Techstars Heads to Montreal with New AI-Focused Accelerator

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Montreal has some of the leading AI minds in Canada—and now it has a way to train those looking to enter the scene and become leaders in their own right.

Real Ventures is partnering with Techstars to launch the Techstars Montreal AI Accelerator. The program will build on the amazing AI work being done in Montreal and add one more building block to the city’s ecosystem.

This move will bring Techstars to its second Canadian location after launching in Toronto and beginning their first cohort in January. Techstars Toronto does not necessarily have a theme for its cohorts, but Montreal’s will focus on the development and application of AI across all industries.

“The addition of the Techstars Montreal AI Accelerator is a significant complementary addition to our ecosystem,” said Hélène Desmarais, Chairman of the Board and CEO, CEIM and Co-Chair of SCALE.AI, Canada’s AI-focused supercluster initiative.

“Techstars’ track record of supporting high potential entrepreneurs coupled with Real Ventures’ approach to ecosystem building and deep knowledge of the city’s AI networks, align perfectly with SCALE.AI’s goals to bolster Canada’s leadership in AI, shape a new global supply chain platform and accelerate industry adoption of AI-enabled technologies.”

The choice for an AI accelerator in Montreal is deliberate as it is home to some of the most exciting and innovative AI programs not only in Canada but the entire world. From Element.AI securing over $100 million USD in funding to AI labs from the likes of Facebook, Stradigi and Thales to the Creative Destruction Lab garnering support from BMO and RBC to fund their AI-only cohorts, it’s an exciting time to be in the Montreal AI scene.

“It’s important that the latest developments in artificial intelligence are accessible to the next generation of entrepreneurs so that we can make major positive change in our society,” said Yoshua Bengio, co-founder of Element AI. “By attracting more talented entrepreneurs to Montreal, the Techstars AI Accelerator can help ensure that the latest AI research is integrated into technologies that are accessible to everyone.”

In addition, Real Ventures and Techstars will collaborate with existing organizations like Montreal’s Institute For Data Valorization and the aforementioned Creative Destruction lab Montreal. They will provide support to new AI startups whether it be academic perspective or business advice.

The Techstars Montreal AI Accelerator will kick off in September and feature a demo day in December during NIPS 2018 right in Montreal. Applications will be open until May 13, and if the competition is anything like Toronto’s first Techstars cohort, it will be tough to get in. Over 650 companies from 50 different countries applied to Toronto’s first cohort.

Startups focused on, but not limited to, the following themes are encouraged to apply. Check out the application toolkit for more info.

  • Deep Learning, machine learning, reinforcement learning.
  • The advancement of image recognition and other domain/industry specific applications.
  • Speech recognition, linguistics and natural language processing (bonus points for
    multi-lingual systems!).
  • IoT / sensor systems and autonomous vehicles/drones.
  • Predictive analytics and recommendation systems (domain/industry-specific applications).
  • Diverse application of AI in control systems, agent enablers and cognitive computing.
  • “Augmenting” human experts across industries including supply chain, advanced manufacturing and robotics; smart mobility, transportation and smart city; cybersecurity, automated vulnerability assessment and intelligent remediation; health and medical advancement, from personalized medicine to genomics data processing; financial modeling, fraud prediction and detection; media creation, production, distribution and monetization.

The leader of Techstars Montreal AI Accelerator has not yet been announced. Venture capitalist and former Extreme Startups member Sunil Sharma leads the Toronto cohorts.

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