AltaML Named Winner of Start Alberta’s ‘Most Significant Cross-Community Collaboration’ of the Year Award

November 16, 2020 3 min read
AltaML Updates

AltaML is honored to be recognized by Start Alberta as the 2020 winner of the Most Significant Cross-Community Collaboration of the Year award for the Applied AI Lab (AAIL). Start Alberta Tech Awards celebrate Alberta’s tech sector with awards to individuals and to organizations for their contributions to the innovation ecosystem.

The AI Lab is an industry-led applied data science internship program to bridge the gap between technical artificial intelligence (AI) skills and application in industry. The Lab’s mandate is to accelerate applied AI and machine learning (ML) skill development in Calgary, and over the three-year life of the program approximately 240 paid interns will participate in three-month cohorts. The Lab is operated by AltaML with four industry partners Suncor, ATB Financial, TransAlta, and Spartan Controls—that provide the secure data, use cases, and domain expertise essential for the interns’ work integrated learning. The AI Lab launched in October 2020 with eight highly skilled interns in the first cohort and the second beginning in January 2021.

The AI Lab is creating impact along several dimensions. Interns gain valuable applied experience that is difficult to acquire from a text book or online course, industry partners gain a talent pipeline that is de-risked through the interns’ work on their own use cases, and the increased local applied data science capacity will help Calgary-based companies to compete in the global data-driven economy, increasing prosperity for all Albertans.

AltaML opened its Calgary office in 2019 and the concept for the AI Lab was sparked shortly thereafter. A few highly skilled ML developers were hired in Calgary, but the short supply locally was evident. Rather than face a bidding war for scarce data science talent which could burn bridges within the community, AltaML took a consortium approach to build capacity. AltaML built relationships at the University of Calgary and with Mitacs to facilitate a postsecondary talent pipeline, engaged with Calgary industry to ensure the program met their needs and secured funding support from the City of Calgary through the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF) as well as from the founding industry partners.

“For us, this Start Alberta Tech Award celebrates the power of an idea. AltaML’s Managing Director in Calgary, Lucas Scheer, put this idea forward in mid-2019 and we thought it was crazy–too big and too risky. But as Lucas began to socialize it in Calgary, it started turning heads and getting traction,” said Nicole Janssen and Cory Janssen, AltaML Co-Founders and Co-CEO’s. “With support from the community, government and industry, we were able to make the project happen, and it’s amazing to be recognized for that. In turn we would like to recognize everyone at the University of Calgary, Mitacs, the City of Calgary, and Suncor, Spartan Controls, TransAlta and ATB Financial who championed the Applied AI Lab and therefore shares in this award.”

“Building this program from the original idea to what it is today has been a passion project for us and to see the Applied AI Lab launch so successfully and then be recognized with a Start Alberta Tech Award has been enormously rewarding,” said Lucas Scheer, AltaML’s Managing Director in Calgary. “The AI Lab has been about building capacity through collaboration from the start and is a win-win-win for interns, industry and the community. We are very excited about the transformational impact of this program and the multitude of opportunities it creates.”

About AltaML

AltaML is a leading developer of artificial intelligence (AI)-powered solutions. Working with organizations that want to use AI to leverage their data to develop solutions that drive tangible business results, AltaML empowers partners to create operational efficiency, reduce risks and generate new sources of revenue. Through a deep understanding of organizational pain points and challenges, AltaML’s solutions encompass the entire machine learning (ML) life cycle, from evaluating potential use cases and determining feasibility to piloting solutions, putting code into production, and ensuring model evolution.

About the Applied AI Lab

The AltaML Applied AI Lab is a collaborative industry-led initiative created with support from the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF) to accelerate artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) skill development in Calgary.

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