The University of Toronto recently received the largest donation in its history to build a brand new innovation hub.
According to the university, the historic $100 million gift from Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman will help construct the soon-to-be-built Schwartz Reisman Innovation Centre that the school says will accelerate innovation in Toronto and Canada by creating the country’s largest university-based innovation node.
The $100-million investment is the largest gift ever to the Canadian innovation sector.
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The new 750,000-sq-ft complex will be designed to anchor U of T’s unique cluster of world-leading artificial intelligence scientists and biomedical experts, its world-class entrepreneurship network, and the country’s largest concentration of student- and faculty-led startups.
The school also said that the investment will support the launch of the newly conceived Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society, whose mission will be to explore and address the ethical and societal implications of AI and other emerging technologies.
“The University of Toronto is deeply grateful to Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman for their vision and generosity,” said President Meric Gertler. “This extraordinary gift will spark Canadian innovation, boost our economy, and enable a deeper examination of how technology shapes our daily lives. It’s a gift that reflects Gerry and Heather’s entrepreneurial spirit and their deep concern for Canadians and global society.”
Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman are Canadian entrepreneurs and business leaders. Schwartz is the founder, chair, and CEO of Onex Corporation, Canada’s oldest and most successful private equity firm. Heather Reisman is the founder, chair and CEO of Indigo, the country’s leading book and lifestyle retailer.
“This new complex will contribute enormously to innovation at U of T,” said world-renowned AI pioneer and University Professor Emeritus Geoffrey Hinton. “It will help consolidate Toronto’s leading position in the AI world.”
The Schwartz Reisman Innovation Centre will occupy one of Toronto’s most iconic locations, the northeast corner of College and Queen’s Park.
The university plans to begin construction on the first phase of the Schwartz Reisman Innovation Centre in the fall of 2019.