CDPQ leads US$70 million financing round in Sama, an AI training data platform

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 7:01 AM CDT|Updated: Nov. 4, 2021 at 8:01 AM CDT
  • Trusted by leading companies including Google, Walmart and NVIDIA, Sama intends to use funds to continue delivering the highest quality training to power AI applications and to develop the first end-to-end AI platform to manage the complete AI lifecycle
  • The company has approximately 40 employees in Montreal where it intends to strengthen its presence with a research and product development hub

MONTRÉAL, Nov. 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ - Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), a global investment group, announced today an investment in Sama, an AI training data platform providing high-quality data to Fortune 2000 companies to power their AI applications. The investment is part of a US$70M funding round led by CDPQ with participation from First Ascent Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, Vistara Growth, in addition to all existing investors.

The AI data solutions landscape is highly fragmented, with many products built in silos, each solving one piece of the puzzle for developers. Sama will be using its new funding to build the first end-to-end AI platform that enables teams to manage the complete AI lifecycle, resulting in faster development, and eliminating data transfer between products.

Sama powers cutting-edge technology by providing industry-leading training data quality for its clients, achieving up to 99.9% accuracy versus the industry average of 94%. To date, Sama agents have annotated over one billion image points on the platform, with an average of one million tasks completed per month across industries such as manufacturing and robotics, bio and MedTech, autonomous vehicles and entertainment. The high-quality data provided by Sama allows its customers to accelerate the commercialization of their technology.

"At Sama, we're committed to shaping a future of AI that's accurate, fair, and ethical," said Wendy Gonzalez, CEO of Sama. "The market is really fragmented but with our latest funding round and the support of our investors and community, we're committed to becoming the first one stop shop for AI development."

CDPQ is leading this Series B Round by investing through its Equity 253 fund which targets SMEs and promising technology companies that leverage diversity and inclusion as a vector of development and expansion. This investment is also aligned with its broader strategy to support and accelerate the growth of global disruptive AI technology companies, such as Sama, in all development stages.

Included in B Corp's Best for the World in the Workers category and as the only AI training data company to be B Corp certified, Sama's ethical hiring model has helped over 56,000 people in Kenya and Uganda lift themselves out of poverty. To date, Sama is the only AI training data provider with a responsible training and employment program.

"Sama has successfully captured the rising demand for fast, accurate and cost-effective AI training solutions to power machine learning algorithms as a result of the growing adoption of AI. It succeeded in building a strong pipeline of blue-chip clients while advocating for an ethical AI supply chain that contributes to fighting poverty and increasing women's representation in the sector," said Wils Theagene, Senior Director, Québec at CDPQ and representative of the Equity 253 fund. "Sama is a high-tech company with a global footprint, including in Canada where it relies on a massive pool of machine learning talent. We look forward to supporting Sama in developing a research and product development hub in Montreal, which will help them commercialize new AI-based solutions to support their Fortune 2000 clients."

Sama has approximately 40 employees in its Montreal office, which is set to become its research and product development hub thanks to the vibrant AI ecosystem and the large pool of available talent in the city. A significant portion of the company's research and product development employees will be based in Montreal.

The company has received several recognitions, including inclusion on the Forbes AI 50, Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies, and Fast Company's World Changing Ideas lists.

ABOUT SAMA
Sama provides high-quality training data that powers AI technology. The company's platform is trusted by leading companies such as Google, NVIDIA, GM, and Walmart, to develop accurate machine learning models. Sama specializes in image, video, language, and sensor data annotation and validation for machine learning algorithms and has experience in a variety of industries including autonomous transportation, medtech, agriculture, and retail. Driven by a mission to expand opportunities for underserved individuals through the digital economy, Sama is a certified B-Corp and has helped over 56,000 people lift themselves out of poverty. Its training and employment program were recently validated by an MIT-led Randomized Controlled Trial. For more information, visit www.sama.com.

ABOUT CDPQ
At Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), we invest constructively to generate sustainable returns over the long term. As a global investment group managing funds for public retirement and insurance plans, we work alongside our partners to build enterprises that drive performance and progress. We are active in the major financial markets, private equity, infrastructure, real estate and private debt. As at June 30, 2021 CDPQ's net assets total CAD 390 billion. For more information, visit cdpq.com, follow us on Twitter or consult our Facebook or LinkedIn pages.
For more information on the Equity 253 fund, visit cdpq.com/en/equity25-3.

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SOURCE Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec

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