April 2015

Science & Technology

  • Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are developing a memory neuro-prosthetic designed to enable people that have suffered from a traumatic brain industry to formulate memories. More.
  • Yahoo is reportedly developing a biometric phone security system that utilises touch screens to identify users via their ear. This is theoretically cheaper than installing a fingerprint sensor. More.
  • A team of researchers from Purdue University has developed a method to increase the tensile strength of concrete by 30% through the addition of cellulose nanocrystals, which can be manufactured from industrial byproducts generated in a number of industries including biofuels and agriculture. More.
  • Researchers at Stanford have developed miniature robots, based on techniques employed by small insects, that are capable of pulling objects up to 2,000 times their own weight. More.
  • Engineers at the University of North Carolina have developed an unpowered exoskeleton that reportedly improves human walking efficiency by 7%. More.
  • Nasa has developed a new type of plane wing that is capable of seamlessly changing shape mid-flight, removing the need for hinged flaps, in order to reduce weight (fewer mechanical parts), save fuel (less drag) and cut noise. More.
  • Scientists at Caltech are investigating the possibility of leveraging the sensors in personal electronic devices to develop a distributed detection and early warning system for earthquakes. More.
  • Scientists at the University of California Berkeley have developed a system that mimics the natural photosynthetic process using a combination of semiconducting nanowire arrays and bacteria. Powered by solar energy, the set-up can convert a combination of water and carbon dioxide into the building blocks of biodegradeable plastics, pharmaceuticals and liquid fuels. More.
  • Researchers at German research institute HSG-IMIT have developed a device that can be embedded within shoes to harvest power from the act of walking. The technology has a range of applications, from powering wearable sensors and self-lacing shoes for the elderly. More.
  • Researchers at Stanford University have developed a new high-performance aluminium-ion battery that could represent a safer and more environmentally friendly alternative to lithium-ion and alkaline batteries in wide use today. The flexible batteries, which could be deployed at both small ad large scale, can be recharged in less than a minute and are able to withstand thousands of recharging cycles without any loss of capacity. More.
  • Researchers at MIT are developing a technique that employs sound waves to identify and separate cancer cells from blood samples. The technique could result in tests that are more effective and less invasive than other commercially-available technologies. More.

Business

  • London-based technology companies collectively raised $682m during Q1 15, a quarterly record and 80% of the UK total, according to a report released by London & Partners. More.

New Sources of Funding

  • Luxembourg-based Bamboo Finance, which invests in companies operating within the base of pyramid sector, closed a $31m fund. More.
  • Paris-based Partech Ventures launched a $65m seed fund that will focus on digital start-ups in Europe and Silicon Valley. More.
  • New York based growth equity investor Catalyst Investors raised a new $380m fund
  • Menlo Ventures closed a new $400m fund that will invest in start-ups operating within sectors including cyber security, cloud infrastructure, big data, SaaS and e-commerce. More.
  • Helion Venture Partners raised a new $300m fund to invest in Indian start-ups. More.
  • Berlin-based Agsard Capital launched to invest up to €2m globally in early-stage companies focusing on internet of things, drones, virtual reality, advanced robotics and AI. More.
  • Box announced the launch of a $40m fund, supplied by Bessemer Ventures and Emergence Capital, that will invest in startups developing applications built on top of the Box platform. More.
  • US-based Freestyle Capital raised a new $60m fund. More.
  • US-based venture/growth-stage healthcare investor Flare Capital Partners closed a new $200m fund.
  • Middle East Venture Partners held the $15m first close of a new fund that will focus on technology businesses in the region.
  • Prague-based Credo ventures raised a €34m fund to invest in CEE start-ups. More.
  • US-based Lux Capital raised a $350m fund to invest in ‘futuristic ventures’. More.
  • Index ventures raised a new $706m growth fund.
  • Fuel.Venture, a new start-up studio and early-stage venture capital fund, launched in London. More.
  • Intel Capital launched a RMB80m angel fund to invest in emerging Chinese hardware makers. More.
  • US-based Presidio Partners closed a $142m venture capital fund that will invest in opportunities across IT, life sciences and energy technology.

