Archive for the ‘News’ Category

How your employees can – and must – protect intellectual property

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

This article originally appeared in the Globe & Mail Leadership Lab

by: Jeff McDowell, COO at Primal

The current economic uncertainty is nothing compared to the financial crisis of 10 years ago. Then, not many companies or consumers were considering the potential of artificial intelligence. In fact, AI was still somewhat seen as science fiction. As an AI company that endured that economic uncertainty, Primal has a unique perspective on how to motivate your work force to innovate to strengthen your business and the Canadian economy, independent of the global environment.


While no business can claim immunity from the challenges economic uncertainty brings, we believe there are a few strategies that can enable a business to innovate during these periods. The most important is establishing a compelling vision for what unique business problems your company is attempting to solve. The intellectual challenge of accomplishing something no one else has done before will motivate employees.

Businesses must have conviction about achieving your mission, no matter the external factors that may threaten to take you off-course, be it trade headwinds or the latest buzz-worthy AI tool.

We didn’t begin 12 years ago with a vision of being an AI company. We were focused on a specific problem – how to use technology to find meaning contained within small data. This involved complex data science and research that had never been focused on before. We had a strong nucleus of innovators that stayed true to this vision, and several years ago, it became clear that the emerging AI market was shifting toward us. That validated our mission and made us more focused.

Solving a major AI problem is like landing on the moon. There’s lots of risk, but incredible payoff in being the first one to do it. While some larger companies may provide financial incentives for patent discovery to encourage the discipline of protecting intellectual property (IP), the unique problem that our company was focused on was more than enough to keep our work force passionate about finding the solution.


To stay true to your mission, you can’t be a trend-chaser; you need to be thoughtful about integrating new technologies into your business. At a recent conference I attended, a panelist made reference to companies “sprinkling some AI on that” as a strategy − and although it was said in jest, sadly too often this is true (and not just with AI).

As with all things in business, the advantage comes not from AI technology itself, but from deeply understanding the mechanics of your company and how you will benefit from the deployment of new technologies.

For some companies, AI may fit best within their customer-service function − but that doesn’t mean you should just add chatbots to your website. We’re working on a case where AI acts as a virtual assistant, monitoring a chat between a customer and a service agent and suggesting highly relevant resources in real-time to the service agent as new questions arise. This allows the agent to remain empathic and engaged in the conversation, rather than furiously searching a knowledge base for prescriptive answers that may be hit or miss.


Unlike revenue, IP is an asset that is less impacted by short-term economic fluctuations and can help buffer your business to withstand times of economic uncertainty. Primal has 148 international patents, but as we built our company, we didn’t motivate our employees by setting a patent goal to achieve. We established a mindset of evaluating each new aspect of a solution to determine if the idea was new, core to our technology and worth protecting. If so, we patented it, and this led to an extensive portfolio. By protecting IP, it bolstered employee conviction that we were onto something noteworthy and solidified their commitment to the vision.

One of the strengths of Canada’s economy is the fact that we have so many innovative homegrown AI companies. As the global AI race speeds up in parallel to increasing economic uncertainty, the need to keep this valuable IP protected is imperative.

Unfortunately, protecting IP is an area where Canada lags globally. Only 10 per cent of small and medium-sized businesses in Canada have IP, and only 9 per cent have IP strategies.

The Canadian government is helping reverse this trend with its new national IP strategy, which supports local innovators through increased resources and legislation. But it’s Canadian companies ourselves who need to see the value in protecting IP − to keep our employees motivated and validate their innovations, to protect our businesses’ hard-won knowledge and to keep strong companies growing and thriving in the Canadian economy.


Primal Receives $2.3 Million Financing from BDC

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

With its artificial intelligence platform backed by 148 international patents, Primal is accelerating commercial momentum with BDC support

WATERLOO – MAY 16, 2018 – (BUSINESS WIRE) — Primal, an artificial intelligence (AI) company powering the next generation of consumer and enterprise applications that augment human intelligence, today announced that it has received a $2.3 million loan from BDC.

With over $25 million in private funding invested in R&D, Primal has built one of Canada’s most significant international AI patent portfolios with 148 patents. Primal will use the financing to commercialize new applications, pursue strategic partnerships, sign licensing deals, and invest in sales and marketing to drive rapid adoption of Primal’s technology.

“The Canadian AI landscape is growing rapidly and it is becoming increasingly important to deliver real value to businesses, consumers, and governments,” said Pierre Dubreuil, EVP, Financing at BDC. “Primal’s approach has great potential to contribute to Canada’s position as a global AI leader and this financing will help them along this path.”

“AI is not about replacing humans but about making humans smarter, better, faster,” said Yvan Couture, President & CEO of Primal. “We are excited to receive this support from BDC as it will help us bring AI to life in meaningful ways; shaping the future of how people perform in business and everyday life.”

