Belgian startup Antelope Dx raises €9M to fund development of at-home self tests for STDs and COVID-19

Over the past few years, investments in the healthcare diagnostic industry have been building momentum due to the growing awareness about the health benefits of early diagnosis and preventive care. According to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA), home tests can be cost-effective, quick, and confidential. 

As at-home diagnostic testing gains more acceptance, many medical device manufacturers are embracing the opportunities to develop a wide range of low-cost tools, and tests along a continuum of wellness and prevention. This ranges from chronic-disease management to identifying future risks of illness.

Antelope Dx secures €9M funding

Ghent-based Antelope Dx is one such company that develops a palm-sized home test diagnostic device that allows individuals and primary healthcare professionals to access key health parameters immediately. 

Recently, Antelope Dx secured €9M funding in a Series B round. The round was subscribed in a 50/50 ratio by an investment consortium led by Whitefund, and the Existing A-round investors.. 

A few weeks back, Antelope Dx also received a €2.2M grant from the Flanders Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) to expand the use of its at-home diagnostic testing platform. The new round brings the company’s total funding amount, raised till date, to €14.1M. 

According to Hilde Windels, CEO of Antelope Dx, Michel Baijot, chairman of Whitefund will join  Antelope Dx’s board, together with Hugues Wallemacq – a Noshaq investment manager with a broad experience in the medical field. 

What Antelope brings to the test

The Belgian company will utilise the funding to initiate clinical development of the urine-based self-test for Chlamydia trachomatis  (CT) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG). 

Furthermore, the company is developing respiratory Influenza A/B and Sars-CoV-2 tests using a single swab sample, that would allow patients to test in their home. It’s also working on quantitative measurement of protein biomarkers in finger-prick blood samples. 

According to the company, the fact that it offers the rare trifecta of “clinical lab performance with the ease-of-use of a pregnancy test at a consumer price tag” is its differentiating factor. The platform is based on lab-on-chip technology and aims to perform tests on any bodily fluid, without requiring complex user operations or sample preparation.

Michel Baijot, Chairman of Whitefund, comments: “We were very pleased to lead this financing round involving other solid private partners and to count Antelope Dx as Whitefund’s first investment. Antelope Dx’s innovative technology platform allows us to address the real need for home diagnostic testing as pointed and urgently requested by the current Covid-19 pandemic.”

Main image credits: Antelope Dx

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Startups – Silicon Canals

Belgian startup Oncomfort offers VR-powered pain and anxiety treatment; raises €10M in Series A funding

Virtual Reality (VR) technology has progressed immensely in recent years, impacting various sectors, especially the medical industry. However, most people these days equate VR to video games and other forms of entertainment. The technology’s medical use-cases, although lacking the limelight, are perhaps the most beneficial and incorporate medical education, managing chronic pain and a lot of other scenarios.

Belgian startup Oncomfort specialises in ‘Digital Sedation’ – a novel method for relieving patients’ pain and anxiety through treatment with therapeutic Virtual Reality; and it just raised €10M in Series A funding. 

Raised €10M to further develop digital sedation

Brussels-based Oncomfort has raised  €10M Series A funding round co-led by Debiopharm and Crédit Mutuel Innovation. The investment includes support from Wallonia Innovation and Growth (W.IN.G) and the existing investors. Both institutional investors will join Oncomfort’s newly composed Board of Directors. The company intends to use the funding to develop its digital therapy solutions further and accelerate its international expansion.

“We are at a tipping point in our digital therapy,” says Mario Huyghe, CEO of Oncomfort. “The medical community has discovered the advantages and potential of ‘Digital Sedation’ to relieve pain and anxiety without medication. Virtual Reality acts as an enabler for this digital therapy. Yet, Oncomfort’s true potential comes from the scientific evidence of its digital sedation and the multidisciplinary co-creation with the expertise of anesthesiologists, neurologists, psychologists, and hypnotherapists. With this Series A funding, we will accelerate our product development with a broader engineering team and invest in the international expansion of Oncomfort.”

