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Unilever has announced the opening of its first and only global artificial intelligence (AI) lab in Toronto.
The British-Dutch soap and consumer goods company’s “Horizon3 Labs” opened on Thursday, with the aim to “accelerate the generation of new AI concepts, designs and projects,” Unilever said in a press release.
“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,” Andy Hill, Unilever’s chief data officer, said in the release.
The company said it chose Toronto as the site for its AI lab because of its “strategic” location, with a concentration of AI expertise already present across academia, start-ups and established businesses.
“Unilever will look to benefit from the top-tier talent the city’s ecosystem offers,” the company press release said, adding that the work done in its Toronto lab will be incorporated into its global business.
The company worked with investment attraction agency Toronto Global during the process of choosing the city as the location for the lab.
Toronto Global CEO Stephen Lund called the announcement a “milestone investment for the Toronto Region tech ecosystem.”
FOCUS ON AI
Unilever said its investment in the lab grew from the company’s focus on using AI to increase productivity and efficiency, noting that it is already using AI technology in its operations, including customer service, marketing, and general logistics.
For example, as part of its operations as owner of ice cream maker Ben and Jerry’s, Unilever said it currently has 50,000 AI-enabled ice cream freezers that move frozen product around autonomously.
Other Unilever-owned brands include Dove, Hellmann’s, Vaseline, Degree, Axe, and TRESemmé.