Jul 6, 2017

U.S. venture capital and tech expertise are flowing to Canada

At the opening of Toronto's Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence (CNW Group/Accenture)

Canada is making an open and determined play to attract tech stars and investors to move north amid the squeeze of immigrants by President Donald Trump, and they are starting to respond.

Salim Teja, director of venture services for Mars, Toronto's sprawling innovation hub, tells Axios that hundreds of tech workers and students have applied for positions in Canadian tech firms and to study at the University of Toronto. Among the notable attractions are new artificial intelligence labs led by some of the world's leaders in the field:

  • Geoffrey Hinton, the neural networks pioneer, will run the Vector Institute on Artificial Intelligence, which was launched in March in Toronto (photo above).
  • DeepMind, the AI powerhouse owned by Alphabet, the Google parent, said Wednesday that it had hired machine learning pioneer Rich Sutton and two other University of Alberta computer scientists to lead a research facility in Edmonton, its first outside the UK.

Why it matters: Canada is among at least two big western countries — the other is France — to attempt to capitalize on Trump's crackdown on immigration, foreign visitors, and some of the policies many of them care about, such as climate change, to swell their own tech cachet. Early statistics suggest that at least Canada is snagging some of them to jobs and university spots.

Seizing the moment: On Wednesday, we profiled Canada's Go North and Global Skills Strategy visa programs, under which the country is seizing the moment to lure away foreign tech specialists working in the U.S.

Tech hubs like Silicon Valley and Boston tower over Canadian cities as startup incubators, but Toronto is one of the world's leading centers for AI and other tech research, and its numbers are rising:

  • In 2016, Canadian venture capital hit a 15-year high, with $3.7 billion in investments, a third more than in 2015.
  • International applications to Canadian universities are up 25% this year.
  • U.S. applicants to the University of Toronto have risen 80% since November.

Teja said that in the past, Canadian tech companies frequently received no job applications from the U.S. But he said some of the 1,000 startups housed at Mars are receiving dozens of applications for engineering positions. "We are in the middle of a perfect storm," he tells Axios.

Go deeper

Secret Service blocks off area surrounding White House after protests

Trump walks through an area recently cleared of protesters before arriving at St. John's Church. Photo: Brendan SmialoskiI/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Secret Service has closed the streets immediately on all four sides of the White House, with an agent telling Axios they'll remain closed "probably until the riots become peaceful, or stop."

Why it matters: Protesters near the White House were aggressively dispersed with tear gas and shields last night, before President Trump walked across Lafayette Park to St. John's Church. This decision will presumably force any protests to take place farther from the White House.

Updated 30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 6,299,759 — Total deaths: 376,177 — Total recoveries — 2,714,972Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 1,811,277 — Total deaths: 105,147 — Total recoveries: 458,231 — Total tested: 17,340,682Map.
  3. Public health: Protests against police brutality threaten coronavirus response.
  4. Business: Coronavirus could lower GDP by $15.7 trillion — More than 1 in 6 black workers lost jobs between February and April.
  5. Federal government: Trump lashes out at governors, calls for National Guard to "dominate" streets.
  6. Media: Interest in the George Floyd protests has soared past the coronavirus

More than 1 in 6 black workers lost jobs between February and April

Adapted from EPI analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

As is often the case, the staggering job losses in the coronavirus-driven recession have been worse for black workers.

By the numbers: According to a report from the Economic Policy Institute, titled "Racism and economic inequality have predisposed black workers to be most hurt by coronavirus pandemic," more than 1 in 6 black workers lost their jobs between February and April.