural therapies using brain-machine interfaces and deep brain stimulation.
Unser Dialog provides a dialogue forum where controversial topics can be discussed in a fruitful and empowering manner. Its mission is to make AI knowledge accessible for everyone, empowering and including citizens in AI decision-making.
DreamFold aims to find cures for diseases such as diabetes and cancer with technology based on high throughput biological experimentation, active learning and GflowNets to enable the design of antibodies that target membrane proteins and transmit the signal directly into the diseased cell.
In 2021, Mila and UdeM Professor and Canada CIFAR AI Chair Aaron Courville worked closely with the Japanese-based multinational conglomerate Hitachi to help optimize transit system scheduling in Japan through reinforcement learning. Professor Courville's guidance helped Hitachi improve its internal model.
In spring 2022, David Rolnick, Assistant Professor at McGill University and Canada CIFAR AI Chair, helped the Montreal Insectarium develop sensor systems based on machine learning to automatically photograph and identify insects.
These systems allow the Montreal Insectarium to analyze biodiversity in remote locations for which very little data exists, monitor ecosystem health and assess the impacts of climate change on these ecosystems.
In 2021 and 2022, Mila established partnerships with several leading financial institutions, including Desjardins, the largest financial cooperative in North America, BDC, the bank for Canadian entrepreneurs, and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), a global investment group. Through these agreements, partner institutions are able to extend the benefits of Mila’s cutting-edge research and expertise to startups in their respective networks.
The development of socially responsible AI for the benefit of all is at the heart of Mila’s mission. As a leader, Mila contributes to social dialogue and the development of applications that will benefit society through collaborations between researchers and stakeholders with diverse skills who want to harness the potential of AI and advanced technologies to create a better world.
The new Public Policy and Learning stream within the AI for Humanity team aims to raise awareness of and capacity for responsible AI practices across the AI ecosystem by developing training programs, consulting services and practical resources for Mila students, partners and startups.
The team will also build Mila’s public policy capacity to lead national and international discussions on AI regulation and governance by upskilling and convening policymakers worldwide and collaborating with global organizations like GPAI, UNESCO and UN-Habitat.
Launched in 2020 as a brainchild within the G7, GPAI is an international multi-stakeholder organization comprised of 25 member countries. GPAI aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice to advance responsible AI research and development. Discover how Mila researchers contribute to GPAI’s mission:
This fall, the AI for Humanity team launched TRAIL, a new interactive development program exclusively for Mila students. This year’s cohort is at full capacity. Over the course of five weeks, TRAIL will equip researchers with the foundational knowledge, skills, language and tools they need to design, implement and maintain AI research projects responsibly.
In October 2022, Mila and UN-Habitat partnered up to present the “AI & Cities: Risks, Applications and Governance” white paper at the Urban Economy Forum in Toronto. The report, which focuses on AI strategies, risks and specific approaches to and tools for urban AI governance, puts forward a set of key recommendations for urban leaders when implementing AI in local governments. More importantly, it emphasizes the importance of applying a people-centric and climate-sensitive approach to AI deployment in cities and human settlements. Click here to read the full white paper.
Data-driven Insight for Sustainable Agriculture (DISA) is a computer vision project focused on demonstrating the utility of regenerative agricultural practices to inform policymakers and promote these practices among smallhold farmers in Rwanda, with a special focus on female farmers. This project is designed to mitigate climate change by enhancing carbon sequestration while increasing food security, employment and income for the benefit of 9.2 million smallhold farmers. This ongoing project is led by Mila Applied AI Projects Lead Allison Cohen, Director of Applied Research Gaétan Marceau Caron, and PhD student Mélisande Teng. External collaborators and experts include Future Earth and Sustainability in the Digital Age; Planet, a global daily Earth data provider; and local stakeholders from ESRI Rwanda and Leapr Labs.
Launched in 2018, the Montreal Declaration is a collective work that aims to steer the ethical development of AI for social good by making recommendations with strong democratic legitimacy. Today, an initiative led by Université de Montréal—with contributions from Mila's AI for Humanity team—is assessing the activities of the Declaration since its unveiling to assess how it may have shaped and informed responsible AI initiatives. The goal is to understand the ecosystem's needs in this area and provide future recommendations. The report is set to be released in fall 2022.
Mila distinguished itself on the health front in several ways during the past year, largely as a result of the creation of a unit that develops health-related initiatives. It includes more than 35 world-renowned professors whose research interests lie at the interface between AI and the life sciences, ranging from bioinformatics and medical machine learning to neuroscience and oncology.
This 5-year project, funded under the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council's Discovery Horizons pilot program, supports interdisciplinary research that spans health, the natural sciences, engineering and the social sciences. Yoshua Bengio and UdeM’s Michael Tyers are joining their efforts to identify new antimicrobial peptides using machine learning. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers antibiotic resistance one of the most serious threats to global health. This project, which seeks solutions to a worldwide problem, fosters dialogue between AI and health researchers in order to incorporate AI into drug discovery.
