Canada is committing $1.76 billion (2.4 billion Canadian dollars) of its federal budget to boost its artificial intelligence sector and maintain the country’s “competitive edge” in AI.

The government unveiled a new package of measures, including investing in artificial intelligence-related startups, medium-sized businesses, and research firms to “secure Canada’s AI advantage.”

“The rapid advance of generative AI today will unlock immense economic potential for Canada, significantly improving productivity and reducing the time workers have to spend on repetitive tasks,” the country’s prime minister Justin Trudeau said in an April 7 statement.

The package will see $1.47 billion invested into building computing capabilities and other AI-related infrastructure through the country’s new AI Compute Access Fund, which will be used to support the country’s leading AI researchers and startups.

Another $147 million will be dedicated to AI startups in the agriculture, clean technology, healthcare and manufacturing industries, while $73.5 million will be handed to small and medium-sized AI scale-up companies to boost productivity.

“This will create good-paying opportunities for every generation, boost innovation across the economy, raise productivity, and accelerate economic growth.”

Many developments in drug discovery, energy efficiency and housing innovation have already been leveraged by AI in the country, Trudeau noted.

The fund will also address workers who may be impacted by the AI boom — which will receive up to $36.8 million under Canada’s Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program to re-train and re-skill across a range of different industries.

Employees in the film and animation industries are most at risk of losing their jobs to generative AI, according to a recent report from consultancy firm CVL Economics.

The remaining $36.8 million will be used to create a Canadian AI Safety Institute to further the safe development and deployment of AI.

Canada claims it was the first country in the world to introduce a national AI strategy when it introduced the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy in 2017, aimed at driving the adoption of AI through research and commercialization.

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Canada’s AI market is currently worth around $7.4 billion, according to data from Statistica, while the United States market sits at about $106 billion.

Part of Canada’s AI strategy has also reportedly involved attempts to recruit several emerging AI firms from the European Union.

One of Canada’s leading AI start-ups is Tenstorrent, which partnered with South Korean manufacturing conglomerate Samsung last October to help “bring the next generation of AI chiplets to market.”

Two months earlier, Tenstorrent closed a $100 million funding round led by Samsung and the automotive manufacturer Hyundai.

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