“Our investment in Oncomfort’s digital sedation solution is based on the strong potential of digital therapeutics as well as the specific intellectual property and scientific evidence that Oncomfort has built over recent years,” continued Karine Lignel, CEO of Crédit Mutuel Innovation.

“With this investment in Oncomfort, we want to push the boundaries to inspire healthcare stakeholders to acknowledge that there is much more we can do for patients through digital technology,” said Tanja Dowe, CEO of Debiopharm Innovation Fund.

How Oncomfort achieves this?

Founded in 2017 by Diane Jooris, and Joowon Kim, the startup specialises in ‘Digital Sedation’, which, according to the company, is a novel method for relieving patients’ pain and anxiety through treatment with clinically proven sessions of therapeutic Virtual Reality

The company launched ‘Sedakit’, a portable solution that dissociates patients from the clinical environment. The startup claims that the procedure ranges from light sedation (distraction) to deep sedation (dissociation) and is accessible for both adults and children for a wide range of medical interventions. 

Helped over 30,000 patients

Ever since the launch of the Sedakit in Benelux and France in June 2019, over 30,000 patients have been treated with this solution. 

Interestingly, studies have found VR to be effective as an addition to anesthesia to reduce pain and anxiety for patients. The VR immersion is designed to provide patients with a relaxing virtual environment to fight anxiety. The University of Washington has already developed virtual reality therapy of this sort – SnowWorld, a snowy virtual environment that helps burn victims to cope with their pain.

Main image credits: Oncomfort

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Belgian startup InviteDesk raises €500K to grow its event marketing software internationally

InviteDesk, an event marketing software, has increased its capital by more than half a million euros. With InviteDesk, companies increase their return on investment (ROI) from event marketing by ensuring that the right customers and prospects are present at their events. Despite the corona crisis and its impact on events, InviteDesk is continuing to innovate…

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Belgian scaleup Oncomfort raises €10 million to further develop its “Digital Sedation” through virtual reality

Today Oncomfort, a Belgian inventor of and leader in Digital Sedation (a new method for relieving patient pain and anxiety without medication) has today announced the completion of a €10 million Series A funding round, co-led by two prominent institutional investors: Debiopharm and Crédit Mutuel Innovation. Oncomfort plans to use this investment to further develop…

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Belgian startup Hedera-22 raises €1 million to discover biomolecules with human medicine and agricultural applications

In its first round of financing, Hedera-22 has raised more than €1 million to accelerate the development of its activity towards the discovery and production of new biomolecules. The round was led by Globachem, an international, family-owned agrochemical company. Founded in 2015, Hedera-22 is a spin-off company of ULiège (University of Liège) which provides tailored…

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myskillcamp: The Belgian ‘Netflix of learning and development” scoops up €2.1M, plans to expand to the Netherlands, Germany, and UK

In the past few years, the corporate learning landscape has changed drastically with more advanced techniques. The Learning Experience Platform (LXP) is touted to be the next big thing in corporate ‘in-house training or upskilling’, delivering a comprehensive landscape where employees can continuously interact and gain insights. 

Raised €2.1M

In this regard, myskillcamp, a Belgian scaleup company in the edtech sector, has raised €2.1 million led by its existing shareholders such as Leansquare (noshaq) and Seederfund, a series of private investors, and two recognised investment funds: Inventures (BE) and Conviction (UK). The company is planning to use the funding to strengthen its offer and accelerate its international development.

“myskillcamp enables training managers to quickly create interactive training courses and enrich them with content developed in-house or available on our marketplace,” said Kevin Tillier, co-founder and CEO of myskillcamp. “We already offer more than 300,000 online training courses, in multiple formats, and in 18 languages, developed by leading publishers in the market.”

Reshaping e-learning infrastructure

Based out of Tournai, myskillcamp has developed a platform that allows companies to quickly create their e-learning infrastructure and make thousands of training content available to their employees. Through this platform, the myskillcamp aims to offer companies the opportunity to create, animate, and manage all their training actions from one place.

“The experience and network that these two funds have developed in the world of HR and the world of startups will be assets to help us manage increasingly rapid growth” continues Kevin Tillier. “During the Covid-19 crisis, we have seen a sharp increase in the number of users on the platform and an acceleration of our sales cycles. The new features we are about to launch will further reinforce this trend, as they meet the needs of our customers. This fundraising, therefore, comes at a pivotal moment in our evolution”.

