‘Big day for automation’ as Canada launches AI supplier framework

By on 21/01/2019
Alex Benay, chief information officer of the Government of Canada

The Government of Canada has announced an approved supplier list of companies able to provide the state with artificial intelligence (AI) services and products.

Chief information officer Alex Benay said it was a “big day for automation of Government of Canada services and overall modernisation of our institutions.”

The list of AI vendors, published on January 15, includes large tech companies such as Amazon, McKinsey & Company and Palantir, alongside smaller businesses such as Dessa, which has only been in operation since 2016. 

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The web page announcing the pre-qualified suppliers list said each of the companies selected “met all of the mandatory criteria to provide Canada with responsible and effective AI services, solutions and products.” The successful companies were banded into three groups, depending on the size of the contracts they could work on.

The Canadian government is keen to invest in the development of AI. At the end of 2018, Canada’s minister of innovation, science and economic development, Navdeep Bains, hosted the G7 Multi-stakeholder Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Montreal. 

During the conference, prime minister Justin Trudeau announced an investment of nearly $230m for the AI-Powered Supply Chains Supercluster (SCALE.AI). This initiative, based in Quebec, brings the retail, manufacturing, transportation, infrastructure, and information and communications technology sectors together to build intelligent supply chains through artificial intelligence and robotics.

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In an article published in Techvibes last month Bains and Scott Brison, president of the Treasury Board and minister of digital government, said: “Canada has emerged as a world leader in AI, thanks in large part to significant government investments in this area of digital innovation.”

They added: “Our government wants to make sure that we harness these investments, and the power of AI, to provide better government services to Canadians. With AI, we can reduce backlogs and processing times while offering unprecedented convenience and personalised service to citizens and businesses.”

Alex Benay, who tweeted his congratulations to all of the pre-approved suppliers, will speak in London next month at Global Government Forum’s Innovation 2019 – an international conference, run with the UK’s Cabinet Office, on innovation in government. Civil servants from around the world may register for the free one-day conference at https://innovation.globalgovernmentforum.com

About Natalie Leal

Natalie Leal is an NCTJ qualified journalist based in the UK. She holds a BSc and Master's degree in Social Anthropology and writes about society, poverty, politics, welfare reform, innovation and sustainable business. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, Positive News, The Brighton Argus, UCAS, Welfare Weekly, Bdaily News and more.

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