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U of T and Tsinghua University launch five-year initiative in innovation and entrepreneurship

Collaborative research – where multiple skills and perspectives are brought to bear on a common issue – is a critical to addressing global challenges.  The University of Toronto is proactively fostering global partnerships that bring leading researchers and entrepreneurs together and provide a powerful environment to learn from one another and amplify the impact of our research.

On May 3, Tsinghua University and University of Toronto jointly launched the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum. The five-year initiative advances the innovation potential between both leading institutions.  The theme of this year’s forum was Artificial Intelligence (AI Squared), and it brought together lead academics, researchers, entrepreneurs and students from a wide variety of disciplines interacting in the AI space. AI has been influencing the research and the innovation landscape from robotics to molecular structures. The forum discussions provided exciting insights into AI research trends.

Panel showcase presentations by Mr. Hongqiang Zhao (Partner, Board member and CFO 100Credit), Prof. Albert Yoon ( Professor and Chair in Law and Economics U of T, co-founder of Blue J Legal), Prof. Yu Wang (Associate Professor, Department of Electronic Engineering, Co-founder of Beijing DeePhi Tech) and Mr. Bill Simpson (Medical Science Liaison, WinterLight Labs)

Professor Vivek Goel, Vice-President, Research and Innovation indicated in his opening remarks, “When high quality researchers come together across international boundaries, the resulting collaborations often challenge existing assumptions and accelerate advancements in their fields.”

Ms. Hong Hong, Deputy Consulate General from the Consulate General of P.R.C. also participated in the opening remarks, indicating commitment to promoting exchanges between China and Canada.

As part of the launch of the forum, U of T hosted a large delegation from Tsinghua, led by Prof. Hong Gao, Vice Provost, International Education, who noted that “The biggest challenges of our time need to be solved by collaborating around the globe”.

Ms. Meng Bo, Associate Dean of the International Office of Cooperation and Exchange at Tsinghua University, indicated that the forum provided the opportunity for delegates to also meet with relevant departments to discuss increasing student exchanges and cooperation in innovation and entrepreneurship education.

Tsinghua University and the University of Toronto have a long-standing academic and research collaboration. The new initiative further deepens the partnership between the two universities by jointly organizing forums that promote mutual learning on cutting-edge technologies and its application to global issues. Both institutions share the goal of supporting the next generation of leaders to be global citizens with outstanding scientific research skills and a strong sense of social responsibility.

The keynote speakers over the two-day forum provided a diverse perspective on Artificial Intelligence. Professor Alán Aspuru-Guzik, Canada 150 Research Chair in Theoretical & Quantum Chemistry, described his vision of using AI to develop new materials to drive the development of clean energy while Professor Kang Lee, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair provided an informative talk on Affective Artificial Intelligence: How Children’s lies lead to better AI?

The research day included intensive plenary discussions on topics including AI-Machine Learning – Deep Learning; AI and Its Applications ; and a panel showcasing varying innovation and entrepreneurship landscape in China and Canada.

The success of the forum is reflected in the strong interest outlined by researchers for joint collaborations between U of T and Tsinghua U.  The forum attracted over 300 registrants over the 2 days and accelerated engagement amongst researchers, Canadian government officials as well as entrepreneurs and industry leaders from Canadian and Chinese enterprises. The forum was also timed to precede the alumni event by the North America Federation of Tsinghua Alumni Associations and Tsinghua Alumni Association of Southern Ontario Canada, hosted at U of T.

Joint funding will be established to support collaborative initiatives arising from the forum such as mobility of faculty and students and potential collaborative engagement with industry.

Professor Chris Yip, Associate Vice-President, International Partnerships discusses AI-related collaborative opportunities with Tsinghua University.

The forum was chaired by Prof. Chris Yip, Associate Vice-President of International Partnerships who highlighted the key outcomes of the forum. “I was very pleased and impressed with the inaugural Tsinghua forum – it showcased the outstanding research and entrepreneurial activities, particularly in the arena of AI, at both institutions and the breadth of opportunities for collaboration. With attendees from both academic institutions and the local investment community, it was terrific to see the keen interest in commercialization and translation. I’m really looking forward to the launch of the Tsinghua-Toronto collaboration fund and next year’s forum to be held at Tsinghua”.