A Trump Dividend for Canada? Maybe in Its A.I. Industry

“If we look back 10 years from now, I’d be surprised if the Trump effect didn’t show up in the data,” said Joshua Gans, a professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

Immigration is a linchpin in Canada’s economic policy. One-fifth of the country’s population of 36 million is foreign-born. Canada has dozens of provincial and federal programs, but a priority is placed on highly skilled workers and entrepreneurs, often with points assigned for specialized expertise, education and language proficiency.

Trends in actual immigration will take time to show up conclusively, but the early evidence of a Trump effect is most apparent in a field like artificial intelligence, where Canada has been at the forefront of innovation and is seeking to build a large A.I. industry.

Not only are Canadian A.I. start-ups like Botler AI now building on interest in immigration and on homegrown talent, but major American technology companies, including Google, Microsoft and IBM, have also been adding to their A.I. research teams in Canada.

The ride-hailing service Uber announced on Monday that it was opening a branch of its advanced technologies group in Toronto, the company’s first outside the United States. The lab, which will develop self-driving car technology, will be led by Raquel Urtasun, an expert in computer vision at the University of Toronto.

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Amir Moravej, left, and Yoshua Bengio. Mr. Bengio, a research pioneer in artificial intelligence, has joined Mr. Moravej’s start-up.

Credit
Eva Blue

Canada has well-funded programs intended not only to lure A.I. experts to the country, but also to persuade A.I. researchers, educated at Canadian universities, to remain in Canada rather than depart for Silicon Valley, as so many have done before.

The nation’s policy makers also want to persuade expatriate engineers and entrepreneurs to return to Canada — and the political climate in the United States has influenced some to do so.

Ross Intelligence, an A.I. start-up founded in Toronto, moved to the San Francisco Bay Area two years ago for the business and funding opportunities in the tech world’s hotbed.

But last month, Ross, whose software can read through thousands of legal documents and rank relevant cases for lawyers, opened an office in Toronto. Five members of its team, including senior engineers and two co-founders, are moving from San Francisco to Canada. The group includes two Canadians, a Brazilian, a Belgian and an American.

The Toronto outpost, said Jimoh Ovbiagele, a co-founder and chief technology officer of Ross, “allows us to really recruit from the global talent pool.”

Mr. Ovbiagele, one of the Canadians who is relocating to Toronto, said Ross had…

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