April 2013

Science & Technology
  • Scientists at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen (UK) published results of a two year study showing that a hybrid grass strain that they have developed can reduce flooding. The rapid growth and more extensive root systems developed by the hybrid strain act to improve water retention and reduce run-off by up to 51%. More.
  • Mobosens has developed innovative micro-electromechanical sensors capable of detecting water quality. The sensors  connect to smartphones through the audio jack, with data analysed and shared via an app running on the phone. The device is the product of a research project undertaken by the University of Illinois. More.
Business
  • Assured Labor, which connects low/middle income workers in Latin America with employment opportunities via their mobile phones, raised $5.5m from investors including Capital Indigo, Kima Ventures and Enzyme Ventures. More.
  • Enevo, a Helsinki-based waste management technology company, raised $2.6m from Finnish Industry Investment and Lifeline Ventures. The company provides waste management firms with smart sensors that transmit information on receptacle usage and temperature in order to  optimise collection intervals and routes. The company claims that it can reduce logistics costs by up to 30% and reportedly plans to use funding to expand throughout Europe and into the US. More.
  • CrowdMed, a crowdsourced medical diagnosis platform, launched under the premise that the wisdom of the crowd may be more effective than that of single ‘experts’, which are becoming increasingly specialised in their fields, in diagnosing medical afflictions. The company has received $1.1m from investors including New Enterprise Associates, Andresseen Horowitz and Greylock Partners. More.
  • Anticipatory computing company Expect Labs raised additional funding from Intel, Samsung and Telefonica, which join existing investors including Google and Greylock. The company’s offerings include MindMeld, an iPad app that analyses conversations to present relevant information to users. More.
  • Idibon raised $1.4m from Khosla Ventures to further develop software that enables text analysis in any language. The technology has numerous applications, including in disaster relief. More.
Other
  • A study at Newcastle university showed that placing an image of human eyes beside bike racks reduced theft rates by more than 50%. This follows previous research showing how such images encourage socially beneficial behaviour in other contexts.
  • We also came across the very interesting SumAll Foundation, which helps not-for-profit organisations leverage big data analysis in order to more effectively address issues such as homelessness and human trafficking.