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While the financial details were not disclosed, the deal will see Toronto-based Top Hat add more than 400 labs and course materials to its interactive digital learning platform. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The acquisition is part of Top Hat’s effort to bring “traditional publishers into the digital age.” The Inovia Capital-backed company was founded in 2009 with this goal in mind. In February, the startup raised US$55 million in Series D financing. Soon after, it acquired Nelson Education, Canada’s largest education publisher, and its 400 textbooks. This latest deal will see Bluedoor’s approximately 50-person team join Top Hat’s 401 employees, just as universities and schools establish remote learning models. Top Hat began offering a free version of its platform in April, and launched a free communication tool for students and teachers last month.

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Chinese tech giant Tencent and private equity firm Hillhouse Capital Group will lead the round. The company offers students test-prep courses, an exam problem database and a homework app. Yuanfudao said the valuation and timing information Reuters reported was “not accurate.” (Reuters)

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Talking point: As of Thursday, nearly a billion students around the world were out of school because of COVID-19, The Economist estimated. Not all parents can act as substitute teachers in their own homes, and not all countries have the digital tools to broadcast video lessons to the kids who would usually be in their care during the workday, meaning platforms like Yuanfudao are in high demand. So are Canadian ESL teachers who provide instruction over video.

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The video-sharing app’s parent company, ByteDance—the world’s most valuable startup—said its education program will “revolutionize e-learning in India.” It’s an extension of #EduTok, one of the platform’s most popular hashtags in India, where users post short tutorials on a wide range of topics. (Financial Times)

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Talking point: With about 120 million monthly users, India is TikTok’s second largest market after China. ByteDance is betting on a new use case to secure the platform’s future in the country amid calls for a unilateral ban from prominent Indian politicians and lobbyists, who allege that the app spreads morally and politically indecent material. It was banned for almost two weeks in April after the central government ruled that it spreads child pornography, which caused ByteDance financial losses of up to US$500,000 a day. And in July, three of TikTok’s most prominent Indian content creators were arrested on charges of inciting religious violence. Meanwhile, the app faces fierce competition in the West: Google and Weibo are in talks to acquire rival platform Firework and help it curtail TikTok’s dominance.

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The amount spent nationwide jumped 3.4 per cent in 2017–2018 from the previous year. This is the eighth annual increase, according to new data from Statistics Canada. For the first time in a decade, spending increased in all six categories: the federal government, provincial governments, businesses, post-secondary institutions, non-profits and foreign sources. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The spending increase comes as governments across Canada are looking to overhaul how money spent on research and development translates into revenue. In April, my colleague Catherine reported that Canada’s top research institutes and universities generated less than $75 million combined from licensing innovations off $5.7 billion in R&D spending. The Ontario government has formed an expert panel chaired by Jim Balsillie, former Research in Motion (now BlackBerry) co-CEO, tasked with finding new ways to generate IP from its schools. In 2018, the federal government announced $85.3 million to try and get more revenue generated from IP.

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The government should fund digital-literacy initiatives; set guidelines on preventing harm from algorithms that industry can use to create and enforce their own rules; and clarify how competition law applies to companies using AI, according to a report prepared by lawyers at McCarthy Tétrault LLP for the business lobby group. It also suggested that policymakers encourage “alternative data access models” such as trusts. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The chamber’s recommendations largely align with what the federal government has said on AI and data policy so far. In May, Ottawa released a digital charter and proposed changes to consumer privacy laws that included enabling data trusts. Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains has also ordered a review of competition laws to ensure they’re keeping up with how the growing use of technology is affecting the economy. And, on Thursday, he announced $29.5 million in funding for digital-literacy campaigns aimed at underserved groups, including seniors, language minorities and residents of remote areas. On algorithmic safety, the government has set a directive requiring its own departments to look for and reduce any negative outcomes from systems that use automated decision-making. But it’s not clear whether Ottawa favours that self-assessment approach for business use of AI, as well, or if the new regulations it makes using the charter’s principles will be forced on firms.

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Actua Codemakers will receive a grant to develop educational programming in AI fundamentals for students across Canada, Google Canada announced on Friday. The AI programming will be implemented across multiple subjects and grades in the classroom, and through extracurricular workshops, camps and clubs. The year-long pilot is expected to reach 15,000 students and train 500 teachers. (MobileSyrup)

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Talking point: There has been a stream of notable AI investments in Canada this year. The University of Toronto and the Alberta government both announced investments of $100 million each to advance AI research, education and job opportunities. AI skills are becoming increasingly important in the changing digital economy. While automation and AI are expected to impact at least half of Canadian jobs in the next decade, a recent report found that more AI professionals are leaving Canada than coming in—placing added urgency on AI skills training to meet the growing demand.

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Constellation Software is spinning out Topicus.com, its Netherlands-based subsidiary, in the hopes it will grow faster and be able to acquire tech firms focused on government, health-care and education software. The deal requires regulatory approval and a green light from the exchange. (The Globe and Mail)

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Talking point: Topicus and Constellation will spend an estimated $650 million-plus on acquisitions over the next 12 months, according to RBC analyst Paul Treiber. The former will have 4,250 employees, although it pales in size to Constellation, one of Canada’s largest tech firms, with over 15,000 employees and a $32-billion market capitalization. Constellation will hold most of the shares in Topicus after the firm goes public; it’ll also control a majority of the board and the voting shares.

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A Statistics Canada study released Thursday found that 44.4 per cent of paid women workers were at moderate to high risk of such disruption, compared to 34.8 per cent of men, even when controlling for education, age, industry and occupation. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Automation is not likely to replace particular types of jobs wholesale; technology may instead take over routine tasks. The StatCan study authors suggest that women and men may be doing different things under the same titles, putting their work at greater risk of automation. They may also receive training at different rates; the federal government has identified reskilling and upskilling as key ways to help workers displaced by technology.