Two private companies and ten university research teams in Alberta, Canada, have secured a C$9.5m ($6.9m) grant to support the use of AI in the province’s healthcare system.

The grants were awarded through the Enabling Better Health Through Artificial Intelligence programme, which is being financed by the provincial crown corporation Alberta Innovates.

Launched last year with an initial budget of C$8m, the programme’s funding was increased by C$1.5m due to the quality of proposals received.

The initiative aims to address issues such as data quality, access and privacy, which are critical to the use of AI in healthcare.

It seeks to understand the innovation required in these areas and identify both technical enablers and human factors, including reimbursement, policy and accountability, that are essential for the responsible use of AI technologies.

Two private companies, Symbiotic AI and Mikata Health, have received C$799,969 and C$800,000 grants respectively under the programme.

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Mikata will work on developing a Mika AI Scribe technology to automate and streamline manual paperwork and data entry tasks while Symbiotic AI will develop an AI-based decision support tool for patients with coronary artery disease.

The University of Calgary has also been awarded funding for five research projects, which include using AI to improve stroke patient identification and treatment, prevent hospital-transmitted infections, and understand the social determinants of health.

Another five projects will be delivered by the University of Alberta, focusing mainly on enhancing the Alberta 811 Health Link, which aims to streamline diagnostic imaging processes and predict opioid overdoses.

Alberta Innovates CEO Laura Kilcrease said: “Our programme provides necessary research funding to help companies and innovators identify and overcome roadblocks to broader use of AI.

“The goal is faster and better healthcare for Albertans and the development of new technologies right here in Alberta that can be exported around the world.”