Early stage venture firm ff Venture Capital (ffVC) is adding an artificial intelligence expert to its ranks. Kathryn Hume will be joining as a venture partner, using her experience helping companies integrate AI into their businesses to advise startups on how to use the new technology.
Hume is based in Toronto and will continue as the vice president of product and strategy at Integrate.ai, a startup that’s working to help enterprises connect AI with their business processes. Prior to her work at Integrate.ai, she headed sales and marketing for Fast Forward Labs, which advises enterprises on using AI and data science to improve their businesses.In addition to advising startups, Hume will also help ffVC connect with the ecosystem of AI researchers and startups in Canada, which is home to three key centers of academic work around the burgeoning field. Some of the world’s top talent for building intelligent software is based in Canada, and Hume’s position there could help ffVC get access to early stage deals for companies that are just spinning out of research organizations.
“Everybody’s still trying to figure out the best vehicle to exist between the academic world and the commercial world, and there’s a huge need for there to be more engagement from the entrepreneurial side to give constructive feedback to the AI research community on problems that are really worth solving,” Hume said.
That approach is a fairly natural fit for ffVC, which is currently working with New York University on the AI NexusLab, an accelerator that brings together academics from NYU, venture capitalists, and AI companies.
Since its founding in 2008, ffVC has invested in more than 90 companies. The firm primarily focuses on seed and A round funding deals. Its portfolio companies include Cambrian Intelligence, a firm building an AI-based operating system for robots; HelloVera, which operates an automated customer service agent; and Skycatch, a startup that collects commercial drone data.
Canada’s AI ecosystem has seen increased interest from many players in the tech industry. Element AI, a Montreal-based company aimed at providing AI expertise to enterprises, raised a whopping $102 million in its series A round earlier this year.
Correction 8/31: This article previously stated that Kathryn Hume was president of Fast Forward Labs. She was not. She served as the firm’s director of sales and marketing. The story has been updated to correct this.