TECHNOLOGY

Artificial Intelligence Company Elements AI to Open Singapore Office in 2017

The Canadian start-up also reports securing $102 million in Series A funding to support global expansion

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BY Tanya Mariano - 21 Jun 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Elements AI, a research lab and start-up incubator that develops artificial intelligence (AI) solutions for businesses, announced this month that it will be opening a Singapore office in the second half of 2017. The new office will act as the Canadian company’s hub for Southeast Asia, taking advantage of Singapore’s sizable talent pool and growing lead in the field of AI in the region.

At the same time, the company also reported that it has secured $102 million in Series A funding, which it claims is the biggest recorded Series A funding for an AI company. The round was led by Data Collective, with participation from Hanwha Investment, Fidelity Investments Canada, Intel Capital, NVIDIA, Microsoft Ventures, National Bank of Canada, Development Bank of Canada, Real Ventures, and “several of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds,” the company said in a statement.

The funding will allow Elements AI to hire more researchers and support its global expansion, with a focus on fintech, cybersecurity, logistics and transportation, manufacturing, and robotics.

The announcements come just barely a year after the company was founded in October 2016 by serial entrepreneurs Jean-François Gagné and Nicolas Chapados, Real Ventures, and computer scientist Yoshua Bengio, who is recognized as a “co-father of deep learning technology.”

The race for AI

AI has become so ubiquitous in our daily lives, running unobtrusively in the background for the most part. In business, it is also fast becoming indispensable.

Says Gagné, who serves as Elements AI’s CEO, “Artificial Intelligence is a ‘must-have’ capability for global companies... Without it, they are competitively impaired, if not at grave risk of being obsoleted in place.”

Around the world, tech giants such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Intel, and Facebook have been on a buying spree of AI start-ups. According to research by CB Insights, there have been over 200 acquisitions since 2012, with Google buying the most number of start-ups at 11 acquisitions, followed by Apple at 7 acquisitions.

In Southeast Asia, start-ups are using AI to solve a host of problems: Singapore’s Yojee, for instance, uses AI and blockchain to help logistics companies coordinate their fleets and make deliveries more efficient, and Inc. Southeast Asia reports that “personal pocket stylist” SuitApp leverages the technology to give users outfit recommendations.