2020-05-11

FAQ

Learn more about Canada’s AI supercluster

General

  • What is Scale AI?

    Scale AI is Canada’s AI Supercluster; an investment and innovation hub that supports the application of AI to supply chains. As one of Canada’s five innovation superclusters, our mission is to invest in Canadian businesses, developing next-generation supply chains and promote Canada’s leadership in applied artificial intelligence.

    We aim to achieve this by investing in projects, building a framework for collaboration, and strengthening the AI ecosystem through talent development programs and our Acceleration program.

    Scale AI endeavours to have a profound and lasting impact on Canada’s economy and transform the country’s innovation ecosystem through five strategic axes. These include:

    • Adoption of AI-powered supply chains
    • Commercialization of AI-powered solutions
    • Small business AI scale-ups
    • Current and future workforce development in AI
    • Collaboration development
  • What is the scope of Scale AI ?

    Our initiatives include AI, digital technology and supply chains. On the industry side, Scale AI supports multiple sectors such as consumer goods, manufacturing, logistics, infrastructure and intra-hospital logistics.

    Scale AI is focused on industry projects that improve of supply chains via the productivity of supply chains via AI integration, generating new business opportunities and intellectual property in AI, strengthening supply chain contributors, and promoting more responsible usage of AI.

  • What is a supercluster?

    Superclusters are strategic co-investment initiatives created by the Government of Canada to boost innovation and drive economic growth.

    In 2017, the Government of Canada challenged Canadian businesses of all sizes to collaborate with other innovation actors, including post-secondary and research institutions, to propose bold and ambitious strategies that would transform regional economies and develop job-creating superclusters of innovation, like Silicon Valley. Scale AI is one of five innovation superclusters in Canada and the only supercluster focused solely on AI projects.

  • What value does Scale AI bring to Canadian businesses?

    Scale AI helps generate wealth for Canada by investing in industry projects and talent programs with the aim of increasing:

    • growth of AI- and technology-based companies
    • High-paying job creation in technological development fields
    • Industrial growth in terms of revenues for the SME sector
    • Upskilling of operational jobs in AI and supply chain
    • Improved efficiencies resulting in increased production output
    • Attracting international firms to join the Canadian supercluster

    Scale AI’s strategic priorities target the critical players of the ecosystem. By implementing our priorities, we will help grow a crucial competitive advantage to Canada in the global economy that will improve the wealth of Canadians.

  • How can Scale AI help small and medium enterprises?

    Scale AI recognizes the crucial role that Canada’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) play in economic development. To support the emergence and growth of new SMEs, Scale AI directly supports incubators and accelerators focused on nurturing AI-based startups and SMEs.

    SMEs will also benefit from:

    • Opportunities to collaborate with Canada’s largest corporations
    • Funding for collaborative projects
    • Scale AI membership with reduced annual fees
  • What value does Scale AI bring to everyday Canadians?

    Scale AI plans to have a deep and lasting impact on Canada’s economy and workforce.

    We estimate that by 2028, our investments will help add $16.5 billion to Canada’s economy, while generating 16,000 new high-skill jobs.

    Digital literacy in Canada is not widespread, limiting adoption of human-in-the-loop technology. Approximately 70,000 skilled supply chain jobs are vacant and the demand will only increase. A critical part of Scale AI’s mission is to develop future talent to generate and use AI technologies and to make a difference in terms of diversity. This investment will lay the foundation for a more innovative, competitive and inclusive Canadian economy.

    Scale AI financially supports talent development initiatives such as professional upskilling and academic training on AI technologies. Training programs contribute to the growth and well-being of underrepresented groups through training and upskilling opportunities.

  • How is Scale AI funded?

    Scale AI is envisaged as a co-investment and collaborative hub with industrial investment matched by funding from the Governments of Canada and Quebec. Additional funding for Scale AI is obtained from the private sector through membership fees and strategic partnerships.

    The Government of Canada’s contribution to Scale AI amounts to $230M over 5 years, from April 1, 2018 until March 31, 2023. Additional funding of $53.4M has been granted by the Government of Québec.

    By the end of fiscal year 2022-2023, combined investments by Scale AI and the private sector will exceed$500M.

  • Why focus on supply chains?

    As the backbone of the economy, supply chains propel all industries. In 2015, $1 trillion worth of goods were moved by Canada’s transporters, of which $525 billion were exports, according to Statistics Canada. Canadian supply chains provide almost 1 million jobs and contribute nearly 10% to the GDP.

    As global trade undergoes transformation, supply chains also need to adapt to keep up with the requirements. AI is a key tool that can support this transformation of supply chains. Better-functioning supply chains can lead to greater economic development and job creation.

Membership

  • What are the key benefits of becoming a Scale AI member?

    Scale AI members can apply to obtain funding for their projects, access AI and supply chain and intellectual property resources and information, and collaborate with other members. Members can also attend and participate in exclusive networking events.

