A look back at the Strategic Forum on Artificial Intelligence

Main partner:

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On February 18, 2019, close to 850 leaders from different sectors of activity took part in the second edition of the Strategic Forum on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to evaluate the impact of artificial intelligence on the city’s economic development.

The event was held with elected officials from the three levels of government in attendance: Canada’s Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Québec’s Minister of Economy and Innovation, Pierre Fitzgibbon, and the Mayor of Montréal and President of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal, Valérie Plante. It gave participants a first chance to hear from the president and CEO of the Canadian supply chain supercluster focused on AI (SCALE AI), Julien Billot.

February 18, 2019
New City Gas
850 participants

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“When you travel around the world, it becomes clear that one of the keys to our success is the collaborative spirit we have here in Montréal.”

– Michel Leblanc
President and CEO
Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

Part I – AI in Montréal: a look at the last year’s progress

A busy year: developments and new players in AI

“Compared with last year, we are better at attracting talent, but we still lose some, particularly to the U.S. We are also below average when it comes to women experts in AI.”

– Valérie Bécaert
Director, Research Group and Scientific Programs
Element AI

“We tell Americans: Come to Montréal. It’s Europe without the jetlag!”

– Hubert Bolduc
President and Chief Executive Officer
Montréal International

“2018 is the year the MILA was created. Our model is unique. We need to do things differently. We believe firmly in our model.”

– Émélie Brunet
Vice President – Talent and Ecosystem

Creating value with AI

“IBM has created 100 new jobs in Montréal in 2019, 50% of them held by women. These are jobs in high-growth sectors, including AI. It is one of our major strategic priorities.”

– Claude Guay
General Manager, Global Business Services
IBM Canada

“Montréal is a breeding ground for innovation.”

– Laurence Beaulieu
Deputy Director General

Part II – Collaboration and co-innovation at the core of our leadership

Strength in numbers: how to bring together the Montréal ecosystem

“We need existing businesses to move the ecosystem forward and create a world-class ecosystem.”

– Gilles Savard

“To ensure our leadership around the world, we cannot rest on our laurels. We have an opportunity in the next few years.”

– Pierre Boivin
President and CEO

Ethics and the responsible development of AI: necessity or opportunity

“Sometimes people see ethics as an obstacle to development. But socially responsible development benefits industries. For example, we don’t want health care decisions being made by an algorithm.”

– Marie-Josée Hébert
Vice-Rector, Research, Discovery, Creation and Innovation
Université de Montréal

“ The role of technology is to augment human beings and their work.”

– Abhishek Gupta
Montreal AI Ethics Institute

“There needs to be collegiality between researchers, businesses and stakeholders to think about priority values and acceptability. It’s a concerted effort.”

– Lyse Langlois
Executive Director, International Observatory on the Societal Impacts of AI and Digital Technologies
Université Laval

Breaking down barriers between academia and the business world

“AI is a field of research that can quickly find an application.”

– Yves Jacquier
Executive Director – Production Studio Services

“I would refer instead to applied research and yet-to-be-applied research.”

– Rémi Quirion
Chief Scientist of Québec

Who owns data? When AI meets intellectual property and private life

“There is an opportunity for businesses that introduce processes to ensure consumer confidence.”

– Hélène Beauchemin
Legal Council
Stradigi AI

“Centuries ago German philosopher Immanuel Kant asked three major questions about human knowledge that we can apply to AI as a foundation for our thinking. What does AI have the right to know? What should AI do? What can we hope for from AI?”

– Éric Lavallée
Associate, trademark agent and head of Lavery’s Legal Lab on Artificial Intelligence (L3IA)
Lavery Avocats

Making collaboration and co-innovation easier in AI

“ AI does not solve all problems. Different problems require different solutions. Data will help you find a better solution to your problems. ”

– Wayne Madhlangobe
Director, Artificial Intelligence
Air Canada

Moderated by Charles Verdon
Data Innovation Strategist

Accelerating technology transfer from academia to industry to build industrialized AI solutions

“ What's stopping the widespread adoption of AI? Five things: technical feasibility, cost, labour market dynamics, economic benefits, regulatory and social acceptance. ”

– Arnold Liwanag

“Thanks to AI, farmers can better understand and interact with their chickens.”

