PE Tech Report


Like this article?

Sign up to our free newsletter

Element AI raises USD102m in Series A funding round led by DCVC

Artificial intelligence company Element AI has raised USD102 million in a Series A funding round led by Data Collective (DCVA) with participation from Fidelity Investments Canada, Hanwha Investment, Intel Capital, Microsoft Ventures, National Bank of Canada, Development Bank of Canada (BDC), NVIDIA, Real Ventures, and several of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds.

Element AI will use the funding to 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. 
China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd is a significant investor in Element AI, part of a broader strategy of Tencent to grow its expertise in artificial intelligence in order to serve the needs of its diversified businesses – a strategy that took shape with the establishment of AI Labs in April 2016. AI Labs’ main areas of focus are content, social, online games and cloud services. The other significant investor from Asia is South Korea’s Hanwha Investment, the investment arm of Hanwha Group. 
Element AI plans to open in Japan, Korea and Singapore to expand in the Asian market, with its first Asia office in Japan during the third quarter to target the local market. The second office will be opened later in the year in Singapore, which will also serve as a regional hub for Southeast Asia. 
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. Together with the Montreal Institute of Learning (MILA), one of the three leading centres 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,” says 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 democratise 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.” 
“Tencent is actively pursuing investment opportunities in AI and innovation globally,” says Hongwei Chen, Executive Director of Investment and M&A at Tencent Holdings. “We are excited to partner with Element AI and Real Ventures, and look forward to seeing breakthroughs in AI technology and applications that help improve people’s lives.” 
“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,” says 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,” says 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 endeavour 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,” says Jeff Herbst, Vice President of Business Development at NVIDIA. “Element AI will bene it by continuing to leverage NVIDIA’s high performance GPUs and software at large scale to solve some of the world’s most challenging issues.” 
The securities offered have not been and will not be registered under the US Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and may not be offered or sold in the United States absent registration or an applicable exemption from the registrations requirements of such Act. This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy the securities in any jurisdiction.

Like this article? Sign up to our free newsletter