The importance of and hype around Artificial Intelligence (AI) in this period in time is well known: it promises to be a disruptive technology that everyone wants to harness. BDC is a Crown corporation mandated to help create and develop Canadian businesses through financing, growth, advisory services, and venture capital investment. BDC Capital is the venture capital arm of the BDC. BDC has identified AI as a strategic sector, due to the availability of existing AI talent and high potential for commercialization based on AI applications. However, despite these promising market characteristics, an ecosystem that would guarantee long term innovation is underdeveloped, and funding for AI has been significantly lagging in comparison with the United States and China.
In partnership with the Client, the Columbia Capstone team developed a report to help BDC Capital identify investment priorities in the field of AI, while concurrently addressing barriers to entrepreneurship. The team’s main hypothesis was that Finding AI-based applications for Canadian industries will create a domestic market for AI innovators where they can test their products before scaling globally. The Capstone team identified key industries that they believe can benefit from wider adoption of AI technology. Through a series of interviews with academics, industry leaders, desktop research, and various cross-country case studies, they made three recommendations for the BDC:
(1) Help the ecosystem understand technology adoption and AI better;
(2) Act as a knowledge translator;
(3) Create focused investment vehicles.