Element AI scores US $102M Series A led by Data Collective

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By Ted Liu

Element AI has raised US $102 million in “the largest Series A funding round” for an artificial intelligence company.

Data Collective (DCVC) led the funding round with participation from Real Ventures, BDC Capital, 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 connection with the financing, Matt Ocko, DCVC Managing Partner, has joined joined Element AI board of directors.

Founded in August 2016 by Jean-François Gagné and Nicolas Chapados, Yoshua Bengio, Element AI was seed funded by Real Ventures and raised undisclosed amount from Microsoft Ventures in December 2016.

[mepr-active rule=”374″ ifallowed=”hide”]pcJ Subscribers ONLY Content – read our research and get insight on this deal and other deals – we offer monthly/yearly recurring or one-time subscriptions. [/mepr-active][mepr-active rule=”374″]Real Ventures, through Real Investment Fund 17, L.P., remains as the third largest shareholder behind Jean-François Gagné and an entity with Yoshua Bengio as a shareholder. Jean-Sébastien Cournoyer continues to serve as a director along with Gagné, Bengio, and Ocko. If Real Investment Fund 17, L.P. were a single purpose vehicle (SPV) created specifically for Element AI and given the substantially increased valuation of the seed investment, LPs in Real Investment III will be left out.

Unmentioned in the new release, Trusted Insight and Daniel Gauthier, co-founder of Le Cirque du Soleil, along with Tencent (maybe others) invested through a SPV managed by Real Ventures.[/mepr-active]

With the new 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.

Together with Montreal Institute of Learning Algorithms (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.

“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 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.”

photo credit: Element AI