Montréal artificial intelligence solutions company Element AI has raised about $137.5 million (US$102 million) in a Series A financing. The round, which Element AI said is the largest on record for an AI startup, was led by DCVC and joined by Real Ventures, BDC Capital, Fidelity Investments Canada, Hanwha Investment, Intel Capital, Microsoft Ventures, National Bank of Canada, NVIDIA, Tencent and several unidentified sovereign wealth funds. Founded last October, Element AI creates and incubates AI solutions in partnership with corporations and research institutions. It will use the funds raised to accelerate its capabilities and invest in AI projects internationally.
Photo: Element AI’s executive team (top left to bottom right): Jeremy Barnes, Gabriel Duford, Nicolas Chapados, Philippe Beaudoin, Jean-François Gagné, Anne Martel, Yoshua Bengio and Jean-Sébastien Cournoyer.
Element AI Raises Historic $102M USD ($137.5M CAD) Series A Funding Round from DCVC and Leading Global Institutions
Funding to create new jobs, accelerate enterprise AI adoption and create the world’s most powerful AI platform
MONTREAL, June 14, 2017 /CNW Telbec/ – Element AI, an artificial intelligence company that delivers groundbreaking AI solutions, announced today it has raised $102M USD, representing the largest Series A funding round for an artificial intelligence company in history. With this funding, Element AI will accelerate its capabilities and 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.
Element AI solves impossible problems for global organizations that urgently need to use AI in combination with their proprietary and valuable data to leap ahead of their competitors. Serial entrepreneurs Jean-François Gagné and Nicolas Chapados, Real Ventures and Yoshua Bengio, a co-father of deep learning technology, co-founded Element AI 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).
Together with MILA, one of the three leading centers of AI research in the world, Element AI pioneered a unique, non-exploitative model of academic cooperation they have now replicated to many other institutes. This model provides Element AI with insight, talent, and cutting-edge research that matches or exceeds even the largest tech corporations’ reach and budgets.
Data Collective (DCVC) led the funding round with participation 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. 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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“Element AI is doing amazing work enabling AI for a wide variety of industries, leveraging NVIDIA’s deep learning platform,” said Jeff Herbst, Vice President of Business Development at NVIDIA. “Element AI will benefit by continuing to leverage NVIDIA’s high performance GPUs and software at large scale to solve some of the world’s most challenging issues.”
About Data Collective
Data Collective (DCVC) is a venture capital fund that backs entrepreneurs applying deep tech to transform giant industries. DCVC and its principals have supported brilliant people changing global-scale businesses for over twenty years, helping create tens of billions of dollars of wealth while also making the world a markedly better place. DCVC brings to bear a unique model that unites a team of experienced venture capitalists with more than 50 technology executives and experts (CTOs, CIOs, Chief Scientists, Principal Engineers, Professors at Stanford, Berkeley, and major technical universities) with significant tenures at top 100 technology companies and research institutions worldwide. DCVC focuses on Seed and Series A companies, and growth stage opportunities within its own portfolio. For more information on DCVC, visit www.dcvc.com or follow @dcvc.
About Real Ventures
Real Ventures is an early-stage venture capital fund manager and ecosystem builder, most often recognized as being the first institutional investor in many of Canada’s leading startups. The firm works with ambitious founders building the software, connectivity and artificial intelligence stack or leveraging it to disrupt industries and incumbents. The Real Ventures team’s operating and venture experience, combined with the firm’s community building approach, helps establish, build and grow globally successful companies. www.realventures.com
About BDC Capital
With more than $2 billion under management, BDC Capital is the investment arm of BDC, serving as a strategic partner to Canada’s most innovative and high potential firms. It offers a range of equity, venture capital and flexible growth and transition capital solutions to help Canadian entrepreneurs scale their businesses into global champions. To find out more, visit bdc.ca/capital.
