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The Canadian government is providing $25-million to Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), a startup-boosting program based at the University of Toronto created by business professor Ajay Agrawal.

The non-profit organization will use the funds to run experiments with startups at five universities that stage its programs across Canada. New York University’s Stern School of Business also began a CDL program this fall.

People work on projects at the University of Toronto's Creative Destruction Lab on Thursday, March 9, 2017.Michelle Siu/The Globe and Mail

CDL differs from incubators and accelerator programs that typically house and mentor startups in exchange for equity. Instead, cohorts of companies are given three firm objectives by a group of accomplished entrepreneurs and investors that they must achieve within eight weeks. If they do not meet their objectives or cannot otherwise impress the group, they are voted out. If they succeed, they get three more objectives. Fewer than half finish the program, which roughly spans the school year, and those that do often raise funds from the mentors as well as outside venture-capital firms.

Also on Tuesday, Royal Bank of Canada opened the Montreal lab of its Borealis AI artificial-intelligence research operation, and said it would donate $1-million to the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), a body funded by the public and private sector that is charged with dispensing funds through the federal government’s national AI strategy. CIFAR has been credited with sparking Canada’s reputation in the field of AI research by helping to bring deep learning pioneer Geoffrey Hinton to Canada in the 1980s from the United States.

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