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AI training and long-term industry collaboration bolstered by NSERC and Mitacs grants at TMU

March 13, 2024
Professor Ebrahim Bagheri.

Professor Ebrahim Bagheri has received funding that supports research collaborations and training opportunities.

Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) engineering professor Ebrahim Bagheri has secured almost $3 million in funding for a project focused on using AI to reduce consumer costs for warranties in collaboration with longtime research partner Warranty Life. 

The funding will be provided through the NSERC Alliance-Mitacs Accelerate grant program, a joint funding opportunity between the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Mitacs which supports research collaborations and training opportunities. 

The newly funded project will take an innovative AI analysis approach. The goal will be to reduce the cost to consumers of protection plans for portable electronic devices, such as cell phones, potentially driving improvement in the warranty industry. “The underlying technology that we're going to work on is knowledge graph-based AI systems,” explained professor Bagheri, the Canada Research Chair in Social Information Retrieval. Rather than analyzing individual pieces of information, knowledge graphs provide what he describes as an intertwined view of data with added semantics, which are machine-interpretable metadata. “Knowledge graphs are becoming critical in academic research and industrial application.” 

This project builds on professor Bagheri’s ongoing collaboration with Warranty Life, which began in 2011. In 2019, he received the prestigious NSERC Synergy Award for Innovation in recognition of this research partnership. He was also appointed NSERC/Warranty Life Industrial Research Chair in Social Media Analytics in 2017.

As part of this new project, next-generation talent will receive training in applied AI and knowledge graphs. Seventeen graduate-level trainees will contribute to this project – six PhD candidates and 11 master’s students – along with three postdoctoral fellows. Professor Bagheri is the director of Responsible Artificial Intelligence (RAI), a training initiative funded through NSERC’s Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program.

“I’m thrilled to congratulate professor Bagheri on this funding,” said Steven N. Liss, TMU’s vice-president, research and innovation. “This research will advance applied AI and offer exciting training opportunities that provide hands-on, industry experience. I look forward to seeing the continued success and innovations developed through this collaboration with Warranty Life.” 

Learn more about the recent federal government funding announcement (external link) 

Learn more about the NSERC Alliance-Mitacs Accelerate grant program (external link)