As pandemic drags on, interest in automation surges

Today, the U.S. exceeded three million COVID-19 cases and 132,000 deaths. In several states, new hotspots have rolled back plans to reopen businesses. The novel coronavirus has — and will continue — to profoundly impact the way we live and work.

For the moment, that includes a shift in the employment status of many Americans. More than 50 million people have filed for unemployment since mid-March. And while many states have made efforts to reopen businesses and return some sense of normality, these moves have led to a spike in cases and may prolong the pandemic and its ongoing economic impact.

Technology has been a lifeline for many, from food delivery to the 3D printing I highlighted last week, which has worked to address a nation suffering from personal protective equipment shortages. Automation and robotics have also been a constant in conversations around tech’s battle against COVID-19.

Robots don’t get sick, tired or emotionally burnt out, and unlike us, they aren’t walking, talking disease vectors. Automation advocates like to point to the “three Ds” of dull, dirty and dangerous jobs that will eventually be replaced by a robotic workforce, but in the age of COVID-19, nearly any essential job qualifies.

The robotic invasion has already begun in earnest. The service, delivery, health care and sanitation industries in particular have all opened a massive gap over the past several months that automation has been more than happy to roll right through. A recent report from The Brookings Institute notes that automation arrives in the workforce in fits and starts — most notably, during times of economic downturn.

“Robots’ infiltration of the workforce doesn’t occur at a steady, gradual pace. Instead, automation happens in bursts, concentrated especially in bad times such as in the wake of economic shocks, when humans become relatively more expensive as firms’ revenues rapidly decline,” the study found. “At these moments, employers shed less-skilled workers and replace them with technology and higher-skilled workers, which increases labor productivity as a recession tapers off.”

Startups – TechCrunch

Educators Summit: Lessons from Teaching in the Pandemic

SAVE THE DATE for the Lean Innovation Educators Summit:
Lessons from Teaching in the Pandemic
July 24, 10-noon Pacific, 1-3pm Eastern, 6-8pm London

As educators the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us all.

We’ve faced the challenges of teaching remotely, while virtually managing students scattered across the world, keeping students enthusiastic and engaged via video, helping them conduct customer discovery when they can’t get out of the building, and rolling with uncertain teaching schedules now and in the future. We’ve all been making it up as we go and have begun to see a glimmer of patterns of what’s worked and what hasn’t. 

Since the Pandemic we’ve taught three classes remotely – Hacking for Defense, Hacking for Oceans and our first of three Hacking for Recovery classes. I know I’ve learned a ton – some surprisingly good and some just surprisingly.

But more importantly there are hundreds of educators who have also learned valuable lessons. If you’ve learned something you’d like to share, or would like to hear how others are modifying their pedagogical approaches for the pandemic, you’re invited to join us virtually and collectively in this two-hour on-line session (with an additional one hour of breakout sessions for follow-up discussions on topics of interest.)

Some of the topics we’ll cover include:

  • Converting and scaling existing programs and classes
  • Standing up new programs from scratch
  • Improving diversity and inclusion in tech innovation education
  • Addressing K-12 opportunities
We invite you to submit your own instructional innovations for a virtual poster session. We will also be having subgroup discussions to engage in active give and take.

So save the date for the Lean Innovation Educators Summit on July 24th, 2020.

This session is free to all, but limited to Innovation educators. You can register for the event here and/or learn more on our website. We look forward to gathering as a community of educators to shape the future of Lean Innovation Education in the COVID-19 era. 

Steve Blank

In pandemic era, entrepreneurs turn to SPACs, crowdfunding and direct listings

If necessity is the mother of invention, then new business owners are getting very inventive in the ways in which they access cash. Relying on some long-tested and some new avenues to raise money, entrepreneurs are finding more ways to get public market cash faster than they would have in the past.

Whether it’s from Reg A crowdfunding dollars, Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs) or direct listings, these somewhat arcane and specialized financing vehicles are making a comeback alongside a rise in new funding mechanisms to get to market quickly and avoid the dilution that comes from private market rounds (especially since those rounds are likely to come at a reduced valuation given market conditions).

