Element AI — which last year raised $102 million to build an incubator-meets-consultancy to work with multiple businesses as they launch new services and systems based on artificial intelligence — is entering the next phase of its growth this week.

The Canadian startup — co-founded by Jean-François Gagné, Nicolas Chapados, and Yoshua Bengio — is opening an outpost in London, its first international expansion. One main focus will be to work with charities, non-governmental organizations and others on “AI for good,” alongside Element AI’s existing work in finance, cybersecurity, manufacturing, logistics and robotics.

The idea is smart and timely: at a moment when many might see the advances of AI as potentially more dystopian and encroaching than beneficial — not to mention reserved for the select few who have the financial and human resources to build AI systems — Element AI wants to position itself, and AI, as something that can be used to help everyone.

“There are so many exciting people in the world of academia and artificial intelligence wanting to do interesting stuff. How can we make sure our tools are not just meeting the needs of big companies? There are others who could also use them,” Dr Julien Cornebise, who will be leading Element AI’s offices in London, said in an interview.

Notably for a startup that is looking to take on the likes of Google in a bid to “democratize” the intellectual and operational capital needed to build out innovative products based on AI, Cornebise himself comes to Element AI from DeepMind, the UK startup Google acquired back in 2014

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