TD commits $6.7 million to Rotman initiatives

Bank funds research in data analytics, health care, behavioural economics

TD commits $6.7 million to Rotman initiatives

TD has announced three financial contributions to U of T’s Rotman School of Management. The donations consist of $4 million to establish the TD Management Data and Analytics Lab, $2.5 million to become a founding member of the Creative Destruction Lab’s (CDL) Health stream, and approximately $200,000 toward the Behavioural Economics in Action at Rotman (BEAR) centre.

Speaking of donations generally, Ken McGuffin, Rotman’s Media Relations Manager, wrote in an email to The Varsity that this type of support “[allows] us to invest in innovative academic and experiential programs, provide door-opening scholarships to students in need, support research by our faculty and much more.”

TD Management Data and Analytics Lab

The bulk of TD’s financial contributions will be used to fund the establishment and staffing of a new data analytics lab at Rotman. This lab will provide Rotman students with a greater range of resources for research in data and analytics, including funding workshops, hackathons, and guest lectures.

The research output coming from this partnership will remain in the public domain. The partnership is “about the general public good and [TD’s] ability to work with students,” according to Christian Nelissen, TD’s Head of Enterprise Data and Analytics. Nelissen added that Rotman “has a terrific brand reputation” and that it is “very much aligned into what [TD is] trying to do and how we think about future of data and analytics and the respective roles in that.”

“Rotman is a great partner because… their job is to build the managers of the future and to broaden out people’s horizons and… the broader capability around data analytics,” said Nelissen.

Toronto ranked as the fourth best North American city in CBRE’s 2018 tech talent markets report, and Rotman’s increased research funding is expected to add to the city’s growing tech sector.

TD further hopes that fostering this strong partnership with Rotman will encourage more graduates to work for the bank. This is an equally valuable outcome for Rotman. “The support of TD and our other partners… in providing internship, employment, and other learning opportunities is tremendous. Experiential learning is a key part of many of our programs,” said McGuffin.

The partnership is for an initial five-year period. Nelissen described it as “more than just a commercial relationship,” and as one that will continue to develop over time. “We also have to make sure that Rotman grows and develops and gets to do what it wants to do,” he said.

The $4 million contribution follows TD’s $1 million donation to the Rotman Financial Innovation Hub in Advanced Analytics last year, which helped develop new classes and learning opportunities in financial innovation, including workshops and scholarships.

CDL Health stream

TD’s $2.5 million pledge to the CDL makes it a Corporate Founding Member of the CDL Health stream, which focuses on biotechnology, bioinformatics, diagnostics, and digital care. The CDL “merges science-based projects with business expertise to help young companies scale-up into creators of new jobs, processes, and services,” according to its website.

In March, TD launched the Ready Commitment, which sets a $1 billion target for philanthropy by 2030 to “support change, nurture progress, and contribute to making the world a better, more inclusive place.”

Andrea Barrack, TD’s Vice-President of Global Corporate Citizenship, considers work with the CDL as important to fulfilling the Ready Commitment. “We’re a large bank… but we don’t have enough money to actually solve all of the health care issues that are out there. And so what we’re looking for is, what can we fund that would be catalytic in its impact?” she said. “What can we do in health care to actually make it more accessible to the patient and make it easier to access? And so I think that was the CDL.”

Startups in the Health stream will attend five in-person objective-setting sessions between October 2018 and June 2019. Startups that address health-related issues at any level of development will be considered for inclusion in the stream. The Health stream currently operates at two of the CDL’s six locations: one at U of T, and the other in Vancouver. Barrack added that there is a “huge growth plan and certainly massive interest,” and that TD wants “to be able to significantly contribute to [the CDL] being able to scale and meet the demand [for health startup incubators].”

Artificial intelligence (AI) developments and startups flourish within the CDL because it provides a longer incubation period, according to Tomi Poutanen, TD’s Chief AI Officer and a founding fellow of the CDL. Unlike “incubators that you race to create a pitch… [at the CDL], over a nine-month period, you get coached and find a market and are able to build a business,” he said, Poutanen noted that with over 100 AI companies operating through the CDL, it is recognized as the largest AI venture accelerator.

This partnership is also for an initial five-year period. “We want to contribute in the way that we can, but it’s not a quid pro quo for us, right? When we use our philanthropy, we believe in the potential impact of that project. We want to be able to be helpful to that, but we don’t ever put ourselves in a decisioning role around what goes forward or not,” said Barrack.

BEAR centre

TD has been working informally with Rotman in the development of its Discovery Tool, a survey that identifies an investor’s ‘Wealth Personality.’ Investors answer a survey relating to their personality and preferences, as well as their financial plans, to allow TD advisors to identify financial blind spots.

The survey is an example of behavioural economics, and it is used to “further examine and research the underlying emotions and behaviours that drive financial decision making,” according to Rotman’s press release.

David Terry, TD’s Vice-President of Wealth Segment Strategy, said that TD Wealth identified Rotman as a top school focusing on behavioural economics in Canada. “[BEAR] has some of the best minds as it relates to behavioral economics and behavioral finance in Canada. We value that expertise, academic research, the approach to parsing through data.”

The partnership, which covers an initial two-year period, will specifically allow TD to adapt BEAR’s behavioral economics research and apply it to benefit TD clients and advisors. “There will be probably some areas where [TD] will want some exclusivity for a period of time, but the reality is, a lot of this should benefit Rotman’s future thinking in terms of how they can apply this across industries, let alone financial services,” said Terry.