Some of these tools have existed for a while and are newly popular in an era where retail investors are driving much of the daily fluctuations of the public markets. Wall Street institutions are largely maintaining their conservative postures with regard to new offerings, so secondary market retail volume growth is outpacing institutional. Retail investors want into these new issues and are pouring into the markets, contributing to huge pops to new public offerings for companies like Lemonade this Thursday and creating an environment where SPACs and crowdfunding campaigns can flourish.

The rise of zero-commission brokerages and the popularization of fractional trading led by the startup Robinhood and adopted by every one of the major online brokers including Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, E-Trade and Interactive Brokers has created a stock market boom that defies the underlying market conditions in the U.S. and globally. For instance, daily trades on Robinhood are up 300% year-over-year as of March 2020.

According to data from the BATS exchange, the total trade count in the U.S. was up 71% and May trading was up more than 43% over 2019. Meanwhile, E-Trade daily average revenue trades posted a 244% increase in May over last year’s numbers.

Don’t call it a comeback

The appetite for new issues is growing and if many of the largest venture-backed companies are holding off on going public, smaller names are using SPACs to access public capital and reach these new investors.

Startups – TechCrunch

In the News: Join leading medical & business experts for June 22 pandemic innovation conference

Speakers announced for the upcoming OurCrowd Pandemic Innovation Conference on Monday, June 22; to name a few:

  • Dr. Paul Rothman, CEO, Johns Hopkins Medicine
  • Professor Joseph M. Jacobson, Head, MIT Molecular Machines Research Group
  • Dr. Ruth Atherton, Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Sigal Kremer-Tal, MD, Chief Clinical and Regulatory Officer, MigVax (leading vaccine startup)

See more featured speakers, plus agenda preview. The online conference will explore the latest technological solutions to the coronavirus crisis, including vaccination, treatment, diagnostics and prevention of the disease. The sessions will also cover non-healthcare innovations addressing the changing nature of work and life brought about by the ‘Pandemic Pivot’ occurring in the global economy. 

Top Tech News

Insurtech leader Lemonade files for an IPO in New York, targeting $ 100 million.

More great news from leading Israeli coronavirus vaccine developer MigVaxwelcome to the Board of Directors, Eyal Desheh (previously CFO of leading Israeli companies Check Point and Teva Pharmaceuticals).

MagniLEARN, another emerging star from Labs/02: The Israeli method that could teach China to speak English. 

Shouldn’t there be better tools and technology today to know what treatments will work on what patients and what will not? Read about CytoReason, a platform based on a machine learning model to build a molecular level understanding of tissues in diseases on the cellular level.

Superpedestrian is launching a shared e-scooter service called Link.

Watch the latest from OurCrowd

In February 2020, Dr. Gilly Regev presented the OurCrowd Global Investor Summit with her lab results showing that nitric oxide completely kills different types of influenza within minutes – with the idea that it could potentially do the same for COVID-19. Weeks later, we found ourselves facing a full-blown global coronavirus pandemic, and now, Dr. Regev’s team at SaNOtize is conducting Phase II clinical trials across Canada to get their coronavirus therapeutic proven, approved and ready for frontline medical workers and beyond.

See Dr. Regev on Monday, June 22, on the virtual stage at the OurCrowd Pandemic Innovation Conference. Register now.

Gilly Sanotize.


Looking to connect

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, there are open positions at our global portfolio companies. See some opportunities below:

Search and filter through OurTalent to find your next challenge.

The post In the News: Join leading medical & business experts for June 22 pandemic innovation conference appeared first on OurCrowd.


FEATURE: Powerless in a pandemic: Solar energy prescribed for off-grid healthcare –

FEATURE: Powerless in a pandemic: Solar energy prescribed for off-grid healthcare
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

5 Startup Tech Trends to Watch During the Pandemic

Venture capital is a long game. Startups take many years to mature before venture capitalists can get a return on their investment. While you may think that VC investment is down during the economic downturn, this is only true in the short term, primarily because VCs are concerned with how their existing portfolio companies will make it through the crisis.

So, what trends will VCs be looking for, and what will they be avoiding in the coming months and years?

Some trends are obvious. The “sharing economy,” which powered companies like Uber and Airbnb and fueled quite a bit of venture investment and excitement in the last decade, seems to have reached its apex and is no longer in favor. And the likes of Zoom and remote conferencing has experienced a not-so-temporary boom during this crisis that is likely to continue long afterward.

