Dr. Foteini Agrafioti 

Speaker, Foteini Agrafioti
Chief Science Officer, RBC, Head, Borealis AI
  • Named “Canada’s Top 40 Under 40” (2017)
  • Named “Inventor of the Year” by the University of Toronto for her biometric tech HeartID (2012)

Foteini’s initial research in cardiac biometrics was met with rejection in an academic world where iris, face and fingerprint biometric recognition dominated. Instead of giving up, she and her team answered critics’ difficult questions early on in their R&D process, solving the main challenges that would have prevented the real-world use of heartbeat authentication.

The AI explorer

Biometric scientist Dr. Foteini Agrafioti has already transformed how artificial intelligence impacts our lives. After finishing her PhD degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering, she founded and served as CTO at biometrics security company Nymi. It was there that she commercialized her doctoral research, including massive amounts of electrocardiogram signal data, to create ID wristband Nymi. Soon after, she invented its counterpart HeartID, the first-ever biometric technology to authenticate users based on their unique cardiac rhythms. Now, as the Chief Science Officer at RBC and Head of Borealis AI, RBC’s Institute for Research in AI, Foteini leads RBC’s intellectual property portfolio in AI and oversees R&D.

Since Borealis AI launched in 2016, Foteini has rapidly expanded the curiosity-driven research centre to achieve state-of-the-art machine learning. The focus is on both fundamental and applied research, with one team dedicated to theoretical machine learning and another to leveraging that innovation and deploying it to financial services and beyond into ethical social applications. Before joining RBC, she led research and innovation as the CIO of Architech and founder of Architech Labs, researching human/computer interaction and building technologies that understand the underlying factors behind human behaviours and habits. A strong advocate for Canadian leadership in AI and machine learning, Foteini seeks out collaborative partnerships with universities and industry, and serves on the editorial review boards of several scientific journals.

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The things that scare you? Prioritize them. Your degree of discomfort should be rooted in the size of the impact you’d like to have.”
Foteini to BNN.ca
  • Named “Canada’s Top 40 Under 40” (2017)
  • Named “Inventor of the Year” by the University of Toronto for her biometric tech HeartID (2012)

Foteini’s initial research in cardiac biometrics was met with rejection in an academic world where iris, face and fingerprint biometric recognition dominated. Instead of giving up, she and her team answered critics’ difficult questions early on in their R&D process, solving the main challenges that would have prevented the real-world use of heartbeat authentication.