Report: 38 percent of Canadian tech firms place marketing operations in the US

A  new study by the Impact Centre at the University of Toronto suggests that Canadian marketing leaders are less experienced than their US counterparts.

The study, The CMO Search: Where are Canada’s Chief Marketing Officers?, looked at the employment patterns of Canadian and US tech companies identified by CB Insights as having raised money from VCs. Specifically, the study looked at the qualifications of the most senior marketing officers at 47 Canadian tech companies, including their past experience and education. These marketing leaders’ qualifications were then compared with those of the top marketing officers of 47 US-based unicorns.

The goal of the study was to examine and compare the quality of marketing leadership in Canadian and American tech companies by looking at factors such as education and past work experience.

The study revealed that 38 percent of Canadian tech firms have made the strategic decision to place their marketing operations in the US. It also found that senior marketing leadership in the US had a job title that featured the term “marketing” in 61 percent of the cases, while in Canada, there was a senior marketing person in only 35 percent of cases.

Canada’s biggest bank envisions Toronto as a ‘global destination for AI research’

Four University of Toronto researchers took home three research prizes, worth a combined $75,000, at the recent launch of the RBC Research Institute in Toronto – a collaboration with U of T.

The three RBC research prizes were awarded to Glenn Gulak, Gerald Penn, Cosmin Munteanu and Varun Perumal for their work in fields that range from cybersecurity to designing machine learning user interfaces and developing novel manufacturing materials.

David McKay, the CEO of Royal Bank of Canada, said Canada’s biggest bank is investing heavily in machine learning research in an effort to seize on Canada’s early lead in artificial intelligence and prevent top minds from leaving for the United States.

“We believe this will be a global destination for AI and AI research,” McKay told a packed room at the official launch party for the RBC Research Institute. The institute, part of an expanding, innovation-focused partnership with U of T, is co-located at the MaRS Discovery District and U of T’s Banting and Best buildings across the street.

#UofTGrad17: Entrepreneur with global roots says Toronto is the place to be if you’re a startup

Lachezar Arabadzhiev grew up in Bulgaria, attended high school in China and goes “home” to visit his parents in the United Arab Emirates. But when it comes to launching a startup, he says Toronto is clearly the place to be.

“There are a lot of opportunities here and exciting things that are happening – like in artificial intelligence,” says Arabadzhiev, who graduates this week from the University of Toronto Scarborough with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

“There are so many resources being offered and so many things you can learn.”

In recent years, U of T has emerged as a hotbed of AI-related research and, earlier this year, helped launch the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence with the federal and provincial governments. Meanwhile, there are 10 accelerators on U of T’s Toronto-area campuses – and the university also maintains key partnerships with others like MaRS and Johnson & Johnson’s JLABS life sciences incubator.

#UofTGrad17: How a U of T startup is helping disabled children walk like ‘Iron Man’

Few product tests are as emotional as the one Manmeet Maggu performed at his brother’s house near Delhi last summer.

The MBA student at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management was watching as his eight-year-old nephew Praneit, who suffers from severe cerebral palsy, was hoisted into a robotic exoskeleton device built by his startup, Trexo Robotics.

Moments later, Praneit’s robotically assisted legs began tracing delicate steps across the floor as a grin crept across his face.

“He gave us a smile,” said Praneit’s mother, Jasmeet Maggu, who battled back tears in a short video that was filmed following the initial tests. “That was the very first sign – a good sign that said, yes, he was going to take his steps and was going to walk.”

“The Canada Goose of lab coats”

A student startup from U of T has set out to turn boxy white lab coats into stylish jackets.

U of T PhD students Liu Zhang and Ondrej Halgas founded Modadoro — a company specializing in lab coat design — in 2013 as a student project for a year-long graduate course called “Creating Life Science Products.” After two of their product ideas had failed, Zhang and Halgas decided on a new idea involving lab coats. They collected responses from a primary customer validation survey, developed a business plan, and placed second in the final pitch competition.

Zhang and Halgas continued their project even after the course ended. Eventually, the company was picked up by Ryerson’s Fashion Zone, an incubator for fashion-inspired businesses and startups. There, they teamed up with Ryerson MBA student Alexandra Schmidt, who is now the company’s Chief Technical Officer. With Schmidt’s design work, the first prototype for the lab coat was created.

“Labs of today are filled with every nationality, gender, and creed imaginable. Yet, society and popular culture still try to force scientists into this old stereotype of an old white guy in a shapeless white lab coat. We believe that the time is more than ripe for a change,” Halgas told The Science Diaries.

#UofTGrad17: Hip hop dancer uses computer science skills to help fellow choreographers

Axel Villamil is the first to admit he sometimes struggled with his double major in computer science and media studies.

But, in fairness, the University of Toronto grad had a particularly hectic schedule. While working on his bachelor of science degree, he was also flying around the world to compete in dance competitions – he’s a top-ranked hip hop dancer – and managing his own media production company.

He even found time to launch a startup called StageKeep, an application that helps choreographers plan out their elaborate routines.

“I was balancing a full-time workload in computer science, regular rehearsals back in Cambridge [Ont.] and competing in Austria for a full week,” Villamil says.

“I would literally code in the hotel by day and dance by night.”

#UofTGrad17: Drone brings new panoramic views on convocation

Class of 2017: look up.

For the first time ever, the University of Toronto is using drones to capture photos and video of new graduates in their gowns flooding out of Convocation Hall. The office of academic and campus events asked Hugh Liu, a professor in the Institute for Aerospace Studies at the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, and his student Jason King to conduct test flights this week.

The ultimate goal is to draft a university framework for flying unmanned aerial vehicles on campus, he said.

Most of the Toronto sky is off-limits to drones, but Liu and Arrowonics Technologies – a startup born from his U of T research – obtained a special flight certificate from Transport Canada for the occasion.

Velkommen! Norwegian would-be disrupters arrive at U of T to learn how to launch startups

After working in Norway’s huge offshore oil and gas sector, Emil Blattman wants to launch a startup in the sustainable energy space – and he’s come to the University of Toronto to learn how to do it.

Blattmann is one of two dozen students enrolled in the Norwegian School of Entrepreneurship program, coordinated by the University of Oslo’s Centre for Entrepreneurship, who arrived in Toronto earlier this week to take part in a 10-week summer internship and training program organized by U of T’s Impact Centre accelerator.

While at U of T, the Norwegian students will receive a mix of classroom training and real-world experience, working at one of 22 Toronto-based startup companies.

“I want to change my path and start something new – start fresh,” said Blattman, 26.

AI’s flowchart challenge; Canadian ecosystem seeks critical mass

Jean-Francois Gagne’s map of the AI ecosystem in Canada is a constant work in progress. In fact, each time he presents his graphic to an audience, he gets more names to add to the dozens of logos, from research labs to incubators to startups.

“We have two guys working on this full-time,” says the co-founder and CEO of Element AI. “We’re trying to show the impact of the Canadian ecosystem on a global scale.”

Gagne was among a number of presenters at the first AI Forum in Montreal, a three-day event focused on what’s next for AI. While discussion points were varied – from the ethics of AI to how neural networks work – an overarching theme was the need for the community to put systems in place to create a sustainable business and economic model.

AI has reached the point where it its impact is being felt across the Canadian economy, Gagne said. “We have the financial resources, combined with the technology, talent and good understanding of how we need to reinvent business. AI is large enough, wide enough and has disrupted long enough that we can build a sustainable business model around the opportunity. Some answers will come from research, some from entrepreneurs, and some from engaging with corporate joint ventures.”