May 2014

Science & Technology
  • Sony announced that it has developed storage tape capable of holding 148 gigabits per square inch. More.
  • Researchers at the University of Columbia have developed prototype software (called ‘Cider’) that enables Android and Apple apps to run on the same mobile device. More.
  • Research at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, identified a link between high light levels in bedrooms and obesity. More.
  • Scientists at the International Renal Research Institute in Italy have developed a new dialysis machine specifically designed for very young children. More.
  • Belgium-based Cafaly Technology has developed a wearable migraine treatment that has been shown to reduce migraine occurrence by 30% with no side-effects. The device, which works by applying an electric current to patient foreheads and costs $299, has recently received regulatory approval in the US. More.
  • Similarly, Danish researchers have developed a helmet that treats depression through delivering electromagnetic pulses that activate capillaries in the brain. More.
  • The UK’s NESTA and TSB launched the £10m Longitude Prize for solutions to the world’s greatest scientific problems. The public has been asked to select the focus of the challenge from categories including ‘flight’, ‘antibiotics’ and ‘water’ with the winning theme to be announced in late June.
  • Madrid-based Fonetic has developed software that can detect fraud or questionable behaviour in verbal communications. More.
  • Researchers at the University of Illinois are developing self-repairing composite materials with numerous commercial applications. More.
  • Microsoft announced plans to make near-instant speech translation available on Skype in prototype form before the end of the year.
  • Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a novel system that enables self-repairing of plastic objects. More.
  • The UK’s Russell Group of universities announced that it will be spending up to £9bn on research facilities and IT infrastructure over the next three years. Projects include a new incubator in Newcastle for science-based start-ups. More.
  • Researchers at Harvard University have replicated the structure of shark skin using 3D printing. This could potentially lead to development of materials enabling faster and more efficient movement through water. More.
  • The UK’s Ministry of Defence is reportedly developing a tamper-proof ‘quantum compass’, which would utilise the Earth’s magnetic field to pinpoint location and provide a more reliable alternative to GPS. More.
  • Japanese start-up Power Japan Plus is developing a dual carbon battery that could become a cheaper, safer and more easily recyclable alternative to lithium-ion batteries. More.
  • Japan launched the Daichi-2 satellite to monitor natural resources and disasters.
  • A partnership between Rutgers University (US) and Solidia Technologies, is developing a method that reduces the carbon footprint of concrete production by up to 70%. More.
Business
  • Early stage VC Sequoia Capital has raised a $530m India-focused fund, US-based Norwest Venture Partners closed a $1.2bn fund, Monk’s Hill Ventures launched a $80m fund to invest in Asia-based start-ups and GGV Capital raised a $620m fund.
  • Nokia launched a $100m fund to invest in companies developing technologies for smart vehicles.
  • UK-based Inmarsat announced that it will offer free passenger airline tracking service. More.
  • The Keepod, a USB stick with pre-loaded operating system that enables use of old hardware to deliver low-cost personalised computing experiences, launched after receiving $40,000 through crowdfunding site Indiegogo.  The device has the potential to expand access to computing power in the developing world. More.
  • US-based Crowdmed, which attempts to leverage the wisdom of crowds by crowdsourcing diagnoses for difficult medical cases, raised additional funding.
  • Google acquired New York-based Divide, which helps users separate personal and work data on smart phones. More. Google also revealed that it plans to spend up to $30bn on acquisitions outside of the US.
  • Grove Labs, which provides a platform for managing indoor farms through smart phones, raised $2m from investors including Upfront Ventures.
  • Meditation platform Headspace, which has more than one million users, released a new version of its offering.
  • Italy-based Thereson, which develops technology to treat diabetic foot ulcers using pulsating electromagnetic fields, received €1m funding from investors including 360 Capital Partners. More.
  • US-based Skyonic Corp, which develops carbon capture solutions that are reportedly cheaper than competing technologies, raised $12.5m from investors including ConocoPhilips and Enbridge.
  • Big-data health company Flatiron Health, which aggregates information to inform treatment decisions for oncologists, raised $130m form investors including Google Ventures and First Round Capital.
  • $1.23bn was invested in technology companies based in London over the past 12 months, representing a 206% growth on the previous year, according to CB Insights. More.
  • US-based Halo Neuroscience, which is developing wearable electronic devices that are designed to enhance brain activity, raised $1.5m from investors including Andreessen Horowitz.
  • Spritz is developing a ‘text streaming’ system that displays words within a 300 pixel space and highlights ‘optimal recognition points’ to enable users to read up to 600 words per minute. More.
  • UK-based Pera Technology has developed a low-cot braille e-reader, which uses heat to expand paraffin wax ‘bumps’ in the screen. More.
  • Automattic, which develops WordPress, raised investment totalling $160m.
  • Apple acquired music streaming and earphones company Beats Electronics in a $3bn deal.
  • France-based Wheretoget raised €1.4m to expand its service that leverages a community of fashion experts to identify items from images submitted by users.
  • SunFunder, a crowdfunding platform for off-grid solar projects in emerging markets, raised $2m from investors including Khosla Impact. 
Other
  • Companies are increasingly turning to neuroscience to explain and influence staff behaviour, according to the FT.
  • Researchers in the US issued a warning to the 70% of doctors and medical students that use Wikipedia after a study identified errors in 90% of health-related articles. More.
  • A survey conducted by the UK’s Royal Society of Arts found that people who are self-employed  are more satisfied in their work, even though they typically earn around 20% less than comparable employees.
  • A study by researchers at the University of Leeds suggests that shortening working hours, and in doing so allowing people more time to relax, could actually improve national productivity.
  • Leading US venture firm KPBC released its annual internet trends looking at technology changes in television, health and education. Read the report here.