Canadian Manufacturing

Scale AI funds 8 projects for $3.4M amid COVID-19 crisis [UPDATED]

The projects focus on AI technology mobilized for public health

May 4, 2020  by CM Staff

MONTREAL — Scale AI, one of Canada’s five innovation superclusters which focuses on artificial intelligence and supply chain technology, launched a call for projects to find solutions for the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 120 projects were submitted in just three weeks.

Eight projects have already passed all the stages of analysis and approval, and were announced on May 3, representing a total investment of over $3.4 million.

Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and industry, said in a prepared statement, “I’m proud of the superclusters, including Scale AI, for stepping up to leverage their broad membership and Canada’s strong industrial base to confront COVID-19. Together, we will protect the health and safety of all Canadians.”

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Julien Billot, general manager of Scale AI, added, “To face the crisis, we have implemented an exceptional program aimed at developing and financing relevant and effective projects very quickly. With projects that include analysis tools for research and clinical trials, coordination of patient services, supply management for drugs, medical equipment and food and essentials, AI has once again demonstrated its ability to support all sectors in improving their efficiency.”

The eight businesses approved include:

  • Roche Diagnostics
    • With the unprecedented demand for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and despite the ongoing ramp up in production, there is currently still a limited supply of these tests. This AI solution will be powered by a robust forecasting model and an allocation optimization engine that takes into account constraints in global supply, as well as national testing capacity and evolving circumstances.

      François Drolet, director, Public Affairs: “Our capacity to face the COVID-19 pandemic rests on the agility and the collaboration between all actors. AI gives us new forecasting and rapid response capabilities that benefit all public health stakeholders, healthcare professionals and—ultimately—patients.”

  • Careteam Technologies & FleetOps 
    • The support network for vulnerable people, including professional home services and caregiver interventions, is completely disrupted by the current crisis. This project aims to equip community organizations and volunteers to document needs and manage interventions in a coordinated manner, on a digital platform that brings together local stakeholders.

      Dr. Alexandra T. Greenhill, CEO and chief medical officer of Careteam Technologies: “Digital and artificial intelligence have multiple applications and the community sector is facing a major technological leap. Our approach is based on collaboration between all stakeholders and sharing of data in order to offer better support to people who need it.”

      Chris Atkinson, founder and CEO of FleetOp: “Applying our innovation to rapidly scale a digital solution to help those who are caught in the crisis represents an exciting challenge for our team of engineers.”

  • The Montreal Port Authority and CargoM 
    • Distribution networks are under stress, with the need to quickly deliver basic necessities in the health and food sectors, while other sectors are operating at a slower pace. This AI-based solution enables the optimization of identification and prioritization of critical cargo arriving by container at the Port of Montreal to ensure the rapid distribution of essential goods, such as medical equipment and food products, in the current COVID-19 context.

      Daniel Dagenais, vice-president of Operations at the Montreal Port Authority: “With a data management and processing system already well established, we are able to rapidly deploy additional solutions that can optimize the process of unloading and reduce container dwell times to less than 12 hours for critical cargo, in order to ensure continuity of care and services offered to the population, in the context of COVID-19.”

      Mathieu Charbonneau, executive director of CargoM: “This innovative project highlights both the collaboration between supply chain actors and Montreal’s strengths in artificial intelligence, to contribute to our collective effort in the face of COVID-19 with concrete and effective solutions.”

  • AlayaCare 
    • While home care is turned upside down by the COVID-19 crisis, this solution aims to create a new tool for monitoring the health of both patients and workers. This helps protect their health, limit the risk of spreading the virus and ensure continuity of care and services, whether in person or through a new offer of virtual consultations.

      Naomi Goldapple, head of AlayaLabs at AlayaCare: “The collective fight against COVID-19 highlights the exceptional work of the care teams deployed for patients. We are proud to contribute in our own way, with AI solutions that ensure continuity of home care in a safe manner.”

  • Dialogue Technologies
    • While the public has many questions about COVID-19, 811 phone lines and telemedicine interventions are multiplying, but nursing teams are not able to meet demand. Dialogue is developing a project to improve the service of the Chloé automated public chatbot for COVID-19. The system aims to facilitate quick access to relevant information for citizens and allow healthcare professionals to focus on tasks that require their expertise, while protecting the public and avoiding misinformation.

      Alexis Smirnov, co-founder and chief technology officer at Dialogue: “Since the arrival of COVID-19, our team has worked tirelessly to create tools to help Canadians weather this crisis. Working with leaders in AI and conversational systems, with the support of Scale AI, will allow us to continue to improve the patient experience, while reducing pressure on the public healthcare system.”

  • Mila
    • To accelerate the interpretation of research data for effective antiviral molecules in the fight against COVID-19, this project takes advantage of a new deep learning algorithm to exploit the capabilities of artificial intelligence in fundamental research and to transfer this knowledge into applied research.

      Yoshua Bengio, scientific director of Mila: “The entire vocation of Mila is found in this project, at the junction between disciplines and types of research, at the service of the common good. Let us remember this spirit of collaboration when, hopefully, we return to a more normal life. This is also a spirit of science, where the emphasis is on the joy of understanding, sharing and discovering solutions together.”

  • Montreal Heart Institute
    • This project will develop an intelligent infrastructure to oversee clinical trials by optimizing the management of informed patient consent, as well as the capture, filtering and analysis of data from a treatment evaluation study based on colchicine to reduce mortality from COVID-19.

      Dr. Jean-Claude Tardif, director of the Research Centre at the Montreal Heart Institute: “While time is a key factor in the search for treatments, artificial intelligence allows us to reduce elements that slow down the completion of clinical studies. This digital framework, authorized by Health Canada and the FDA, allows us to facilitate the work of doctors and researchers in the deployment of a clinical study whose results will be decisive in the treatment of COVID-19.”

  • Creative Destruction Lab
    • Creative Destruction Lab is adapting its objectives-based mentorship program to enable start-ups to face the challenges posed by COVID-19 in terms of public health and economic recovery. The selected projects will benefit from the support and expertise of leading entrepreneurs, economists, scientists, inventors, business leaders and investors.

      Sonia Sennik, executive director of the Creative Destruction Lab: “CDL’s mission is to transform science projects into massively scalable products and services that benefit humankind. We are focusing our structured mentorship process on supporting organizations facing an unprecedented situation.”


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