Discovering a House in Vancouver’s Expertise Ecosystem
The Asia Pacific Basis of Canada’s 2022 Funding Monitor report on analysis and growth (R&D) analyzes international direct funding (FDI) flows between Canada and the Asia Pacific in R&D sectors. Whereas FDI flows in R&D between Canada and Asian economies accounted for less than 5 per cent of complete FDI flows between Canada and Asia from 2003 to 2021, Asian FDI in Canadian R&D has expanded considerably since 2013, leaping from C$400M to C$1B in 2021.
Information from the Funding Monitor reveals that the software program and laptop providers sector comprised the vast majority of this funding and that Japan has been among the many most energetic buyers in Canadian R&D, with a number of giant multinational firms (MNCs), like Fujitsu, main these funding flows.
To study extra in regards to the expertise of enormous MNCs working in Canadian R&D sectors, APF Canada had the pleasure to interview Dr. Todd Legislation, an choices supervisor at Fujitsu, in regards to the firm’s funding in a brand new synthetic intelligence (AI) centre in Vancouver, Canada.
Dr. Todd Legislation is an choices supervisor at Fujitsu Intelligence Expertise Restricted in Vancouver. He holds an engineering diploma (electrical) from McGill College in Montreal, in addition to grasp’s and doctorate levels in laptop science from the Nagoya Institute of Expertise in Japan. Todd has labored in trade for greater than 25 years, specializing in automation, AI, and, most just lately, quantum algorithms.
Fujitsu’s journey into Canada’s R&D sector
Fujitsu is a multinational company centered on data and communication expertise providers, options, and merchandise. In 2021, Fujitsu launched a brand new enterprise model, Uvance, to advance sustainability throughout seven key areas – sustainable manufacturing, client expertise, wholesome residing, trusted society, digital shifts, enterprise functions, and hybrid IT. As a part of this technique, the corporate is tackling essential issues that matter to society, reminiscent of local weather change, by means of new technological options in AI, quantum computing, and different superior applied sciences.
Increasing its footprint in Canada and North America, the corporate established Fujitsu Intelligence Expertise in Vancouver in 2018 – a brand new subsidiary to give attention to AI and quantum expertise, and to develop and spearhead the corporate’s world AI and quantum enterprise. In doing so, the subsidiary brings collectively applied sciences and options developed throughout Fujitsu’s worldwide places of work and native companions and combines them into services and products to drive the growth of latest options.
Fujitsu Intelligence Expertise (FIT) has partnered with a number of firms throughout Canada and the USA to allow the mixing of Fujitsu into the North American ecosystem of firms at present on the forefront of technological innovation.
For instance, to drive developments in well being care, FIT is working to scale back the COVID-19 surgical procedure backlog by creating AI-driven expertise to optimize schedules for surgical groups, gear, and working rooms. Fujitsu expertise can also be powering sustainability in metropolis planning and has discovered success in AI with a number of authorities clients.
The Metropolis of Montréal, as an illustration, deployed a Fujitsu good metropolis AI resolution to investigate the site visitors movement of some 2,500 site visitors lights, serving to town to proactively scale back traffic-related points earlier than they happen. The result’s smoother site visitors flows, much less congestion, and diminished air air pollution. The AI-driven resolution additionally helps town plan service upkeep routes for snowplows and different automobiles way more successfully. Past merely lowering site visitors, the initiative goals to scale back CO2 emissions by decreasing site visitors congestion to mitigate the impacts of local weather change – a course of Fujitsu hopes to copy throughout North America.
Selecting Canada and Vancouver as company base
Fujitsu’s resolution to come back to Vancouver was motivated by a number of components. First, Fujitsu has had an present company presence in Canada, together with in Vancouver, for nearly 30 years. The presence of a longstanding Fujitsu subsidiary in Canada, with colleagues, clients, and engagements that Fujitsu might leverage, contributed considerably to the Japanese agency’s resolution to open an AI workplace in Vancouver.
Fujitsu was additionally eager to entry the deep expertise pool of skilled and educated professionals throughout Canada and particularly in Vancouver, a hotbed of tech expertise. Fujitsu has additionally drawn expertise, each new grads and mid-career personnel, from throughout Canada, together with from Simon Fraser College, the College of British Columbia, and the College of Toronto.
The corporate advantages from Vancouver’s dynamic startup setting. Dr. Legislation identified that Vancouver is a “startup metropolis” with some 1,000 startups, greater than another metropolis in Canada. Fujitsu was notably thinking about leveraging the presence of Vancouver’s well-established quantum ecosystem, which incorporates firms reminiscent of D-Wave Techniques, 1QBit, and the Good Chemistry Firm.
Different components that drew Fujitsu to Canada and Vancouver have been the nation’s market measurement and town’s multicultural composition. Dr. Legislation famous that Canada was an excellent place to begin in North America for Fujitsu Intelligence Expertise given its smaller market, which makes it simpler to “discover your approach round.” Vancouver was additionally attractive because of its multicultural nature and handy location for the agency’s international workers – two-thirds of the unique employees employed for the brand new Vancouver workplace have been Fujitsu workers from Japan who relocated with their households. Vancouver has a well-established Japanese group with meals, providers, colleges, daycares, and different providers within the Japanese language to ease the transition. Including to Vancouver’s advantages, it’s only a single, direct flight away from Japan.