This IVADO PRF3-funded 30-month research framework program is led by Yoshua Bengio with three other principal investigators from the fields of health and materials chemistry. Nine Mila faculty members (Sarath Chandar Anbil Parthipan, Doina Precup, David Rolnick, Pierre-Luc Bacon, Jian Tang, Simon Lacoste-Julien, Irina Rish, Guy Wolf and Mathieu Blanchette) and a number of academic researchers from different universities are involved in the program’s interdisciplinary projects. These projects aim to design algorithms through a series of iterative rounds of data gathering (from laboratory experiments and data simulators) and algorithm development for applications such as drug and material discovery.
Under the bilateral Bavaria-Quebec Artificial Intelligence in Health collaborative research program, Professor Julien-Cohen Adad of Mila and Polytechnique Montreal and his collaborator Mark Mühlau at the University of Munich have received 3-year funding for a project on multiple sclerosis diagnosis using MRI quantification of brain and spinal cord lesions. While medications are available to control the disease, each person responds differently and an individualized approach would be much more effective. This would require effective analysis of MRI images. The research team hopes to solve the problem by means of AI algorithms. This approach has the potential to help determine treatment efficacy and to predict the clinical course of the disease, all while strengthening Quebec-Bavaria relations.
On the Mila Blog: a strategic partnership between Mila and Relation Therapeutics for the discovery of synergistic drug combinations
Mila and Relation Therapeutics have been involved in a fruitful collaboration via the RECOVER project, funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Repeated experiments guided by sequential model optimization hone in on synergistic drug combinations active against a cancer cell line, requiring substantially less screening than an exhaustive evaluation. Read more.
Following the November 2021 symposium hosted by Mila, IVADO and CIFAR, four projects were selected to receive nearly $400,000 in funding to explore AI methods to generate synthetic imaging data while ensuring fidelity and patient privacy.
Among the selected projects, Mila researcher Christian Gagné, Full Professor at Université Laval and Canada CIFAR AI Chair, will be leading a project in partnership with the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) on the generation of confidentiality-preserving synthetic data from administrative databases on prescription drug consumption for the analysis of drug use in the Quebec population.
Discover how Mila researchers are exploring the implications of AI in the fight against climate change and some of the projects underway.
Professor David Rolnick is one of the lead authors of the report, “Climate Change and AI: Recommendations for Government Action,” commissioned by the GPAI and presented in November 2021 at COP26—the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The report includes 48 concrete recommendations for governments to address climate change, including a wide range of use cases.
As part of IVADO’s Strategic Research Funding Program, Mila professors Christopher Pal and David Rolnick, along with three other researchers from the Institut de recherche en biologie végétale and Université de Montréal, are leading a biodiversity and climate change research framework to provide researchers and practitioners with tools to combat biodiversity loss and the effects of climate change. Remote sensing technologies, such as phenocams or drones, offer the potential to study plant phenology and biodiversity in great detail, generating enormous amounts of data. The resulting data will enable the development of new algorithms grounded in the latest advances in computer vision and meta-learning to map plant species and their phenological signatures.
Mila believes that diversity and inclusion are immense advantages for a community. In view of the barriers faced by underrepresented groups in the field of AI, it designs and implements innovative mechanisms to address these barriers and ensure strong participation by underrepresented groups in Mila and its broader ecosystem. Half of leadership positions at Mila are held by women and 5 out of 8 (62.5%) senior management positions are filled by women.
While AI attracts more men than women, Mila and its affiliated professors are determined to recruit members of underrepresented groups. In one year, the proportion of female research faculty has increased by 12% and now stands at nearly 22%.
Mila’s efforts to implement concrete actions, develop co-ownership and achieve meaningful impacts are organized around three pillars:
In line with industry standards, Mila uses the ISO 27001 standard and the NIST cybersecurity framework. In 2021–2022, 23 dimensions covering the five strategic functions (identify, protect, detect, respond, recover) were examined. Mila's average maturity score was 1.2, which is comparable to that of other institutes. The target has been set at 3. To achieve it, Mila has prepared a 3-year roadmap including 9 initiatives.
The first initiative, which addresses the governance framework and the security operating model, has been completed. The training and awareness phase is in progress.
At the same time, the affiliated universities have initiated a similar process. Active collaboration ensures that the information security policies and practices of all these organizations are complementary.
Mila’s mission is to be a global pole for scientific advances that inspires innovation and the progress of AI for the benefit of all.
Mila’s values are the cornerstone of our vision and feed the DNA of our organization.
Attract, develop and retain a diversified pool of talent recognized globally for their high-level expertise.
Achieve the highest levels of scientific leadership in AI development.
Contribute to partnerships, projects and initiatives to accelerate the deployment and adoption of AI.
Develop perspectives on the potential of AI and the issues related to its use.