November 2013

Science & Technology
  • The MIT Technology Review reported that Carbon Recycling International has demonstrated a method for recycling carbon dioxide into methanol that is commercially viable, although this works only because of the inexpensive access to both electricity (needed to produce hydrogen by splitting water) and carbon dioxide that Iceland’s geothermal plants provide. More.
  • Researchers at MIT have developed a novel and inexpensive camera design that could improve medical imaging and collision-avoidance systems in vehicles. More.
  • Engineers at MIT have developed a super-hydrophobic material, which they believe to be the most water resistant ever developed. The design was based on structures seen in butterfly wings and the leaves of the nasturtium plants. This could lead to corrosion resistant power lines, waterproof clothing, more efficient wind turbines and aircraft engines that are less vulnerable to freezing over. More.
Business
  • In the UK, it was announced that through the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) scheme, launched in 2012, 1,100 companies have raised more than £82m in aggregate, with around 19 companies raising an average of £72k each week.
  • Atomico announced that it has raised a new $475m fund for global growth-stage technology opportunities outside Silicon Valley.
  • The US Agency for International Development, in partnership with the Swedish International Aid Agency, announced that it is making $25m of grants available ($100k to $3m) for innovations targeting water management within agriculture.
  • Goldman Sachs launched a $250m social impact fund, following similar recent moves by Morgan Stanley and a range of sovereign wealth funds. More.
  • The FT ran an interesting article looking at how peer to peer companies such as Uber are now offering additional services, such as car financing, to their users.
  • Following Twitter’s  much talked about IPO, the value of the company’s shares soared during initial trading.  Twitter also expanded its alerts service, which enables emergency services to deploy urgent information when required, to the UK.
  • Tomnod, which crowdsources information relating to high resolution satellite images, is applying its approach to images of the Philippines before and after Typhoon Haiyan in an effort to help emergency response teams.
  • Embrace develops a low-cost incubator for babies.
  • Envirofit has developed an indoor stove that reduces smoke, toxic emissions, biomass use and cooking time relative to traditional designs
  • Xenex, which makes robots that can disinfect rooms using UV light, raised $11m from investors including Battery Ventures.
  • Crowsourced product development company Quirky raised $79m from investors including GE, Kleiner Perkins and Andreessen Horowitz. More.
Other
  • Fiona Murray, a Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT, writes in the Boston Globe about her research, which has shown that companies pitched by men are around 40 percent more likely to receive VC funding than those led by women. Interestingly, she has found that VCs are most responsive to pitches made by attractive men, and that attractive women do worse than unattractive men and women.  More.