Element AI coming out of “stealth phase,” launching product with National Bank

Today, Element AI announced a partnership with the National Bank of Canada, which will see its AI-powered software help improve cybersecurity for the bank.

This announcement marks the beginning of the Montreal-based company moving out of its self declared “stealth phase” and finally bringing its products to market.

“AI has the power to assist organizations in building intelligent solutions…that were never before possible.”

Element AI’s software will be integrated into the National Bank’s Security Operations Centre, allowing the bank’s security analysts to more deeply investigate, react, and respond to alerts and threats. The software is set to create real-time reports and communication alerts, while also identifying, mapping, and autonomously hunting for threats, according to the company.

Earlier this year, Element AI stated its intention to start bringing to market the products it has been working on since its inception. JF Gagné, co-founder and CEO of Element AI, told the Montreal Gazette at the time, “We’re now at the point where all of these products are becoming generally available, some in the first quarter of this year and some in the second quarter of this year.”

Partnering with the National Bank is Element AI’s first official collaboration announcement of 2019, as it looks to continue building out its go-to-market strategy.

The company is focusing its product launches towards large companies, such as financial institutions (like National Bank), insurance companies, asset managers, as well as the transportation and logistics industries. According to the Gazette, prior to today’s announcement the AI startup was already testing one such product with Port of Montreal, helping to make better predictions about trucks picking up and dropping off at the port.

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Element AI was launched in October 2016 by Gagné, Nicolas Chapados, and Yoshua Bengio. It’s stated mission was to act as a ‘startup factory’ partnering with researchers and entrepreneurs to develop technology and help companies develop an AI strategy. Until the end of 2018, the company had been quiet about exactly what this might look like.

Element AI decided to keep its head down while developing its first set of products.

Web Summit, in November, marked the first time the company showcased some of its products and Gagné set out the company’s product roadmap. He explained to BetaKit at the time, the original lack of clarity around its products was intentional. Gagné noted, Element AI didn’t want to create uncertainty in the market and decided to keep its head down while developing its first set of products.

This approached seemed to have worked. Since its inception, the AI startup has raised a historic $137.5 million Series A funding round, and in December received a $5 million loan from the Canadian government through The Quebec Economic Development Program. It has also already had a global impact, partnering with three Singapore-based organizations to help convert its technology into products. It is also purportedly looking to raise $250 million in a new Series B round, which Bloomberg reported last year, noting that, if successful, this could lead to a valuation of $1 billion and ‘unicorn status’ for the Montreal company.

At Web Summit, Gagné explained to BetaKit that Element AI is now coming out of what he called its “stealth phase,” stating at the time, it planned to roll out more information and provide more clarity around its products in early 2019.

Regarding its new partnership with the National Bank, Element AI is looking to show off what it calls its “human-centric” AI products that “enable organizations to scale quickly for operational efficiency and help employees focus on higher level decision-making.”

“We believe that AI brings the opportunity to augment decision-making capabilities of workers.”

“AI has the power to assist organizations in building intelligent solutions that produce perspectives and insights that were never before possible. We are committed to delivering products to market that help companies perform their job with more accuracy and efficiency,” Gagné said. “AI-powered augmented decision-making will fundamentally change how business is done across every organization.”

Earlier this year, BetaKit had the opportunity to tour Element AI’s Montreal office, and speak to Christophe Coutelle, VP of marketing at Element AI, who explained the company develops its software while trying to keep humans in-the-loop.

“We believe that AI brings the opportunity to augment decision-making capabilities of workers,” Coutelle said. “This means there is always a worker there who is validating the recommendations or the decisions that are suggested by the AI, so that we can improve the insights, we can improve the predictions and we can improve the data capture.”

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Element AI’s website still does not provide clarity on its exact product line, but does outline the industries it focuses on when developing its software, including banking and cybersecurity. The company told BetaKit, however, that its products fall under three main pillars: business continuity, business operations, and business analysis. It hopes to help companies become more prepared, more streamlined, and better able to optimize over time.

As Gagné told BetaKit last year, while its messaging around buying products and accessing its services is still vague, we should expect to see more details roll out throughout this year. “We’re not specific about exactly what it means, but we’re going to be opening up and showing that to the world in early 2019,” Gagné stated.

With files from Ashley Joseph

Feature image courtesy Linebox Studio.

Meagan Simpson

Meagan Simpson

Meagan is the Senior Editor for BetaKit. A tech writer that is super proud to showcase the Canadian tech scene. Background in almost every type of journalism from sports to politics. Podcast and Harry Potter nerd, photographer and crazy cat lady.

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