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Since the 1950s, AI has been at the forefront of computer science and has been a topic of interest, especially in terms of patenting. This report captures 85,144 AI inventions patented worldwide between 1998 and 2017, of which approximately 2% or 1,516 patented AI inventions are associated with Canadian researchers and institutions. Breaking down this Canadian subset further, we find 618 AI inventions involved at least one Canadian institution and 1,419 inventions involved at least one Canadian researcher. Overall, Canada ranks sixth in terms of raw patented invention volumes, from either the perspective of researchers or institutions.
On an international level, China and the U.S. lead the AI race. In 2011, a spike in AI patented inventions transformed the landscape, much of this activity originating in China. Computer Vision and NLP are the AI Applications responsible for most of the activity, while Life and Medical Sciences and Transportation are the most patented AI Fields. ML overshadows all other techniques both domestically and internationally as it pertains to AI Techniques.
In Canada, there are several hubs of activity in this field. Each of the superclusters provides nurturing environments for emerging talent, focused on the industries local to those particular geographic areas. This creates activity hubs, with each having their own specialization, as is apparent from the CMA cluster map presented in the Canadian institution section. Other initiatives that have been put in place in Canada include the Equitable AI Initiative and the Canada–UK Initiative, each focusing on separate goals to advance international and domestic collaboration, ethics, and policy concerning AI. In addition, Canada created the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, a $125M initiative connecting the key players in the field to ensure collaboration, equity and economic advancement.
In terms of AI Fields, Canada has a high specialization in Physical Sciences and Engineering as well as Life and Medical Sciences, two of the most patented AI Fields. However, one area where Canadian innovation could stand to gain is Transportation, where its relative specialization falls far behind the rest of the world. In terms of AI Applications, Canada is more diversified than the U.S., where the latter excels in NLP and Computer Vision relative to the other AI Applications subcategories.
The gender ratio worldwide, as it relates to the distribution of researchers involved in AI patented inventions, is one female for every three males. In Canada, this ratio is one female for every six males. This gap cannot be explained simply by the ratio of engineering or science graduates, and rather hints at alternate reasons. The Canadian Department for Women and Gender Equality has put forward a number of initiatives to further influence young women to pursue as well as feel comfortable remaining in these positions and ascending the ranks of these institutions. IP awareness would be a welcomed addition to these initiatives.
Since the AI technology field is continuously growing and evolving, it is important to make note of the challenges facing AI in Canada, particularly the retention of talent and institutions. The firstcome, firstserve nature of the AI market makes it incredibly competitive when looking for funding from investors. The findings also confirm the intensity of competition of the AI market in Canada, as validated by the IPCI results. Canadian funding patterns engage more with established companies than with companies on their first round of funding, in contrast with the U.S.Footnote 44 This difference in funding strategies reflects to the high acquisition rate of Canadian institutions by American companies. Looking forward, it will be interesting to see how Canada adapts to the quickly evolving nature of AI and how institutions are able to leverage their IP to support business decisions and growth. Nevertheless, as AI becomes better defined and understood, it can be expected that it will increasingly be regulated domestically and abroad, but at the present time, many opportunities exist for players to set the standards and influence the speed at which such a technology is implemented in our everyday lives.