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While predicting the future is never easy, here are a few tech trends that I believe will keep venture capitalists very busy in the months and years ahead as we emerge from this crisis.

Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (XR)

Virtual reality was already making a comeback well before the coronavirus hit. As opposed to older headsets which required a PC or a smartphone to connect to use, stand-alone headsets such as the Oculus Quest were driving this resurgence. Another factor driving this resurgence is that companies were recognizing VR as a much better way to train employees.

People working at home during the pandemic has resulted in a resurgence of interest in VR content and VR startups. I predict this will drive more investors to look at ways to leverage VR headsets to do everything from watching movies to working and socializing.

For example, VirZoom is a VR company that lets you use exercise bikes at home and feel like you are in a virtual environment, racing against friends who are at home. Additionally, products that can be used to hold VR conferences are suddenly very popular, as more physical conferences continue to be cancelled, including concerts and other gatherings.

Consumer robots and autonomous delivery

It has been over 10 years since Google started its autonomous vehicle project (now called Waymo). GM and other car companies have made significant investments in the space and Tesla has been working on its own self-driving algorithms for some time.

However, with the decline of ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft due to the virus, I believe there will be a second wave of autonomous companies funded, especially those that are self-cleaning and can navigate to people’s houses without needing drivers.

While many delivery services like DoorDash and UberEats now promise “contactless” delivery, automated robots that drive and deliver to your home will still be preferred over these contactless services. Amazon has been making noise about drone-based package delivery, though right now the biggest hurdles are more regulatory.

While we still haven’t seen anything like Rosie, the robot housecleaner from the Jetsons, a new wave of consumer robots and autonomous delivery startups funded over the next few years might just get us there!

Related: Startup Myth: Is it Better to Be First to Market or Not?

Next generation conferencing and remote working

While Zoom usage has soared (as have competitors like GoToMeeting and WebEx) while everyone works from home, many tech companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter will allow workers to continue working at home for many months or in some cases, forever. This will require more tools than just Slack and Zoom, and many startups will be founded in order to provide next generation meeting and remote working services.

This technology could go well beyond virtual meetings to include conferences and other types of events. There are also companies like RemoteHQ that allow remote workers to feel like they are in the same office. With shared versions of apps like browsers, whiteboards and more, they are likely just the first of many startups that will make a mark in the remote working space.

One aspect of working remotely that deserves its own callout is cybersecurity. While many tech companies are used to collaborating with off-shore offices, remote work introduces a whole new level of security problems for IT departments.

Enterprise SaaS 

These models became the dominant form of software after the last downturn. One benefit for investors and software companies was that although it took longer for a SaaS company to build up its revenue, the recurring nature of the transaction made the revenue and cash flow much more predictable and annualized recurring revenue became the preferred way to measure software companies’ performance.

Any company whose revenue is not subscription-based is likely seeing many sales decisions and budgets put off, with revenue swinging wildly during this crisis. SaaS companies that have already worked their way into enterprises and have a low churn rate are likely to become even more popular.

As a result, I think that more VCs will start to look for enterprise SaaS models rather than funding the next consumer app or social media platform.

Video games

Games have proven to be recession-proof, and revenue has not been hit significantly during this downturn.

With the introduction of new casual gaming platforms and companies like Zynga, ngmoco (sold to GREE for $ 400 million), King (makers of Candy Crush, now sold to Activision), Niantic (makers of Pokemon Go) and many others, incredible returns were made by VCs over the first part of the last decade.

Eventually, the industry matured and costs went up once again and only a small number of VCs still invest in gaming. However, I predict that as new platforms rise for casual gaming during and after this downturn, mainstream VCs will look at gaming again because of its recession-proof nature.

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Historically, the period just after a downturn, while being a tough one for entrepreneurs, has often produced many great companies. Professional investors recognize this and while they are busy shoring up their existing portfolio companies during the downturn, most VCs I know are also keeping a lookout for new investments.

These are of course, just some of the trends that I think will interest venture capitalists and strategic investors during and after the pandemic. Sometimes, a downturn is the mother of necessity that creates entirely new industries. Venture capitalists in Silicon Valley and beyond are already looking for next wave of entrepreneurs to fund.

The post 5 Startup Tech Trends to Watch During the Pandemic appeared first on StartupNation.