June 21 marked two important firsts: The first day of summer and the official launch of Borealis AI’s Toronto lab. One of these events happens every year; the other once in a lifetime. The team stood proudly on hand to welcome over 100 guests into our newly renovated space. Academics, business titans, and thought leaders mingled with the next generation of AI stars while they sipped “Mad Scientist” cocktails, nibbled on appetizers, and soaked in the atmosphere. Despite the presence of a hallway basketball net, the room was too packed to play. However, lab chief Foteini Agrafioti, says everyone is invited to come back for a game of one-on-one against Research Team Lead and secret Olympic-grade athlete, Yanshuai Cao

Dave McKay giving a speech.

RBC CEO Dave McKay kicks off the festivities

In his introductory remarks, RBC CEO Dave McKay emphasized the bank’s dedication to nurturing the Canadian AI ecosystem. The evening represents RBC’s investment in fundamental research, a commitment that will allow Canada to push the state-of-the-art and take our rightful place on the world stage as a leader in machine learning. The labs in Toronto and Edmonton are the bricks and mortar behind the science, the physical foundation to support our astonishing momentum and continual collaboration between academia and industry. 

Dr. Agrafioti followed Mr. McKay on stage to express her gratitude for a clear-thinking RBC leadership that understands the urgency in advancing AI research and keeping our IP homegrown. To illustrate that dream in action, she introduced our 2017 fellowship winners, Varun Perumal, Gerald Penn and Cosmin Munteanu, and Glenn Gulak, whose work represents the best of academic research with a dedicated shift toward entrepreneurship. Please visit RBC Research Prize 2017: Meet our winners for more on this year’s winners.

RBC Research Prize 2017 winners on stage with certificates.

RBC Research Institute CSO Foteini Agrafioti and RBC CEO Dave McKay present the 2017 Fellowship winners with their plaques. From left to right: Foteini Agrafioti, Cosmin Munteanu, Varun Perumal, Glenn Gulak, and Dave McKay

As Canada’s first industrial research centre dedicated to AI, Borealis AI represents a crucial step in Canada’s intellectual and economic future. If there’s any reason to break out the liquid nitrogen ice cream sandwiches, it would be that. 

Three people making liquid nitrogen ice cream.

Three people making liquid nitrogen ice cream.

For the full photo gallery of our Launch Party, Borealis AI Launch Party | Flickr.