Element AI Sets Up Shop in Toronto

One of Canada’s most prominent AI firms has set up shop in Toronto.

Element AI has officially opened up a location in the country’s biggest city. This new location joins the headquarters in Montreal, a research location in the U.K., and two offices housed in coworking locations in Singapore and South Korea.

Right now, the Toronto location has between 50 and 60 employees in its three-floor space, but as Omar Dhalla, Element AI’s new lead for the Toronto office explained, the company plans to double that total by the end of 2018. Element AI also has options to expand their floor space as well.

The AI powerhouse focuses on using their AI expertise and turning them into real solutions for their clients, helping them become more agile, safe, and profitable. In mid-2017, they picked up a huge $102 million USD funding round, and since then have been on an AI tear, helping to oversee a $45 million South Korean AI fund and joining MIT’s Systems That Learn initiative. The new Toronto location boasts a full stack team covering applied AI research and development, and though their sales and marketing team there is relatively small, it will be expanded in the future.

Dhalla also explained that the Toronto team will not necessarily be siloed in terms of working on a city-specific project. He emphasized a global approach to Element AI’s clients and problems, which means employees here could be working with the South Korea or U.K. teams at any given moment on a project based in the U.S. or Asia.

At the launch party in Toronto, Element AI’s CEO Jean-François Gagné took to the stage to greet a room packed with AI personnel.

“I can sum up my feelings about our newest office in one phrase, Thank you Toronto!” he said. “None of this would be possible without help from all of the people who have contributed and supported Element AI’s mission from Day One. We are very appreciative of the local support and look forward to collaborating with the vibrant Toronto AI community in order to further advance the Canadian AI industry.”

The Toronto AI community that Gagné is mentioning is one of the main reasons Element AI set up shop in the city. With access to organizations like the Vector Institute and places like the University of Toronto, as well as the University of Waterloo in close proximity, it makes it much easier for top AI talent to be recruited to the company. In any case, AI researchers can just stop by and chat as well—Gagné promised an open-door policy for those who want to chat about what’s going on in the industry.

Element AI also shared ways they will be dedicated to serving the needs of Ontario’s emerging AI sector.

  • Focusing on initiatives that are critical to the Toronto and Ontario business communities by establishing relevant and impactful AI programs to help organizations commence their AI journeys.
  • Working with the Government of Ontario in their efforts to support AI development and accelerate industry adoption.
  • Organizing science talks and other programs to foster a deep connection with the academic community.

Element AI is coming to Ontario at a great time as well. Accelerators like NextAI are receiving grant money to pump out more talent in the field than ever before, and the provincial government announced even more funding for the Vector Institute when they unveiled their Amazon HQ2 bid.