Element AI adds leading scientists to their team


Artificial intelligence (AI) has the academic and corporate sectors collaborating in Montreal. And some news from Element AI is further proof of this.

The Montreal powerhouse that raised a historic $137.5 million Series A in June has announced the hiring of Dr. Denis Therien and Dr. Valérie Bécaert, both well-known leaders in the scientific community.

Element AI partners up with larger corporations and veteran researchers in the city to enable local entrepreneurs to build products that solve AI-related needs.  The incubator brings together these leaders while emphasizing an “AI-First” strategy.

The company already works extensively with university researchers, including co-founder Yoshua Bengio and the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA). The addition of Dr. Therien and Dr. Bécaert will help Element AI promote its non predatory model and make AI accessible to all organizations.

Dr. Therien was formerly the Vice-President of Research and Partnerships at CIFAR (Canadian Institute for Advanced Research) and prior to that served as Vice Principal of Research and International Relations at McGill University from 2005 to 2010. He was awarded a James McGill Chair in 2002 and the Forschungpsreise (research prize) from the Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation in 2000. An accomplished expert in his field, he has published over 100 research articles on computational complexity in top-tier journals.

“Leaving academia for the private sector is an extraordinary step in my career,” said Dr.Therien. “Element AI’s novel view of enabling business to interact with the research community is the perfect balance to achieve the next level of my career and continue giving back to the larger academic community. I am very excited to play an important part in redefining and solidifying this new model of collaboration. Element AI’s social consciousness and vision of building a better society, both here and abroad, was a deciding factor in making the leap as this outlook perfectly aligns with my own interests.”

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Dr. Bécaert started as a researcher in the field of life cycle analysis and has since served as the director of CIRAIG, the international center of expertise on life cycle analysis, and co-founder of CIRODD, the interdisciplinary center for the operationalization of sustainable development. She then joined the Institute of Data Valorization (IVADO) as Director of partnerships.

“I strongly believe that connecting strong fundamental research to real business challenges is the key to being a world leader in AI,” said Dr. Bécaert. “Over the last two years, I extended the reach of Montreal’s hub to build strong relationships and networks. Element AI is setting the pace in Montreal’s AI hub, and there is much to do. I am ecstatic to be part of this amazing team.”

Element AI’s business model combines the insight, talent, and cutting-edge research of academia with a budget and reach that matches or even exceeds the largest tech corporations. Together with MILA, one of the leading AI research centers in the world, Element AI has pioneered a method of academic cooperation they have now replicated to many other institutes. Element AI’s research capabilities currently includes a lab of more than 40 researchers and a network of 25 fellows spanning across Canada.

“As Element AI expands globally, we’re seeking out the best and brightest to engage in active collaborations that will help us solve the world’s most difficult problems,” Nicolas Chapados, Element AI Chief Science Officer, said. “The addition of Denis and Valérie to the growing Element AI team of world-renowned scientists will undoubtedly advance our mission of developing new capabilities with leading institutions and renowned academics. We couldn’t be more honored and excited to have them on the team.  With Denis and Valérie’s help, we plan to grow our research capabilities to more than 50 scientists and dozens of fellows around the world by year’s end.”