Element AI, the Montreal-based artificial intelligence (AI) powerhouse, today announced it has raised $137.5 million ($102 million USD) in Series A funding, the largest in history for an AI company.
The round was led by Data Collective (DCVC) with further investments from Real Ventures, Development Bank of Canada (BDC), Fidelity Investments Canada, Hanwha Investment, Intel Capital, Microsoft Ventures, National Bank of Canada, NVIDIA, Tencent, and several of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds.
The funding will allow Element AI to invest in large-scale AI projects internationally, solidifying its position as the largest global AI company in Canada and creating 250 jobs in the Canadian high tech sector by January 2018.
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.
“Artificial Intelligence is a ‘must have’ capability for global companies,” said Element AI CEO Jean-François Gagné. “Without it, they are competitively impaired if not at grave risk of being obsoleted in place. Seasoned AI investors at DCVC understood this, and supported us to democratize the AI firepower reserved today for only the largest of tech corporations. Intel, Microsoft, and NVIDIA, as pioneers and champions of AI hardware and software, likewise understand that their businesses flourish as every company is empowered with world-class AI. This is why these leaders have backed us with the world’s largest Series A round ever for an artificial intelligence company. This historic round will help Element AI deliver profoundly powerful AI platforms for all, not just the few.”
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.
“The most serious problems facing global industry and government today involve too much complex and rapidly changing data for the cognitive capacity of even large numbers of human experts working together,” said DCVC Managing Partner Matt Ocko. “These groups – and the customers and citizens they serve – need intelligent systems that can work in concert with them to field that scale and complexity. We’re proud to back Element AI and their team of world-class researchers and engineers, who are already solving multiple global-class problems.”
— Element AI (@element_ai) June 14, 2017
“Intel is all-in on AI,” said Naveen Rao, VP & GM of Intel’s Artificial Intelligence Products Group (AIPG). “In addition to hardware, we’re committed to developing the software ingredients necessary to accelerate complex, data-intensive processes. Such an endeavor means investing in the best minds in the world and Element AI has the intellectual horsepower to help us all advance artificial intelligence like never before.”
In addition to laying the groundwork to hire hundreds of top researchers, this new funding will enable Element AI to aggressively expand on a global scale focusing on AI-powered solutions for their customers in cybersecurity, fintech, manufacturing, logistics and transportation, and robotics.