Science & Technology
- Successful tests of the fastest broadband internet connection ever recorded, peaking at 1.4 terabits per second, were completed in London using standard infrastructure. More.
- The UK government launched a £10m fund to provide support to technology developers looking at innovative ways to deliver super fast broadband within rural communities.
- Singularity University announced that it will be raising a $50m venture capital fund to back ‘exponential technologies’ addressing global problems such as poverty and education. Despite their huge potential, such innovationa often struggle to compete for venture capital due to typically long time frames and high risks involved. More.
- GigaOm ran a profile on GrowCubes, a project that is developing an indoor greenhouse that employs aeroponics (watering plants via a fine, nutrient-infused mist) to grow plants without soil and with 95% less water than traditional methods. More.
- Scientists at the University of Tokyo have developed a system capable of levitating small objects using ultrasound. More.
- Researchers at Oxford University have used gene therapy to partly reverse choroideremia, a previously untreatable defect that causes blindness. The study reportedly has implications for other forms of retinal disease.
- Researchers at Rice University have developed a prototype for the first bloodless test for malaria. This employs a laser to provide results within seconds, and does not requires a skilled medical practitioner to operate. More.
- Researches from organisations including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are pioneering a system that utilises GPS in combination with meteorological and seismic sensors to monitor and even predict flash floods and earthquakes. More.
- Scientists at UK-based Rothamsted Research have genetically modified crops to produce fatty acids that are beneficial for human health but normally found in fish oils. More.
- US-based Illumina announced the development of a machine capable of sequencing a human genome for under $1000, a feat seen as a milestone in the development of personalised medicine. More.
- US start-up Shape Security unveiled a technology capable of constantly changing website code in an attempt to thwart large scale automated attacks. The company is backed by investors including Google and KPCB. More.
- Scientists at Cornell University are developing engineered nanoparticles that stick to and kill migrating cancer cells in the bloodstream, preventing metastases (tumour spreading). More.
- Researchers at Oxford University are investigating the application of gene therapy to the treatment of rare eye conditions. More.
- Google presented a prototype for a contact lens designed to help diabetics monitor glucose levels in tears, thus avoiding the need to take blood samples. More.
- Researches at the University of California-Berkeley have created a material that bends or straightens in the presence of light, with potential applications including energy efficient building installations. More.
- Market research firm IDC reported that more than one billion smart phones were sold worldwide during 2013, representing an increase of 38% from 2012.
- Google acquired UK-based artificial intelligence start-up DeepMind for £400m as well as Nest Labs, which makes smart thermostats and smoke alarms for domestic use, for $3.2bn. The Nest deal follows several other recent acquisitions of hardware companies and further highlights the growing importance of the ‘internet of things’.
- Stanford spin-out Amprius announced that it has raised $30m to develop its lithium ion battery technology, which reportedly extends battery life of consumer electronics by 25%.
- Siluria, an early-stage company that is developing technologies to replace crude oil with natural gas as a feedstock for plastics, announced a partnership with Brazilian petrochemical major Braskem. More.
- Cloud storage company raised $250m from investors including the world’s largest asset manager, Blackrock. The deal valued Dropbox at $10bn.
- Grid-scale battery technology developer Acquion Energy raised $55m from investors including Bill Gates, KPCB and Tao Invest.
- New York based Union Square Ventures raised $350m for two new funds, Uruguay-based Kaszek Ventures raised a $135m fund, while reports emerged that Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund is raising a new $750m fund. UK technology investor Amadeus Capital Partners raised £33.2m to invest in UK companies developing technologies in high-growth sectors.
- Accelerator programme Startupbootcamp launched in Istanbul.
- Urban hydroponic greenhouse builder Brightfarms raised $4.9m from investors including NGEN Partners.
- OpenSesame, a curated marketplace for enterprise-focused elearning courses that helps to ensure compatibility of courses with learning management systems, received $8m from investors including Partech Ventures.
- Econic Technologies, an Imperial College London spin-out developing catalytic processes that use waste carbon dioxide in the manufacture of polymers, raised £5.1m from investors including Imperial Innovations.
- Berlin-based Earlybird Venture Capital raised a $110m venture capital fund to invest in early-stage companies in Turkey and Eastern Europe.
- UK-based IP Group, which works with universities to spin-out and commercialise new innovations, raised £75m to further support its existing portfolio of companies and establish a wider network of academic partners.
- Zephyr Health, which uses bib data analysis to improve the development of pharmaceuticals, raised $15m from investors including Kleiner Perkins. More.
- $29.4bn of VC money was invested through 3,995 deals in 2013, a 7% increase over 2012. Software maintained its status as the single largest investment category.
- A study at the University of Sheffield showed that learning or skill acquisition is more effective when spaced out rather than undertaken in a continuous period. More.
- A report from the Overseas Development Institue claims that almost one billion adults in the developing world are now overweight or obese, reflecting increasing urbanisation and changing diets. More.
- The BBC ran an interesting profile on Nokia’s ‘bridge programme’, which has helped hundreds of departing employees to start-up new ventures through offering financial support and training. More.
Designers are increasingly turning to ‘extreme consumers’, i.e. people whose expectations or requirements far exceed those of normal users, to inform product development strategies. Such consumers may offer afresh perspective on an existing problem, perhaps through making novel alterations to existing products. Examples include studying obsessive cleaners to improve toilet brush design. More.
- A report on the Future of Employability, conducted by Frey and Osborne, estimated that 47% of job categories are vulnerable to automation within the next two decades. Accountants are seen as one of the most likely roles to be automated.