Seven BCIT students help develop machine learning to analyze political performance

1 min read
January 16, 2020

Imagine sports-style big data analytics but applied to politics.

North Vancouver’s IOTO International Inc. is doing just that, using machine learning and next-generation Natural Language Processing algorithms to analyze political performance.

To help hire and train talent for their team, IOTO took advantage of Innovate BC’s Tech Co-op Grant Program seven times. Hiring co-op students has allowed them to drive their speculative technologies forward while also giving the students a unique learning experience.

We sat down with IOTO’s Founder, Dr. William Spat, to learn how the co-op students have impacted them and what’s next for the company.

Q: IOTO has used the Tech Co-op Grant Program seven times. What makes this program so appealing to you and your company?

Dr. Spat: Resistance to change is built into the economics of innovation. It’s cheaper to stick with the tried and true than to experiment. The Tech Co-op Grant Program slightly alters this punishing equation by giving us an incentive to put fine young minds to solving old challenges in innovative ways. 

Q: How did the Tech Co-op Grant impact the company?

Dr. Spat: We’ve had fabulous success with our co-op projects. Even failures are successes because failures are such great learning opportunities. Being able to pick away at high-risk problems with a mindset of knowing that whatever happens, there will be learning that gives little IOTO the mojo to tackle outsized problems.

Q: What has been IOTO’s biggest challenge and biggest success to date?

Dr. Spat: Commercializing innovation is the toughest. With the help of the BCIT student programmers, we built a ride-hailing app that was tested and recognized worldwide well before ride hailing was conceived of as an industry.  But others ate our lunch.

Q: What’s next for IOTO? Are there any updates on the horizon?

Dr. Spat: Now, we are on to an application of artificial intelligence and big data that will change the way political news stories are told. The innovation has already caught the eye of big players in the industry. Can we commercialize this time?  Stay tuned!


Do you think your company would benefit from our Tech Co-op Grant Program? Applications are open. Your B.C.-based company could receive up to $10,800 a year to hire a post-secondary student talent.


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