Montreal-based Element AI to be acquired by ServiceNow

The American company says it will be establishing an "AI Innovation Hub" in Canada.

MONTREAL, QUE.: MAY 17, 2017 -- Jean-Francois Gagné, CEO of Element AI checks in with engineer Philippe Mathieu in the company's offices in Montreal Wednesday May 17, 2017. (John Mahoney / MONTREAL GAZETTE) ORG XMIT: 58632 - 4066 John Mahoney, Montreal Gazette

Element AI, Montreal’s most prominent AI company, has agreed to be acquired by American firm ServiceNow.

Financial terms have yet to be announced.

In a statement, ServiceNow said it would be establishing an “AI Innovation Hub” in Canada.

Element AI was founded in 2016 by Jean-François Gagné, Nicolas Chapados, Université de Montréal AI scientist Yoshua Bengio, who pioneered the development of deep learning, and Montreal venture capital fund Real Ventures.

A year later, it raised US$102-million, which it said was the largest Series A investment in an AI startup.

In 2018, at an event celebrating the opening Element AI’s Singapore headquarters, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “we have a Canadian company that isn’t celebrating that it got bought out by a big multinational, isn’t celebrating that it’s moving its headquarters to a larger, more important country, but instead, building a partnership in an important country around the world.”

Last year, the company was looking to release its first products, which would be aimed at big businesses, particularly in the finance and logistics sectors.

Element AI co-founder Bengio will serve as an adviser to ServiceNow, the company said.

The acquisition is expected to be completed in early 2021.

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Jacob Serebrin contributed to this report.

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