The Life Science venture fund Eir Ventures today announced a first closing of its new fund of €76 million. With a strong base in the Nordic region and a team of experienced life science investors, Eir Ventures will invest in innovative European companies with products and technologies addressing significant unmet medical need and a potential to improve the life of patients. The fund is launched with support from a investor syndicate comprising Saminvest, the European Investment Fund (EIF), Vækstfonden, Novo Holdings, as well as additional private investors.
Eir Ventures has been set up by an experienced team of life science investors, including Magnus Persson, Stephan Christgau, Andreas Segerros as the Managing Partners, and Amanda Hayward as Special Partner. With offices in Stockholm and Copenhagen, Eir Ventures will invest in high return potential opportunities in the Nordics, Europe and the US. The fund will have a particular focus on innovations from the leading universities and incubators in the Nordics and has established collaborations with select Nordic Universities.
Magnus Persson, Managing Partner of Eir Ventures, commented: “In the current environment, where financing has become even more sparse and startups are struggling to fund development, healthcare innovation is more important than ever. We see great potential to bring some of the highly innovative treatments to patients with underserved medical needs, while also bringing outstanding returns to our investors.”
Edinburgh-based Machine Labs has today raised an additional seed funding round of €1.12 million led by Techstart Ventures alongside the founders, the angel investors Bill Dobbie and Richard Freedman, and the British Business Bank. An additional €112K was provided in the form of grant funding by Amazon and Scottish Enterprise.
Founded in 2018, the Scottish startup Machine Labs is an automated ecommerce marketing platform that harnesses data science to improve email communications, develop quality customer relationships and exponentially boost sales. The Machine Labs SaaS solution for marketing automation also enables you to create dynamic segmented groups by industry type.
Andrew Veitch, the founder and CEO of Machine Labs stated: “We’ve had a great first year with over 300 e-commerce stores from 23 different countries choosing Machine Labs to increase their sales. Right now, we work exclusively with Shopify who power over 1 million web shops around the world, of which 80,000 are in the UK. We are planning to add other e-commerce platforms next year.”
For many startups Covid-19 caused disruption to funding rounds and forced the cancellation of several critical business meetings. On the other hand the public health and safety measures resulted in an increase of 57% in usage of Shopify as high street shops were forced to switch to e-commerce.
Andrew Veitch added: “This was far from the ideal time to be raising money. Fortunately, we had made enough progress in the critical US market, which accounts for most of our customers, to get the support from investors for our next step. I’m hugely grateful to everyone who wrote a cheque at this difficult time, and I’m excited about where we will be in 2021.”
In total, the young company has now raised over €2.23 million, following the original seed funding round at the end of June 2019.
The idea management software and services firm Wazoku today announced a new funding round of €1.4 million, led by Calculus Capital and supported by other shareholders and members of the Wazoku management team. Also, Wazoku is continuing its expansion with the acquisition of US open innovation firm InnoCentive‘s assets. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed yet.
The idea behind this acquisition is to create the world’s most comprehensive and powerful innovation platform and community. Following a partnership earlier in 2020, it quickly became clear that the combination of platform and network had great value to innovation-focused businesses. Wazoku was founded in 2011 and is headquartered in London.
Simon Hill, the Wazoku CEO commented: “Adding such a remarkable and proven external crowd to our existing platform means that no other organisation in the world has our reach and experience when it comes to open innovation, crowdsourcing and idea management. This is a significant step for Wazoku – further funding and a strategic acquisition mean we are better positioned than ever and have a strong and established US presence. Workplaces are becoming inherently open and collaborative and we can offer the tools, services and collective expertise to help global businesses of all sizes solve problems and create opportunities.”
InnoCentive has grown a global network of almost 500,000 expert problem “solvers” comprising CEOs, PhD students, engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, retired technologists and business leaders. This combined brainpower has helped address thousands of the world’s most complex innovation and bid data challenges, for organisations such as AstraZeneca, NASA and Enel. According to InnoCentive they have a 75% success rate in solving such challenges.
Wazoku now probably provides the world’s biggest innovation community and broadest innovation offering. It allows the crowdsourcing of solutions to any pressing business challenge, all supported by the features and functionality already found in the Wazoku platform, Idea Spotlight.
Wazoku’s latest investment round brings the total amount raised to €8.21 million and recognises the increasing demand for innovation in business. Covid-19 saw both an increase in business and a change in the way in which organisations were using Wazoku, with the quarter during lockdown (April-Jun 2020) Wazoku’s best ever from a new business perspective and overall platform activity level.
LA-based bio science startup Kernel has raised $ 53 million from investors, including General Catalyst, Khosla Ventures, Eldridge, Manta Ray Ventures, Tiny Blue Dot and more. The funding is the first outside money that Kernel has taken in, though it’s a Series C round because founder and CEO Bryan Johnson has provided $ 54 million in investment for Kernel to date. Johnson also participated in this latest round alongside external investors.
The funding will go toward further scaling “on-demand” access to its non-invasive technology for recording brain activity, which consists of two main approaches. Kernel has distinguished these as two separate products: Flux, which detects magnetic fields created by the collective activity of neutrons in the brain; and Flow, which measures blood through the brain. These are both key signals that researchers and medical practitioners monitor when working with the brain, but typically they require use of invasive, expensive hardware — or even brain surgery.
