November 2015

Science & Technology

  • Researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed an ultra-hard glass with properties close to those of steel. More.
  • Blue Origin completed a successful 8 minute test flight of a reusable rocket capable of carrying six people to an altitude of 100km. More.
  • Researchers from the Institut Langevin in Paris are developing a super-resolution ultrasound technique for 3D mapping of blood vessels. The approach could be used to improve the diagnosis of cancers and strokes. More.
  • University of Waterloo researchers developing a printer that can quickly produce circuit boards won the Dyson engineering award as a result of the potential of the innovation to speed-up the hardware design process. Runners-up included Express Dive, a device designed to enable recreational swimmers to stay underwater for longer. More.
  • Researchers at Cornell University have developed a technique that enables diagnosis of a stroke within ten minutes, using a single drop of blood. Faster diagnosis (standard tests currently take around three hours) can improve the effectiveness of early treatment and reduce long-term impacts. The technique could eventually be applied to diagnose other conditions. More.
  • Researchers at MIT have developed a system that uses WiFi signals to identify people through walls. Potential applications include monitoring of the elderly in homes. More.
  • Researchers at MIT have developed a new biomedical imaging system that utilises off-the-shelf components and can be manufactured at a fraction of the cost of existing systems. More.
  • Scientists at the University of Washington have devised a method through which infrared lasers can be used to cool liquids. The technology could ultimately be applied to enable targeted cooling of industrial machinery or computer components. More.
  • Researchers at Michigan State University and MIT are developing a holistic model for the treatment of depression that is designed to enable more effective treatments that are tailored to the specific causes/requirements of patients. Depression affects an estimated 350m people globally. More.
  • Researchers at Imperial College London have developed a method for the continuous production of hydrogen using algae. More
  • Researchers at MIT have developed a novel desalination method that utilises an electrically driven shockwave to separate salt from water without using a membrane filter. More.
  • Researchers at Stanford have developed a system that utilises satellites to measure solar-induced fluorescence (a light emitted by growing plants) in order to more accurately estimate crop yields. The system should prove useful in monitoring crop responses to climate change. More.
  • Researchers at Stanford have developed a nanotechnology capable of making the upper metal contact of solar cells nearly invisible to incoming light, thus reducing reflectivity and enhancing efficiency. More.
  • Researchers at Stanford have developed solar cells that, operating underwater, are able to power chemical reactions through which captured greenhouse gases are combined with water to produce fuels. More.
  • Researchers at MIT have developed a system capable of converting 2D videos into 3D in near real-time. More.

Business

  • A study conducted by E&Y and the Interactive Advertising Bureau suggests that $8.2bn p.a. is lost in the US alone as a result of fake ad impressions, infringed content and ‘malvertising’. More.
  • Wikipedia has developed software designed to automatically identify poor quality article edits. More.
  • Amazon announced the expansion into the UK of its Launchpad platform, which is designed to enable technology start-ups to effectively market and sell their products. 

New Sources of Funding

  • Wellington Financial closed a $300m technology growth debt fund that will focus on opportunities within the UK and North America.
  • London-based Illuminate Financial Management held the first close of its early stage fintech-focused fund.
  • US-based Collaborative Fund, which invests in companies seeking to solve ‘big societal problems’, closed a new $70m fund.
  • Mexico-based venture firm Ignia closed a $90m fund that will invest in companies targeting base-of-pyramid opportunities in areas including healthcare, education and water.
  • US-based Trinity Ventures closed a $400m fund from which it will invest in early stage opportunities within sectors including SaaS, IT infrastructure and digital media.
  • Finland-based venture capital firm Open Ocean launched a €100m fund that will invest in start-ups working within sectors including big data, machine learning and enterprise SaaS.
  • Alibaba launched a not-for-profit early-stage fund to support start-ups in Taiwan and Hong Kong
  • US-based VC firm Andresseen Horowitz launched a $200m bio fund that will invest in opportunities in digital health, cloud biology and computational medicine.
  • New York-based VC firm Greycroft closed a $200m early-stage fund from which it will invest in mobile and internet companies.
  • Autodesk launched a $100m fund as part of its initiative to support emerging technologies that relate to ‘making things’. More.
  • The UK government announced that it plans to launch a £1bn fund, in collaboration with the Gates Foundation, that is designed to eradicate malaria and other infectious diseases. More.
  • 500 Startups launched a $30m MENA-focused fund from which it will make seed-stage investments of $50k-$100k in 100-200 companies across a range of sectors including SaaS, mobile and IoT.
  • US-based Lighter Capital, which provides an online lending platform for growth-stage technology companies, raised $100m from Community Investment Management.

