Qualcomm's Global Centre of Excellence for Machine Learning is Thriving in Markham

Aug 03, 2023

Whichever brand of smartphone you use, there's a good chance there is a Qualcomm processor or other component powering it. For over 35 years, Qualcomm has been leading innovation in wireless technology, including bringing 5G networks to life worldwide.

Today, Qualcomm's wireless technology is being used to transform almost every industry. Their processors and other technology are found in smartphones, smartwatches, virtual reality headsets, cars, and more.

Qualcomm's impact isn't limited to Earth either. Its Snapdragon processor powers the NASA Ingenuity helicopter on Mars—82 million kilometres from Earth and the Qualcomm Canada facility in Markham.

Qualcomm has been part of the Markham technology community since 2009. Sai-Kit Eng, senior director of engineering operations at Qualcomm Canada ULC, manages the day-to-day operations in Markham. Eng said the 600+ employees of the Markham team focus on four core areas of Qualcomm's business; device displays, audio technology, machine learning, and high-performance, low-power CPUs.

With 47,000 employees across 30 countries, Qualcomm is close to many of its customers. In Markham, Qualcomm takes advantage of its proximity to leading automotive manufacturers. Eng said Qualcomm sees automotive as one of its main growth areas for the future.

"We have an automotives team here that does multimedia and advanced driver assist systems. That's a main growth area for Qualcomm on top of the AI and ML work," Eng said.

Qualcomm chose Markham as its global centre of excellence for machine learning to take advantage of the area's extensive artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) ecosystem.

“Markham provides excellent government R&D incentive programs and high quality institutions attracting and nurturing engineering talent from around the world to create centers of excellence, especially in the areas of AI/Machine Learning (ML) and Automotive applications,” Eng said.

There are over 130 AI companies, eight research centers and 26 research labs across the Great Toronto Area, including the Artificial Intelligence & Society program at York University's Markham campus.

"Qualcomm chose Markham to be the machine learning centre of excellence because of the talent pool that's available in terms of all the universities and special programs on AI and ML. We also have a very strong internship program with various universities, not just here, but across all Canada," Eng said.