Facebook invests $7 million in Canadian AI research by launching lab in Montreal

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American social networking giant Facebook is making a play to expand its artificial intelligence research efforts.

Facebook is investing $7 million CAD to launch an AI research lab in Montreal, in collaboration with McGill University’s Reasoning and Learning Lab.

“Montreal has a long-standing reputation for research excellence in AI,” said Yann LeCun, chief AI scientist at Facebook, in a September 15th, 2017 media release. “We recognize this, and look forward to working with and investing in the AI community in Montreal to help further enhance Canada’s status as one of the most innovative research hubs in the world.”


The investment will be used to benefit students; establish a Facebook AI research chair in collaboration with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR); and to sponsor AI-related events to encourage researchers to work in Montreal.

“This investment by Facebook in the FAIR lab builds on Montreal’s rich research ecosystem and CIFAR’s longstanding support for AI research in Montreal and beyond,” said Alan Bernstein, president and CEO of CIFAR, in the same release. “Facebook’s investment further elevates Canada’s standing as a global leader in AI research and innovation.”

The Facebook AI Research (FAIR) lab is the company’s second AI research facility outside of the U.S., and will be led by computer scientist and McGill professor Joelle Pineau.

“I decided to join [FAIR] because of its desire to contribute to fundamental AI research, its commitment to hiring the best talent, and its open and collaborative approach to partnering with the research community,” said Pineau, in the same release.

Pineau will maintain her academic post at McGill during her leadership of the FAIR lab.

According to Facebook, the FAIR Montreal team will work out of the company’s existing offices in Montreal. The company plans on eventually hosting a total of 30 researchers, including Pineau, Pascal Vincent, Michael Rabbat and Nicolas Ballat.