Taking collaborative innovation to a higher level

Recipient: SOSCIP
Region: Southern Ontario
Total funding allocated: $10 million

Taking collaborative innovation to a higher level

Advancements in technology can have profound benefits for Canadians. From improvements in health diagnoses and treatment, to increased efficiencies for businesses, or safer physical and digital spaces, these innovations impact our daily lives by solving social, technical and business challenges. They are also key drivers of our economy, leading to job creation, business growth, and competitiveness in the global digital economy.

Driving industry innovation is the focus of SOSCIP—Canada’s only advanced computing research and development consortium of its kind. With a membership of 15 academic institutions, IBM Canada plus six innovation partners across southern Ontario, SOSCIP provides a single point of contact for companies to work with world-leading researchers and advanced computing platforms to solve their business challenges and support their long-term growth.

FedDev Ontario has been there since the beginning in 2012 to champion collaboration among key partners to drive results for the region and to provide continued support as the project progresses. Phase one of the project established the consortium, and phase two increased industry access to its high-performing computing platform and expanded support to new sectors. As SOSCIP evolves and the success of its collaborative ecosystem continues to foster growth and innovation, phase three will enable the organization to pivot its existing activities and leverage its existing architecture to establish a first-in-Canada artificial intelligence (AI) consortium.

The Agency’s latest $10-million investment will result in SOSCIP overseeing one of the world’s foremost industry-driven AI and data science innovation platforms. With a critical mass of hard-to-find expertise, leading-edge AI infrastructure and a highly qualified talent pool, SOSCIP will unleash the potential for innovative southern Ontario companies to develop and adopt new technologies that will enhance their competitiveness in a rapidly changing global economy.

Over a three-year period, the initiative will support 400 new collaborative research projects and help 150 SMEs build AI and data science technologies into their products and operations, bringing 80 new innovations to market. About 1,000 students and researchers will benefit from AI and data science training and work experience, and 500 high-quality jobs will be created in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

“FedDev Ontario’s continued support will further reinforce SOSCIP’s position as the leading research and development consortium harnessing advanced computing to drive industry innovation,” says Tibor Turi, Executive Director of SOSCIP. “The SOSCIP consortium’s ability to drive impactful industry-led research projects in the field of AI and data science will bring the transformational benefits of AI to companies to help them be globally competitive, create jobs and benefit society.” 

To date, SOSCIP has worked with over 200 companies to adopt data science in their operations; supported 500 highly skilled jobs across over 120 Ontario-based businesses; and enabled over 60 percent of graduates working on SOSCIP projects to transition into high-tech careers.  The consortium has grown to include 15 of Ontario’s most research-intensive academic institutions that are committed to solving problems that improve our everyday lives—from our cities and health, to cybersecurity and advanced manufacturing.

The consortium operates three advanced computing systems backed by expert technical support through the University of Toronto (SciNet) and SHARCNET. These include the SOSCIP GPU-Accelerated Platform, which is a leading-edge, energy-efficient system that delivers powerful performance over a wide range of big data applications, such as machine learning, astronomy, image and video processing and computational chemistry.

Analytics 4 Life (A4L) was one of the first start-ups to benefit from SOSCIP. A4L uses artificial intelligence to develop machine-learned solutions to identify and assess disease, and advanced computing power supported the development of the company’s mathematical models. Following a clinical trial with more than 1,200 participants, the CorVista® System was born.  The CorVista System is a non-invasive cardiac diagnostic platform used to diagnose multiple cardiovascular conditions that can be administered in a physician’s office and provide instant test results.

“Having access to SOSCIP’s resources has accelerated our development timeline,” says Shyam Ramchandani, PhD, Chief Science Officer, A4L. “Without SOSCIP, it would have been much more difficult for a small company like A4L to obtain the funding and computational power necessary to analyze billions of data points.” A4L now has offices in Toronto, North Carolina and China.

As SOSCIP holds true to its vision, its partners’ accomplishments validate the importance of collaborating to solve problems, create opportunities and drive innovation. Not only is SOSCIP’s support helping companies grow and thrive in this innovation economy, it is also strengthening Canada’s position as a hub for multinational enterprises looking to anchor and expand their AI presence here and around the world.

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Through FedDev Ontario’s visionary investments and support, SOSCIP has evolved from a successful consortium unique within Canada to one that positions Canada as a world hub to attract businesses to harness the benefits of AI.
Tibor Turi, Executive Director of SOSCIP