Big tech giants, like Amazon and Google, are investing in artificial intelligence to boost their businesses. Just last year, Google made AI hardware with NSynth Super. However, a startup called Element AI has adopted a new approach. It is helping the businesses deficient in technology to transform into AI fray.
Element AI is a well-connected Canadian startup that has made an AI system Integrator to help other companies incorporate AI in their businesses. It offers computer vision applications, machine learning, and network-based solutions. The company has also announced a $151.3 million funding money. The company will use this new funding to commercialize its products and work on research and development. The startup would also look towards new AI solutions.
The CEO of the company, Jean-Francois Gagne said, “Operationalising AI is one of the biggest challenges ever. There are very few companies that have taken the theoretical concepts and used them strategically in their day-to-day businesses. We are working with partners who understand the big challenges of AI.”
The company hasn’t disclosed its current valuation. However, PitchBook notes that the company got a funding of $102 million in 2017. This increased the company’s valuation to $300 million. Therefore, after this new funding, the company’s valuation would be somewhere between $600 million and $700 million. This number shows how much Element AI has grown in recent times.
The current funding round is led by Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec (CDPQ), with help from Mckinsey & Company. Some previous investors have also participated which include Hanwha Asset Management, BDC (Business Development Bank of Canada), investors DCVC (Data Collective), and Real Ventures. The total funding has now raised to $257 million. Other investors in the company also include Nvidia, Intel, and Microsoft.
Element AI started on an interesting note. The main premise was that AI is the future. However, not every business supports technology. This creates a rift between the businesses that can solve problems through AI and those that can’t solve them. Therefore, Element AI started as an “AI shop” to help the latter kinds of companies to find out areas where they could build AI solutions and implement those solutions. Currently, the company offers logistics, retail, financial services, insurance, and manufacturing. This list is going to increase with the new funding.
A big catch about Element AI is that the company hasn’t mentioned its customer list until now. The listed partners include Gore Mutual and Bank of Canada. However, the company’s site doesn’t list a reference to customers. However, many companies are making new AI products with the startup. Many big investors are also bringing their customers by a deal. Currently, the total bookings are around a “double-digit million number.”
“With the new transaction, we are investing our money and expertise into Element AI. We want to help the company to make new AI products and reach out to new customers,” said Charles Emond, the head of Quebec investments. CDPQ just launched an AI fund earlier this year. “This new fund will strengthen Quebec’s position in the market.”
Now let us look at the competitors of AI. The main competitors of the company would be management consultancies, such as McKinsey. However, they are becoming customer pipeline because the traditional integrators don’t have the expertise in the latest technologies. However, McKinsey is investing in its capabilities to increase its AI. Just recently, the company acquired the analytics firm QuantumBlack.
“The senior partner and Montreal managing partner at McKinsey & Company, said in a recent statement, “For Mckinsey, the new investment is about helping the clients grow their businesses with the latest AI. We are excited to work closely with the talented Element AI team in Canada. We have a combined vision to turn the most innovative technology into AI assets that will transform many industries. This investment is also in-line with our long-term AI policies. Moreover, our acquisition of QuantumBlack, back in 2015, has proved to be a complete success.”
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