The scaleup recently launched new features aimed at both training managers and employees themselves. Through AI, the platform will now integrate recommendations tailored to the skills and profession of each individual. 

This will make it much easier for HR to guide each employee towards the content and training that will help them advance their career, and for each employee to find their way easily through the content on offer.

Skillcard – To manage training budgets

On the other hand, myskillcamp is working on ‘Skillcard’, its second service in the initial phase to effectively manage training budgets while giving their employees quick and easy access to the training they need.

“The Skillcard is a virtual or physical payment card that a company can distribute to its employees. The aim is to enable them to choose and book the training they need from the training catalogue selected by the company or directly from the myskillcamp marketplace,” explains Kevin Tillier.

How Skillcard benefit HR and employees?

With the Skillcard, the HR department can set a budget on a ‘case-by-case’ or ‘learner-by learner’ basis, then let them choose the training they need. This is also an advantage for workers as they can quickly access and pay for the courses they need with their Skillcard, without waiting for administrative approval. All the HR department has to do is approve the payment. Notably, it has centralised invoicing and a constantly updated overview of the training courses taken in the company.

myskillcamp is continuing to expand its online catalogue to strengthen its local offer and business content. “Finding specific business content in the language of learners is one of the major challenges facing companies today. We are therefore going to continue our work of selecting new partners to integrate local or national training organisations ready to digitise the training they currently provide in face-to-face sessions”

Expanding internationally

With operations already in France and Belgium, myskillcamp is planning to capture the Netherlands, Germany, and the United Kingdom. As a result, the company is planning to hire around 30 people over the next 15 months. 

“There will then be around 50 of us, with an international culture and even more dynamism” concludes Kevin Tillier. “myskillcamp has all the necessary assets to continue its international development. The skillcard, in particular, should be of particular interest to international companies.”

Main image credits: myskillcamp

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Startups – Silicon Canals

Belgian startup Ampacimon raises €4 million for its power grid monitoring tech

Belgian startup Ampacimon, whose sensor technology is making power grids more flexible and efficient, has closed a €4 million investment round, with Korys acting as lead investor. Existing shareholders Gesval, Creos, and Noshaq also participated. 

Founded in 2010, Ampacimon offers monitoring solutions for power grids. Using research carried out since 2003 at the University of Liège, Ampacimon monitors the capacity of high-voltage lines in real time, by equipping them with autonomous and communicating sensors. Software applications then enable customers to monitor in real time and forecast the use of their electricity networks. 

Since 2015, the company has been promoting its “Dynamic Line Rating” (DLR) solution to widen its footprint in more countries and with new grid operators. Ampacimon has also been awarded contracts with most of the major utility companies worldwide, including Tennet (Netherlands) in Europe, Tepco (in Japan), HydroQuebec, APS and NYPA in North America, MSETCL in India, ENEL and ISA in South America, joining Elia (Belgium) and RTE (France) as first customers. As such, Ampacimon has the largest installed base of DLR systems in the world.

Five years later, this new capital increase will enable Ampacimon to further accelerate its growth through innovative projects to develop new monitoring solutions, in particular for distribution networks. To do this, Ampacimon continues to invest in numerous research projects in order to diversify its applications. Additionally, the company is also considering acquisition opportunities.

“Ampacimon fits perfectly in the investment strategy of Korys and we are impressed by their growth”, says Brieuc de Hults (Investment Director at Korys). “Besides our investments in renewable energies, we also want to support their integration in the energy network and as such participate in the energy transition. Renewable energy sources produce electricity intermittently and this means networks need to be more and more flexible and monitored in real time. The capacity of grids will also need to be increased, which will require significant investments. However, grids are often under-utilised for safety reasons. Ampacimon is able to increase their capacity (grid utilisation) without major investments yet just by gathering more accurate data on grid utilisation and the condition of lines in real time.”

