June 2014

Science & Technology
  • Researchers from the University of Oxford have developed a design for smart glasses that can help partially sighted people to navigate more effectively. More.
  • Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have devised a new mobile device that employs microwave signals to quickly determine whether a patient has suffered a stroke. The solutions could lead to earlier diagnosis and therefore more effective treatment. More.
  • The FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility opened at Edinburgh University. The facility includes a unique wave tank that is capable or replicating any point on the UK coastline and will be an important resource in the development of the marine energy sector. More.
  • Researchers at MIT have developed a method of tracking chest movements, and thus determining heart rate, through walls using a low power wi-fi signal. The system could be used for baby monitoring or in search and rescue. More.
  • Panasonic unveiled a record-breaking solar cell design, which is capable of converting 25.6% of solar energy into electricity. More.
  • Israel-based Consumer Physics raised $2m via Kickstarter for its handheld spectrometer than can identify the chemical make-up and nutritional value of food. The device can be used to identify the purity of ingredients and verify the validity of medication. More.
  • Metajo is developing thermal touch technology, which detects residual heat left in objects after being touched. Such systems could be integrated into smart phones or wearable devices to provide novel user interfaces. More.
  • The US military is investing $70m into a project intended to develop brain implants capable of reading and controlling the emotions of the mentally ill. More.
  • Engineers at the University of Twente, Netherlands, have developed sperm-shaped ‘robots’ that can be manipulated using magnets and have applications in medicine and engineering. More.
  • Tel Aviv University signed a $300m partnership deal with Tsinghua University, Beijing, designed to promote innovation in nanotechnology and IT. More.
  • Both Google and Microsoft announced the addition of a ‘hard kill switch’, which can render phones useless in the event of theft, to their mobile operating systems.
  • Researchers at Harvard Medical School are pioneering a technique, involving chilling organs and pumping oxygen/nutrients through blood vessels, that could preserve organs for transplant for up to three days. More.
  • Europe’s €2.8bn SPARC project, a public/private collaboration for robotics research, officially launched.
  • Oil company BP was given permission to operate commercial drones (for pipeline inspection) within the US by the US Federal Aviation Administration. This is the first time that such permission has been granted and is seen as a major step forward for the drone industry, although operation will take place in remote areas.
  • Tesla announced that it would make its technology available for use by rivals in an attempt to create a larger market for electric vehicles. More.
  • The final stage of the EU Consumer Rights Directive came into effect, extending the period within which consumers can return purchases without any reason to 14 days, and limiting the charges of complaint lines.
  • Google announced the $500m acquisition of Skybox, which makes low cost satellites capable of collecting detailed images that can be used to monitor economic activity or disaster relief. Google (via Nest) also acquired connected camera company Dropcam for $555m.
  • Facebook acquired Pryte, a Finland-based company developing solutions to enable mobile network operators to charge for access on a per-app or short term basis. It was seen as a step towards the company’s goal of bringing emerging markets online. 
New sources of funding
  • Dolby Family Ventures launched to invest in early stage (up to $3m) digital and health companies from its San Francisco office.
  • Index Ventures raised a €400m fund to invest in early stage companies, while Shasta Ventures ($300m), Stanford-based venture firm Danhua Capital ($91m) and Greycroft Partners ($200m) all announced new funds.
  • London-based C5 Capital launched a $125m venture fund to invest in European cyber security companies.
  • In the UK, the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative announced the launch of a £100m fund to help manufacturers to ‘reshore’ production.
  • The EU announced that €24bn of funding for SME R&D will be made over the next seven years through the InnovFin programme. More.
New products/services
  • Vessyl, a connected cup that enables users to automatically track their calorie and caffeine intake, was made available for pre-order at $99.
  • Berlin start-up campus the Factory opened and will initially host a community of 22 companies. More.
  • Boston University spin-out Infinium, which is developing technologies that make production of rare earth materials cheaper and cleaner, is set for commercial launch, according to MIT Technology Review. More.
  • Samsung launched the first smartphone to run on its Tizen operating system.
  • Amazon launched a smartphone that incorporates four infrared cameras that can detect viewer movement and pivot displays accordingly. The phone also includes a visual search tool capable of extracting information from images or searching for items on Amazon.
  • Scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology have developed a low-cost device, designed to be attached to a cane for blind people, that detects objects using ultrasound and vibrates to provide warning. More.
  • At the FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards, winners included Australia-based Rapid Wall, which develops a single panel, environmentally friendly and earthquake-resistant walling system with numerous applications including disaster relief.
  • Jyrobike, an auto-balancing bike that creators claim can teach people to cycle in a couple of hours, launched. More.
  • Mimi launched an app to help people identify and treat hearing loss. More.
  • Holland-based LUXeXceL is pioneering a 3D printing technique that could ultimately be used to produce prescription lenses for glasses.
Company Fundraising
  • Israel-based BioCatch, which identifies fraudulent behaviour by monitoring online activity, raised $10m from investors including Blumberg Capital.
  • UK-based Radio Physics Solutions, which is developing a security scanner capable of detecting 3D-printed plastic guns, raised £700k.
  • Innovation Economy Crowd, which develops solutions to global problems using new technology developed at leading research universities, raised an additional $2.2m. More.
  • UK-based Oxitec, which employs sterility and marker genes to control disease-spreading insects, raised £6.1m from investors including Oxford Capital Partners.
  • Canada-based Imprint Energy, which is developing ultra-thin and flexible rechargeable batteries with high energy density, raised $6m from investors including Phoenix Venture Partners.
  • UK-based Health-Connected, which is developing an online service for treatment of dementia, raised £200,000 via Crowdcube.
  • Seal Innovation, which develops monitoring and safety devices for swimmers, raised $2m from investors. More.
  • USA-based Core Informatics, which develops software designed to facilitate scientific research and collaboration, raised $5m from investors including KLP Enterprises.
  • US-based Seres Health, which develops novel treatments for a range of diseases based on targeting the underlying biology of the human biome, raised $10m from investors including Flagship Ventures.
  • CommitChange, a fundraising platform for not-for-profit organisations, raised $700k from angel investors.
  • US-based Chrono Therapeutics, which develops smart wristbands that help people stop smoking, raised $32m from investors including GE Ventures.
  • London-based money transfer company TransferWise rasied $25m from investors including Richard Branson, Peter Thiel, Index Ventures and Kima Ventures.
  • Cambridge-based Featurespace, which employs adaptive behavioural analytics to analyse and then predict behaviour, raised £1.3m from investors including NESTA and Autonomy founder Mike Lynch.
  • Senseonics raised $20m to further develop its glucose monitoring implant, which will enable diabetics to monitor levels via smartphones.
  • Researchers at Berkeley published results from research looking at the impacts of stress on the functioning of the brain, suggesting that sufferers may be more susceptible to mental health problems . More.
  • A study by MIT claims that patent trolls have reduced venture capital investment by more than $8bn over the past five years. More.
  • 20% of mobile apps are opened just once, according to analytics company Localytics, with sports and games apps the most susceptible to being discarded. More.
  • NASA launched a contest that offers app developers $10,000 for devising novel ways to use its massive data sets to address climate change.
  • A study of US patent records by researchers at the University of Oxford revealed that 40% of inventions are based on previously existing combinations of technologies, with the remainder using new combinations. More.
  • An experiment conducted by Craigslist appeared to show that people are generally less likely to buy from ethnic minorities. More.
  • On average, ‘rich’ children reportedly receive around 6,000 hours of extracurricular education more than poor children, according to reseachers.