New products

  • Twitter announced that it will now enable direct messaging between any users, regardless of whether or not they are following each other.
  • Google introduced a new feature that enables users to export their search history, rather than simply search through it.
  • Lobster launched a tool that enables creative professionals to search for and license user-generated content across multiple social media platforms. More.
  • Google updated its search algorithms to favour mobile-friendly websites. More.
  • US-based Kifi is developing a search tool that presents information based on the content and links that users post on social media site. More.
  • Microsoft is developing Handpose, a system that is able to accurately track hand movements using a single depth camera, possibly leading to developments in human-computer interaction. More.
  • Apple released ResearchKit, a tool designed to help medical professionals and researchers harness data collected through the company’s mobile devices. It is hoped that the platform will significantly increase data collection and therefore enhance understanding of disease and catalyse development of new treatments. More.
  • TESLA announced the launch of the Powerwall, a rechargeable lithium ion battery. The 7kWh unit is priced at $3,000 ($3,500 for 10kWh) is designed to provide back-up power to homes and businesses reliant on renewable energy in an effort to tackle the problem of electricity outage and break grid reliance.

New company Fundraising

  • London-based Peak, which develops brain-training apps, raised $7m from investors including Creandum and DN Capital.
  • New York-based image recognition technology developer clarifai raised $10m from investors including Union Square Ventures.
  • US-based UniKey, which develops keyless entry systems that can be integrated into any lock to enable smartphones to replace keys, cards and passwords, raised $10m from investors including Samsung. More.
  • Sweden-based Bonesupport, which develops an injectable synthetic bone substitute designed to promote bone healing in a range of treatments, raised $14m from new and existing investors. More.
  • Finland-based Onbone, which develops biodegradable casts, raised €10m from investors including MVM Life Science Partners.
  • US-based Benchling, which develops cloud-based tools that facilitate R&D collaboration within the life sciences sector, raised $5m from investors including Andreessen Horrowitz.
  • Singapore-based Cornea Biosciences, which develops technology for production of bioengineered corneas, raised $500k from investors. The company is attempting to address the global shortage of donor corneas.
  • US-based Carbon3D, a University of North Carolina spin-out that develops rapid 3D printing technologies that build objects from liquid resin, raised $10m from Autodesk. This is the first investment from Autodesk’s recently created $100m, 3D printing–focused Spark Investment Fund. More.
  • UK-based water/wastewater treatment company Arvia Technology, which has developed a proprietary graphene-based filtration technology based on research conducted at the University of Manchester, raised £4m from undisclosed backers. 
  • US-based Water Smart Software, which develops customer engagement solutions that employ analytics and behavioural science to reduce water consumption, raised $7m from investors including DFJ and the Westly Group.
  • US-based Peloton Technology, which develops technology that improves safety and fuel efficiency within trucking fleets, raised $16m from investors including Intel Capital.
  • US-based Folsom Labs, which develops SAAS solutions that facilitate optimal evaluation and design if solar systems, raised $1m from angel investors.
  • US-based Recorded Future, which develops a threat analytics platform that indexes billions of data points to identify emerging events, raised $12m from investors including Google Ventures, In-Q-Tel and Atlas.
  • US-based D30, which develops smart materials with shock-absorbing properties with sporting and military applications, raised $19m from investors including Beringea.
  • Neuronetics, which develops treatments for chronic psychiatric and neurological diseases including depression, raised $34.4m from investors includng GE Ventures.
  • US-based Pocket, which develops an app that allows users to save online content for later consumption, raised $7m from investors including New Enterprise Associates.
  • US-based meQuilibrium, which develops tools to help users deal with stress and build resilience, raised $9m from investors including Chrysalis Ventures.