September 2014

Science & Technology

  • Engineers at MIT have developed a waterproof adhesive that is inspired by the sticky proteins used by shellfish to cling to rocks. The development could lead to ‘living glues’, capable of automatically sensing and repairing damage to a surface, and could have applications in shipping and medicine. More.
  • Neuroscientists at Harvard University demonstrated a new ‘telepathy’ technology that enables information to be transmitted directly between two human brains. More.
  • Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have commenced trials of a new rapid-cooling technique designed to suspend the life of critically injured patients and provide medical staff with more time to save their life. More.
  • A study conducted by researchers from Cambridge University has demonstrated that the brain is still active while people sleep and capable of performing complex tasks. More.
  • Researchers at Aston University and the University of Oxford are developing techniques that enable detection of Parkinson’s disease through analysis of movement and voice data captured by a smartphone. More.
  • The UK’s NHS launched a £4m research centre to develop improved wound treatments. More.
  • Intel unveiled its new Core M line of mobile chips, which incorporate a low power audio signal processor that will enable users to turn on devices with voice commands. More.
  • Researchers at Caltech have developed a technique to produce super strong and light metals and ceramics using nanoscale struts. More.
  • Researchers at MIT are developing the ‘FIngerReader’, a wearable ring for visually impaired users that can scan written text and read it aloud. The device also provides haptic feedback to guide users as they navigate through a page. More.
  • Researchers at MIT unveiled a new ‘soft robot’ design, inspired by octopus tentacles and powered by compressed air, that could have applications in search and rescue scenarios. More.
  • Researchers at Harvard University have been trialling a bionic pancreas that could significantly improve treatment of type 1 diabetes. More.
  • Researchers from London’s Imperial College have developed a new, colour-coded carbon monoxide detector that is unaffected by steam and smoke. More.
  • A team of researchers from Turku University (Finland) working alongside Imperial College announced that it is developing a method to manipulate bacteria to produce propane. More.
  • Researchers at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute have designed a smart LED headlight for vehicles that is designed to improve driver vision in poor weather conditions. More.

Business

  • Amazon announced that it will be investing $55m to create a new hardware R&D centre. More.
  • Google launched its Cloud Platform for Startups programme, which will provide early-stage companies with $100,000 of cloud services. More.
  • Blackberry acquired Movirtu, a UK-based start-up that develops ‘virtual sims’ that allow mobile phone users to operate multiple phone numbers/profiles through a single device. More.
  • Both Google and Apple announced that their mobile operating systems will encrypt user data by default. More.
  • Pay-as-you-go solar provider M-KOPA announced that it has reached 100,000 customers across Africa. More.

New Sources of Funding

  • Microsoft announced that it has partnered with Russian start-up fund FRII to develop an accelerator for companies developing IT solutions for a number of sectors including healthcare and education. More.
  • Russia-based Restart Capital launched a VC fund for distressed online companies. More.
  • LeapFrog raised a $400m fund to invest in companies providing insurance, savings and payment services in emerging markets. More.
  • Dublin/London-based Frontline Ventures closed a €40m fund to invest in early-stage European start-ups focusing on big data, cloud services, internet and mobile.
  • Similarly, Mosaic Ventures launched a £140m fund focused on early-stage opportunities in Europe.
  • Netherlands-based VC firm Aglaia raised a €65m fund to invest in biotech companies developing cancer treatments.
  • Finland-based venture capital firm Inventure closed a €68m fund to invest in early-stage Nordic companies.
  • US-based Fenox Venture Capital launched a $20m fund focused on wearables, IoT, healthcare and consumer internet start-ups. The fund is being launched in partnership with Japan-based Infocom Group, which will provide access to distribution channels in East Asia. More.
  • US-based Peak Ventures closed a $23m seed-stage fund.
  • Israel-based Magma Venture Partners closed a $150m early-stage fund.
  • Salseforce launched a $100m fund to invest in startups building products to extend the Salesforce platform.
  • SoftBank Capital raised a new $100m fund to invest in early/growth stage start-ups in the US and Asia.
  • The $23m Govtech Fund launched to invest in companies building technologies that facilitate public service provision.
  • The University of California announced the creation of UC Ventures, with a proposed launch date of 2015 and a mandate to invest in opportunities based on research at the university. More.
  • Co-creation Hub, the Nigeria-based social innovation accelerator, launched a $500,000 seed fund. More.

New products

  • Apple unveiled its much-anticipated Apple Watch and Apple Pay, alongside two new iPhone models. More.
  • Google launched Android One to deliver better quality smart phones in emerging markets.
  • Brazzlebox, a social network for small businesses, launched fully.
  • The Lumo lift is a wearable device that monitors posture and alerts users when they are slumping.
  • US-based Seek Thermal released a $199 thermal imaging camera that attaches to smartphones.
  • Iridium announced that its new 66 satellite network, due to be fully operational by 2017, will include a worldwide aircraft tracking system. More.

New company Fundraising

  • US-based WaterHealth International, a developer of water purification technology for remote communities, raised $10m from investors including Vital Capital, IFC and Acumen Fund.
  • France-based RogerVoice, a VOIP app for the hard-of-hearing that transcribes phone calls in real time, launched a Kickstarter campaign. More.
  • NextSteppe, a US-based company that develops optimised feedstock for production of biofuels, raised $22m from investors including Total Energy Ventures and Braemar Energy Ventures. More.
  • UK-based Impression Technologies, which is developing processes that maximise the strength of manufactured aluminium components, raised £300k from Mercia Fund Management.
  • University of Oulu (Finland) spin-out IndoorAtlas, which develops magnetic positioning systems for indoor navigation, raised $10m from Chinese search engine provider Baidu.
  • Whill, a developer of innovative wheelchairs, raised $11m from investors including 500 Startups and NTT DoCoMo Ventures.
  • Fractyl Labs, which develops treatments for diabetes that can reportedly delay the need for insulin injections, raised $40m from investors including Mithril and Bessemer Venture Partners. More.
  • Canada-based Enterra Feed, which recycles food waste into high value protein, natural oils and fertilisers, raised $5m from investors including Wheatsheaf Investments.
  • Singapore-based PatSnap, which is developing a visual patent search and analysis platform, raised $4.5m from investors including Vertex Venture Holdings. More.
  • EdCast, which is developing a MOOC-creation platform designed to enhance collaboration between universities, businesses and governments, raised $6m from investors including SoftBank Capital. More.
  • London-based import.io, which allows users to easily capture and use information from websites, raised $3m from private investors. More.
  • Rithmio, which is developing human gesture recognition software, raised $650k form investors including Hyde Park Venture Partners.
  • Andela, which trains African developers and connects them with global companies, raised investment from Omidyar Network, among others. More.

Other

  • Big data analysis conducted by productivity monitoring company DeskTime suggests that the optimal work pattern consists of 52 minute ‘sprints’ followed by 17 minutes of rest. More.
  • A study of 50,000 people, conducted by researchers at Sapienza University in Rome, found that use of online social networks significantly reduces well-being. More.
  • A paper released by researchers at Israel’s National Bureau of Economic Research links exam performance with levels of air pollution. The finding further questions the value of end of term exams.
  • A report published by anti-poverty group One claimed that corruption costs developing countries $1tr each year and may be responsible for 3.6m deaths annually. More.