This story was updated with comments from MindBridge AI CEO Eli Fathi.
One of Ottawa’s leading artificial intelligence firms has secured $29.6 million in series-B financing, matching a multimillion-dollar contribution from the federal government with venture capital from a crop of private investors.
MindBridge AI announced Wednesday it will receive $14.5 million over the next seven years through the feds’ Strategic Innovation Fund to help finance a $140.8-million project that will broaden the company’s AI auditor tool to harvest data insights for companies beyond the accounting field. In a release, the company gave the example that the improved platform could eventually help an energy utility company analyze its usage patterns to improve efficiency in delivery.
The federal government cash is augmented by $15.1 million in financing from a group of venture capital funds. MindBridge CEO Eli Fathi confirmed to Techopia that New York-based PeakSpan Capital led the round with participation from Real Ventures, Reciprocal Ventures, The Group Ventures and the National Bank of Canada.
The series-B round brings MindBridge’s total financing to-date up to more than $40 million.
Fathi said the federal government’s investment helps to bridge the financing gap between Canadian AI developers and venture capital-rich companies in the United States. U.S. investors are pouring money into Silicon Valley’s AI startups at rates two-to-three times more than firms north of the border are receiving, he said, so the federal government must step in if it wants to position Canada as a leader in the burgeoning AI industry.
“It gives us a position to play in a little bit more level playing field,” Fathi said.
It’s not a market Canada can afford to miss out on, Fathi added. PwC projects that artificial intelligence will contribute $15.7 trillion to global GDP by 2030 – if Canada can grab even a small slice of that pie, he argued, the annual effect on the country’s economy will be paramount.
MindBridge now employs roughly 100 people in Ottawa with plans to triple in size over the next decade. The firm counts the Bank of England, Payments Canada and a major North American bank among its 240 customers.
Last month MindBridge hosted its second annual Impact AI conference focused on responsible and ethical AI development. The company announced its HERoes initiative there as well, and CEO Eli Fathi sat down with Techopia Live to discuss the importance of diversity in developing the future of AI.