Gaëtan Servais (CEO of Noshaq) is delighted as well with Noshaq’s return to the capital of Ampacimon: “The area covered by Ampacimon is related to 2 of Noshaq’s 7 strategic sectors so it was important for us to be a partner in this capital increase. It shows our involvement in the energy transition and energy efficiency, leaning on digital and 4.0 technologies.”


Belgian electric bike startup Cowboy raises €23M

At a time when the bike sales are booming as people all over the world want to save the environment as well as stop wasting the available space to park their car, several smart e-bike startups have mushroomed with permanent solutions. Eventually, city dwellers are opting to choose e-bikes as their primary means of commute and this is bringing about a transformation in urban mobility.

Massive demand for Cowboy 3

Last month, Brussels-based smart e-bike startup Cowboy came up with the new Cowboy 3 model. It met with a massive demand, thanks to the well-designed bike with innovative technologies. The latest offering from the startup has garnered a great recognition as it comes with a removable battery, which is integrated into the frame.

Also, it features an intuitive automatic transmission. The other notable aspects of the Cowboy 3 include a carbon fibre belt, Theft Alert, Auto Unlock, and Crash Detection among others that offers riders a connected experience throughout their ride.

Secures €23M funding!

In a recent development, Cowboy has announced the completion of its Series B funding round with €23 million investment led by Exor Seeds, the early-stage investment arm of Exor, the controlling shareholder of FCA and Ferrari, Isomer Capital, and HCVC along with others such as Future Positive Capital and Index Ventures known to support entrepreneurship and impact innovation.

Picture credits: Cowboy

With this investment, the smart electric mobility startup will be able to focus on the expansion of its global team, retail and service footprint and product offering. The company will deliver on its vision and transition from cars to bikes within cities. Also, Cowboy plans to hire over 30 new employees in the next six months, expand its footprint across Europe, and scale operations.

Adrien Roose, Co-Founder & CEO shared, “We’re thrilled about this raise. It was important that we attract such a diverse group of world-class investors with a track record in supporting excellence in design and technology as we become the one-stop-shop in urban mobility. What has always set us apart is our focus on design, hardware and software development, and a complete service offering, appealing to an audience that may not have considered an e-bike before. With these funds we will continue to grow our team, our product, and our retail and service footprint across Europe.”

He continued, “The last three years have seen Cowboy go from an idea of reimagining the electric bike to become a desired brand with a devoted community within the mobility space. We’ve stayed true to our initial vision of providing a better alternative to the car—a shift we will now accelerate and lead.”

Noam Ohana, who heads Exor Seeds commented, “We’re excited to partner with Cowboy in their mission to bring sustainable transportation to our city streets with beautifully-designed, customer-centric e-bikes. We are witnessing an urban transformation as more bike lanes and other environmentally-forward policies open up our cities to alternative forms of mobility, in which we believe Cowboy will play a key part.”

Sofia Hmich of Future Positive Capital looked specifically at the potential for impact Cowboy can have on cities and mobility. “The time for Cowboy is now,” Sofia shared. “More than a bike, they’re providing a convenient, efficient, and healthy way of life. We’re proud to support them, especially in the development of new sustainability initiatives.”

Chris Wade of Isomer Capital concluded, “Co-investing with our portfolio Venture Capital Funds, in this case HCVC, into their most-promising companies is a core part of our strategy. We have been following Adrien and Cowboy for some time, and the traction and ambition of the company to be the definitive choice for the modern city dweller is world class.”

No signs of slowing down

Even during the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, Cowboy ridership hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. Cowboy riders have cycled longer durations and further distances during and after the lockdown in Europe. The average speed has been 15.2 kmph, which outshines that of cars in many major cities in addition to eliminating the CO2 emissions.

Founded in 2017 by Adrien Roose, Karim Slaoui, and Tanguy Goretti, Cowboy has already made progress in sustainability as it looks to grow as an impact business, aligning profit with city and civic impact. These measures include returning bike assembly to Europe, automating many aspects of production, and developing a circular initiative.

Main image picture credits: Cowboy

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This Belgian MaaS startup secures €7M funding to fuel expansion into European markets

Brussels-based Skipr is a MaaS startup, which enables companies to provide their employees with the future of mobility. It provides smart mobility services by combining public transport with both local and international mobility services. In a recent move, this mobility startup has secured €7 million Series A funding, which is a big one for the MaaS or micro-mobility industry in Europe.

