June 2016

Science & Technology

  • Researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed a ‘smart glass’ that can quickly switch between clear and opaque states. The technology could be used to reduce air conditioning requirements in buildings. More.
  • Researchers from Google and the University of Oxford are developing a ‘kill switch’ framework for artificial intelligence (AI) that would prevent machines from overriding human control. More.
  • Researchers at MIT have developed an AI system capable of generating a soundtrack to accompany a silent video clip that is indistinguishable from the real thing. This is the first time that an AI system has passed the so-called ‘Turing test for sound’.
  • The US aviation authority began trialling a system designed to identify and disable small drones by deploying a high power radio signal to block signals reaching them. More.
  • A study conducted by researchers at the University of Melbourne suggests that regular exercise in middle age is the most effective means through which to prevent cognitive decline in later years. More.
  • Researchers at Boston University have developed DNA ‘cages’ that are capable of delivering and then releasing medicines at specific areas in the body, thus reducing the risk of damaging healthy tissue. More.
  • Researchers at Harvard have developed a new type of lens that can be used to enable significantly better magnification and focus of nanoscale objects than current microscopes. More.
  • Researchers at the University of Arizona have developed an artificial ‘gut on a chip’ that will enable scientists to quickly and more effectively (relative to animal testing) analyse the complex interactions that take place between humans cells and gut microbes in order to determine the suitability of medicines. More.

Business

New Sources of Funding

  • Healthcare: Netherlands-based VC / growth investor Glide Healthcare closed a €250m fund that will back scale-up opportunities in medtech, digital health and therapeutics, US-based Longitude Capital raised a $525m venture / growth fund that will back biotechnology and medical technology companies, while US / China-based Vivo Capital closed a $100m fund that will be deployed to back early-stage healthcare companies. In addition, US / UK-based SV Life Sciences closed a $273.5m fund that will be used to back companies working in areas including biotech, medical devices and healthcare services, while Amsterdam-based Life Science Partners closed a $280m life sciences fund that will target companies working in the areas of drug development, medical devices and diagnostics.
  • Impact: US-based venture philanthropy firm Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation launched a $65m fund that aims to support 100 early stage social enterprises addressing problems in areas including healthcare, education and environment. Chicago-based Impact Engine, which supports the development of for-profit, for-good start-ups, closed a $10m seed fund, which will support companies across a wide range of sectors with investments of up to $250,000. US-based impact investor Capria Ventures closed a $100m venture fund.
  • Corporate: Siemens announced that it would be providing €1bn over five years for a new unit (to be called next47) to support the development of new technologies. Microsoft formally launched a venture arm, while SalesForce launched an incubator and $50m venture capital fund.
  • Singapore-based VC Golden Gate Ventures closed a $60m fund from which it will invest in start-ups based in Southeast Asia.
  • New York-based FirstMark Capital closed a $275m early stage fund and a $205m growth fund.
  • Spain-based Swanlaab Venture Factory closed a €40m fund from which it will invest in early-stage companies working in areas including IoT, Cybersecurity and data management.
  • Boston-based _Underscore.VC closed a $75m maiden fund that will focus on early stage cloud intelligence companies.
  • US-based Andreessen Horrowitz closed a $1.5bn fund that it will deploy to back early and mid stage start-ups.
  • NYC / London / Dublin-based Atlantic Bridge closed a €60m fund that will back university and research institution spin-outs in Ireland.
  • Israel-based State of Mind Ventures closed a $75m fund that will invest in early stage companies operating in areas including cybersecurity, AI and space technology.
  • US-based Revolution Growth closed a $525m fund that will back growth-stage technology-enabled companies based outside of Silicon Valley that are operating within sectors including healthcare, education and energy.
  • US-based Sherpa Capital raised a $172m early stage fund alongside a $298m mid-stage fund, which will be deployed to back technology-enabled consumer and enterprise companies.
  • US-based Romulus Capital closed a $75m venture capital fund that will be deployed to back technology-based enterprise solutions companies.
  • US-based Partech Ventures closed its first growth fund. The €400m vehicle will be used to back IT / internet companies.
  • US-based Kleiner Perkins raised two new funds, a $400m early stage fund alongside a $1bn digital growth fund.
  • US-based Updata Partners closed a $280m growth equity fund that will invest in software and software-driven companies.
  • New York-based global entrepreneur support organisation Endeavour launched a $100m co-investment fund.

New products

  • Shine provides a messaging platform designed to help teenagers deal with the stresses of daily life. More.
  • Eniware has developed a portable sterilizer that can fully sterilize surgical instruments using a capsule of room temperature nitrogen dioxide, without water or electricity.
  • Evie is developing a novel Android smart phone interface that enables users to perform searches across all apps from their home screen.
  • UK-based Tap2Tag is developing wrist bands that can store the medical records of users, enabling medical professionals to gain easy access to relevant information in an emergency.

New company Fundraising

  • US-based Ancera, which develops a range of technologies designed to enable food manufacturers to more quickly detect contaminants in an effort to reduce instances of food poisoning and food waste, raised $8.9m from a syndicate of strategic investors. According to CDC, food poisoning results in 3,000 deaths p.a. in the US alone.
  • Germany-based ProGlove, which develops gloves embedded with scanners and sensors that are designed to improve the efficiency and safety of workers in manufacturing and logistics, raised $2.2m from investors including Intel Capital.
  • US-based InVision, which provides a platform through which web / mobile developers can prototype and test products, raised $55m from investors including Iconiq Capital, Accel and FirstMark Capital.
  • US-based Crisis Text Line, which provides text-based support and information from volunteer counsellors to anyone experiencing any type of crisis, raised $23.8m from investors including Omidyar Network.
  • New York-based Talkspace, which is developing an online therapy platform that links licensed therapists via video / audio messaging to users with mental healthcare requirements, raised $15m from investors including Norwest Venture Partners.
  • US-based Ava, which is developing solutions designed to help people improve their nutritional decision-making, raised $3m from investors including DCM Ventures, Khosla Ventures and Innovation Endeavours.
  • US-based Findo.io, which is developing an AI-powered assistant that is designed to help users find information dispersed across email, files and personal cloud, raised $3m from Abby PLC.
  • UBER raised a further $3.5bn from the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund. The investment valued the company, which operates in more than 460 cities globally, at $62.5bn.
  • US-based developer of online learning / teaching platform Udemy raised $60m from Naspers 
  • New York-based Modern Meadow, which is developing biofabrication technologies to produce leather from collagen protein instead of animals, raised $40m from investors including Horizons Ventures and Iconiq Capital.
  • US-based Whill, which develops advanced personal mobility solutions including modern wheelchairs, raised $17.5m from investors including Eight Roads Ventures.
  • Germany-based Celonis, which develops big data processing software that can integrate input from business IT management systems (e.g. SAP, Microsoft and Salesforce) to provide real time recommendations to enhance operational performance by up to 30%, raised $27.5m from investors including Accel and 83North.
  • UK-based F2G, an anti-fungal drug discovery and development company, raised $60m from investors including Advent Life Sciences and Sectoral Asset Management.
  • US-based NeuroVision Imaging, which is developing a technology designed to enable early detection of Alzheimer’s disease using noninvasive retinal imaging, raised $5m from investors including Wildcat Capital Management.
  • US-based Zoox, which is developing novel autonomous vehicles, raised $200m (at a $1bn valuation) from investors including Lux Capital and DFJ.
  • US-based WalkMe, which provides on-screen solutions that guide users through using digital products and services, raised $50m from investors including Insight Venture Partners.

Other