Microsoft to double its Montreal AI R&D office and invest $7M in academic research

Microsoft is following its acquisition of Montreal-based Maluuba with additional investment in the city that’s become quite the artificial intelligence hotbed. Microsoft announced in Davos on Wednesday that it will be growing its research and design office there (which is what Maluuba will be, post-acquisition) to double the size over the course of the next two years.

Microsoft will also be investing in the academic community that helps make Montreal the AI powerhouse it’s become; the company is putting $6 million in funding “gifts” behind the University of Montreal, and $1 million for McGill’s research efforts, to be distributed over the course of the next five years. The University of Montreal is home to the Montreal Institute¬†for Learning Algorithms, which is headed by celebrated AI-researcher Yoshua Bengio, who advised Maluuba pre-acquisition and will continue to act in that role now that the company is part of Microsoft.

Montreal and its AI community is seen by Microsoft as a key part of its larger goal to “democratize AI,” a phrase Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has used frequently to describe his company’s goals with its expanding research and product efforts in the field.

Microsoft isn’t the only company investing in Montreal and its AI research as part of the gold rush currently going on around this particular area in tech; Google announced a new AI lab in the city late last year, as well as a $3.4 million investment in Bengio’s institute.