Accelerating innovation and growth: OMERS and the Vector Institute to collaborate on AI
Toronto, August 24, 2021 – OMERS and the Vector Institute are entering a five-year strategic engagement that will see the two organizations collaborate, benefiting the pension plan and contributing to the work of the Canadian artificial intelligence (AI) ecosystem. Among the Vector Institute’s existing participant group from across financial services and other sectors of the Canadian economy, OMERS is the first pension plan to participate, building on AI progress that is underway across the organization.
“In the last few years, we have made great progress in leveraging data and technology and there is strong appetite to continue to build on our ability to harness the power of data and insights to support growth and value for our members. To that end, we have established a reliable framework, developing a solid data foundation that we can trust and use responsibly,” said Monique Allen, Executive Vice President, Data & Technology, OMERS. “Our work with the Vector Institute will enable us to more fully explore and act on opportunities to use machine learning and AI more broadly to innovate and lead for the future that will ultimately benefit OMERS and our 526 000 members.”
Established in 2017, the Vector Institute works with industry, institutions, startups, and government to advance AI research and drive its application, adoption, and commercialization across Canada. Vector’s scientific network currently includes more than 600 active researchers and practitioners from across Canada with expertise in machine learning and deep learning, including many who specialize in applied AI and claim top prizes from the world’s most important conferences and journals.
This engagement enables OMERS to participate in Vector’s proven model of applied AI collaborative projects, which bring technical professionals at different participating organizations together with Vector’s world-renowned researchers to develop hands-on experience with AI models and techniques and apply them to create business value within their organizations. OMERS also has opportunities to access Vector’s advanced compute environment, AI engineering capabilities, diverse talent and recruitment services, and professional development and training programs to help accelerate the application of advanced AI within the organization and develop the AI expertise of their teams.
"Vector is delighted to work with OMERS, which is paving the way for innovations in pension and asset management where big data and AI have the potential to unlock positive business and societal impact," said Garth Gibson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vector. “We are pleased to welcome OMERS to our industry community.”
This engagement with the Vector Institute is a natural complement to the work that has already been done at OMERS. In 2020, OMERS established an internal AI Centre of Expertise to guide and drive development in this area. Existing work in AI and machine learning has led to generating portfolio insights, optimization of business processes, deploying AI in a responsible and ethical manner and advancing Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) goals. OMERS is also in the process of introducing a Data and AI Academy to increase employee skill development and experience in this area.
“In addition to the acceleration of our AI strategy, we are able to tap into the experts and research of the Vector Institute through this arrangement,” said Sami Ahmed, Senior Vice President, Data and Advanced Analytics, OMERS. “As we advance our capabilities, it is a clear signal to the industry and potential employees that we are serious about innovation. We look forward to sharing perspectives with Vector about our industry to shape future insights and collaborate with like-minded peers to leverage technology in ways that address current challenges and take advantage of opportunities for growth, in much the same way that we have seen in other parts of financial services.”
Founded in 1962, OMERS is a jointly sponsored, defined benefit pension plan, with 1,000 participating employers ranging from large cities to local agencies, and over half a million active, deferred and retired members. Our members include union and non-union employees of municipalities, school boards, local boards, transit systems, electrical utilities, emergency services and children’s aid societies across Ontario. OMERS teams work in Toronto, London, New York, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Singapore, Sydney and other major cities across North America and Europe – serving members and employers and originating and managing a diversified portfolio of high-quality investments in public markets, private equity, infrastructure and real estate. OMERS had net assets of $114 billion as at June 30, 2021.
About the Vector Institute
The drives excellence and leadership in Canada’s knowledge, creation, and use of AI to foster economic growth and improve the lives of Canadians. Vector’s aims to advance AI research, increase adoption in industry and health through programs for talent, commercialization, and application, and lead Canada towards the responsible use of AI. , led by top AI practitioners, offer foundations for applications in products and processes, company-specific guidance, training for professionals, and connections to workforce-ready talent. Vector is funded by the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada through the CIFAR Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, and industry sponsors.