Lastly, Dr. Legislation recognized what he refers to as ‘East-West’ and ‘North-South’ dynamics, which have an effect on the native high-tech scene in Vancouver. The ‘East-West dynamic’ attracts expertise from factors additional east in Canada to Vancouver, provided that Vancouver is a fascinating metropolis wherein to reside. The ‘North-South dynamic’ is strengthened by the up-and-down-the-coast relationship with Silicon Valley in California. Fujitsu has a company workplace, Fujitsu Analysis of America, in Sunnyvale, California, house to different tech giants like Apple, Microsoft, and Google.
Vancouver’s Fujitsu workplace at present collaborates with the Sunnyvale workplace on numerous tasks and applied sciences. For instance, some workers from Fujitsu’s Sunnyvale workplace relocated briefly to Vancouver to assist the institution of the brand new workplace and introduced with them the Silicon Valley tradition and workflow. This cultural injection of how issues work within the North American high-tech sector infused new parts into the corporate’s present Japanese work tradition.
As famous within the Funding Monitor report on R&D, the Canadian authorities has developed a number of packages and initiatives to spice up FDI in R&D and entice worldwide buyers. Considered one of these initiatives is the Digital Supercluster in Vancouver. Dr. Legislation agrees that the Digital Supercluster is a constructive initiative for Canada and firms that may community within the cluster, however notes it’s nonetheless within the early days of its operation. Fujitsu is an affiliate member of the Digital Supercluster and participates in a few of its occasions. For Fujitsu, this engagement has been primarily in an observatory capability however has the potential to scale up.
Dr. Legislation has additionally recognized the assist of the federal and provincial governments as having performed a constructive function in attracting Fujitsu’s company base in Vancouver. Each governments tried to make sure that the method went easily, he stated.
Making Canada extra engaging to international buyers in R&D
Whereas the enlargement in Canada has been a web constructive for Fujitsu, Dr. Legislation admits there have been challenges. For instance, it may be difficult for international firms to entry funding and grants supplied by federal funding businesses reminiscent of The Pure Sciences and Engineering Analysis Council of Canada (NSERC) – essential for tasks which are research-oriented in nature and contain collaboration with academia.
Canada’s NSERC solely supplies funding to universities and schools, with guidelines prohibiting grants of any type to non-academic entities. That is in distinction to the Horizon Europe program, which funds analysis and growth within the personal and public sectors to foster the commercialization of latest merchandise and applied sciences. Fujitsu is bridging this hole by deeply partaking with academia as a part of public-private partnerships. For instance, Fujitsu has a ‘Co-creation Lab’ on the College of Toronto that applies Fujitsu’s expertise, such because the Digital Annealer computing expertise based mostly on digital circuit structure that solves combinational optimization issues at excessive speeds. Purposes of this expertise embody chemistry tasks, radiation remedy, emissions discount, and enhancements to transportation. Universities are additionally locations the place expertise is rising, and connections might result in future employment at Fujitsu.
Dr. Legislation notes that public funding is essential in serving to companies resolve world issues, reminiscent of local weather change, or to find new supplies, reminiscent of a brand new catalyst to generate hydrogen extra cheaply. As Dr. Legislation suggests, fixing world issues requires a world strategy, together with world partnerships that embody worldwide firms and their expertise and concepts.
Bilateral partnerships could also be of profit to Japanese firms working in R&D
Dr. Legislation additionally notes that firms like Fujitsu can profit from bilateral agreements designed to advertise expertise and innovation. He pointed to a recently-signed settlement between the Province of British Columbia and Japan Abroad Funding Company for Transport and City Improvement (JOIN). JOIN is a program that permits Japanese firms to advertise their applied sciences, providers, and merchandise in infrastructure to different nations. The settlement between B.C. and JOIN, signed in June 2022, is predicted to advertise bilateral FDI in expertise and transportation infrastructure between Canada and Japan. Whereas Fujitsu has restricted interplay with JOIN at this level, there’s a lot potential for Fujitsu to leverage JOIN as a mechanism to undertake tasks in numerous mixtures of nations and applied sciences.
Way forward for Canada’s R&D
As famous within the Funding Monitor R&D report, Canada is scaling up its efforts to draw cutting-edge firms in R&D, which can assist foster a novel ecosystem to assist applied sciences of the long run. The expertise of Fujitsu Intelligence Expertise in Vancouver shines a light-weight on the expertise of international buyers in Canada’s R&D by highlighting the significance of supportive authorities insurance policies and shut company ties in scaling up R&D initiatives in Canada. As Canada and its worldwide companions scale up R&D partnerships throughout worldwide borders to unravel world challenges, we count on to see extra success tales like Fujitsu’s Intelligence Expertise in Vancouver.