Middle-market investment bank Cascadia Capital has formed a new group to leverage growing deal activity in artifiical intelligence. Advanced technologies, such as robotics, automation and artificial intelligence, or RAAI, are spurring paradigm shifts in critical industries from manufacuring to healthcare to energy, according to Cascadia. As companies adapt to incorporate these technologies, M&A is a natural answer for bringing on added capabilities that will give them a competitive advantage, the firm adds. The new group is led by Cascadia chairman and CEO Michael Butler (pictured) along with managing directors Jamie Boyd and Firdaus Pohowalla. “We have been active in the RAAI space for several years with growing excitement and felt that the time was right to formally pull together the firm’s expertise in a way that maximizes the service we deliver to our clients,” Butler says. “Our bankers have established a deep understanding of the underlying technologies and end markets while simultaneously developing unparalleled relationships with strategic buyers and investors.” Some of Cascadia's most recent RAAI clients include: Lucidyne Technologies Inc., a manufacturer of AI-enabled computer vision systems; Vexcel Imaging, a provider of digital mapping and drones; and Qi2, a developer of robotic sensor systems for the oilfields. "Unlike other industries that have known groups of buyers and investors, the RAAI market is inefficient due to its broad spectrum of technologies, multiple end markets, and international scope," the firm points out. Mergers and Acquisitions opened the nominations and are actively seeking candidates now for the 2021 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. Deadline is Monday, December 7, 2020. It will mark the sixth y ear we have produced the list, which recognizes female leaders with significant influence inside their companies and in the wider dealmaking world. It’s been gratifying to watch the project evolve over the years – and become more influential itself. Last year, we received more nominations than ever before. As a result, we expanded the number honored to 42 in 2020, up from 36 in 2019. Many dealmakers were new to our 2020 list, including Rockwood Equity Partners' Kate Faust, William Blair's Shay Brokemond and Avante Capital Partners' Ivelisse Simon. Read our full coverage of all the champions of change on our list, including Q&As with each individual. We will open up the 2021 nomination process in October and will publish the list in the February issue of Mergers & Acquisitions. M&A activity surged in the third quarter, and more momentum is expected in the fourth quarter. Datasite recently surveyed 600-plus dealmakers to find out what’s driving dealmaking. Mergers & Acquisitions asked Datasite CEO Rusty Wiley to share the results of the survey and his perspective on end-of-the-year dealmaking. Deal-Ready: Companies Prepare for Opportunities, as M&A Activity Picks Up in Q4 DEAL NEWS Tata Group, India’s conglomerate that sells almost everything from cars to apparel and steel, is seeking to buy Indian online retailers to beef up its presence in e-commerce, according to Bloomberg News. The group has reached out to IndiaMart InterMesh Ltd., a business-to-business marketplace, for a potential stake purchase. Supermarket Grocery Supplies Pvt., commonly known as BigBasket, is also among Tata’s potential investment targets. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: Tata Group Chases E-Commerce Deals to Bolster Retail. Leonard Green & Partners has invested in optical retailer Eyemart Express. The PE firm joins existing investor FFL Partners. Eyemart operates 223 stores in 41 states. Evercore, Barclays and BofA Securities advised Eyemart and FFL. Avista Capital Partners-backed Arcadia Consumer Healthcare Inc. has bought supplements and vitamins brand Naturelo. "As consumers increasingly turn to self-directed health and wellness regimens, the appetite for premium products like those made by Naturelo presents an incredible opportunity," says Arcadia CEO Mike DeBiasi. Cinven-backed Barentz International is acquiring Maroon Group from CI Capital. Maroon is a distributor of life science ingredients and chemicals. Moelis & Co. and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP advised Maroon. Kirkland & Ellis LLP advised Barentz. Clearlake-backed Dude Solutions is buying software company Confirm. The latter helps businesses with infrastructure services, operational efficiencies and leverage Internet of Things. Elvisridge Capital has acquired SurfaceLogix, a maker of of decorative and maintenance care products for pavers, stone and concrete surfaces. IN THE OCTOBER ISSUE OF MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS "When Covid-19 hit, everything stopped,” says Jeri Harman, the founder of Avante Capital Partners, in the October cover story of Mergers & Acquisitions, written by contributing editor Danielle Fugazy. “We were looking internally to understand where our portfolio was and figure out how we could help existing portfolio companies. That lasted until May. Now we are busy again. It’s not like last year, but there is good deal flow.” To find out what we can expect in the months to come, we turned to Churchill Asset Management’s Randy Schwimmer, the founder and publisher of The Lead Left, for a contributed article on predictions for 2021. “Transaction efficiency is key to getting deals done,” he says. Mergers & Acquisitions interviewed Pam Hendrickson, COO of the Riverside Co., who serves on the board of theAmerican Investment Council. Hendrickson urges: “We must remain engaged before, during, and after election day.” For the full versions of these stories, click on these links: SPECIAL REPORTS Most Influential Women of Mid-Market M&A is one of three special projects Mergers & Acquisitions publishes annually. For more details, see: Special reports: Advancing the middle market through Most Influential Women, M&A Mid-Market Awards and Rising Stars. The M&A Wrap is a bi-weekly column that is published on Mondays and Thursdays.