Innovation York announces recipients of the Artificial Intelligence Industry Partnership Fund

3d rendering robot

Innovation York announces the successful recipients of the third round of the National Research Council Canada’s Industry Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) Artificial Intelligence Industry Partnership Fund.

Innovation York and NRC-IRAP collaborated to develop and launch this funding program, which encourages industry-driven research projects in artificial intelligence, deep learning and machine learning. Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that have partnered with York University faculty members were encouraged to apply for the grant, which awards $12,000 to support each successful research project.

Sarah Howe

“We are really excited to launch another year of the Innovation York NRC-IRAP grant funding competition and to announce this rounds’ winners.” said Sarah Howe, director of Innovation York. “It was a difficult choice, but in the end, we selected five high-quality projects with some great industry partners. We look forward to seeing how these projects progress and how they can grow into long-term strategic partnerships in the future.”

The following is a list of the successful projects and the partners:

Civica Infrastructure and Professor Usman Khan (Department of Civil Engineering, Lassonde School of Engineering) for their project on creating an automated calibration process for a cloud-based sewer capacity management system using existing rainfall and flow monitoring data.

ThisFish Inc and Professor Peter Khaiter (School of Information Technology, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies) for their project on creating an algorithm that will analyze historical data on fish quality and processing from the company’s software to maximize yields and reduce waste.

Mine Design Engineering and Professor Usman Khan (Department of Civil Engineering, Lassonde School of Engineering) for their project on mine stability improvements using Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) and existing data from sensors leading to increased usage and predictive capability.

Mero Technologies and Professor Michael Chen (Department of Mathematics & Statistics, Faculty of Science) their project on the development of an algorithm using sensor data in a building to give an optimized route for cleaners, including the resupply of consumables and usage.

IT Universe Ltd and Professors Melanie Baljko and Vassilios Tzerpos (Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, Lassonde School of Engineering) for their project on creating a bridge between human interface devices and people and to give disabled people greater control of their environment, e.g. lights, cooling, heating etc.

Innovation York has played an instrumental role in forging these relationships, which will have far-reaching implications for all the involved participants, including funding recipients, students and researchers. The partnership allows companies to gain access to expertise that they would not typically have in-house and students are able to work on real-life problems for valuable experiential learning opportunities. The involvement of researchers expands their network and provides opportunities for the application of research expertise to emerging industrial challenges.

Collaborations between SMEs and York faculty members have been widely successful, with both parties benefiting greatly from the partnerships. An example is the funding of a project involving Mero Technologies and York University Mathematics and Statistics Professor Michael Chen.

Nathan Mah (left) and Cole MacDonald, co-founders of Mero Technologies

“The AI Partnership grant through Innovation York is integral for Mero’s product and company success,” said Nathan Mah, co-founder with Cole MacDonald, of Mero Technologies. “By tapping into world-class AI researchers at Dr. Michael Chen’s laboratory, we are able to create a smart-route mapping algorithm that our customers valued greatly, that we otherwise would have had to invest significant resources into.”

“With the partnership, we are able to tap into the research with Dr. Chen’s laboratory almost instantly,” added MacDonald. “Innovation York’s contribution was significant as they helped forge and foster the relationship between company and academia early-on, and we knew the potential value of the relationship before formally working together.”

Michael Chen

Chen is just as keen on starting the research collaboration with Mero Technologies. “Innovation York helped to establish a vital link between Mero Technologies and my AI and OR research groups,” He said. “This AI Partnership Fund awarded project also gives our graduate students opportunities to apply AI/OR into true business problems, which is a rare learning experience not offered by the usual curriculum.”

The overarching goal of the Artificial Intelligence Industry Partnership Fund is to have funded projects evolve into larger long-term initiatives with far-reaching impacts.

Innovation York is now accepting applications for its fourth round of funding. Companies without an existing partnership with a faculty member can still apply for the grant, with matching assistance provided by Innovation York. Unpartnered SME’s, with up to 500 employees, must submit their application by Sept. 6 while all others must apply by Oct. 4. To apply or learn more please visit