Ontario has become a true hub for artificial intelligence, not just in Canada, but worldwide and the province's reputation as a global leader in AI is growing. It's home to world-class research centres such as the Vector Institute for artificial intelligence and start-up supporters, such as NEXT AI. Whether in fintech, medtech or other fields, some of the most promising AI ventures are located within the province. Here are just a handful of the ones to watch this year.


This Kitchener-Waterloo-based company's key cloud service offers a way for auto companies to find malfunctions or predict failures for vehicles coming off the assembly line or being driven – a big, but often overlooked challenge. It does this by using machine learning to find flaws in real time. The company raised $2 million in an investment seed round, in part thanks to founder Greta Cutulenco connecting with global Tier 1 manufacturer ZF Group at the North American International Auto Show.

Elucid Labs

Elucid Labs, based at the University of Waterloo, is behind an AI-powered hand-held device that can detect skin conditions, including cancer, early. Its augmented intelligence tech captures a "fingerprint" of moles and lesions and translates that into clinical knowledge that helps dermatologists make a diagnosis. In September, it was included on the Canadian Innovation Exchange's roster of innovative companies to be inducted into the annual Top 20 program.

Layer 6 AI

Layer 6 AI's tech is built for large enterprises, from finance to e-commerce, to media, and more. The Toronto company's deep learning solutions aim to help businesses make better use of their data. Its founders, Jordan Jacobs and Tomi Poutanen, are also co-founders of the Vector Institute.


This fintech company is all about enhancing auditors' capacity to ingest, process and analyze financial data. Its goal? To provide risk professionals with faster results and deeper insights. This will help them to identify and perform an audit with a greater level of assurance. Business News Network has named the Ottawa company its "top disruptor for 2017," and it was also one of the Companies to Watch at the 2017 Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Awards.

Winterlight Labs

Based at JLBAS @ Toronto inside the MaRS building, WinterLight creates tech that can diagnose and monitor cognitive diseases, such as dementia, through the use of a tablet. The company has received significant funding through grants, including from the Ontario Centres of Excellence and the Ontario Brain Institute, which has helped WinterLight collect high-quality data that has contributed to its product development.

Deep Genomics

This Toronto biotech firm is building an AI platform to support geneticists, molecular biologists and chemists as they develop new therapies, all using biologically accurate data. In 2017, it raised US$13 million from a Silicon Valley venture capital firm with the aim of becoming the world's first AI-based medicine company. Deep Genomics co-founder and CEO, Brendan Frey, is also a founding member of the Vector Institute.

Blue J Legal

Blue J Legal is all about making the law more transparent and accessible, helping legal professionals gather research more efficiently. Its offering analyzes data from common law cases, allowing its users to find more relevant information than what they'd find through a keyword search alone. Machine learning also allows for predictive capabilities, so legal pros can predict how a court might rule in their client's case. Blue J Legal was born out of the IBM Watson Challenge at the University of Toronto in 2014. By 2015, the team had built its first prototype and within a year, it developed a partnership with Thomson Reuters to bring its offering to the wider market.

Horizons ETFs

Horizons ETFs is the country's first AI-enabled exchange traded fund. The AI-powered fund, known as MIND, gives investors access to a global equity portfolio of North American-listed ETFs, all chosen through an algorithm that's learning continuously by picking up patterns from data analysis. Personal biases and emotions are removed from the process of building an investment portfolio, leading to more rational, better decision-making.


Integrate.AI uses artificial intelligence to make customer interactions more valuable. In other words, its goal is to help businesses make more educated decisions when it comes to their customer journey, using insights gained through AI. The start-up is led by former Facebook executive Steve Irvine, who left Silicon Valley to kick off the business in 2017. The company is now nearly 50 per cent women and values diversity – a big part of why the company is based in Toronto.

Analytics 4 Life

A4L is using machine learning to develop non-invasive and cost-effective medical devices. In part, its work focuses on detecting coronary heart disease early, using advanced analysis for physiological signals. The company's founder and chief scientific officer, Sunny Gupta, thought of that application while spending time with the Canadian Armed Forces. Gupta has a family history of heart disease and decided to consider signal analysis' applicability to heart health. Operating out of JLABS @ Toronto, the company now has a team of 20, with another 10 in the United States.


January 9, 2018

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