    Scale AI project funding can help member organizations innovate and develop technological solutions to improve the competitiveness of their products and services.

    Access to AI and supply chain resources can help member organizations, especially SMEs, to build and perfect their AI models. Collaboration opportunities created by the Scale AI framework can bridge the gap between world-class research centres, large multinational corporations and SMEs, thereby benefiting the entire ecosystem.

    Access to intellectual property expertise and resources can help member organizations, especially SMEs, to improve their IP ‘literacy’ with the aim of better protecting their developed methods and technologies, and aligning that protection with their business needs. Having an IP plan that is aligned and optimized to your business can help improve leverage of your technology development investments.

  • Who can become a Scale AI member?

    Everyone: Large-scale organizations, research centres, academic institutes, small and medium enterprises (SME) and individuals can all become members and benefit from their association with Scale AI.

  • Can companies outside Canada become members of Scale AI?

    Yes. Scale AI membership is open to all companies and entities across the globe. Member organizations can build innovative AI projects, collaborate with the world’s best researchers, and get reimbursed for project costs incurred in Canada.

  • I am an independent AI researcher. Can I become a member?

    Yes. We invite you to participate in Scale AI initiatives and programs by joining the Scale AI community.

  • How do I apply to become a member of Scale AI?

    You can apply for Scale AI membership by submitting an application on our website. Learn more about becoming a Scale AI member.

  • Who are Scale AI’s current members?

    Over 100 world-class industrial partners and members, research institutions and other ecosystem players have joined forces with Scale AI. Our members include:

    • SMEs and startups
    • Academic institutions
    • Professional associations
    • Government partners
    • Incubators
    • Venture capital firms
    • Consultants and professional service providers

Industry-led Project

  • How do I submit a project and apply for funding?

    If you’re already a Scale AI member, you can apply for project funding by following these steps:

    1. Submit your initial project proposal to Scale AI, who will assess its eligibility
    2. Collaborate with the Scale AI team to prepare and submit a detailed proposal

    Non-Scale AI members can submit a project for evaluation, but must become members in order to receive funding for an approved project. Scale AI members also benefit from guidance from the Scale AI investment and intellectual property teams, and can tap into opportunities to partner with other Scale AI members as potential clients and service providers.

    Download project submission guidelines

  • When is the next call for proposals?

    You can submit your project to Scale AI for assessment at any time.

  • How much funding is available per project?

    There is no minimum or maximum funding allocated per project. For specific inquiries about project funding, please contact the Scale AI team.

  • What is the maximum duration of a project?

    While there is no maximum duration, projects typically last from 12 to 18 months. However, all projects must be completed on the timeline set out in the project agreement.

  • What types of projects does Scale AI fund?

    Scale AI funds projects that contribute to our strategic objectives, such as AI adoption and the commercialization of AI-based products. You can learn more about the types of projects we fund here.

  • What criteria do Scale AI use to evaluate projects?

    Scale AI uses six eligibility conditions to ensure a transparent and objective assessment. To be considered for selection, your project must align with them:

    • In scope: Project must align with Scale AI’s strategy.
    • Incremental to regular business: Project must be new, not funded by another government entity, and able to demonstrate that Scale AI funding would help bring it to life.
    • Multiple participants: Project must include more than one participating entity.
    • SME involvement: Project must involve at least one SME.
    • Readiness: Project must have the endorsement of the applicant’s CEO or other executive and must be ready to launch shortly after an investment decision is made by Scale AI.
    • All project-oriented work must be executed in Canada.

    Scoring criteria are divided into four categories:

    • Team and project management plan (25%)
    • Business impact (20%)
    • Strategic alignment to Scale AI’s strategic plan (30%)
    • Ecosystem impact (25%)
  • How many participants are required in order for a project to be considered?

    In order to be considered for funding, a project must have more than one participant and at least one participant must be a SME.

  • How are projects funded?

    For those projects that are selected, a predefined portion of eligible project expenses are reimbursed on a quarterly basis. Eligible expenses are those that are considered essential to the project. These include:

    • Salaries, wages, or contracts for carrying out project activities
    • Costs of purchasing or renting equipment, supplies, or services critical to the project
    • Dissemination costs vital for performance of the project
    • Capital expenditures linked to the objectives of the project agreement and vital for the success of the project

    You can learn about funding and more by joining one of our twice-weekly information webinars. Sessions are held every Wednesday and Thursday at 3:00 p.m. EST. Register here.

  • Will Scale AI help me find partners?

    Yes. Scale AI is committed to developing the AI ecosystem by encouraging collaboration between its members. As a member you’ll have the opportunity to connect with other potential project partners, both through the Scale AI platform and at networking events hosted by Scale AI.

  • Who can apply for funding?

    Scale AI funding is available to supply chain operators and AI solutions providers across a broad range of sectors, including but not limited to:

    • Consumer goods and retail
    • Industrial goods and manufacturing
    • Transport and logistics
    • Healthcare
    • Infrastructure and construction
  • How long does the selection process take?

