Toronto – Unilever opened an artificial intelligence lab in Toronto on Nov. 16 to accelerate the generation of new AI concepts, designs, and projects that can be scaled and shared across its business worldwide.
Horizon3 Labs represents an increase in technology investment that grew out of the company’s focus on the use of AI to increase productivity and efficiency. Currently, Unilever is using this technology across its business including generative AI in its customer service and marketing, and advanced analytics and machine learning in supply chain and logistics.
“Unilever is making a significant investment in developing and deploying AI technology across the business, and the launch of Unilever’s AI Lab will expedite the progress we are making globally and enable us to have the right focus on technology innovation,” said Andy Hill, chief data officer for Unilever. “We are working to solve real-life problems through innovation, and setting up this lab in Toronto allows us to access vibrant tech talent and some of the best partners in the business to bring solutions to life.”
“In selecting Toronto, we will be able to tap into one of the fastest growing AI superclusters in the world with access to best-in-class research facilities and world-class talent while also building off the collaborative power of academia, businesses and government,” said Gary Wade, president of Unilever Canada.
Unilever worked closely with Toronto Global, an investment attraction agency for the Toronto region, in choosing the location for “Horizon3 Labs.”
Unilever currently has more than 400 applications of AI across disciplines including marketing, supply chain, and research and development. For example, Unilever currently has 50,000 ice cream freezers around the world that are AI-enabled to efficiently place the right product in the right freezer at the right time. The company also developed a bespoke AI solution that auto-updates product titles and descriptions on retail websites to respond to search trends to put relevant products in front of consumers.
The company is exploring data and analytics tools that unlock AI and machine learning across the value chain. The work done in Toronto will be incorporated across the business globally.
The team will initially prioritize three areas of interest: forecasting, modelling complex data relationships with graph technology, and generating insights of trends, patterns, and predictions through AI. The projects will be structured to involve researchers from academia and other experts and partners.