The US-Canada bilateral trade and investment relationship is the largest in the world with $714.1 billion worth of goods and services traded in 2018. No wonder trade tariffs and the still to be approved, US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) continue to make headlines.

Disrupting supply chains and an economic partnership of this size forces firms and consumers to make costly adjustments, but under the radar is a vibrant innovation ecosystem between the two countries. Organizations from both the US and Canada are teaming up in ways that positively impact value chains of R&D partners, investors, suppliers, and customers. In fact, these players both compete and cooperate to create the next big thing in disruptive technologies.

Consider Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In 2017, Canada created its CIFAR Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy with three newly established AI institutes: the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) in Edmonton, Mila in Montreal and the Vector Institute in Toronto. Following Canada, this year the US announced a new American AI Initiative consisting of five pillars: R&D, infrastructure, workforce, governance, and international engagement. In fact, in just two years 17 countries have announced strategies to compete in a high-stakes race to become the world leader in AI.

Room for Collaboration

Canada and the US, through labs such as Stanford University’s Human-Centered AI Institute Co-Directed by Dr. Fei-Fei Li and Montreal’s Mila, Directed by Dr. Yoshua Bengio are partnering with each other and with industry and government to explore not just the development of the technology and its various applications, but also policy and practice to improve the human condition.

Another interesting partnership is tackling competitiveness challenges related to innovation. Canada’s Industry 4POINT0 multidisciplinary research team headquartered at Polytechnique Montréal is fast becoming a global network of practitioners and scholars, including a significant number from the US. The group is developing new, more effective measures of innovation, a core driver of corporate growth, using a natural-language big-data analytics infrastructure.

These and many other partnerships are at the forefront of the US-Canadian innovation ecosystem, poised to make breakthroughs that could fundamentally change the way we live and work for the better. So next time you read reports of trade wars, remember there’s more to the story!

Insight Provided by Dr. Diane Alleva Caceres, CEO, Market Access International, Inc.