New products

  • Embrace develops an inexpensive incubator for premature babies in emerging markets.
  • UK-based Maloy Aeronautics is working with the US Department of Defence to develop ‘hoverbikes’. 
  • India-based Ecozen Solutions develops technologies for developing world farmers, including solar-powered water pumps and cold storage.
  • Bangor University spin-out Attention Retraining Technologies is building games to tackle obesity and alcoholism. These are based on research around the way that addiction is fuelled by external stimuli.
  • Ario is a smart light that is designed to replicate natural sunlight and address seasonal affective disorder.
  • Techshop provides access to workshops with design software and manufacturing equipment.
  • Zen Robotics develops waste-sorting robotics systems for the recycling industry.
  • Intralist is a website through which users can create or request ‘top 5’ lists relating to any subject.
  • The Lytro camera enables users to refocus images after they have been taken.
  • The Martin Jetpack can be flown remotely and has applications in disaster relief. 
  • Nuzzel aggregates links shared by people that relate to a certain subject.
  • Prezi is a cloud-based presentation software package that is designed to help users present information in a way that matches how it is processed by the human brain.
  • Zephyr Health aggregates disparate data streams to provide new insights to healthcare providers. 
  • Buddhify is a meditation app designed to help users deal with stress and achieve mindfulness.
  • Augury develops sensors and software designed to analyse vibrations and ultrasonic sounds being emitted from machinery such as air conditioning units in order to diagnose operational problems. The technology could make maintenance more efficient and effective. More.

New company Fundraising

  • Ultrahaptics, a Bristol University (UK) spin-out developing technologies that employ ultrasound waves to create tactile sensations in mid air, raised£10.1m from investors including Woodford Investment Management. The company’s technology projects sensation directly onto users and has numerous potential applications in computers, the automotive sector and consumer goods. More.
  • Reaction Engines, a UK-based developer of a hydbrid rocket/jet engine, received £20.6m from BAE Systems alongside£60m form the UK government. It is hoped that the engine may ultimately enable lower cost satellite launching and far faster air travel. More.
  • What3Words, a UK-based company developing a location pinpointing platform through which any 3 x 3 m area in the world can be identified by a unique combination of three words, raised $3.5m from investors including IntelCapital and Horizons Ventures. More.
  • Finland-based Oppex, which provides an online database of public tender opportunities, raised $2.3m from investors including Open Ocean Capital.
  • US-based Udacity, an online learning platform, raised $105m from investors including Andreessen Horrowitz and Charles River Ventures.
  • Finland-based Iceye, a developer of near real time micro-satellite imagery solutions with applications in search and rescue, environmental monitoring and insurance, raised €2.5m research grant through EU Horizon 2020.
  • US-based Descartes Labs, which develops AI solutions that interpret data from sources including satellite imagery in order to provide a better understanding of global crop production, raised $5m from investors including Cultivian Sandbox and Crosslink Capital.
  • US-based Joyable, which provides online cognitive behavioural therapy courses designed to address social anxiety, raised $8m from investors including Thrive Capital.
  • US-based Hyperloop Technologies, a developer of a high-speed transportation systems for people and cargo, raised $26m form investors including Khosla Ventures and Formation 8.
  • Canada-based VISR, which develops an app that utilises natural language processing to help parents monitor their children’s online behaviour in order to identify safety issues or signs of mental health problems, raised $1m from Horizons Ventures. More.
  • UK-based Chargifi, which is developing magnetic resonance wireless charging solutions for consumer electronics, raised $2.7m from investors including Intel Capital.
  • US-based Medrobotics, which develops minimally-invasive, robotics-assisted surgical technologies designed to provide access to difficult-to-access locations, raised $25m from existing investors.

Other

  • Researchers at Stanford have concluded that fraudulent scientific papers typically include more obfuscation, including jargon. More.
  • A study conducted by Deloitte estimates that the average person checks their phone 46 times a day, meaning that the US population collectively checks its phones 8 billion times each day.
  • A study conducted by researchers at Stanford has shown that people placed within low power situations are significantly more trusting of those in more powerful positions than the powerful are of them. More.
  • A study conducted by researchers at Penn State has revealed that the screen size of smart phones influences how much users trust advertisements as well as buying behaviour. More.