Waterloo partners with Ontario Chamber on new AI Hub

Waterloo president Vivek Goel and Ontario Chamber of Commerce president Daniel T
Waterloo president Vivek Goel and Ontario Chamber of Commerce president Daniel Tisch pose following the signing of an MOU
Waterloo’s WatSPEED to provide businesses with access to AI upskilling programs in new province-wide initiative

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) launched its new AI Hub on Wednesday with the University of Waterloo’s WatSPEED professional and executive education unit selected as an anchor partner to help strengthen the province’s role as a leader in AI adoption.

AI is poised to transform economies - both global and local - as businesses quickly adopt generative AI tools to grow revenue, enhance customer experiences, and improve efficiencies. The AI Hub is designed to serve as a unique industry-academic partnership that will drive AI adoption among Ontario businesses while providing support for evidence-based policy making from the government, according to the OCC.

The AI Hub will assist these businesses, specifically small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), to adopt AI technology through access to resources and talent as well as help address ethical and data privacy concerns that could pose barriers to implementing AI across their organization.

"The Ontario Chamber of Commerce aims to maintain Ontario’s global leadership in AI and emerging technologies," said Daniel Tisch, president and CEO of the OCC.

"By bringing together industry, academia, and policymakers, the OCC’s AI Hub will advance dialogue and action to maximize the benefits of AI for businesses, workers and communities across the province."

Waterloo joins the OCC alongside Microsoft Canada as anchor partners in the new initiative and will provide access to WatSPEED’s AI upskilling programs for Ontario’s SMBs.

WatSPEED currently offers several AI-related courses including "AI and Business Strategy" and "ChatGPT and the Large Language Model Revolution" that are taught by Waterloo faculty subject matter experts in AI, innovation, and commercialization. The courses are aimed at advancing the skills of the Ontario workforce to leverage the productivity and efficiency AI represents.

"Through our partnership with the OCC’s AI Hub, the University of Waterloo, via WatSPEED, will spearhead the development of cutting-edge educational resources tailored for businesses," said Vivek Goel, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo.

"Our focus is on AI training that meets the demand for skills, driving innovation and securing a prosperous future for Ontario’s industries and communities."

The AI Hub’s announcement comes in the wake of news that the Canadian government will spend $2 billion to increase the computing power available to Canadian artificial intelligence firms and researchers, while developing a new AI safety institute, in the upcoming federal budget.