Source: MaRS Discovery District

Armed with helper robots, automated vehicles and carbon-banishing innovations, these ventures are on a mission to help companies navigate disruptions — and make supply chains more sustainable.

From paper to potash, disruptions in the supply chain continue to bedevil corporations and consumers. And after more than two years of these near-constant delays and backlogs, it’s clear that real-time data and smart analytics are required to give companies a clear line of sight of what is happening — all along the logistics pipeline.

Enter Supply A.I. Originally conceived at the outset of the coronavirus emergency by the federal government, the Government of Quebec and MaRS in partnership with Scale AI, the Supply A.I. program supports a cohort of 12 promising Canadian ventures working to solve supply-chain problems through artificial intelligence. Over several months, each company receives tailored coaching from MaRS experts with the goal of scaling products, creating jobs, attracting investment and growing brand awareness.

“The pandemic has exposed massive fault lines in our supply chains, and this cohort of A.I. innovators are working overtime to solve many of these problems” says Jon Dogterom, senior vice president of Venture Services at MaRS. “The partnership will accelerate and ultimately strengthen supply chains here in Canada.”

Supply chains are intricate webs, composed of makers, buyers, sellers, transporters, policymakers and, of course, everyday customers.That means the smallest disruption can affect millions of people at a time. But that also means any solution has the potential to benefit those people, too.

Enlisting robots to perform dangerous and time-consuming tasks; automating jobs in the face of labour shortages; predicting a rise or fall in demand; unearthing hidden efficiencies to prevent greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions from ever leaving the factory. These are the kinds of solutions that are helping strengthen supply chains.

Here are 12 homegrown startups and scale-ups tackling the world’s supply woes.


Symboticware shores up domestic industry

What it does: Sudbury-based Symboticware provides insights and data analytics on the performance of mobile assets — particularly, large trucks and construction vehicles for the mining, forestry, agriculture, and oil and gas sectors.

Why it’s important: To mitigate supply issues everywhere, some experts have posited the need for greater domestic production. That means more reliability, and it also means more local jobs and far fewer GHGs emitted. But that shift is going to cost a lot, and both public and private actors will need to rely on products such as those of Symboticware to ease the transition.