Unilever launches first global AI lab in Toronto
By Food in Canada StaffTechnology Artificial Intelligence Editor pick Ontario Unilever
Unilever opens a new global artificial intelligence (AI) lab called Horizon3 Labs in Toronto to accelerate the generation of new AI concepts, designs, and projects that can be scaled and shared across its business globally.
Unilever’s Horizon3 Labs represents an increase in technology investment that grew out of the company’s focus on the use of AI to increase productivity and efficiency. Currently, Unilever is using this technology across its business including Generative AI in its customer service and marketing, and advanced analytics and machine learning in supply chain and logistics.
“Unilever is making a significant investment in developing and deploying AI technology across the business, and the launch of Unilever’s AI lab will expedite the progress we are making globally and enable us to have the right focus on technology innovation,” said Andy Hill, chief data officer, Unilever. “We are working to solve real-life problems through innovation, and setting up this lab in Toronto allows us to access vibrant tech talent and some of the best partners in the business to bring solutions to life.”
“It is incredibly exciting that Toronto will be home to Unilever’s first and only global AI lab,” said Gary Wade, president of Unilever Canada. “In selecting Toronto, we will be able to tap into one of the fastest growing AI superclusters in the world with access to best-in-class research facilities and world-class talent while also building off the collaborative power of academia, businesses and government.”
Unilever worked closely with Toronto Global, the investment attraction agency for the Toronto Region, in choosing the location for Horizon3 Labs.
“As Canada’s AI powerhouse and the second fastest growing tech workforce in North America, there is no better place to host Unilever’s groundbreaking AI lab than the Toronto Region,” said Toronto Global CEO Stephen Lund. “This is truly a milestone investment for the Toronto Region tech ecosystem, cementing Toronto’s place as a global leader in AI innovation for years to come. We are so pleased we could help Unilever choose Toronto for this exciting project.”
Unilever currently has more than 400 applications of AI across disciplines including marketing, supply chain, and research and development. For example, Unilever currently has 50,000 ice cream freezers around the world that are AI-enabled to efficiently place the right product in the right freezer at the right time. The company also developed a bespoke AI solution that auto-updates product titles and descriptions on retail websites to respond to search trends to put relevant products in front of consumers.
The company is exploring data and analytics tools that unlock AI and machine learning across the value chain. The work done in Toronto will be incorporated across the business globally.
The Horizon3 Labs team will initially focus on prioritizing three areas of interest: forecasting, modelling complex data relationships with graph technology, and generating insights of trends, patterns, and predictions through AI. The projects will be structured to embed researchers from academia and other experts and partners.
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