    Scale AI is committed to providing a business-friendly and efficient application process. The length of the selection process depends mainly on project teams’ responsiveness and speed of iteration on feedback provided by the Scale AI investment team. Once a comprehensive, detailed submission is provided, our selection process will take about one month to complete.

  • Do we have to pay back any funding that our project receives from Scale AI?

    No. The money invested by Scale AI is in the form of a grant. You do not need to repay it.

  • Do I need to become a member before submitting a project?

    Non-Scale AI members can submit a project for evaluation, but if your project is selected, you must become a member in order to receive funding. Scale AI members also benefit from guidance from the Scale AI investment and intellectual property team, and can tap into opportunities to work with other Scale AI members as potential clients and service providers.

  • Do I need an NDA with Scale AI before submitting a project proposal?

    Although an NDA should be entered before disclosing your confidential information to anyone, rest assured that Scale AI will protect your submission as confidential even without an NDA. That said, if you would like us to sign an NDA, we will be happy to enter a suitable NDA covering your proposal.

  • How can I contact someone at Scale AI?

    You can reach Scale AI by email at info@scaleai.ca. We also hold twice-weekly information webinars with our investment directors, to offer you a first touchpoint and to explain in greater detail how Scale AI might support your project. Sessions are held every Wednesday and Thursday at 3:00 p.m. EST. You can register for a webinar here.

    You’re also invited to join the Scale AI online community via our Portal. There, you can make connections with other members, leverage resources, apply to become a member, learn more about our programs, and submit a project for consideration.

Intellectual Property

  • Who will own the intellectual property (IP) created in my Scale AI project?

    The project members have complete flexibility to decide who will own the IP created in their projects. Neither the Government nor Scale AI will own any of the IP.

  • Will I have to give others permission to access or use the intellectual property (IP) or data generated in my SCALE AI project?

    No, you do not have to give anyone outside the project access or permission to use your IP or data. But remember – Scale AI’s mandate is to develop Canada’s AI ecosystem so, in selecting new projects for investment, we assess how you propose that the new IP and data generated in your project can benefit more than just the project participants.

    For example, can the results be made generically available for use by other Scale AI members who are not your competitors? Or, is there another way your project will provide concrete benefits to other Scale AI members, such as through sharing lessons learned or other experiences developed in your project?

  • Intellectual property (IP) is complicated. What if I don’t know how my newly-created project IP could be safely leveraged by others?

    We understand that IP is complicated and that you may have lots of questions. That’s why we have an experienced IP lawyer on staff to help coach you. Our IP lawyer is not a replacement for getting your own solid IP legal advice, but together with our investment directors, Scale AI’s IP lawyer can help you put together a project submission that can protect your IP and still find ways to allow your IP to be safely leveraged by others in the Scale AI ecosystem.

  • What kinds of intellectual property (IP) might be created in a Scale AI project?

    A key piece of IP usually created in Scale AI projects are the trained AI models. These can be protected as secrets (sometimes called trade secrets, confidential information or proprietary information) or some choose to make them available to others as open-source software (OSS) or by other means of publishing, such as through white papers. It is also possible in some circumstances to file for patent protection of AI-related inventions, such as methods of training models or other methods relating to developing, training, validating or using AI models.

  • Which is the best way to protect my project’s IP?

    The best approach for protecting your project’s IP will depend heavily on (i) your business model (how you make money) and (ii) the nature of the new IP created in the project. Our experienced IP lawyer is available to help you understand the options.

  • Can I share my project’s IP while still protecting my commercial interests?

    A full answer to this question will depend on the details of your IP and your situation, however all types of IP (e.g. trade secrets, confidential/proprietary information, patents, copyrights, etc.) can be licensed to others, whether through open-source licenses or regular commercial licensing. In legal terms, “licensing” just refers to granting permission to someone to use your IP.

    The commercial terms that accompany the license (e.g. whether it is open-source, or there are royalties, or a cross-license granted back, time or geography limits, market restrictions, or other costs or restrictions) can be tailored to meet just about any business need.

  • Will Scale AI expect me to submit any patent applications to protect my new IP?

    No. While we will encourage you to use all available IP tools available to protect your IP (because it just makes good business sense to do so!), you remain in control of how you choose to protect your IP.

  • How do I protect my confidential information and IP while meeting with potential project partners?

    You should never discuss or disclose confidential or proprietary information to potential project partners (or others!) without first having a signed non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in place. Second, even once an NDA is in place, use the “need-to-know” principle to guide what you disclose to the other company. Third, it is always a good idea to mark each page of sensitive documents with a “Confidential Information of [Your Company]” marking to make it clear to others that the document must be handled confidentially (this step alone, however, is not usually enough to protect you).

    These 3 simple steps, together, will make all the difference to protecting your confidential information.

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