About Hanwha Investment
Hanwha Investment is Hanwha Group’s investment organization. Hanwha Group, founded in 1952, is one of the Top-Ten business enterprises in South Korea and a “FORTUNE Global 500” company. Hanwha Group has 56 domestic affiliates and 226 global networks in three major sectors: manufacturing and construction, finance, and services and leisure. With more than 60 years track record of industrial leadership, Hanwha’s manufacturing and construction businesses encompass a broad range of fields from chemicals & materials, aerospace & mechatronics, total solar energy solutions, and global construction. The finance network, covering insurance, asset management and securities, is the second largest non-bank financial group in South Korea. The services and leisure sector offers premium lifestyle services with retail and resort businesses. For more information, visit: www.hanwha.com.
About Intel Capital
Intel Capital, Intel’s strategic investment organization, funds innovative startups targeting computing and smart devices, 5G connectivity, cloud, datacenter, artificial intelligence, merged reality, autonomous driving, the Internet of Things, robotic technologies, immersive entertainment and semiconductor manufacturing. Since 1991, Intel Capital has invested US$11.8 billion in 1,476 companies worldwide, and 620 portfolio companies have gone public or been acquired. Through its business development programs, Intel Capital curates thousands of introductions each year between its portfolio executives and Intel’s customers and partners in the Global 2000. For more information on what makes Intel Capital one of the world’s most powerful venture capital firms, visit www.intelcapital.com or follow @Intelcapital.
About Microsoft Ventures
Microsoft Ventures is the corporate venture arm of Microsoft, (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world. Microsoft Ventures partners with visionary entrepreneurs looking to drive digital transformation. As part of its promise to portfolio companies, Microsoft Ventures offers unrivaled access to go-to-market resources and strategic relationships globally. Microsoft Ventures currently operates in San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Tel Aviv and London. Learn more at https://microsoftventures.com.
About National Bank of Canada
With $239 billion in assets as at April 30, 2017, National Bank of Canada, together with its subsidiaries, forms one of Canada’s leading integrated financial groups. The Bank has more than 21,000 employees and is widely recognized as a top employer. The Bank’s securities are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: NA). Follow the Bank’s activities at https://www.nbc.ca/en/about-us.html.
About NVIDIA GPU Ventures
NVIDIA’s (NASDAQ: NVDA) invention of the GPU in 1999 sparked the growth of the PC gaming market, redefined modern computer graphics and revolutionized parallel computing. More recently, GPU deep learning ignited modern AI – the next era of computing – with the GPU acting as the brain of computers, robots and self-driving cars that can perceive and understand the world. More information at http://nvidianews.nvidia.com.
Tencent uses technology to enrich the lives of Internet users. Every day, hundreds of millions of people communicate, share experiences, consume information and seek entertainment through our integrated platforms. Tencent’s diversified services include QQ, Weixin/ WeChat for communications; Qzone for social networking; QQ Game Platform for online games; QQ.com and Tencent News for information and Tencent Video for video content. Tencent was founded in Shenzhen in 1998 and went public on the Main Board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2004. Tencent seeks to evolve with the Internet by investing in innovation, providing a mutually beneficial environment for partners, and staying close to users. https://www.tencent.com/en-us/index.html.
About Element AI:
Element AI delivers groundbreaking Artificial Intelligence solutions to enterprise companies, bringing together the best AI experts and top entrepreneurs to produce next generation AI capabilities for any organization. Element AI is headquartered in Montreal, Quebec and is funded by leading investors including BDC Capital, Data Collective, Fidelity Investments Canada, Hanwha Investment, Intel Capital, Microsoft Ventures, National Bank of Canada, NVIDIA GPU Ventures, Real Ventures and Tencent. http://www.elementai.com.
For further information: Media Contact for Element AI in Canada, Europe, and APAC: Caroline Bourbonnière, 514.504.9220, email@example.com; Media Contact for Element AI in the United States: Gregg Delman, 415.935.1804, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo courtesy of Element AI