February 2016

Science & Technology

  • Researchers at Washington University, St Louis have developed a wireless brain implant that can be used to monitor brain injuries before dissolving, thus eliminating the need for surgery to remove it. More.
  • A new cancer treatment that utilises genetically modified t-cells (part of the body’s immune system) has shown an ‘unprecedented’ 90% success rate in trials with terminally ill patients, according to researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle. More.
  • Scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre have developed a 3D printing technique for living body parts. The system combines a bio-degradable plastic structure with a cell-containing gel, and has undergone successful initial trials in animals. More.
  • A study conducted by researchers at Cornell University has linked success of sports teams to an increase in flu-related deaths, thought to result from heightened levels of socialisation and thus disease transmission.
  • Scientists at the two Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors in the US observed gravitational waves for the first time, confirming a key prediction of Einstein’s general theory of relativity and offering the promise of dramatically improving our understanding of the universe.
  • Researchers at Berkeley launched MyShake, an app designed to utilise the accelerometers in smartphones to create a global seismic detection network that could ultimately provide early warnings about earthquakes. The system may prove to be especially useful in emerging markets that lack developed seismic monitoring facilities or early warning systems. More.
  • A study conducted by Washington University, St Louis suggests that manipulation of gut microbes may enable prevention of malnutrition in children, which is responsible for more than 2m deaths each year. More.
  • Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark have developed a material (a supramolecular polymer containing TNDCF) that produces a fluorescent glow when in close proximity to explosives.
  • Researchers at Iowa State University have developed a technique that employs a genetically engineered yeast strain to enable conversion of sugar into nylon at room temperature. More.
  • Bosch has developed a smart pedal that provides haptic feedback to alert drivers when they are wasting fuel and provide alerts of upcoming hazards. The company claims that the changes in driver behaviour induced by the pedal could result in a reduction in fuel consumption of up to 7%.
  • Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, are investigating the application of fungi, found in the guts of goats and sheep, to break down organic matter and enhance the production of biofuels.

Business

New Sources of Funding

  • Creandum Capital closed a €180m early-stage fund from which it will invest in seed and Series-A rounds of European internet and software companies.
  • US-based Lewis & Clark Ventures closed a $104m maiden venture capital fund.
  • US-based venture capital firm Sequoia Capital closed a $920m India-focused fund.
  • Index Ventures closed a $550m fund that will be deployed to back seed and venture stage companies in Europe, Israel and the US.
  • Medicxi Ventures closed a €210m life sciences fund.
  • Holland-based emerging markets investor XMSL held the first close of a new fund at $45m.
  • US-based technology investor General Catalyst closed two new funds totalling $845m.
  • Matrix Partners China raised a €500m fund that will support early stage companies within China. Target sectors include healthcare, consumer and cleantech.
  • Japan-based venture firm IMJ launched a $52m fund to support Japanese startups working in areas including healthcare, finance and the internet of things.
  • Estonia-based venture firm Karma Ventures held the first close of its maiden fund at €40m. the fund will be used to invest in seed and Series A rounds of companies across Europe.
  • Spain-based venture firm Bullnet Gestion held the first closing of a new fund at €42m. The fund will be used to support Spanish B2B startups operating in the ICT sector.
  • US-based venture fund DFJ closed a new $350m early-stage fund to target companies in sectors including autonomous transportation, digital health and artificial intelligence.
  • London-based Isomer Capital launched a €150m fund from which it will invest in early-stage technology companies in Europe.
  • Lightstone Ventures closed a $50m fund that will focus on backing life sciences companies based in Singapore.
  • US-based VC firm 1955 Capital closed a maiden $200m fund that will invest in US/Europe-based companies developing technologies that offer the potential to solve the developing world’s most pressing challenges. Key areas of focus include energy, food, agriculture, health and education.
  • New York-based Tribeca Venture Partners closed a $107m fund that will invest up to $4m in early stage companies based in New York.
  • Nokia Growth Partners closed a $350m fund that will focus on companies working within the Internet of Things sector. Europe, US, India and China are the target geographies.
  • Israel-based TLV Partners closed a $110m maiden fund from which it will invest in early-stage startups.
  • Finland-based early-stage VC Lifeline Ventures closed a €57m fund.
  • San Francisco-based growth equity firm Mainsail Partners closed a $384m fund that will focus on software, technology-enabled services and healthcare companies.
  • US-based Battery Ventures raised $950m across two funds that will invest in a range of start-ups in sectors including IT infrastructure, software, consumer internet and industrial technology.

