Microsoft (MFST) announced that it is set to invest $500 million in expanding its hyperscale cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) infrastructure in Quebec over the next two years.
According to the company, this investment is aimed at reinforcing Quebec's innovation economy, creating high-value jobs and preparing the province for the evolving AI economy.
The investment is expected to increase the company's local cloud infrastructure footprint by 750% across Canada. Specifically, the digital infrastructure investment in Quebec is projected to expand computing capacity by approximately 240% over the next three years.
A report from Ernst & Young LLP highlighted the positive economic impact of Microsoft and its ecosystem in Quebec. The ecosystem, which includes more than 3,200 partners and significant cloud infrastructure accounts, supports over 57,000 jobs and contributes more than $6.4 billion annually to Quebec's GDP.
Quebec is recognized for its leadership in AI, boasting one of the highest concentrations of deep learning researchers globally. MSFT's investment aligns with the provincial government's commitment to supporting the AI ecosystem and ensuring that all actors in the Canadian AI ecosystem have the necessary resources and computing infrastructure for advancing AI systems.
Microsoft is set to construct new data center locations in L'Ancienne-Lorette, Donnacona, Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures and Lévis.
These locations will be designed to align with the company's sustainability goals, aiming to be carbon negative, water positive and zero waste by 2030. This includes the use of low-carbon materials during construction, renewable energy, advanced cooling features and measures to decrease diesel fuel use during operation.
NPower Canada, in collaboration with Microsoft Canada, is expanding its Canadian Tech Talent Accelerator in Quebec to provide digital training and career development opportunities. The collaboration involves a significant investment from DIGITAL, Microsoft, and the CIBC Foundation, demonstrating a multi-stakeholder commitment to fostering digital skills and career development.
The expansion includes the launch of an intermediate Junior Data Analyst program in Quebec, utilizing MSFT’s Azure AI Fundamentals certification. This aims to equip job-seekers with essential skills for digitally-enabled careers, reflecting the demand for professionals in data analytics and AI.
The goal of training more than 11,000 learners in the first phase of the Operational Risk Skills Development Centre and the launch of the Junior Data Analyst program by NPower Canada suggest a focus on scale and long-term impact.
Microsoft’s recent AI efforts are expected to counter industry players making advancements in the field of AI like C3.ai, Rapid7, and Appian.