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Raquel Urtasun named one of Toronto’s top influencers by Adweek magazine

Raquel Urtasun smiling with her arms crossed in front of a brick interior wall

Raquel Urtasun of the Department of Computer Science in the Faculty of Arts & Science. Photo: Jonathan Lung)

University of Toronto’s Raquel Urtasun, an associate professor of computer science leading Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group (ATG) Toronto, has been named by Adweek magazine as one of 33 media, marketing and tech stars who have helped make Toronto a vibrant, creative hub.

The list of influencers includes musician, actor and entrepreneur Drake, singer, songwriter and record producer The Weeknd, as well as Toronto Mayor John Tory and poet and novelist, Margaret Atwood, both U of T alumni.

Adweek says Urtasun, a machine learning and computer vision expert, “may hold the keys” to Uber perfecting its self-driving technology, which is being developed in Toronto.

U of T alumnus Yung Wu, CEO of MaRS Discovery District, was also named as an innovator, acknowledging that the MaRS facility has grown to support more than 100 AI and machine learning startups in multiple fields, from finance to health.

David Fleet, a professor of computer science at U of T Scarborough’s department of computer and mathematical sciences and the tri-campus graduate department of computer science, told the magazine that Toronto’s AI brain gain didn’t happen overnight.

“The proximity to world-class technology is really the proximity to innovative minds and know-how people who can think outside the box and get things built that would otherwise be very difficult to do.”