Element AI recognized for innovation at Mitacs Entrepreneur Awards

Element AI office Montreal

Montreal-based Element AI received the 20th Anniversary Award at the Mitacs Entrepreneurs Award ceremony in Halifax, earlier this week.

“Access to top research talent and a robust entrepreneurial spirit helps Element AI harness the power of artificial intelligence.”

The 20th Anniversary Award was given to Element AI in “recognition of the company’s commitment to innovation and its entrepreneurial spirit.” Mitacs is a nonprofit national research organization that creates partnerships with Canadian academia, private industry and government to support various research and training programs. The Mitacs Entrepreneur Awards seek to reward the most innovative Mitacs program alumni who have proceeded to create their own business ventures.

A statement from Mitacs said Element AI’s success in creating in more than 500 jobs across in five cities across three continents in less than three years, led to the award this week.

“Mitacs is proud to have supported the early scientific curiosity and entrepreneurial passion that grew into this impressive Canadian AI success story,” said Alejandro Adem, Mitacs CEO and scientific director. “Access to top research talent and a robust entrepreneurial spirit helps Element AI harness the power of artificial intelligence to make businesses around the world stronger, safer and more agile.”

Element AI was co-founded by Yoshua Bengio, Jean-François Gagné, and Nicolas Chapados in 2016. The company’s stated mission was to act as a ‘startup factory,’ joining with researchers and entrepreneurs to develop AI-driven technology and help companies develop an AI strategy.

Until the end of 2018, the company was quiet about exactly what its product launch might look like. Earlier this year Element AI announced a partnership with the National Bank of Canada, which now sees its AI-powered software help improve cybersecurity for the bank. It is also working with Gore Mutual Insurance Company to integrate Element AI’s Underwriting Partner software.

Mitacs’ relationship with Element AI began at the University of Montreal, where a team that included Bengio and Chapados, secured a research contract with an insurer to address the problem of drivers with good records paying more for insurance. Mitacs contributed funds, leading to the eventual commercialization of that research, and the creation of ApSTAT Technologies, in 2001.

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During that same period, Mitacs financed another University of Montreal project called Planora, co-founded by Gagné, Louis-Martin Rousseau, and Alexander Le Bouthillier. Planora and ApSTAT subsequently worked closely together to build workforce management solutions with AI. In 2016, Gagné, Bengio, and Chapados reunited to establish Element AI.

Element AI’s suite of AI-powered products now works to strengthen decision-making across a variety of industries, including insurance, finance, manufacturing, retail, cybersecurity, and transportation. The company has five offices globally and continues to partner with academia, business and government to advance research in AI.

In addition to the 20th Anniversary Award presented to Element AI, five Mitacs alumni were also awarded for their entrepreneurial achievements.

  • Outstanding Entrepreneur: Tanzina Huq, co-founder and CTO of Fredericton-based Chinova Bioworks
  • Social Entrepreneur: Hachem Agili, co-founder, president, and CEO of Quebec City-based Geosapiens
  • Global Impact Entrepreneur: Hamed Hanafi, founder and president of Halifax-based NovaResp Technologies
  • Environmental Entrepreneur: Beatriz Molero, founder of Calgary-based SeeO2 Energy
  • Change Agent Entrepreneur: Ephraim Nowak, founder and CEO of Kelowna-based Percept Systems
Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Writer, globetrotter, drone pilot & David Attenborough enthusiast