Element AI raises $151.4m to operationalise AI for enterprise

16 Sep 2019

Montreal. Image: © Pink Candy/Stock.adobe.com

Element AI’s customers include Gore Mutual and Bank of Canada. The start-up also reportedly has deals with other large enterprises.

On Friday (13 September), global developer of artificial intelligence software Element AI announced that it had raised $151.4m in Series B funding.

The Montreal-based start-up, which builds AI tools for enterprises, was founded in 2016 by serial entrepreneurs Jean-François Gagné and Yoshua Bengio. To date, Element AI has raised $357m.

While the only two customers listed on Element AI’s website are Bank of Canada and Gore Mutual, TechCrunch reports that the firm has deals with several other large enterprises, worth a “significant double-digit million number”.

The latest funding round attracted new investors, including the Cassie de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), McKinsey & Company, QuantumBlack and the provincial government of Québec.

A number of Series A investors also returned, including DCVC, Hanwha Asset Management, BDC Capital and Real Ventures, among others.

The company will use the funding to accelerate the deployment and commercialisation of solutions that meet customer needs for the operationalisation of AI, while continuing to develop AI products. The company’s goal is to turn research and industry expertise into software solutions that exponentially learn and improve.

TechCrunch described it as an “Accenture for machine learning, neural network-based solutions and computer vision applications and so on”.

Strengthening AI presence

Gagné, CEO of Element AI, said: “Operationalising AI is currently the industry’s toughest challenge, and few companies have been successful at taking proofs-of-concepts out of the lab, imbedding them strategically in their operations and delivering actual business impact.

“We are proud to be working with our new partners, who understand this challenge well, and to leverage each other’s expertise in taking AI solutions to the market.”

Charles Émond, EVP at CDPQ, added: “With this transaction, we are investing capital and expertise alongside partners who are ideally suited to transform Element AI into a company with a commercial focus that anticipates and creates AI products to address clients’ needs.

“Through this fund, la Caisse wants to actively contribute to build and strengthen Québec’s global presence in artificial intelligence.”

Element AI did not reveal an updated valuation following this investment round. Pitchbook noted that after raising $102m in 2017, Element AI had a post-money valuation of $300m. TechCrunch now suspects that this valuation has increased to between $600m and $700m.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic