Alex Benay, the Government of Canada’s chief information officer (CIO), has announced he is leaving his post to join Ottawa-based startup Mindbridge.
“I will be joining one of Canada’s newest Narwhal’s, Mindbridge AI.”
– Alex Benay
Benay joined as CIO of Canada in March 2017, and was in charge of modernizing the Canadian government’s digital infrastructure, he led the federal government’s Information Technology Strategic Plan. He will be joining the AI startup as of September 3 as its chief client officer. Mindbridge noted that Benay will be responsible for the company’s global growth as it looks to prepare for an IPO in 2021.
“In my 2.5 years as Chief Information Officer of Canada, I am very proud of the work the public service has accomplished in moving our national digital agenda forward,” Benay said in a public statement. “After consulting with our Ethics Commissioner and receiving clearance, I am pleased to announce I will be joining one of Canada’s newest Narwhal‘s, Mindbridge AI.”
Benay, who also serves as the co-chair of the CIO Strategy Council, noted that during his time with the federal government he saw the introduction of public cloud adoption across the government, the “world’s first ethical AI management framework”, new digital standards and staffing models in the workplace, as well as a number of other changes including updated laws for the digital age and the government moving away from the Phoenix system. Prior to joining the Government of Canada, Benay had a number of roles including serving as vice president for Open Text.
The now-former government official marks the second executive-level hire for Mindbridge in the past month. In July, the company announced that former managing partner at Deloitte, Miyo Yamashita, had joined as its chief strategy officer. The two join a small c-suite team that includes CEO Eli Fathi, and chief technology officer Robin Grosset, who was the former chief architect of analytics for IBM’s Watson.
“We are fortunate to have top leaders from global organizations, such as the Big Four and IBM, and most recently from the public service, join our ranks,” said Fathi. “MindBridge is about helping our customers and the community win, with a priority focus on AI for good…We augment the abilities of people to analyze and understand large volumes of data, and we support the government’s digital agenda.”
In June, Mindbridge received $14.5 million from the federal government through its Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), on the heels of a $15.1 million venture capital round. MindBridge, founded in 2015 by Solon Angel, is an AI-powered Fintech company that uses machine learning and AI to analyze large datasets and detect deviating patterns of activity as well as unintentional errors. Earlier this year, CEO Eli Fathi told BetaKit that the company is working on something that it says could go well beyond finance.
Fathi also noted at the time that Mindbridge plans to be IPO-ready by December 2021. “We want to function and act as if we are an IPO-ready company,” he said. “If you ask our VCs, they’ll tell you… that we behave as if we are a [D] round, rather than an A round. There’s still a lot to fix, but we have the right infrastructure to move it to the next level.”
“It is no secret that AI is one of the most transformative technologies of our time, and will continue to impact business, governments, and citizens’ everyday lives in significant ways,” said Benay “I am proud to be joining a team of dedicated professionals who believe in AI for good and who want to lead Canada in the development of an inclusive AI ecosystem, while also creating the next corporate household name in this country and the world.”
Image courtesy Government of Canada