Research & Development
Roche Canada launches health AI institute
November 18, 2020
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – Hoffmann-La Roche Limited (Roche Canada) has established the Roche AI Centre of Excellence (CoE), the first such collaborative centre to combine the expertise of all three national AI institutes under the CIFAR Pan-Canadian AI Strategy – Amii, Mila and the Vector Institute.
The new centre focuses on advancing digital transformation in health, marrying Roche’s longstanding history of leadership in health and life sciences, and the three institutes’ established track record of excellence in AI research and enabling industry application. The Roche AI CoE will work to deliver quality AI based digital solutions that optimize and reduce the cost of healthcare delivery, improve health outcomes, and enable Canada to learn and nimbly respond to opportunities and potential challenges in the healthcare system.
“With the combined strengths of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, Roche is uniquely positioned to develop innovations that bring significant value to the healthcare system and to patients. We believe that strong collaborations like the Roche AI CoE are essential to transform the future of healthcare, and we are proud to partner with the Pan-Canadian AI Institutes to co-create solutions that deliver meaningful and sustainable impact, while accelerating Canada’s global leadership in AI,” said Andrew Plank (pictured), president of Roche Diagnostics Canada.
In 2017, Canada became the first country to launch a national AI strategy, building on its history of AI research excellence and with the goal of establishing Canada as a world-leading destination for talent and companies looking to advance their AI capabilities. Since the creation of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, Canada has solidified its place as a global leader in AI.
“Artificial Intelligence cuts across many areas of innovation and has potential to transform how we live, work, and play. I would like to congratulate Roche on this important AI initiative. Collaborations like the new AI in Health Centre of Excellence underscore the importance of our Government’s $125 million investment in the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, ensuring Canada remains a world leader in AI innovation, while attracting and retaining top talent and advancing Canadians’ health and wellness,” said Navdeep Bains, minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.
The Roche AI CoE has its origins in the Roche Data Science Coalition (RDSC), which formed in April 2020 as a multi-industry coalition lending expertise and resources to tackle challenges presented by COVID-19. Since its formation, the RDSC has contributed to over 100 digital solutions and insights including AI models, advanced analytics, virtual dashboards, market reports, and also deepened relationships with Canadian and international stakeholders.
Starting from this proven model for rapid innovation, the CoE leverages the framework from the RDSC for cross-sector collaborations that will drive digital transformation across Canada’s healthcare system and further the country’s position at the forefront of innovation in AI in health and life sciences.
“Roche’s establishment of a new AI Centre of Excellence in Canada is a great testament to the power of collaboration. This partnership is a first of its kind, leveraging the investments made through the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy in our three national AI Institutes to deliver a collaboration that will be greater than the sum of its parts and will help advance AI for health research and innovation for Canada,” said Elissa Strome, executive director, Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, CIFAR.
As demands on healthcare systems increase and become more complex, Roche recognizes the important role AI will play in delivering transformative solutions, and that only through meaningful partnerships and co-creation will we be able to deliver significantly more value to the health ecosystem. The CoE seeks to leverage collaboration and specialized expertise to work toward outcomes such as enhancing access to the right diagnostics and treatments at the right time, informing and de-risking healthcare decision making, elevating and scaling up Canadian AI startups, nurturing AI talent, and bringing science closer to citizens.
“Artificial intelligence has immense potential to transform the way we think about healthcare delivery in Canada. This partnership between Roche and the institutes of the CIFAR Pan-Canadian AI Strategy will enable Amii and our Pan-Canadian partners to join our expertise in machine learning with Roche’s industry-leading expertise in health and solidify Canada’s leadership in the intersection of AI and life sciences. Alberta has a wealth of AI talent to offer, and Amii is pleased to be partnering with Roche, Mila and the Vector Institute to advance the digital transformation of Canada’s healthcare system,” said Richard S. Sutton, chief science advisor at Amii.
“This is an exciting time for AI and healthcare. Recent efforts at Mila, Amii and the Vector Institute, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, re-emphasize the collective commitment across our scientific community to collaborate and share information in order to drive AI advances forward with tangible societal benefits. Our partnership with Roche and the two other Pan-Canadian research institutes further solidifies Canada’s interdisciplinary culture, and Mila is proud to contribute its part to the Centre of Excellence,” commented Yoshua Bengio, scientific director at Mila.
“Whether it’s used to design new pharmaceuticals, improve health systems, or personalize medicine, I am particularly passionate about realizing the transformative potential of deep learning in healthcare. It is exciting and heartening to see Roche partner with Amii, Mila and Vector and further affirm Canada as a strategic destination for AI research and adoption. As an industry sponsor of the Vector Institute, Roche is supporting the very programs and talent that will enable it to advance and accelerate AI research and application,” said Geoffrey Hinton, dhief acientific advisor, Vector Institute; VP and Engineering Fellow, Google; Emeritus Professor, University of Toronto.
In the coming months, the Roche AI CoE will work to prioritize key projects identified by healthcare system stakeholders in areas such as health data analytics, biomarker discovery, drug development, and building AI talent within health and life sciences in Canada. Teams will also launch a series of events geared toward engaging patients and other members of the public in conversations around data access and digital transformation in health and life sciences.
Roche is a global pioneer in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics focused on advancing science to improve people’s lives. The combined strengths of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics under one roof have made Roche the leader in personalized healthcare – a strategy that aims to fit the right treatment to each patient in the best way possible. Roche is the world’s largest biotech company, with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology and diseases of the central nervous system. Roche is also the world leader in in vitro diagnostics and tissue-based cancer diagnostics, and a frontrunner in diabetes management. Founded in 1931, Roche Canada is committed to searching for better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases while making a sustainable contribution to society. The company employs more than 1,800 people across the country through its Pharmaceuticals division in Mississauga, Ontario and Diagnostics, as well as Diabetes Care divisions in Laval, Quebec. Roche aims to improve patient access to medical innovations by working with all relevant stakeholders. Roche Canada is actively involved in local communities through its charitable giving and partnerships with organizations and healthcare institutions that work together to improve the quality of life of Canadians. For more information, please visit www.RocheCanada.com.
One of Canada’s three centres of AI excellence as part of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, Amii (the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute) is an Alberta-based non-profit institute that supports world-leading research in artificial intelligence and machine learning and translates scientific advancement into industry adoption. Amii grows AI capabilities through advancing leading-edge research, delivering exceptional educational offerings and providing business advice – all with the goal of building in-house AI capabilities. For more information, visit amii.ca.
Founded by Professor Yoshua Bengio of the Université de Montréal, Mila is a research institute in artificial intelligence which rallies over 700 researchers specializing in the field of deep learning. Based in Montreal, Mila’s mission is to be a global pole for scientific advances that inspires innovation and the development of AI for the benefit of all. Mila is a non-profit organization recognized globally for its significant contributions to the field of deep learning, particularly in the areas of language modelling, machine translation, object recognition and generative models. For more information, visit Mila.quebec.
About the Vector Institute
The Vector Institute drives excellence and leadership in Canada’s knowledge, creation, and use of AI to foster economic growth and improve the lives of Canadians. Vector’s Three-Year Strategy aims to advance AI research, increase adoption in industry and health through programs for talent, commercialization, and application, and lead Canada towards the responsible use of AI. Programs for industry, led by top AI practitioners, offer foundations for applications in products and processes, company-specific guidance, training for professionals, and connections to workforce-ready talent. Vector is funded by the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada through the CIFAR Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, and industry sponsors.