Heather Reisman and Gerald Schwartz have donated $100 million to the University of Toronto, marking their donation as the largest one U of T has ever received. This money will help build a new innovation complex that will include a new institute to explore artificial intelligence. The complex will be called the Schwartz Reisman Innovation Centre.
“The University of Toronto is deeply grateful to Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman for their vision and generosity,” said U of T 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.”
The building will be located at the northeast corner of College and Queen’s Park at the university’s downtown campus and will include two towers and offer space to smaller Canadian companies.
According to the university, one tower will house the new Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society, whose mission is to explore the societal and ethical implications of AI and other emerging technologies, and the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence, a not-for-profit that focuses on machine learning.
The second tower will include laboratories for highly successful researchers and innovators in regenerative medicine, genetics and precision medicine. These scientists are researching the potential of stem cells to repair and regenerate damaged tissues and organs, and treat cancer, diabetes, strokes, and blindness.
Reisman is the CEO of Indigo and Schwartz is the CEO of Onex Corporation. The couple are among the richest families in Canada, falling under billionaire status. “We’re immensely proud and excited to be part of an initiative that will further spark innovation, anchor talent and ideas in Canada, and illuminate the importance of socially responsible technology,” the couple said.
“It will help consolidate Toronto’s leading position in the AI world,” said retired U of T professor, Geoffrey Hinton. “It will also bring together scholars from an array of disciplines to study the implications of AI in today’s world.”
The complex will be constructed in two phases. This first phase will be a 250,000 square foot, 12-storey tower that is set to begin this fall. The second will be a 500,000 square foot, 20-storey tower.