Editor’s Note (October 21): This article has been updated to clarify a quote from Ken McGuffin.

iSchool receives $2.45 million donation from LinkedIn co-founder

Donation establishes chair to research consequences of artificial intelligence

iSchool receives $2.45 million donation from LinkedIn co-founder

The University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information (iSchool) has received a $2.45 million donation from entrepreneur and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman. The donation, which is the largest that the faculty has ever received, establishes the Reid Hoffman Chair in Artificial Intelligence and the Human.

Brian Cantwell Smith, the faculty’s former Dean and Professor of Information, Philosophy, and Cognitive Science, has been appointed to the chair until August 2024.

Smith was one of Hoffman’s professors at Stanford University in 1989, and their connection played a role in the iSchool being chosen as the donation’s recipient. The pair had discussed “the question of what it will be for humanity, society, people to coexist with other forms of intelligence,” said Smith. “[Hoffman] then said, ‘Is there any way that I could help you support this kind of work?’ And he knew I was at U of T, so, he said, well, ‘Look, why don’t you write a proposal?’”

Smith’s successful proposal for the chair centred on conducting foundational research on “what artificial intelligence is, what it isn’t, how we should assess it, what consequences it will have, [and] how it affects our self.”

As chair, Smith will deliver an annual public lecture about these topics. However, with the increased “psychic space” that the chair allows, his primary aim is in publishing more books to better convey and address the complexities of his research. “I’m not a public intellectual in that sense. What I’d like to do is to provide analyses and understandings and ideas that could be resources for public intellectuals.”

Hoffman’s other recent donations include $10 million USD to the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund, which funds research on ethical problems raised by artificial intelligence, and a joint $500,000 USD to establish Win the Future, a project aimed at countering the effects of Donald Trump’s presidency and fielding political candidates within the Democratic Party.

Smith considered those donations to be in line with a continuous effort to understand the world in a way that is “compassionate with substantial values of humanity.” He considered the other donations to be more public, akin to offices located on the first and second floors of buildings, whereas his work is akin to offices “in the basement” due to its foundational nature.

According to Smith, the donation is an example of funding “standpoints from which to ask deeper questions,” a change from the norm of artificial intelligence funding going toward mechanical physical structures and architecture.

Smith added that U of T is an ideal institution for research in artificial intelligence, having arisen “out of a constellation of a variety of institutions.”

The iSchool itself operates like a microcosm of this breadth, thanks in part to Smith’s time as the faculty’s Dean from 2003–2008. Smith hired staff from a variety of different disciplines, and incorporated the university’s Museum Studies into the faculty.

“One thing I hope this chair does is allow Toronto to be a place that can give voice to profound and deliberative reflection on a lot of issues of gravity having to do with artificial intelligence.”

iSchool Dean Wendy Duff was contacted about the establishment of the chair in May, and Hoffman’s donation was confirmed with approval from the Provost in early July. Proposals from senior iSchool staff for the chair were assessed by the faculty’s promotions committee through August.

According to university policy, the donation must support the chair for at least five years, “including salary and benefits and/or support of unrestricted research.”

CAMH receives record $100 million from anonymous donor

Gift to be used for supporting research, new mental health initiatives

CAMH receives record $100 million from anonymous donor

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) announced on January 11 that it received a $100 million donation from an anonymous donor. According to a statement posted on its website, this is the largest donation ever given to a mental health centre in Canada.

“We need to invest in the fundamental research and the clinical innovation that will improve the health of individuals and populations, locally, nationally and globally,” wrote Dr. Catherine Zahn, President and CEO of CAMH, in the statement on the CAMH website. “This gift will make that a reality.”

CAMH is a mental health teaching hospital that provides health services and does research, with three main sites in Toronto.

The donation will be used to endow the Discovery Fund, which will recruit top-tier scientists and medical research professionals to CAMH. The fund will also provide capital for any future research projects on mental health.

The Discovery Fund, according to CAMH’s website, will prioritize three different areas: developing the next generation of scientists focusing on mental health, furthering the centre’s understanding of mental illness and diseases, and using data to put research findings into practice.

“I believe CAMH is well-positioned to make a transformational impact in the field of mental health research,” read a statement from the donor. “I have seen the devastating impact of mental illness on individuals and their families; I want to provide support to the next generation of researchers and scientists to pursue the research that will directly transform care.”

The anonymous donor also highlighted that the gift will be used to support “high-risk, high-reward research.”

Faculty of Engineering receives $20 million donation

Donation from the estate of Erwin Hart to fund professorship programs

Faculty of Engineering receives $20 million donation

U of T’s Faculty of Engineering has received a substantial donation from an alumnus.

The estate of Erwin Edward Hart, who graduated with a degree in civil engineering in 1940 and was the Chief Welding Engineer for the manufacturing company Massey Ferguson Ltd, left a bequest of $20 million to U of T’s Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering.

The donation will fund the Percy Edward Hart and Erwin Edward Hart Professorships. Percy was Erwin’s father. Seven faculty members in the first ten years of their career will be nominated from among their fellow faculty members to receive financial support from Hart’s fund. The chosen professors will be given $75,000 annually for three years to conduct research.

Among other departments, this extends to the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry, the Department of Civil Engineering, and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Furthermore, the donation contributes to the engineering portion of the Boundless campaign for the University of Toronto. Currently, $180 million has been raised for the engineers, with an engineering-specific target of $200 million.