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Element AI: Benefiting future industries

By Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions

Element AI
  • Sommaire
  • Organisation : Element AI
  • Région: Montréal
  • Programme: Québec Economic Development Program (QEDP)
  • The financial assistance allowed the business to hire AI specialists and acquire cutting-edge IT equipment; enhance its competitiveness; pursue the deployment of its activities abroad; and take part in more trade shows.

Artificial intelligence (IA) is a non-human reproduction of intelligence, and can take various forms.
Deep Learningis the ability of a computer to process a large volume of information by dividing it up by stratum. Deep learning is mainly used in speech and facial recognition, search aggregators, target marketing and new product suggestions based on the user’s search history.

Investing in the economy of the future

woman giving a speech

For Anne Martel, co-founder and Vice-President of Operations at Element AI, all the signs of the innovation market are pointing towards artificial intelligence. Around the world, the IT industry is turning to this technology. It is for this reason that she partnered with six other experienced entrepreneurs to create Element AI in 2016. Their mission was to democratize artificial intelligence based on a co-operative research model. Their goal was straightforward: simplify access to artificial intelligence solutions and ensure their sustainability through open collaboration with researchers, university and industrial laboratories, as well as other players in the AI ecosystem.

“The advantage of starting up an artificial intelligence company today is flexibility. By building an operating system where learning is at the heart of the business process, companies can grow and change over time and according to market realities. Our goal is to help other companies become more agile by transforming the way they do business in order to respond more quickly to new market realities.”

Anne Martel, co-founder and Vice-President of Operations at Element AI

Montréal: A key AI player

oral presentation

Montréal is at the forefront of the global innovation market. As a Canadian leader, employing more than 73,000 people in AI in 2016, the city has everything it needs to become a hub. Until now, many Canadian AI graduates have looked to the U.S. Companies like Element AI would like to be able to keep these jobs in the Quebec metropolis. Moreover, it was in Montréal that the first three articles in the world on deep learning were published.


Deep learning is recognized as the most promising AI technology. Dr. Yoshua Bengio, one of the founding members of Element AI, is considered to be one of the three pioneers of deep learning. It was in Montréal that he wrote and published the first scientific articles on the subject. Montréal also has the highest density of AI research in the world. This reputation has garnered considerable interest from international markets, particularly in Europe and Asia-Pacific countries. According to Anne Martel, it is difficult for most companies in the field to find quality employees; however, in Montréal, this is less of a problem given the concentration of the scientific community in the city.

Marc-Étienne Ouimette, Jean-Francois Gagné and Navdeep Bains
Left to right: Marc-Étienne Ouimette, Head of public policy and government relations at Element AI; Jean-François Gagné, Founder and CEO at Element AI; Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for CED.

Explosive growth

Just seven months after its launch, Element AI obtained a historic Series A round of financing for AI: $139 million from private investors. The company has since doubled its workforce by creating more than 500 jobs and opening offices in Toronto, London, Singapore and Seoul.

A forward-looking business

Faced with giant competitors in China and the U.S., Element AI aims to stand out through the responsible practice of AI innovation, and work with other Quebec and Canadian companies to ensure Canada’s important place in the field. Its network of university researchers bridges the gap between the research community and the business world and allows Element AI to collaborate with leading universities to solve real-world problems.

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