Digital Supercluster, lululemon partner on $20M Wellbeing.ai project
The groundbreaking collaboration includes Microsoft, as well as other cross-country partners.
“Wellbeing for all” is the goal of a new $20 million project known as Wellbeing.ai. The project will develop a digital wellbeing platform for people to better understand their physical and mental health through interactions with virtual agents.
Who’s involved? The project is led by Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster. A host of partners will work in collaboration with the government-funded organization:
lululemon athletica, the local athleisure juggernaut
Microsoft, who have already made major investments into tech talent in Vancouver
Wysdom.AI, the Ontario-based developer of a conversational AI optimization platform that enables higher-performing, lower-cost conversational virtual agents
Queen’s University, a fellow Ontarian organization
Roles and responsibilities: The Supercluster acted as a catalyst for this collaboration and co-investment. “This is a great example of bringing together Canada’s globally leading capabilities in digital innovation and artificial intelligence with a homegrown global technical apparel brand to create game-changing approaches to health and wellbeing,” said Supercluster CEO Sue Paish. “When we all have the tools, resources and agency to be well, we can realize our full potential and contribute to a brighter future.”
The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, furthered this sentiment.
“Superclusters are making possible partnerships that simply wouldn’t happen otherwise, especially by bringing small and medium-sized enterprises to the table with big players. Today’s announcement is another great example of how the superclusters are connecting SMEs to larger firms, new customers and global supply chains, allowing SMEs to scale up and helping them create well-paying jobs for Canadians from coast to coast to coast,” he said.
lululemon is the lead private-sector partner for the project. The commitment is part of a step towards their organizational goal of providing 10 million people with access to wellbeing tools by 2025. The company will be the first commercial business to leverage the technology to achieve its Impact Agenda goals.
“We are excited to participate in this innovative partnership with the federal government, the Supercluster, and our other project partners to develop tools and resources that can democratize wellbeing and make it available to more people,” said Calvin McDonald, CEO of lululemon. “Our Futures Innovation team will work side-by-side with our partners to develop and refine how companies like ours can best serve our guests and the communities we serve through dynamic and empathetic virtual wellbeing tools.”
Microsoft will lead the development of a responsible AI ethical framework that includes principles on equity, diversity and inclusion. Microsoft’s ethics advisors will also provide recommendations to ensure gender and diversity benefits are realized by Wellbeing users.
Queen’s University will train the AI leaders through access to industry funding and applied work on the Wellbeing.ai project, which is also being supported by the Mitacs nonprofit national research and training organization.
Why it matters: The past year has shone a light on various aspects of our ways of life. Introspection is plentiful during uncertain times. Perhaps one light that shined the brightest was the glare produced upon our wellbeing, both mental and physical. As evidenced by Wellbeing.ai, momentum is building in support of those areas.
“As we move out of the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to put the wellbeing of Canadians front and centre,” said Judith Law, CEO of Anxiety Canada. “It’s incredibly encouraging to see such a significant investment and collaboration dedicated to providing Canadians with the resources and support they need to effectively manage their increasing stress and anxiety.”
Next steps: Based on Wysdom.AI’s conversational AI-optimization technology, proof-of-concept Wellbeing.ai virtual agents will be tested by project partners in late 2022.
“The main challenge with virtual wellbeing lies in collecting the data needed to build a digital brain that provides insights and can better understand individualized human interactions and interactions with our environment,” said Jeff Brunet, Founder and President of Wysdom.AI. “While physical inputs like weight, activity, heart rate and hours of sleep are well defined and easily measured, the inputs underlying emotional and social wellbeing need to be defined, measured and integrated into a holistic and personalized digital experience.”
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