Kernel’s goal is to make this much more broadly available, offering access via a “Neuroscience as a Service” (NaaS) model that can provide paying clients access to its brain imaging devices even remotely. Earlier this year, Kernel announced that this platform was available generally to commercial customers.
The technology sounds like sci-fi — but it’s really an attempt to take what has been a relatively closed and prohibitively costly, expert and potentially dangerous-to-its-subjects tech, and make it available as an on-demand capability — in much the same way that many human genome companies have emerged to take advantage of the advances in the speed and availability of human genome sequencing to do the same, for the business and research community.
Johnson’s ambitious long-term goal with the company is to ultimately develop a much deeper understanding in the field of neuroscience.
“If we can quantify thoughts and emotions, conscious and subconscious, a new era of understanding, wellness, and human improvement will emerge,” Johnson writes in a press release.
It’s true that the brain’s inner workings are still largely a mystery to most researchers, especially in terms of how they translate to our cognition, feelings and actions. Kernel’s platform could mean significantly more people studying the science behind the operation of the brain, and provide explanations for areas of neuroscience that still aren’t well understood, just by virtue of making it more accessible to more intelligent people from more disciplines and backgrounds.
Singaporeans have a growing appetite for plant-based meat substitutes. In fact, demand for products from companies like Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and Quorn have grown during the pandemic, partly because consumers are making more health-conscious decisions, according to the Straits Time. Now there is a new entrant to the market. Headquartered in Singapore, Karana announced today it has raised $ 1.7 million in seed funding and plans to launch its first product, a pork substitute made from jackfruit, this year.
Karana’s seed investors include Henry Soesanto, the CEO of Monde Nissin Group, which acquired Quorn Foods in 2015; agtech investment firms Big Idea Ventures and Germi8; and angel investors Kevin Poon and Gerald Li, both Hong Kong entrepreneurs with experience in the food and beverage industry. Karana said the round also included participation from an undisclosed leading Asia-based FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) distributor.
Karana’s jackfruit is sourced from Sri Lanka, where jackfruit is already a common meat substitute. What Karana’s processing method does is create a texture that replicates minced and shredded pork more closely, making it easier to use in dishes like dumplings, char siu bao or bahn mi.
Founded in 2018 by Dan Riegler and Blair Crichton, Karana turns organic jackfruit into a pork substitute by using a proprietary mechanical technique that the company says does not use any chemical processing. Its pork substitute will be available in restaurants this year, before arriving in retail stores at the beginning of next year.
Riegler and Crichton told TechCrunch in an email that Karana uses jackfruit because it not only has a “naturally meaty texture,” but is an environmentally-friendly crop. It is usually grown intercropped (or with other produce, in the same field), has a high yield and low water usage. But about 60% of jackfruit harvested currently goes to waste, they added. “There is a lot of room for further commercialization, which means additional income streams for farmers.”
Karana’s founders started with pork because it is the most frequently consumed meat in Asia. Its seed funding will be used on research and development to launch new products and the company currently talking to strategic partners in other Asian markets. Future Karana products will use other crops grown in Asia to create new meat substitutes.
“Karana is a whole-plant meat company, our focus is on leveraging what nature has given us and enhancing these amazing biodiverse ingredients to create delicious products. In the future, we will launch products using other regional ingredients that will enable us to expand beyond pork,” the founders said. “This is a real differentiator from other companies that are by-and-large relying on commodity crops in processed forms.”
Today Traplight, the Finnish mobile games studio focused on highly accessible mid-core games, announces the global launch of its new mobile gaming title Battle Legion alongside an €8 million funding round. Lead investor in the round is the EQT Ventures fund, with participation from Play Ventures and existing investors Initial Capital and Heartcore Capital. The funding will be used to double down on Battle Legion, which merges qualities from both mid-core and casual titles and has already secured high engagement metrics and a positive community response.
Traplight was founded in 2010 by Sami Kalliokoski, Jari Paananen and Riku Rakkola, who have more than 40 years of game development experience between them. Following the success of Big Bang Racing, which was named Best of AppStore 2016, Traplight’s 30-strong team has focused on the development of Battle Legion. The mass battle multiplayer spectator game has deep strategy elements and AI-controlled troops do all the fighting. Players can build their dream army from dozens of versatile fighters, customize everything and discover an expanding collection of skins, battlefields, portraits, banners and titles.
Lars Jörnow, Partner and Investment Advisor at EQT Ventures, said: “Many of today’s top-grossing mobile games have been produced by Nordic gaming studios and the Traplight team is set to continue this rich heritage. Industry veterans Sami, Jari and Riku are a strong founding team who have surrounded themselves with some top mobile gaming talent. The EQT Ventures team believes the Traplight team has the ambition and ability to build the next global gaming success story and we’re looking forward to supporting them on this journey.”
“We’ve learnt a huge amount in the past two years through active testing of different game ideas, building prototypes with small teams, and improving our production processes,” said Riku Rakkola, co-founder and CEO at Traplight. “We now have a game with huge potential and are proud to be partnering with EQT Ventures, Europe’s tier-1 mobile gaming investor. Lars and the team’s extensive mobile gaming experience will be invaluable as we set out to turn our vision of becoming one of the world’s chart-topping games into a reality.”