The lab will be led by Dr. Julien Cornebise, formerly of DeepMind, and will serve as the company’s European hub from which it can focus on its mission of ‘AI for Good’. The new lab will also serve as a base for Element AI to expand its network of university researchers, industry experts, and both governmental and non-governmental organizations.
Co-founded by serial entrepreneurs Jean-François Gagné and Nicolas Chapados, Real Ventures and Yoshua Bengio, a co-father of deep learning technology, Element AI aims to bring academic AI innovation to global organizations. Started in October 2016 to empower industry with the massive scale of academic AI innovation Bengio was driving at the world-leading Montreal Institute of Learning Algorithms (MILA), the two groups pioneered a unique, non-exploitative model of academic cooperation they have since replicated at many other institutes.
“Element AI’s expansion into Europe with a London office is our first step in collaborating with Europe’s top AI talent and connecting them with our extensive AI teams in Canada; all while working with several of the most prestigious organizations to leverage AI for Good,” said Element AI CEO Jean-François Gagné. “Element AI is committed to enabling AI for Good in our society; we believe this technology can help tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues and London will help make that a reality. We’ve handpicked Dr. Julien Cornebise to lead our efforts in London because his values and experience aligns with Element AI’s goal to balance advances in industry while leading the charge for positive social change. Julien’s unique experience includes applying AI to humanitarian issues in collaboration with Amnesty International and co-founding the Health Research team during his time at DeepMind. We are confident that Julien is the right leader to kick start our European operations and are thrilled to have him on board.”
The company also announced the addition of Dr. Denis Therien and Dr. Valérie Bécaert, both well-known leaders in the scientific community, in October.
Element AI’s new London lab will begin by focusing on three core initiatives:Leveraging AI to help solve global issues by empowering NGOs, intergovernmental entities, and local actors; Advancing methodological research as needed by these applications; Promoting and connecting talented AI scientists and engineers in developing nations through fellowships and visiting scholar programs. The London office will eventually grow into a full stack office.
“AI for Good can mean many things — at Element AI, I see it as using AI and ML to empower those who are already fighting the good fights,” said Julien Cornebise, Director of Research and Head of London Office. “Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are powerful tools that deserve deployment beyond industrial, market-driven applications. Amazing people in NGOs, international organizations, and local initiatives alike, have dedicated their lives to solving the most important problems, such as fighting for human rights, more equitable access to resources, and education. At Element AI, we want to give these amazing organizations access to the type of AI talent that is out of reach for so many, working hand-in-hand on their world-changing programs and initiatives, driven by their domain knowledge.”
Dr. Cornebise joined DeepMind Technologies Limited–which was later acquired by Google and launched its own AI lab in collaboration with McGill University in October–as an early employee. In his time at DeepMind, he led several fundamental research directions used in early demos and fundraising, and helped create and lead its Health Applied Research Team. Since leaving DeepMind in 2016, he has been working with Amnesty International. He received the 2010 Savage Award from the International Society for Bayesian Analysis for his PhD in Mathematics with a specialization in Computational Statistics.
“Element AI’s establishment of a London office is testament to the strengths of the UK research and innovation ecosystem in AI, and the potential for industrial collaborations with our businesses,” said Matt Sansam, Innovation Lead for Digital at Innovate UK. “When we met with the company during a recent Expert Mission to Canada, it was clear there were many opportunities for these partnerships to thrive in the future, and their new UK base is a very positive step forward. We look forward to facilitating further partnerships under the remit of the UK-Canada Memorandum-of-Understanding (MoU) on Science, Technology and Innovation.”