Skipr secures investment to scale up expansion

The investment raised by Skipr is led by Belgian bank Belfius alongside existing investor Lab Box, which is a startup studio of automobile distributor D’Ieteren. The micro-mobility startup is all set to use this investment to develop its B2B MaaS offering in Belgium and scaleup the expansion into other European markets. Initially, it will expand into France and the other markets will follow suit. The portfolio of Skipr will be expanded and additional investments will enable continuous improvement of user experience.

“We have the right product at the right time”, said Mathieu de Lophem, co-founder and CEO of Skipr. “Whilst B2C MaaS players are often still looking for a business model, our B2B solution has been generating revenue from day one and perfectly fits the current changing legal frameworks in Europe. Mobility as a Service has become an indispensable part of the road to sustainable mobility. With Skipr, we offer an optimal solution and empower corporations and employees to create their own mobility mix, based on their ever-changing needs. This funding allows us to take the next big step and become a MaaS player to be reckoned with on an international scale.”

What does Skipr do?

Founded by Mathieu de Lophem in 2018, Skipr helps companies change their vision towards mobility by providing them and their employees’ digital access to the complete mobility spectrum in a bid to simplify their daily trips. The micro-mobility solution offered by the Belgian startup comprises of three key services such as an app, a web dashboard, and a payment card. With this solution, they can create a one-stop-shop to plan, book, manage, and pay professional mobility.

What’s interesting is that Skipr’s solution can be used to access micro-mobility service providers including Dott, Bird, Uber, and all local public transport services. Its in-house inter-modal routing algorithm provides clients with a door-to-door mobility experience. Notably, Skipr is the only MaaS player to integrate completely with Bird. It blends the various modes of transport, weather, and other factors.

Major role during COVID-19 crisis

Currently, the company policies and mobility legislation are changing due to the high demand for flexibility and diversity in the mobility industry. These changes are meant to alleviate the stress on road networks. Eventually, companies across the world are rethinking their travel habits, thereby paving the way for new solutions. During the COVID-19 crisis, the demand for the micro-mobility services has increased and Skipr has the right solution that lets users adapt smart mobility.

Main image picture credits: Skipr

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ServiceNow to acquire Belgian configuration management startup Sweagle

With more companies moving workers home, making sure your systems are up and running has become more important than ever. ServiceNow, which includes an IT Help Desk component in its product catalogue recognizes that help desks have been bombarded during the pandemic. To help stop configuration problems before they start, the company acquired Sweagle today, a  configuration management startup based in Belgium.

The companies did not share the purchase price.

ServiceNow gets a couple of boosts in the deal. First of all, it gets the startup’s configuration management products, which it can incorporate into its own catalogue, but it also gains the machine learning and DevOps knowledge of the company’s employees. (The company would not share the exact number of employees, but Pitchbook pegs it at 15.)

RJ Jainendra, ServiceNow’s vice president and general manager of DevOps and IT Business Management, sees a company that has pioneered the IT configuration management automation space, and brings with it capabilities that can boost ServiceNow’s offerings. “With capabilities for configuration data management from Sweagle, we will empower DevOps teams to deliver application and infrastructure changes more rapidly while reducing risk,” Jainendra said in a statement.

ServiceNow claims that there can be as many as 50,000 different configuration elements in a single enterprise application. Sweagle has designed a configuration data management platform with machine learning underpinnings to help customers simplify and automate that complexity. Configuration errors can cause shutdowns, security issues and other serious problems for companies.

Sweagle was founded in 2017 and raised $ 4.05 million on a post valuation of $ 11.88 million, according to Pitchbook data.

The company is part of a growing pattern of early stage startups being sucked up by larger companies during the pandemic including VMware acquiring Ocatarine and Atlassian buying Halp in May and NetApp snagging Spot earlier this month..

This is the third acquisition for ServiceNow this year, all involving AI underpinnings. In January it bought Loom Systems and Passsage AI. The deal is expected to close in Q3 this year, according to ServiceNow.

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