February 2015

Science & Technology

  • Researchers at QMUL investigating novel applications of organic by-products have developed a basic solar cell using chemicals found in crustacean shells. More.
  • A team of Scientists at the University of York has developed a low-energy quantum radar capable of detecting objects of low reflectivity such as cancer cells and stealth vehicles. More.
  • Physicists at John Hopkins University have developed a technique using nanowires to control electron vortices and improve the performance of superconducting wires. Such technology could help to improve the performance of MRI scanners, particle accelerators and future quantum computers. More.
  • Researchers at the University of Columbia have developed a $34 smartphone attachment that tests for HIV and syphilis, providing lab quality results in 15 minutes from a single drop of blood. More.
  • Owlstone Nanotech and Siemens are among the organisation developing a breathalyser to identify biomarkers indicative of lung cancer. More.
  • Researchers at the Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea have produced a nano-engineered steel that replicates the lightness and strength of titanium alloys but could be produced at scale for a tenth of the price. More.
  • Engineers at the University of Texas at Austin have developed the first transistor made with silicene, a material comprising one atom thick layers of silicon. The electrical properties of the material mean that this could be a first step towards the development of faster processors. More.
  • Researchers at the University of Surrey have achieved record-breaking data transfer speeds of one terabit per second during tests of 5G connections. The speed is more than 65,000 times that of the average 4G connection and equals the capacity of fibreoptics. More.
  • A group of researchers from universities including Penn State have developed a low-cost, micro-scale solar concentration technology, comprising 3D-printed plastic lens arrays and a focusing mechanism, which could enable technologies traditionally used in space to be more widely deployed. More.
  • Plascarb, an EU-funded project based at the UK’s Centre for Process Innovation, is developing a technique based on anaerobic digestion to manufacture graphene from food waste. This follows research undertaken by scientists at City University of Hong Kong that aims to develop methods to turn food waste into plastics. More.
  • Scientists from ETH Zurich are developing techniques to store data in glass-encased and chilled DNA. It is estimated that one gram of DNA could store 455 exabytes (455bn gigabytes) of data. At zero degrees this could survive for 2 million years. More.
  • Researchers at Imperial College London have developed a method to 3D print small components from grapheme. More.
  • Researchers at MIT have developed a technique that employs an algorithm to distribute data and computations within a multicore processor in order to increase speeds and decrease power consumption. More.
  • Researchers at Cardiff University have started a £1m project alongside Airbus to develop smart CCTV technology capable of identifying potentially violent situations in public spaces. More.
  • Researchers at Stanford have developed a low-cost, efficient and transparent air filter with multiple applications within cities suffering from pollution. More.
  • Engineers at MIT are developing engineered insulin that automatically responds to changes in blood-sugar levels. More.

Business

  • The US Federal Communications Commission approved new rules on the delivery of internet designed to preserve so-called ‘net neutrality’. More.
  • The head of insurance company Lloyd’s of London warned that the threat of cyber attacks is so great that it is beyond private companies to insure and governments should therefore be willing to cover the risks. This outlook results from the fact that risks are hard to model and often systemic in nature (e.g. a software vulnerability could have a global impact). More.
  • Twitter and Google signed an agreement that will see tweets displayed in Google search results
  • Microsoft acquired smart calendar app maker Sunrise Atelier, reportedly paying more than $100m.

New Sources of Funding

  • UK-based private equity group Actis has set-up a $1.9bn Africa energy business in a joint venture with Mainstream wind and solar developer. More.
  • New York based Notation Capital launched with a $8m pre-seed stage fund. More.
  • Seed investor 500 Startups launches a $10m fund to invest in companies in Thailand.
  • AVAC and Bayer CropScience launched a $150m fund to invest in early- and growth-stage agricultural technology companies. More.
  • San Francisco-based Homebrew announced that it has closed a $50m see fund.
  • US-based August Capital raised a $450m fund to invest in ‘game changing businesses’.
  • San Francisco-based Zetta Venture Partners closed a $60m analytics-focused fund.
  • Bessemer Venture Partners closed a $1.6bn fund to invest in companies at all stages focusing on themes including consumer internet, enterprise technology, cyber security, healthcare IT and space.
  • San Francisco-based Crosslink Capital closed a $170m early stage fund to target opportunities in IT-related companies
  • Alibaba launched a $130m venture fund to back Hong Kong-based entrepreneurs.
  • US-based Aligned Partners closed a $50m fund that will focus on early-stage enterprise-oriented technology companies.
  • US-based Emergence Capital closed a $335m fund focused on early- and growth-stage enterprise cloud companies.

