About Us

At DarwinAI we are developing technology that widens the scope and accelerates the adoption of deep neural networks.

Our Story

DarwinAI is a cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence startup based in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Our technology, stemming from years of scholarship by our academic team from the University of Waterloo, uses ‘AI to build AI’ in order to:
1.) dramatically reduce the size of deep neural networks while maintaining functional accuracy and reducing inference time;
2.) facilitate ‘explainable’ deep learning: the ability to understand why a network makes the decisions it does.

Our academic team have won numerous awards, including best workshop papers at the prestigious NIPS conference in 2016 and 2017. We have also published numerous scholastic and empirical papers to validate our optimization claims, which you can find.


Alexander Wong (PhD)

Co-founder, Chief Scientist

Alexander Wong (PhD) is a Canada Research Chair and professor at the University of Waterloo, and the co-inventor of DarwinAI's Generative Synthesis A.I. technology. Alexander has led over $6M in academic and industrial research projects, and is a forerunner in the fields of artificial intelligence, and computational imaging. He is a prolific researcher with more than 450 peer-reviewed scientific articles at top journals and conferences, holds 30 patents and patent applications, and has given over 20 invited talks in both academic and industrial settings. Alexander's technologies are used throughout industry in a wide variety of fields, covered by 100+ media outlets, and have been recognized for his innovative research in various fields with numerous international and national awards and recognition. ​

Sheldon Fernandez


Sheldon Fernandez (CEO) is a seasoned executive and respected thought leader in the technical and enterprise communities. Throughout his career, he has applied emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence to the enterprise. First, in his capacity as CTO at Infusion, the company he founded out of school with five partners that grew to 600 people. Then subsequently, at Avanade, the organization that acquired Infusion in March of 2017. Sheldon is also an accomplished author and speaker. He has spoken at numerous conferences in numerous contexts, including Singularity University, the prestigious think tank in the Bay Area, and has written technical books and articles on many topics. Through his career, Sheldon has coupled his entrepreneurial endeavors with non-technical pursuits, resulting in an interdisciplinary approach that is critical to the intelligent application of AI. He completed a Master’s degree in theology at the University of Toronto in 2008, with thesis work in neuroscience and metaethics. He also pursued creative writing at Oxford University.

Arif Virani


Arif Virani (COO) is a trusted leader with a track record in innovative technology adoption. He has helped Fortune 500 companies plan technology investments, develop employee skillsets, and implement large-scale initiatives. He started his career building trading systems for investment banks on Wall Street, and then transitioned to McKinsey and Company where he was a leader in their Business Technology and Digital practice. Most recently, he co-founded an advanced analytics solution within McKinsey’s New Ventures division. He shaped the go-to-market strategy and created product roadmaps as an advisor to Artificial Intelligence startups. Arif completed his Master’s in Business Administration at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and his Bachelor’s in Applied Science (Computer Engineering) at the University of Waterloo.

Mohammad Javad Shafiee (PhD)

Co-founder, VP Research

Mohammad Javad Shafiee (PhD) is a research professor at the University of Waterloo, and the co-inventor of DarwinAI's Generative Synthesis A.I. technology. Mohammad is a world-class researcher in computational intelligence and deep learning, with more than 70 peer-reviewed scientific articles at top journals and conferences. His research has been recognized with a number of prestigious awards, has extensive industrial research experience leading a large number of large-scale industrial and academic projects.