Québec City-based artificial intelligence (AI) software and service company Vooban has secured a strategic equity investment from Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ).
The AI firm declined to disclose the amount that it received from the Québec public pension plan manager. CDPQ senior director of private equity Yves-André Levasseur is joining Vooban’s board as part of the round.
After establishing itself in Québec, Vooban targets expansion through organic growth and acquisitions.
Vooban, which helps businesses design and deploy AI solutions, plans to use this capital to fuel its Ontario and United States (US) expansion plans, which will involve a combination of organic growth and acquisitions. This minority stake investment represents the 12-year-old startup’s first external funding.
“We are extremely enthusiastic about partnering with CDPQ in this next phase of our growth,” Vooban founder and president Kevin Moore said in a statement. “This strategic investment will enable us not only to continue providing first-class AI services to our customers but also to extend our reach into new markets.”
Founded in 2011 as a custom software solutions startup, Vooban formed its AI team in 2017 in what Moore described as “a turning point” for the company. Today, Vooban helps clients implement AI, building applications to support companies’ digital transformations. Vooban also has teams focused on programming, design, enterprise architecture, the Internet of Things, and cloud computing.
Vooban CMO Annie O’Farrell told BetaKit that today, Vooban’s clients consist primarily of medium to large companies in the manufacturing and agrifood industry. Since the startup does custom development, it also has customers in other industries, including logistics, health, construction, and restaurants.
Over the past few years, Vooban’s revenue has grown by 50 percent annually. In June, Vooban was named AI service company of the year by Scale AI at the latest C2 Montréal conference.
“Vooban has an enviable position in a booming sector, and we are delighted to be supporting them as they expand so that businesses will have even greater access to AI services,” CDPQ executive vice president and head of Québec Kim Thomassin said in a statement.
For CDPQ, Thomassin noted the Vooban investment fits within its aim to help Québec businesses expand into new markets and support firms that accelerate digital transformation.
To date, Vooban has established a strong presence in Québec, where it has built products like a pipeline inspection tool for oil and gas tech firm Flyscan Systems, an AI quality assurance solution for potato producer Patates Dolbec, a customer enterprise resource planning application for marine terminal operator and stevedore QSL.
Armed with this CDPQ funding, Vooban plans to add at least 40 employees to its 135-person team over the coming months as it looks to expand its reach in Ontario and the US.
In terms of what Vooban’s acquisition plans look like, O’Farrell noted that the firm is looking to acquire companies in the AI and digital transformation spaces. “We are currently targeting a business in the province of Québec,” she added. “And later this year, we’ll start to look for a company in Ontario and another one in the [US], probably around Chicago.”
UPDATE (09/20/23): This story was updated to note responses from Vooban CMO Annie O’Farrell.
Feature image courtesy CDPQ.