Fujitsu picks Vancouver for new AI headquarters

Japanese tech giants, Fujitsu, have selected to use Vancouver as its international headquarters for specializing in artificial intelligence. The move reflects Vancouver’s ever-growing presence in the global AI scene.

Although the Canadian site compromises of a small team of 20, up from the 9 employees they had in Japan, vice-president Dean Prelazzi says it is the location of the company that is having the real impact.

Prelazzi further spoke of how the B.C municipal is an underdog when it comes to tech, despite supposedly being the countries 2nd biggest hub for technology. He says, “Vancouver doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention in the mainstream tech media for its AI capacity, for whatever reason,”

Borealis AI

This is another big move of its kind for AI recently. Earlier this year in May, RBC Royal Bank also opened an institute for the development of AI with offices across Canada which they named Borealis AI.

Speaking about the move, Foteini Agrafioti, head of Borealis and chief science officer at RBC said that moving different levels of tech to Vancouver is a natural move considering the city’s progression in gaming and augmented reality.

He says, “Vancouver is an emerging city in AI research thanks to an already established talent pool in visual computing and graphics,”

Vancouver’s growing AI movement

It’s thought that Vancouver already has around 100-150 AI companies operating within the city. However, with Fujitsu having such a stronghold in the tech industry, it’s thought this decision will have a huge impact on North American tech development. Especially with this being the first time that the company relocated like this outside of Japan. They also hope that this will give them better access to the North American market.

Handol Kim, vice-chairman of the non-profit industry association AI in B.C. says that part of Vancouver’s strength lies in the tech community of the city coming out of places like Vancouver’s universities. Kim says, “It is actually a very, very strong local community anchored by top (research) programs at UBC and SFU… B.C. has a very large and robust ecosystem, but until now there has been no profile about AI and machine learning in B.C.”

Prelazzi continued that he believes the future of AI in North America holds a lot of “growth and engagement”.