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Artificial intelligence: Record funding for Element AI

June 21, 2017

Montréal-based Element AI announced it has raised US$102 million (C$137.5 million) to fund its artificial intelligence research activities.

The deal is the largest Series A funding round for an artificial intelligence company in history. The funds will enable Element AI (@Element_AI) to invest heavily in large-scale AI projects internationally and position itself as THE leading AI company in Canada by expanding into areas such as cybersecurity, cutting-edge technology, industrial manufacturing, logistics and transportation, as well as robotics.

Element AI plans to create 250 jobs over the next six months and hire the best researchers in the industry to support its growth.

Data Collective (DCVC) led the funding round with participation from Real Ventures, Development Bank of Canada, National Bank of Canada, Fidelity Investments Canada, Hanwha Investment, Intel Capital, Microsoft Ventures, NVIDIA, Tencent and other major sovereign wealth funds.

“Greater Montréal is enjoying unprecedented recognition as a global leader in artificial intelligence. The record investment secured by Element AI will support the tremendous growth of the AI sector and generate positive outcomes for the entire economy,” said Hubert Bolduc, President and CEO of Montréal International.

“In 2016, Montréal International helped attract $1.3 billion in foreign direct investment, including 20% in AI. We definitely plan to use this momentum to attract more foreign capital and transform the city into a Silicon Valley of artificial intelligence,” he added.

Element AI: A young company on the rise

Element AI was founded in October 2016 by entrepreneurs Jean-François Gagné (@JFGagne) and Nicolas Chapados (@Nicolas Chapados), venture capital fund Real Ventures (@RealVentures), and world-leading expert on deep learning Yoshua Bengio, who is also a professor at Université de Montréal. The company’s goal is to help businesses tap into the research conducted by Bengio at the Montréal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA), a world-class research centre.

Element AI has pioneered a unique model of academic co-operation enabling the company to benefit from technology, innovations and advanced research capabilities that exceed even the largest tech corporations’ reach and budgets.

Greater Montréal: An artificial intelligence hub

Artificial intelligence is expanding at lightning speed in Greater Montréal, and here’s why:

  • Montréal is home to the biggest and most prestigious group of deep learning researchers in the world (MILA)
  • Montréal-born professor and researcher Yoshua Bengio is one of the founding fathers of the deep learning movement
  • Université de Montréal and McGill University boast more than 250 researchers and doctoral students in fields related to artificial intelligence—the largest concentration of researchers in the world
  • Montréal is home to a unique institution: the Institute for Data Valorisation (IVADO)
  • The city boasts a pool of internationally recognized researchers in computer vision, natural language processing, speech recognition, reinforcement learning and other AI-related fields, such as data science, operations research and medical imagery