October 2015

Science & Technology

  • Chemical engineers at the California Institute of Technology have developed an additive for jet fuel that reduces the risk of explosion while leaving engine performance unaffected. The additive utilises long-chain polymer molecules that prevent formation of small explosive droplets but also break-down and recombine to facilitate the flow of fuel through pipes. More.
  • A team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has developed a wheelchair capable of climbing stairs. More.
  • Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are developing techniques that use brain scans to predict the effectiveness of public health campaigns. More.
  • Researchers at the University of Malaysia have developed a renewables-powered LED street light that incorporates a mosquito trap. More.
  • Researchers at Cambridge University took a major step towards the development of lithium-air batteries, an innovation that could enable storage of up to five times as much energy within a given space relative to the top performing batteries available today. More.
  • Chinese technology major Huawei released a prototype removable lithium-ion battery that recharges within five minutes to provide up to 10 hours of mobile phone talk time.
  • Researchers at Bristol University have developed a technique through which high intensity sound waves are used to manipulate small objects from a distance of 30-40cm. The technique could be developed for a range of applications, including drug delivery. More.

Business

New Sources of Funding

  • Incubator Playground Global closed a new $300m fund that will invest in hardware start-ups.
  • France-based venture capital firm Hi Inov raised a €40m maiden fund from which it will invest in start-ups across a range of sectors including e-services and the Internet of Things.
  • The $100m Dementia Discovery Fund, which is managed by London-based SV Life Sciences and designed to support the development of new dementia treatments, launched.
  • London-based Highland Europe closed a €332m growth fund that will invest in internet, mobile and software companies. 
  • Y Combinator raised a $700m growth fund that will be used to support graduates of its incubator programme.
  • US-based early-stage venture capital firm SignalFire launched a $53m fund from which it will invest in both consumer- and enterprise-focused technology companies.
  • SCS Upshot raised a $400m fund to invest via VC/angel-led syndicates on AngelList. More.
  • Vertex Ventures, the venture arm of Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek, launched a new $600m global fund.
  • Germany-based Acton Capital Partners closed a $200m growth fund, Index Ventures closed a $117m life sciences fund and US Venture Partners closed a $280m fund.
  • Orange and Publicis launched IrisNext, a multi corporate venture fund that will invest in startups involved in the digital transformation of corporations. The fund will be managed by Iris Capital.

New products

  • Skype introduced its real-time translation tool, which initially works across English, French, German, Italian, Mandarin and Spanish.
  • US-based Aira provides a platform through which data from cameras, wearables and sensors can be used by carers and families to provide real-time assistance to blind and low vision people.
  • GiveWell is an organisation that attempts to provide prospective donors with an assessment of the impact that charities make.
  • CrowdMed is a platform through which patients with difficult-to-diagnose conditions can crowdsource diagnoses.
  • Wibbitz creates short videos that summarise the content of articles.
  • Sweden-based Mapillary aggregates crowd-sourced images to create evolving and searchable 3D maps of the world. More.

New company Fundraising

  • US-based Cloverpop, which develops a tool that leverages behavioural economics in order to facilitate team decision making, raised $1.8m from investors including True Ventures.
  • US-based Censio, which delivers an app and analytics platform designed to improve driver behaviour for the purposes of usage-based insurance, raised $10m from investors including General Catalyst Partners and Bain Capital.
  • UK-based Intelligent Health, which develops solutions designed to address inactivity through leveraging technology and behavioural science, raised £300k from Mercia Fund Management.
  • Online learning platform Coursera raised $11.6m from Singapore-based EDBI.
  • UK-based VouchedFor, which provides a platform through which consumers can connect with vetted financial or legal advisors, raised $3.5m from Octopus Investments and Samos Investments.
  • US-based MycoTechnology, which is developing techniques to improve the taste and nutritional properties of agricultural products through fermentation with proprietary mushroom strains, raised $9.2m from S2G ventures, Seventure Partners and Middleland Capital.
  • US-based Amino, which provides a platform through which patients can identify and book appointments with doctors whose expertise matches their requirements, raised $19M from investors including Accel.
  • US-based Howdy, which develops apps for collaboration/messaging platform Slack, raised $1.5m from Bloomberg Beta and True Ventures. More.
  • US-based Kaleo Software, which develops solutions to capture and share expertise from people working within an organisation, raised $7m from investors including Omers Ventures and Greycroft Partners. 
  • UK-based Telectic, which deploys artificial intelligence to map networks based on interpretation of web content, raised £1.3m from Imperial Innovations.
  • Ireland-based Nuritas, which is developing a solution that integrates artificial intelligence to identify natural foods with scientifically validated health benefits, raised $3.2m from New Protein Capital. The technology can potentially be used to develop supplements that address a wide range of health issues.
  • UK-based SimilarWeb, which develops tools to analyses engagement metrics for websites and apps, raised $25m from backers including Naspers.
  • US-based Enlitic, which employs artificial intelligence to improve interpretation of medical images, raised $10m from Capitol Health Limited. More.
  • US-based TruStar, which provides an anonymous cyber incident reporting and collaboration platform for enterprise clients, raised $2m from investors including Resolute Ventures.
  • US-based Decibel Therapeutics, which specialises in developing new treatments for hearing problems, raised $52m from investors including Third Rock Ventures.
  • US-based 17Hats, which develops a business management tool for solo entrepreneurs, raised $4m from Wavemaker Partners.
  • US-based Factom, which is applying blockchain technology to provide data verification solutions for enterprises, raised $400k from Kuala Innovations. More.
  • US-based Mindjet Corporation, which develops the Spigit innovation crowdsourcing software, raised $13m from investors including Investor Growth Capital.
  • Italy-based D-Orbit, which is developing solutions designed to remove artificial debris from orbit, raised €1.8m from TTVenture and Como Venture.
  • US-based edtwist, which develops a collaborative research platform, raised seed funding fom a number of prominent angel investors.
  • Google acquired a stake in Beijing-based developer of Chinese language voice recognition and search technologies Mobvoi.
  • US-based Desktop Metal, a development stage company building 3D printers capable of printing with aluminium and titanium, raised $14m from investors including KPCB.
  • Canada-based drone manufacturer Aeryon Labs raised $60m from investors including Summit Partners.
  • US-based Glowforge, which is developing 3D laser printers, raised $27.9m in a record-breaking  crowdfunding campaign.
  • US-based ArtLifting, a platform selling artwork created by homeless, disabled and disadvantaged artists, raised $1.1m from a number of angel investors.
  • DNA testing provider 23andMe raised $115m from investors including Fidelity and XFund.

Other

  • More than 12 million people and one million businesses in the UK do not have adequate digital skills, according to charity Go.On. More.
  • A study by Kaspersky Lab suggests that over-reliance on information technologies is negatively impacting long term memory, with people less likely to commit important information to memory in the belief that it can be easily recalled from a digital device or service. More.
  • A study conducted by researchers at Oxford University suggests that high-energy, synchronised group dancing increases the pain threshold of participants. More.