Jean-Francois “JF” Gagné is the CEO of Element AI, the largest AI startup in Montreal, one of the technology’s most vibrant hubs. Gagné, whose cofounders include Yoshua Bengio, a legendary AI researcher, cofounded two previous companies, Logiweb and Planora, as well as serving as chief innovation engineer at supply management company JDA Software. Since launching Element AI in 2016, he has aggressively ramped up the company, raising more than $100 million in funding and assembling a 525-person team. Element AI aims to use AI to expedite a variety of business processes; early clients include the Port of Montreal and Canada’s oldest property and casualty insurer. Like all AI startups, it faces formidable competition from tech giants such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, which can mine their massive repositories of data to train machine-learning algorithms. But Element AI devised an innovative training technique that uses simulated data--giving it a better shot at scoring major customers who’d otherwise turn to one of the industry’s goliaths.