Google has acquired a University of Toronto startup to improve its speech and object recognition research, the university announced this week.

DNNresearch, incorporated in 2012 by computer science professor Geoffrey Hinton and two of his graduate students, Alex Krizhevsky and Ilya Sutskever, focuses on speech recognition, computer vision and language understanding. It has developed a system that "dramatically improved the state of the art in object recognition," according to the university's media release.

The three-person team also received a $600,000 grant earlier from Google's Focused Research Awards, which support research in computer science and engineering.

The announcement makes DNNresearch the 9th Canadian company acquired by the search giant.

"I am extremely excited about this fantastic opportunity to keep my research here in Toronto and, at the same time, help Google apply new developments in deep learning to make systems that help people," Hinton said in the media release.

Now a part-time Google employee, Hinton will divide his time between university research and his work at Google. Krizhevsky and Sutskever will also be moving to the company's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

Hinton's research interests are focused on using deep neural networks — collections of brain cells — to explore learning, memory, perception, and image processing.

In addition to his position at U of T, Hinton is also the Canada Research Chair in machine learning and the founding member of Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit at University College London.