Karol, our Entrepreneurship Project Manager interviewed Marina of Gradiant AI, a startup in residency in our Lab innovation Fonds de solidarité FTQ/QI. Here are the vision and goals of this young Montreal startup which wants to help creative and media enterprises to take advantage of artificial intelligence.
Can you tell us about Gradiant AI? What do you do, exactly?
We offer AI and analytics solutions for creative industries. The company was born of a desire to combine two Montréal strengths: AI and creativity. It seemed natural to us. Our team is made up of data professionals who have worked in or have strong ties to the cultural and media sectors.
We can get involved right when a cultural product is created, during its production and up until its distribution. In other words, we offer just as many services for creators as we do for the sectors that support them. In terms of creation, for example, we can integrate a component that relies on machine learning into a work that aims to create an experience. On the business side, we can, for example, analyze behaviour on a digital platform to increase public engagement with specific content.
What sort of impact can your startup have on the companies you work with?
The creative industries are transforming. The digital age has made many business models obsolete and has profoundly disrupted many organizations. While this causes major challenges for companies, it also creates fascinating opportunities. Part of this is due to the increased availability of data over the last few years, which, incidentally, is one of the reasons for the rise of artificial intelligence.
However, cultural and media organizations are missing the chance to take advantage of these opportunities.
Most of them don’t have the necessary expertise in house, and AI specialists are generally found in large firms that don’t target them. The creative industries have particular concerns that involve social, educational and artistic aims that cannot (and should not) always be measured in dollars. Our team has an in-depth understanding of these particular objectives and the ways in which artificial intelligence can be used to attain them.
We have the ability to guide the companies we work with through gaining an understanding of what AI represents and implementing technological solutions that concretely support their goals and mission. Our services help our customers make the best decisions in a competitive context where change is fast and constant. We can also open new frontiers for creators who want to offer the public an unedited experience or share a daring message. From both a business and a creative standpoint, our involvement helps companies use data to stimulate innovation.
What was your latest successful project?
Before launching the company, we realized that there was a need for knowledge and expertise where artificial intelligence and the creative industries intersect. Since then, we have confirmed that there is also a distinct lack of information on the subject. Therefore, we recently joined forces with a Montréal university to publish the first study on the applications of AI in cultural and media organizations. The results of this study will be public and accessible for free.
That was an unusual project for us, because it allowed us to share our knowledge openly with the industry and the academic world rather than one-on-one, as we usually do with our clients. The current success of artificial intelligence relies a great deal on the free sharing of knowledge and technology, as well as collaboration between companies and universities. We benefit from these advances today, and that’s why we are happy to be able to share a little bit of knowledge ourselves, even though we are just a team of young professionals in a young company.
What does the FTQ/Quartier de l’Innovation Innovation Lab provide for you?
We encountered the Innovation Lab at just the right moment in our journey. Our team had grown, and we were looking for a space that would accommodate this growth. It was an immediate need that the Lab fulfilled. Access to the Quartier de l’Innovation network and the Fonds de Solidarité FTQ opens some really interesting doors for us in terms of contacts, potential mandates and financing possibilities. It’s a helping hand that has a tangible effect on our growth.
The mixing of technology, business and creativity is omnipresent in the Quartier de l’Innovation, so they really understand us. We think it’s important to surround ourselves with partners who understand and share our values; that’s the case with the QI, which supports collaboration between entrepreneurship and other sectors for the benefit of society.
What do you think the future holds for you?
We would like to become the reference for applying AI and analytics to the creative industries. We would like people to know what we’re doing in Montréal, and we know that we still have a lot of work to do to get there. That being said, we would eventually like to expand outside Quebec and Canada. Although the creative industries are very vibrant in Montréal, it is quite a specific niche, and there are companies outside Canada that have already expressed interest in this type of expertise.
Apart from business objectives, we would like to grow without losing our values and culture. We believe that artificial intelligence should be carried forward by people whose diversity reflects that of society and who are conscious of the repercussions they can have, both inside and outside the companies they work with. It’s a conviction that we don’t want to compromise, regardless of what the future brings.
To reach Marina:
Marina Pavlovic Rivas
marina [at] gradiant.ai