The University of Toronto has announced a gift of C$100 million ($74.5 million) from Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman to accelerate innovation in artificial intelligence, biomedicine, and other technologies.
Made through the Gerald Schwartz & Heather Reisman Foundation, the largest gift ever to the university will help fund construction of the Schwartz Reisman Innovation Centre, a 750,000-square-foot complex designed to serve as a base for U of T's AI scientists and biomedical experts, entrepreneurship network, and the country's largest concentration of student- and faculty-led startups. The gift also will support the launch of the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society and activities focused on the ethical and societal implications of AI and other emerging technologies. With the help of new fellowships, a research fund, and an international conference, the institute will facilitate cross-disciplinary research and collaboration and draw on U of T's strengths in the sciences, humanities, and social sciences to explore the benefits and challenges that technology presents.
Schwartz is the founder, chair, and CEO of private equity firm Onex Corporation; Reisman is the founder, chair, and CEO of Indigo, a book and lifestyle retailer. The gift was inspired by the couple's belief in the importance of research-based innovation as a driver of economic and social prosperity and their keen interest in the interdisciplinary exploration of how innovative technologies such as AI and regenerative medicine affect societies and individuals.
'"U of T is already a global leader in artificial intelligence, biomedicine, and the intersections of society and technology," the couple said in a statement. "We're immensely proud and excited to be part of an initiative that will further spark innovation, anchor talent and ideas in Canada, and illuminate the importance of socially responsible technology."