Home Regular Contributors John Liston The Best Time to Plant A Tree Was 20 Years Ago

The Best Time to Plant A Tree Was 20 Years Ago

John Liston

It is hard to keep up with all of the incredible things going on in Alberta these days. One of the shining lights is the development of our expertise in Artificial intelligence (AI). May 24-27 was AI week in Edmonton, presented by the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) showcasing this incredible work and Amii’s world-leading expertise. AI, in its simplest form, is the ability of a computer or a robot controlled by a computer to do tasks that are usually done by humans because they require human intelligence and discernment.

“Companies around the world are leveraging AI to be able to create new competitive advantages and to grow. The opportunity we have in Alberta is that that expertise exists right here. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in that expertise and to create that competitive advantage for the next decade and beyond,” said Cam Linke, Amii CEO.

Alberta Enterprise Group member Skymount Medical is one such company, recently awarded a Silver Award in The American Business Awards under Artificial Intelligence. The Stevie® Awards are the world’s premier business awards. They were created in 2002 to honour and generate public recognition of the achievements and positive contributions of organizations and working professionals worldwide. In short order the Stevie has become one of the world’s most coveted prizes.

Based in Calgary, Skymount Medical partnered with Louisiana State University (LSU) to work together on discovering new drug therapies. Their mission is to accelerate the development of better medicines using DeepDrug™, an AI and machine learning platform. The focus is to become the leading provider of innovative treatments, to improve global health conditions, and to provide better access to the most cutting-edge therapeutics.

A drug discovery company, Skymount Medical has a research pipeline of potential therapies to treat COVID-19 identified using AI. DeepDrug’sTM lead molecules, now a new two-drug combination, has proven to be 97 per cent effective in reducing the virus that causes COVID-19, in laboratory studies performed by Skymount’s pharmacology team.

DeepDrug™ is an advanced AI platform that supports the science of drug discovery and has been rated as one of the top platforms in the world, according to a publication in Drug Discovery Today. It is a multidisciplinary platform that can reduce decades of research into months, which is more efficient and cost-effective than current methods. Its outputs feed early-stage research that is substantiated by pre-clinical and clinical studies.

Fusing the disciplines of virology, computer science, pharmacology and advanced engineering, DeepDrug™ takes all known natural or synthetic molecules and processes recombinants, scoring the results at a speed that takes decades with current bench science. The DeepDrug™ AI engine is agnostic as to the nature of molecules and therefore can combine them in unique and innovative ways, drastically enhancing the speed of human creativity and drug discovery.

Skymount Medical’s human studies are currently underway in the United States, with clinical trials ready to initiate this summer in Europe and the United Kingdom.

Alberta has developed exceptional expertise in so many facets. The results of investments in the early days 20 years ago are showing up with world-leading knowledge today. As the old Chinese proverb teaches: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.”


Alberta Enterprise Group (AEG) puts Alberta businesses first by sharing information, advocacy and building bridges to new markets. AEG members are business owners, senior executives, investors and entrepreneurs representing firms in every major Alberta Industry. AEG members employ over 100,000 Albertans and generate billions in economic activity each year.