Mitacs recently asked two leading experts to talk about the intersection of artificial intelligence and clean technology. Ivette Vera-Perez is the Team Lead for Mitacs’s Account Management group with expertise in clean technology. Ivette serves on the board of directors of the Ontario Clean Technologies Industry Association (OCTIA).Tibor Turi is the executive director of SOSCIP, a consortium of academic and industry members that supports collaborative research projects through partnership-building services and access to leading-edge advanced computing platforms.
Tibor: The current state of AI serving cleantech is both exploratory and operational. It is exploratory because cleantech and AI are both interested in solving critical real-world problems that push researchers and entrepreneurs right to the very edge of innovation. Adopting technologies that can transform the world is built right into the core of what cleantech and AI are about. It is operational because AI is already widely used in clean technologies. From energy to water, to waste and beyond, AI is busy optimizing existing cleantech practices and setting the benchmark for the future.
One example that I find particularly interesting is the use of AI in designing new materials. By applying artificial intelligence to uncover novel ways of combining atomic and sub-atomic structures, we can develop the materials that we will need to build the next generation of clean technology breakthrough products more efficiently and sustainably. SOSCIP supports projects like this, and there are a couple of examples in our research projects database that I’ll point to here and here.
Ivette: AI is at the center of the current industrial revolution, and its relevance for the cleantech industry will certainly increase in the coming decade. Enabling technologies, including robotics, AI, and Machine Learning bring an opportunity to achieve industrial efficiency and decarbonization across multiple industries. This also opens a tremendous opportunity for cleantech companies to grow, and for traditional industries to implement clean technologies, as the need to keep up with automation becomes crucial for industry to compete.
Climate risk assessment is an area where AI is being applied, with tremendous potential for more. The environment and climate space is highly complex, with large data sets that often make it difficult to find important signals among the noise. AI-driven tools make these tasks achievable and more accurate.
Tibor: At SOSCIP, we have successfully supported AI projects that involved simulating and preparing for crisis environments, environmental monitoring and enforcement, and enhanced weather and disaster prediction and response.
The possibilities inherent in AI are continuously being re-imagined by collaborative and diverse partnerships. For those of us working towards the future of AI in cleantech and throughout the ecosystem, there is a lot to be optimistic about.
Both small and large companies are utilizing artificial intelligence to reduce their carbon footprints and build a greener future.
Tibor: At SOSCIP, we are proud to have three industry members making great strides using AI to reduce their carbon footprint and build towards a green economy. Unilever, Loblaw Companies Limited, and IBM are examples of companies using AI to address their business units’ inefficiencies and externalities. From improving their supply chains to addressing critical questions in logistics, sustainability, and energy use, these companies’ adoption and mastery of transformative technologies will have substantial knock-on effects in improving the Canadian economy’s resilience and competitiveness going forward.
When it comes to industry partners supported by SOSCIP, I’d like to highlight the work of Greenland International Consulting who collaborated with the University of Guelph to advance the CANWET watershed model, and Trojan Technologies who worked with Western University to create computational fluid dynamics models of micropollutants oxidation in water and wastewater.
Ivette: EAIGLE Inc. is an Ontario-based cleantech company that developed its crowd monitoring software powered by AI with the goal of supporting sustainable facility operations and, for example, optimize freshwater usage real-time.
CERT Systems Inc. has developed a technology to convert carbon dioxide into chemicals using water and renewable electricity in a system called a CO2 electrolyzer.
RainGrid has developed a Stormwater Smartgrid to apply real-time weather AI management and IoT automation to passive residential-scale stormwater cisterns. AI is used to determine how much rainfall will run off from household roofs given the predicted rainfall and rooftop area, while the IoT automated cistern captures, filters, and stores it in a suitably sized cistern.
Tibor: Our role in the innovation ecosystem is twofold. We support projects that require AI and Data Science compute power to accelerate the development of products and services. But we also take the long view, which means building connections and capacity for our members and partners. We apply our mandate, of accelerating the adoption and mastery of transformative technologies, to everything from advanced manufacturing to digital media, water to energy, and we are committed to ensuring that those currently underserved by technology are given the opportunity to take part in the next digital wave.
It is essential that SOSCIP and Mitacs work together because together we are greater than the sum of our parts. Our organizations complement each other tremendously. Through our combined efforts, we can support projects with funding, partnerships, and compute resources critical to the short-term and long-term success of participating companies and researchers.
Ivette: Mitacs and SOSCIP’s value propositions are complementary and can provide companies comprehensive access to top academic talent, and high-speed computing to meet their most demanding data handling needs.
Our organizations can play an important role in helping retain, and attract, much-needed talent with AI and ML expertise, by increasing the opportunities for start-ups and SMEs at the intersection of AI and cleantech to recruit highly qualified talent.
Mitacs and SOSCIP are committed to accelerating cleantech innovation in Canada through the adoption of transformative technologies. Until March 31, Ontario-based cleantech companies can get streamlined access to world-class talent, industry-leading computing infrastructure and support to harness your data through Mitacs and SOSCIP. To learn more, visit www.soscip.org/CleanTech for more information.