University of Toronto to build AI innovation centre with $100 million donation

The University of Toronto has received a $100 million donation, from philanthropists Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman, to build a new Schwartz Reisman AI Innovation Centre to advance disruptive technologies.

University of Toronto professor emeritus and Vector Institute chief scientific advisor, Geoffrey Hinton, said in a press release: “This new complex will contribute enormously to innovation at U of T. It will help consolidate Toronto’s leading position in the AI world. The centre will attract other AI experts and help to spark additional AI-based innovations. It will also bring together scholars from an array of disciplines to study the implications of AI in today’s world.”

The new 750,000 square-foot centre will be designed by architectural firm Weiss/Manfredi and located at the northeast corner of Queen’s Park and College Street.

Weiss/Manfredi recently won the 2019 AIANY Design Merit Award For Architecture, for its work on the Tata Innovation Centre at Cornell Tech in partnership with Forest City New York.

AI innovation centre

The first phase of the construction will comprise of a 250,000 square-foot, 12-storey tower, the second will be a 500,000 square-foot, 20-storey tower.

The first tower will be the new home of the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence in addition to the newly created Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society.

The University of Toronto says it will appoint a new director to lead the institute, who will hold the Schwartz Reisman Chair in Technology and Society, as well as the responsibility of creating the programming and research initiatives.

There will be new fellowships and a research fund on offer. The institute will host a major international conference among a calendar of events.

The donation was called unprecedented by University of Toronto president, Meric Gertler, who said this is the largest single investment in the university since its creation, as well as the largest investment ever in the Canadian innovation sector overall.