Element AI to Advise $45-Million Korean AI Fund

Montreal’s thriving Element AI has been chosen to advise a $45-million Global AI fund backed by three Korean conglomerates.

SK Telecom, Hyundai Motor Company and Hanwha—some of Korea’s most successful businesses—are managing the joint-fund that will invest in emerging AI-based technologies and AI-focused firms.

The fund will specifically target companies focused on commercial AI applications and infrastructure, from autonomous vehicles to household robots to manufacturing. The newly announced capital is called the AI Alliance Fund and will be invested in the next three years.

Element AI is being leveraged to source, assess and invest in global startups focused on applying AI in advanced technologies, but the Montreal-based company isn’t investing any of its own capital into the Korean-born fund. Instead, the company will analyze these startups for growth potential and technical capability, according to a release.

“Infusing large companies with artificial intelligence capabilities is the future of global industrialization,” said Element AI CEO Jean-François Gagné in a statement. “Our position in the marketplace gives us extraordinary access to the most cutting-edge technologies being developed today — all we need are partners and capital commitment to seed the future and that’s what we’re achieving today with this announcement.”

SK Telecom shared in an announcement the fund will also invest in fintech and smart mobility in addition to AI, and will specifically focus on startups in Europe, Israel and the United States. South Korea’s largest mobile carrier launched the country’s first AI speaker service and introduced the world’s first 5G Connected Car.

“SK Telecom is striving to create a ‘New ICT industrial ecosystem’ that shares various technologies, services and infrastructures such as AI and autonomous driving to create new value,” said Ryu Young-Sang, an executive VP at SK Telecom.

The Korean trio aren’t the only company to tap Element AI’s research talent. Samsung recruited co-founder Yoshua Bengio, a deep learning pioneer, to help lead its new AI lab in Montreal.

Element AI was recently named the first Canadian company to join a global AI partnership to establish universal best practices and principles to guide the rapidly evolving technology, and added IBM’s former chief innovation officer Linda Bernardi to its growing team.