– Serge Massicotte

Part III – Accelerating companies’ adoption of AI

Six AI priorities you can’t afford to ignore

“The six priorities are: the organizational structure, talent, confidence, data, reinvention and convergence.”

– Ramy Sedra
Data and Analytics Consulting Leader
PwC Canada

Integrating AI in business: where to start?

“The key thing to understand is that the moment to do it is NOW.”

– Tomasz Jamroz
Director of Emerging Technologies Strategy and Advanced Analytics – Montréal

Education and technology transfer in the age of artificial intelligence

“In the world of AI, we have the advantage of having a lot of things in the public domain. We are working collaboratively with businesses.”

– Françoys Labonté, Eng., Ph.D..
General Manager
CRIM – Centre de recherche informatique de Montréal

“We are seeing a coordinated effort by CEGEPs. We have chosen to enhance skills.”

– Simon Delamarre
Director of Continuing Education and Business Services
Collège de Bois-de-Boulogne

“What makes businesses successful is combining science and business skills.”

– Serge Lafrance
Director, Executive Education and Adjunct Professor
HEC Montréal

Joining the AI revolution

“We have to present local entrepreneurs with solutions and convince them to act.”

– Pierre Gabriel Côté
President and CEO
Investissement Québec

“You have to think: What is my strategy? What part of my workflow do I want to make more efficient? You have to choose the greatest opportunity to optimize.”

– Marie-Josée Lamothe
Tandem International

Part IV – Transforming the economy of tomorrow

Busting the myths: when AI is good for work and for workers

“We want AI to take over tasks, not jobs.”

– France Dufresne
Canadian Region Leader – Talent Line of Business
Willis Towers Watson

Imagining the bank of the future

“Banks are in a state of radical transformation. AI has an important, unprecedented place in financial services.”

– Anne No Delaide
Vice-President, Knowledge-Based Industries, IT, Media and Lifescience, Commercial Financial Services
RBC Banque Royale

Encouraging the creation of AI start-ups

“We need to tell our stories better.”

– Sylvain Carle
Real Ventures

“The first thing I want to see is whether entrepreneurs have thought about AI in their roadmap.”

– Magaly Charbonneau
Vice-President, Investissement
iNovia Capital

“We have a pool of unconventional AI start-ups that we have to leverage.”

– Manon Hamel
Vice-President, Business Development and Québec Initiatives Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec Executive Director
Espace CDPQ

“There are three challenges when it comes to AI: competition for talent, data and commercialization.”

– Bruno Morency
Managing Director
Techstars Montréal AI

Exporting AI solutions internationally

“Exporting is a team sport.”

– Frédéric Bastien
Co-Founder and CEO

Becoming the world leaders in smart supply chains

“There is a critical mass here in Quebec. I would like to see that potential exploited.”

– The Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport
Government of Canada

“If AI is to succeed in Canada, it can’t just be among large companies. SMEs need to be involved.”

– Julien Billot


“Cities need to be important partners. They are in a position to help higher levels of government.”

– Valérie Plante
Mayor of Montréal
President of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal

“Montréal has to continue to make its presence felt as a world centre for AI.”

– The Honourable Pierre Fitzgibbon
Minister of Economy and Innovation
Government of Québec

“We recognized that new technologies are coming and that we have to be more flexible. We have already made changes to enable certain projects, without abandoning principles such as security.”

– The Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport
Government of Canada

The Strategic Forum on Artificial Intelligence was organized by the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal. It was made possible by our main partner PwC Canada and the invaluable cooperation of our Gold sponsors: CGI, Lavery lawyers, Microsoft, the Direction régionale de Services Québec de l’Île-de-Montréal, RBC and Ubisoft; and our Silver sponsors: IBM, Investissement Québec, Le Devoir and the Montreal Gazette; and our Bronze sponsor the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.

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