AIMCo enters partnership to build AI, machine learning applications for investment management

The Alberta Investment Management Corp. is partnering with machine learning company AltaML Inc., to build artificial intelligence and machine learning applications for the investment management space.

This joint venture will leverage the AIMCo’s expertise in investment management and AltaML’s technological and development capabilities. The partners are working on use cases, or mini projects, in both the front office and on the operations side, looking for efficiencies and potentially alpha, says Michael Baker, senior vice-president of strategic implementation at the AIMCo.

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Although it’s still early days, the AIMCo believes — in addition to using the developments itself — it will also be able to commercialize some of the intellectual property, he says. “That’s ultimately a goal, but we’re very early days in this.”

The AIMCo has already successfully completed one pilot project with AltaML, which makes the process for handling capital calls and distributions more efficient, says Baker, noting the process has gone from about 15 minutes to less than one second.

Now, as part of the joint venture, the partners are working on various other use cases. “The key is to be able to go in and, when it’s working, really double down, and when it’s not, be able to kill it fast and move on,” says Cory Janssen, co-founder of AltaML.

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This isn’t a formal investment by the AIMCo, but rather a partnership. In Baker’s view, the approach is unique. “A lot of companies are trying to do this on their own. They’ll go out and hire a bunch of data scientists and they’ll try to do it internally. And that may work. But we just think the approach that we took — by partnering with a company that does this for a living — we think we’ll get there faster.”

The partnership component is key, agrees Janssen. “I think the big takeaway there, from the perspective of this partnership, is that you can have all the data scientists in the world, but unless you have, No. 1, the data, and No. 2, the domain expertise, there’s nothing you can actually get done.”

This article was originally published on Benefits Canada’s companion site, the Canadian Investment Review.