AltaML partners with venture capital firm to combine AI and life sciences expertise


AltaML has formed a strategic alliance with Amplitude Venture Capital, a top Canadian firm focused on life sciences and building precision medicine companies. The partnership will look to leverage the possibility of artificial intelligence and machine learning in the biotechnology sector.

"AI is a horizontal enabler — there's no AI industry per se. You've got to actually do something," AltaML co-founder Cory Janssen told Taproot. "So this example of actually teaming up within life sciences is really taking advantage of the talent that is here."

The Edmonton-grown AI studio will share a team member with Amplitude as part of the alliance: AltaML's data science health lead, Alex Hope. He will help to identify investment opportunities, with a focus on Alberta in particular, as well as "projects where the two companies can work together to create, build, and grow a talent base by combining AI acumen with life science expertise."

AltaML, which started developing AI software in Edmonton in 2017, will access Amplitude's expertise to deepen the company's health focus, especially in commercialization.

"By having access to that network and connections, it opens up the door for possibilities for us right here in Edmonton," Janssen said.

"I would argue that there's benefits to this for any startup or researcher that's looking to commercialize innovations at the intersection of health and data."

In turn, AltaML will provide AI expertise for Amplitude's portfolio.

A portrait of AltaML co-founder Cory Janssen

Artificial intelligence is a "horizontal enabler," says AltaML's Cory Janssen — it needs collaboration to live up to its promise. (Supplied)

With the largest pure-play AI team in the province, AltaML will be able to participate in the due diligence phase of investment in addition to possibly accelerating or building on new ideas in the future.

"When we talk about this convergence ... areas that were previously totally disparate coming together, this is how you're actually seeing the promise of AI in the province come together," Janssen explained.

"We think that Alberta can be a real player and take its place on the national and the North American stage when it comes to AI and life sciences."

Amplitude, based in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, invests out of a $200-million fund that closed in June 2021. It works to accelerate early-stage companies, as well as build new companies like Radiant Biotherapeutics.

Alberta Enterprise Corporation was an investor in Amplitude's first fund and said it chose to bolster the firm because of its focus on life sciences.

"We knew they would share our mission of accelerating the sector in Alberta," said Kristina Williams, AEC's CEO and president, in a press release.

"This strategic alliance with AltaML will further their ability to make a difference for Alberta companies."