New products/services

  • Mobile search engine Vurb launched. The engine works by pulling critical information from apps into in the form of concise, saveable and shareable slides, thus enabling users to gather and act on information without switching between apps. The company previously received $10m from Redpoint Ventures. More.
  • Israel-based StoreDot, a spin-out from the University of Tel Aviv, has developed a smartphone battery that can be charged within 60 seconds. The company believes that its technology can be applied to electric cars in order to enable recharging within five minutes. More.
  • OpenLabel, an app that enables shoppers to access condensed crowdsourced information relating to the environmental, social, health and safety attributes of a product by simply scanning its bar code, was launched. More.
  • HP launched the Sprout, a computer with which users predominantly interact using a 3D camera and interactive mat, with keyboard and mouse optional. More.
  • Text-analysis company Parakweet launched inboxVudu, an application that helps to identify important emails that need to be dealt with. More.
  • iBrailler, a touchscreen Braille writing app for use on tablets offering a range of advanced features, including the ability to automatically orient the keyboard around a user’s fingertips, launched. More.

New company Fundraising

  • AI developer Viv, which was founded by the former creators of Siri, received £12.5m from investors including Iconiq Capital and Horizons Ventures. The technology being developed responds to natural language queries and is able to pull-in information from many third party information sources. More.
  • US-based Nanoscale Components, which is developing technologies that enable production of higher capacity batteries at lower weights, received investment from 3M. More.
  • US-based Grovo, which delivers digital tool training via short instructional videos of 60-90 seconds, raised $15m from investors including Accel Partners. More.
  • Canada-based RtTech Software, which develops software designed to improve efficiency of industrial facilities, raised $3m from venture investors. More.
  • US-based Skully, which develops smart vehicle systems including a heads-up navigation display, raised $11m from investors including Intel Capital.
  • US-based visual search engine CamFind raised $5m from a number of angel investors and also launched a public API. More.
  • US-based SOLS, which 3D-prints customised shoe insoles to address medical issues and optimise athletic performance, raised $11m from investors including Founders Fund. More.
  • US-Based Algenol, which is commercialising a process designed to convert industrial CO2 emissions into transportation fuels, raised $25m from investors including BioFIelds. More.
  • India-based News In Shorts, a developer of an app that provides 60 word summaries of each day’s top news stories, raised $4m from investors including Tiger Global.
  • London-based WeTransfer, which is developing a file sharing platform, raised $25m from investors including Highland Capital Partners Europe.
  • Greenlight planet, which develops off-grid solar lighting and charging products for developing countries, raised $10m from investors including Fidelity Growth Partners India. More.
  • Airtable, which is attempting to make information more accessible/sortable with an app comprising an easy-to-use spreadsheet interface underpinned by a powerful relational database, raised $3m from investors including Box Group. More.
  • US-based ChartSpan Medical Technologies, which helps patients to centralise and manage electronic health records, raised $1.7m from angel investors.
  • Israel-based Knowmail, which develops an AI personal assistant to help employees manage email overload and prioritise work, raised $1.2m from investors including Plus Ventures. More.
  • New York-based CoVenture, which provides software development services to startups in return for equity, raised $3m from private investors. More.

Other

  • A study conducted by researchers at the University of Liverpool has found that regularly reading for pleasure for just 30 minutes a week can boost self-esteem and life satisfaction. More.
  • A study conducted by researchers at Berkeley has linked positive emotions engendered by nature, art and spirituality with improved physical and mental health, as well as increased life expectancy. More.