Primal’s augmented intelligence platform uses advanced semantic synthesis and knowledge representation to understand text in a similar manner to how the human brain processes and represents information. Differentiated from common machine learning techniques, Primal does not require large amounts of training data to understand meaning, which allows it to address small data environments where more traditional approaches don’t work.

“Applications that can use this level of personalization are endless,” said Jeff McDowell, COO of Primal. “It’s like having a conversation with a friend who knows you well. With small amounts of information, a friend can make highly relevant recommendations to you by expanding their thoughts within the context of your likes and interests.”

About Primal:

Primal is an artificial intelligence (AI) company powering the next generation of consumer and enterprise applications that augment human intelligence. With over $25 million in private funding invested in R&D, Primal has built one of Canada’s most significant international AI patent portfolios with 148 patents. Primal’s augmented intelligence platform combines advanced semantic synthesis and knowledge representation to understand text in a similar manner to how the human brain processes and represents information. To stay up to date with Primal, visit and follow @Primal on Twitter.

About BDC:

BDC is the only bank devoted exclusively to entrepreneurs. It promotes Canadian entrepreneurship with a focus on small and medium-sized businesses. With its 118 business centres from coast to coast, BDC provides businesses in all industries with financing and advisory services. Its investment arm, BDC Capital, offers equity, venture capital and flexible growth and transition capital solutions. BDC is also the first financial institution in Canada to receive B Corp certification. To find out more, visit


Media Contact:

Kellen Davison

Forecast PR


Primal CTO Ihab Ilyas Awarded Thomson Reuters-funded Research Chair

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Thomson Reuters and the University of Waterloo are joining forces to fuel breakthroughs in data science and develop the next generation of global entrepreneurial leaders. The wide-ranging collaboration is valued at over CAD $20 million over the next five years.

Their collaboration includes the establishment of the Thomson Reuters-funded Research Chair in Data Cleaning from Theory to Practice. The chair is initially held by Professor Ihab F. Ilyas from the Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo, whose research is investigating new methods for storing, cleaning, and curating data. In this role, Professor Ilyas will continue focusing on integrating and curating data in an effort to overcome the problem of data silos, and help businesses make better use of their data.

Read more at PR Newswire

Azure-Backed Primal Delivers Personalized Content via Bing Search APIs

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Originally published on MSDN Channel 9:

Primal is the maker of a web-scale network of personal intelligent assistants for content discovery. Primal uses Bing Search APIs in the Azure Marketplace to deliver highly personal content at web scale. The Bing knowledge and intelligence ecosystem complements Primal’s internal AI development. Primal’s AI formulates highly specific queries across any domain, and Bing Search APIs retrieve highly relevant content that satisfies its customers’ unique interests.

“Primal’s patented AI provides a comprehensive understanding of consumer interests. Bing Search APIs give us comparable reach with our content supply. Together, Primal and Microsoft Azure deliver personalized content at web scale,” said Peter Sweeney, Founder & CSO, Primal.

To learn more about how easy it is to add Primal’s personalized content discovery to your apps, download the datasheet and the mini-case study.

To start exploring your own Primal-powered solution, check out our Developers site.

Open Source Health and Primal Develop Personalized Health Discovery System

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Women will benefit from the proactive delivery of personalized health information, using Primal’s proprietary artificial intelligence technology

Toronto, Canada / TNW-ACCESSWIRE / July 9, 2014 / Open Source Health Inc. (CSE:OSH), a cloud based patient engagement system that puts control in the hands of women to Educate, Advocate and Collaborate on their own healthcare, is pleased to announce a strategic partnership with Primal to power discovery of personalized health data, as part of the OSH integrative health platform.

“Conventional search technology is inadequate at providing the personalized information women need to take a pro-active role in their own health,” stated Sonya Satveit, Founder and CEO of Open Source Health Inc.  “By using Primal’s patented artificial intelligence technology, a detailed understanding of each woman’s needs is used to proactively deliver the right information at the right time. This accelerates the discovery of new information and the learning experience for every woman.” (more…)

Primal CEO Yvan Couture featured in Communitech's 15th anniversary video series

Friday, November 30th, 2012

As part of their 15th anniversary celebrations, Communitech decided to check in with a few key entrepreneurs from Waterloo Region’s world-class technology community, including our own CEO Yvan Couture.

In this video series, Yvan reflects on the genesis of Communitech and his role in growing Waterloo Region’s technology community.

Watch the video here.

Primal-Powered Learning Sherpa Voted Education App with Most Potential

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Learning Sherpa, a Primal-powered application that tailors educational content based on the intersection of interests between educators and students, was awarded The Learners’ Choice Prize in the Desire2Learn Edge Challenge. Learning Sherpa was selected as the submission with the most potential to have a lasting impact on teaching and learning.