New products

  • M-kopa provides pay-as-you go solar power systems to consumers in emerging markets. In addition, the company allows customers to remortgage their solar systems to finance additional purchases once they have established a good track record of payment.
  • India-based Ringing Bells launched the world’s cheapest smart phone, costing just $3.67. More.
  • Meem is a charging cable that automatically backs-up the content of phones.
  • Perspecs is a news aggregation app that provides three alternative viewpoints on each story.
  • Oral-B released a smart connected toothbrush that combines with an app in order to spot areas in a user’s mouth that are being neglected. More.
  • Nissan has developed self-organising office chairs that are controlled by clapping. More.
  • Enflux develops sensor-equipped sportswear that enables users to track workouts and avoid injurious movements.

New company Fundraising

  • US-based Siftery, which develops a platform designed to help companies identify value-adding software solutions, raised $4m from investors including Founders Fund.
  • Austria-based Anyline, which develops a SDK that enables app developers to integrate optical character recognition technology, raised €1.5m from investors including iSeed Ventures.
  • US-based Hometeam, which provides a matching service for caregivers and the elderly, raised an additional $5m from Kaiser Permanente Ventures.
  • US-based Magic Leap, which is developing advanced augmented reality technologies with applications in numerous fields including entertainment, education and healthcare, raised $793.5m from investors including Google, KPCB and Andreessen Horowitz.
  • UK-based Edinburgh University spin-out pureLifi, which is developing light-based wireless communications technologies, raised $2m from investors.
  • Canada-based ScarX Technologies, which is developing treatments designed to improve healing and reduce scarring of post-surgical wounds, raised $2m from investors including Accel-Rx and BDC Capital.
  • Switzerland-based Mindmaze, which is developing intuitive human/machine interfaces that integrate virtual reality, haptics and brain imaging and have a range of applications in healthcare, raised $100m from investors including the Hinduja Group.
  • US-based Jana, which provides free internet to emerging market users by shifting the cost of deployment to sponsoring brands, raised $57m from investors including Verizon Ventures, Spark Capital and Publicis Groupe.
  • US-based BioDirection, which dis developing a biosensor that enables rapid point-of-care diagnosis of traumatic brain injuries including concussion, raised $4m from investors including Healthcare Capital.
  • New York-based Knewton, which develops an adaptive education solution that dynamically matches content to individual requirements, raised $52M from investors including Atomico.
  • Israel-based Deep Optics, which is developing dynamic focal glasses based on its proprietary liquid crystal lens technology, raised $4m from investors including Essilor.
  • Germany-based Retina Implant AG, which is developing implants designed to address blindness caused by retinitis pigmentosa, raised €26m from investors.
  • US-based Opternative, which delivers an online refractive eye exam using a computer and smartphone, raised $6m from investors including Jump Capital and NextGen Venture Partners.
  • Canada-based Routific, which develops route optimisation solutions for last-mile delivery fleets, raised $1.2m from investors including Pallasite Ventures.
  • US-based Diffbot, which is developing a computer vision / machine learning service that structure website data, raised $10m from investors including Felicis Ventures.

Other

  • A study conducted by researchers at Penn State and Columbia University suggests that the way in which people perceive and react to stressful events, rather then the frequency of such events, is more important in determining their impact on health. More.