Québec: Investing in innovation and digital transformation

Mar. 28, 2019

Last week the Québec government delivered their 2019-2020 budget, the first from the newly elected CAQ government. Overall, the provincial government is committing $709 million to innovation in the region. Here are the details on those investments:


Investing in Artificial Intelligence

Québec, and Montréal in particular, has been a hotbed of artificial intelligence (AI) innovation. $329 million from the budget will be used to accelerate the adoption of artificial intelligence in Québec. Of that, $12.5 million will be directed toward the training offered in artificial intelligence. An additional $100 million this year and $229 million over the next five years is reserved to support the artificial intelligence industry, including Ivado LabsScale.AI, the Montréal Institute for Learning Algorithms, and Prompt-Québec.

Around $65 million is being assigned to facilitate the integration of artificial intelligence in businesses and public organizations, support the upgrading of knowledge and skills of instructors and consultants, support businesses designing applications based on artificial intelligence, and increase the integration of artificial intelligence applications. Those same funds are being used to increase Québec’s computational power and provide premises with the necessary equipment to house high-performance calculators.

Québec will use $34.5 million to match potential federal government funds for the acquisition of equipment, providing financial opportunities for Québec businesses to source the necessary resources to utilize new infrastructure.

In order to strengthen Québec’s position as a world leader in this area, the government plans to spend $38 million to attract researchers specialized in AI. Another measure totaling $79.3 million, will fund research chairs at the Université de Sherbrooke to help attract the world’s best researchers, promote applied research, as well as provide public research centres and businesses with access to world-class infrastructure – such as a quantum computer and equipment for manufacturing electronic and photonic components.

Another use of the budgeted $79.3 million is to offer Quebec a micro-nanotechnology device design and manufacturing department. The government said this will support Quebec’s educational institutions and businesses, by giving them access to software and manufacturing processes for designing prototypes, and by supporting specialized incubators and accelerators.


Investing in Innovation and Digital Transformation

Within Québec’s $709 million innovation budget, $320 million will be earmarked to invest in innovative projects, namely, to develop strategic sites for innovative businesses, increase genomics research, and support the Quebec consortium for industrial bioprocess research and innovation.

The government is intending to take action to improve the management of information technologies and acquisitions with the creation of Infrastructures technologiques Québec (Technology Infrastructure Québec), a new organization with the mission to ensure the development, operation, and optimization of shared technological infrastructures. This new organization hopes to help accelerate the digital transformation of departments and agencies by avoiding the duplication of solutions, and building on the expertise developed by the Center de services partagés du Québec (Shared Services Québec).

The budget also announced the creation of the Government Acquisition Centre, which will be devoted to consolidated purchases, increasing volume and generating additional savings. The centre will be responsible for consolidated purchases from all departments and agencies, including the health and education networks, starting in January 2020. We expect increased ICT procurement opportunities from the region as the Centre fulfills its mandate.

In addition to the government’s investments in high tech, Premier Legault is following through on his electoral commitment by announcing $305 million over five years to connect all regions of Quebec via a high-speed Internet connection and a cellular broadband network. Investing in rural Internet and broadband is a high priority across the country, and was included in last week’s federal budget with investments ranging from $5 billion to $6 billion over 10 years to connect Canadian communities to high-speed Internet by 2030.