SINGAPORE (June 15): Element AI, a Montreal-based artificial intelligence (AI) company, has raised US$102 million ($140.6 million) and says it will open a Singapore office during 2H17 to serve as a Southeast Asia hub, as part of its resultant expansion in the firm’s international capabilities.

The Singapore office will be the firm’s second office in Asia, with the first being in Japan.

In a Thursday press release, the firm says the funds raised represent the “largest Series A funding round for an AI company in history”.

Venture capital fund Data Collective (DCBC) led the funding round – with participation from Fidelity Investments Canada, Hanwha Investment, Intel Capital, Microsoft Ventures, National Bank of Canada, Development Bank of Canada (BDC), NVIDIA, Real Ventures, and several sovereign wealth funds.

Element AI says it intends to use the funds to accelerate its capabilities and invest in large-scale AI projects internationally to solidify its position as “the largest global AI company in Canada”, with an aim to create 250 jobs in the Canadian high-tech sector by Jan 2018.

“In addition to laying the groundwork to hire hundreds of top researchers, this new funding will enable Element AI to aggressively expand on a global scale focusing on AI-powered solutions for their customers in cybersecurity, fintech, manufacturing, logistics and transportation, and robotics,” it elaborates.  

On its plans to open its next Asia office in Singapore, the company notes the city state’s “sizeable talent pool” as well as growing AI presence in the region, especially in the field of financial technology (fintech).

“Besides being a target market for Element AI, Asia is a source of considerable funding. Both Tencent Holdings Ltd. from China and Hanwha Investment from South Korea are significant investors,” it adds.

“Artificial intelligence is a ‘must have’ capability for global companies. Without it, they are competitively impaired if not at grave risk of being obsoleted in place,” comments Jean-François Gagné, CEO and co-founder of Element AI.

“This is why these leaders have backed us with the world’s largest Series A round ever for an artificial intelligence company. This historic round will help Element AI deliver profoundly powerful AI platforms for all, not just the few.”