Artificial intelligence is seeing real growth in the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor, with the number of AI companies selected to appear on O’Reilly Media’s annual list more than doubling since last year.

The third incarnation of O’Reilly’s Current State of Machine Intelligence list, which itself has grown by a third since the first one appeared two years ago, now features eight corridor-based companies, an increase from three one year ago.

Clearpath Robotics, Maluuba and Beagle all make a reappearance on the list. New additions include Pitstop, Acerta, Kindred, BlueJ and Layer6.

“It’s a privilege to be on O’Reilly’s list,” said Pitstop CEO Shiva Bhardwaj. Pitstop produces a mobile app that serves as a proactive automotive technician, monitoring vehicle data and predicting and communicating looming failures in time to stop them.

The field of artificial intelligence is in a high-growth phase with new breakthroughs and expanding influence in virtually all spheres of society. “AI is poised to transform business in ways we’ve not seen since the impact of computer technology in the late 20th century,” Paul Daugherty, Chief Technology Officer at Accenture, said in a recent report on the AI field.

The expansion in the number of Toronto-Waterloo Corridor companies is a “testament to the way the way University of Waterloo has developed its software programs,” says Bhardwaj.

The O’Reilly list isn’t comprehensive. Bloomberg Beta’s Shivon Zilis, who compiled the list with colleague James Cham, says their intention was to capture what they believe to be “the most important startups in the space of a one-page landscape.”

Zilis’ venture capital firm began studying startups that focused on AI three years ago and has taken note of the recent frenzy of developments in the field. Writing earlier this month in the Harvard Business Review, Zilis said, “If this year’s landscape shows anything, it’s that the impact of machine intelligence is already here. Almost every industry is already being affected, from agriculture to transportation. Every employee can use machine intelligence to become more productive with tools that exist today. Companies have at their disposal, for the first time, the full set of building blocks to begin embedding machine intelligence in their businesses.

“And unlike with the internet, where latecomers often bested those who were first to market, the companies that get started immediately with machine intelligence could enjoy a lasting advantage.”

Maluuba, which has appeared on all three incarnations of the O’Reilly list, is hoping to capitalize in precisely that regard.

“Our company has been focused on deep learning and natural language since we launched in 2011,” said Paul Gray, Maluuba’s Head of Product Marketing.

“We expect that advances in AI will help build more intuitive machines that people will be able to interact with through natural language. You’ll literally type or talk to a machine as you would type or talk to another person. This will have big impacts in areas such as customer experience, sales, support, knowledge management, research, education and many more fields.”

Below are the Toronto-Waterloo companies on O’Reilly’s Current State of Machine Intelligence 3.0 list, with their listing category and a short description of each company’s field of expertise:

Clearpath Robotics

Autonomous Systems, Industrial. Clearpath, based in Waterloo Region,  builds small robots that perform task-specific work for industrial clients.

Maluuba

Tech stack, Agent enablers. Maluuba, based in Waterloo Region, specializes in language, teaching machines to think, reason and communicate.

Beagle

Industries, Legal. Beagle, based in Waterloo Region, is the maker of a software platform that quickly sifts complicated legal documents, distilling the key elements and learning customer preferences as it does so.

Pitstop

Industries, Logistics. From its base in Waterloo Region, Pitstop is the maker of an app that predicts automotive performance and flags systems in danger of failure, improving reliability and reducing repair costs.

Acerta

Industries, Logistics. Acerta helps diagnose machine failures by analyzing data collected during system operation. It’s based in Waterloo Region.

Kindred

Autonomous Systems, Industrial. Kindred, with offices in Toronto, Vancouver and San Francisco, is focused on engineering systems that enable robots to understand and participate in our world.

BlueJ Legal

Industries, Legal. BlueJ uses deep learning to simulate the judgment of a court and provides links to relevant cases and tailored explanations of its analysis. It is based in Toronto.

Layer6

Tech stack, Development. Layer6, with offices in Toronto, uses deep learning to help businesses generate personalized recommendations, search results and insight with improved accuracy.

Image courtesy of Shivon Zilis and James Cham, designed by Heidi Skinner

Image courtesy of Shivon Zilis and James Cham, designed by Heidi Skinner

About The Author

Craig Daniels
Senior Journalist

Craig Daniels is a veteran reporter, columnist and editor who has joined Communitech’s editorial team as senior journalist. He worked most recently at Postmedia in Hamilton, where he led the team that produced the National Post, and before that at the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Sun, Financial Post, the Montreal Daily News and the Telegraph-Journal in Saint John, N.B. He has an abiding interest in the transformational power and promise of tech and startup ecosystems, is a commercially licensed pilot, and has a debilitating wrist-watch fetish.