OCIF Supports AltaML Initiative To Create AI/ML Talent Pipeline
The Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF) will provide AltaML Inc. with up to $3.25 million over three years to create applied data science internships to accelerate artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) skill development in Calgary through hands-on, mentored work experience.
Alberta has a long history at the forefront of AI/ML as a result of decades-long investment in academic research. The applied data science internship program will be an industry-led initiative, building on and extending the province’s strength in the field, and specifically shoring up capacity in Calgary.
AltaML has partnered with ATB Financial and Spartan Controls to deliver the internship program in which paid interns with appropriate STEM qualifications can learn to solve real-world industry problems using data and applied AI/ML – thereby gaining essential experience for job readiness. Discussions are underway with Suncor Energy to explore how they can participate in this initiative.
The program will operate on a cohort basis with the first three-month cohort launching October 1, 2020, and over the program term, up to 240 individuals will have the opportunity to participate. Individuals interested in applying for internships are encouraged to follow AltaML’s social media accounts to receive updates.
“Calgary is an innovation hub across a number of sectors and creating the capacity for training and advancement through AltaML’s centre of excellence will further that reputation,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi, a member of the OCIF Board of Directors. “This investment will help grow the talent pipeline necessary to address the increased demand for professionals in the artificial intelligence and machine learning space.”
The applied data science internship program is targeted at addressing a local shortage of experienced AI/ML talent faced by Calgary companies specializing in delivering AI/ML products and services, as well as local companies that endeavor to develop their own in-house AI/ML teams and capabilities.
“It’s a no-brainer for AltaML to be in Calgary with all the decision makers, capital and data concentrated here, but a constraint on our plans for growth is the availability of local AI/ML talent,” said AltaML Co-founder and CEO Cory Janssen.
“We quickly realized that we’d be competing with our industry partners for data science talent with experience on applied business problems, so we took a collaborative approach in developing the concept for the internship program. Now with industry and post-secondary partnerships and support from OCIF, we can begin implementing it. We are proud to lead this initiative and to partner with these premiere Calgary companies.”
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“At ATB Financial, we strive to provide our customers with expert advice to support them in building their financial future, and this is enabled in part through the creation of world-class, trusted artificial intelligence,” said Curtis Stange, President and CEO of ATB Financial. “We are proud to sponsor the applied data science internship program, knowing it is an important step to building talent to support Alberta’s future prosperity.”
“We are very excited to be working with AltaML on this important initiative to develop talent in Calgary,” said Grant Wilde, President & CEO of Spartan Controls. “AI/Machine learning is one of the fastest growing fields in the world today and our team at Spartan is focused on accelerating industry innovation by combining our automation expertise and applied data science.”
“AltaML’s internship program will provide significant opportunities for students in the recently approved Master of Data Science and Analytics program. Furthermore, this initiative will help to solidify Calgary as a home that fosters Data Science learning and as a pipeline of Data Science talent for many years to come,” said Usman Alimand Jim Stallard, Co-directors of the Data Science and Analytics program at the University of Calgary.
AltaML is the 11th submission to be approved for OCIF funding.
“We are excited to support AltaML, who is a proven leader in developing and commercializing ML software, in building out the programming and training foundation to address the need for talent to take advantage of opportunities critical to companies’ growth in our market. OCIF is excited to support and partner with AltaML and their established industry players to put Calgary on the map and train the next generation of AI and ML talent to help support and grow the local ecosystem” said Mark Blackwell, Chair of the OCIF Board.
The Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund was launched by The City of Calgary in April 2018 to support investments that spur growth and create jobs in strategic sectors identified in the economic strategy Calgary in the New Economy.