Europe is bouncing back to normalcy as the lockdown imposed due to COVID-19 is gradually easing a bit. In an attempt to revive the lost economy, the tech startups and other businesses are kicking back to normal and are striving hard to go back to the pre-COVID era. As a result, several tech startups in Europe have made headlines in recent times. Some have launched new products and services and some others have received funding to expand their business and take the same to the next level. Here is a roundup of what happened this week in the European tech startup arena brought to you by Silicon Canals, your most authentic source of European tech news with an edge.
Dutch leading fintech gets funding from prominent Dutch VC
Dutch fintech startup Floryn, formerly known as InvoiceFinance, got €9 million from Endeit Capital recently, also supported by existing shareholders Peak Capital. The Dutch startup, based in Den Bosch, finances loans of up to €2 million for small and medium-sized companies. Floryn will use part of the investment to recruit additional staff for product development. The rest of the amount will be used to fuel its national, and international expansion as demand for business loans in Europe has witnessed a surge of 98%.
Founded in 2016 by Sven van der Biezen (CEO), Marijn van Aerle (CTO) and Gion van den Bogaert (CFRO), the Netherlands-based company has raised €6 million in equity in 2017 from Peak Capital (known for Catawiki and OneFit) and Kalo Bagijn, co-founder of BinckBank and Brand New Day. In 2019, €60 million in financing was provided by NIBC and private investors, and currently, the company employs around 50 people.
London-based AI startup secures funding to tackle growing waste crisis
London-based Greyparrot that uses computer vision AI to scale efficient processing of recycling has secured £1.825 million (nearly €2.03 million) seed funding led by early-stage industrial tech investor Speedinvest along with participation from UK-based early-stage B2B investor, Force Over Mass.
The UK startup has trained a slew of machine learning models to identify various types of waste including glass, paper, newspaper, cardboard, cans and several types of plastic. This makes sorting recycling process more efficient and it applies automation and digitisation to the waste management industry. Greyparrot will use the fresh investment to further develop its product and expand into the global markets.
Claris launches its first open platform for developers
SumUp expands e-commerce product lineup to support businesses
UK-based payments service SumUp has launched an online payment tool to help businesses adapt to the social distancing norms. The latest solution of SumUp is a part of the company’s ongoing push into the online retail industry as a part of its drive to provide a complete toolkit for merchants. With this new addition lets merchants showcase their products remotely enabling the making of taking of all payments for their businesses. The SumUp online store is a SaaS product and comes with a subscription pricing and multi-tiered model. It also lets SMEs quickly set up and design their own online stores sans any previous knowledge of web design or technology.
Cloud-based voice platform gets funded
Paris-based Aircall, a cloud-based voice platform that helps businesses and teams to connect globally recently secured $ 65 million (nearly €58.6 million) Series C funding led by DTCP along with participation from new investors Adam Street and Swisscom along with existing UK-based existing investors Draper Esprit, Balderton Capital, eFounders, and NextWorld. This is the largest funding round secured by the French company till date taking its overall funding amount to $ 100 million (nearly €90.1 million). Aircall will use this investment to expand into new markets across the world, double its customer base in Europe, enhance its leading tech capabilities and hire 100 new staff by the end of this year.
Former Bird UK chief joins Voi
The UK government is all set to accelerate trials of e-scooter rentals to reduce crowding on public modes of transportation and adhere to social distancing norms. In this attempt, Sweden-based Voi Technology has hired Richard Corbett, the former head of e-scooter giant Bird UK to head its Ireland, Benelux, and UK operations. Corbett has helped the rival brand launch e-scooter rentals in the Netherlands. At Voi, Corbett will be responsible for leading the push into the UK market, where it expects to witness at least 50,000 rides per day in 2020 in London.
Stripe expands to five European countries
Europe has some of the largest and fastest-growing online economies in the world. This growth has been driven further by the accelerated shift towards online during the COVID-19 crisis. Adyen’s arch rival lets more European entrepreneurs and businesses accept payments online from anywhere in the world within a few minutes. Already, Stripe exists in 39 countries, of which 29 are in Europe. Now, the US fintech is coming to more European countries to make payment acceptance and money movement faster and simpler for everyone. With this expansion, online companies in Czech Republic, Romania, Cyprus, Malta, and Bulgaria can gain access to Stripe’s product stack to launch, operate and scale their business globally.
SaaS/enterprise tech VC firm increases investment
European SaaS/enterprise tech VC firm, Notion VC, has increased investment in new companies by 89% in the last 12 months. This way, it increases assets under management to $ 0.5 billion. Besides this, the VC firm also promoted Itxaso del Palacio to Partner. And, she will be responsible for B2B SaaS investments across Europe. Palacio is a part of Notion since 2018 and has led investments into Yulife, Mya, and Forest Admin. This promotion comes at a time when Notion secured £125 million fourth venture fund in October last year and its recent hires roping in industry veteran Andy Leaver joining the firm. Notion has invested in more than 60 B2B tech startups since its debut in 2009 including companies such as GoCardless, Dixa, Paddle, Mews, CurrencyCloud, Unbabel, and Tradeshift.
Digital dentistry platform from Berlin secures funding
PlusDental, a Berlin-based digital dentistry platform has secured €32 million Series C funding from international investors. The investment was led by Hong Kong-based Ping An Global Voyager Fund, which joins it as a new investor. The others that have invested in the healthtech company include Christian Wegner, the founder of Re-commerce platform Momox, Lakestar, and HV Holtzbrinck.
Specialising in digital dentistry and aesthetic orthodontic treatments with clear aligners,. PlusDental will use this fresh Investment to develop its proprietary digital dentistry platform and continue expansion of business in Germany and Europe.
MaaS Global teams up with Finnish fintech startup
Maas Global, a leading Mobility as a Service provider has teamed up with Enfuce, the largest fintech startup in Finland to launch a card payment offering in the former’s all-inclusive mobility app, Whim. This partnership lets MaaS Global issue Mastercard prepaid cards securely and expand its offering to new markets. Notably, MaaS Global revolutionises urban mobility by gathering all public and private transport services in convenient, travelling subscriptions. In partnership with Enfuce, MaaS Global accessed a flexible and fully scalable payment infrastructure solution. Enfuce’s close guidance will let MaaS Global offer Whim customers a reliable, efficient and most of all easy payment experience.
EZ Factory secures growth boost
EZ Factory, a supplier of mobile apps used in production environments has secured €720k growth boost. With this investment, the company is expected to break even by the end of this year. Notably, the Eindhoven-based tech startup, develops innovative and user-friendly apps to support operational teams in factories. These tools let them work more efficiently and improve the process continuously. They developed EZ-GO, a digital application that facilitates autonomous maintenance, work instructions, inspections, and audits. This makes factories safer and more
efficient, allows operators to suggest improvements, and makes results available in a real time
Main image picture credits: Floryn
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London-based Greyparrot, which uses computer vision AI to scale efficient processing of recycling, has bagged £1.825 million (~$ 2.2M) in seed funding, topping up the $ 1.2M in pre-seed funding it had raised previously. The latest round is led by early stage European industrial tech investor Speedinvest, with participation from UK-based early stage b2b investor, Force Over Mass.
The 2019 founded startup — and TechCrunch Disrupt SF battlefield alum — has trained a series of machine learning models to recognize different types of waste, such as glass, paper, cardboard, newspapers, cans and different types of plastics, in order to make sorting recycling more efficient, applying digitization and automation to the waste management industry.
Greyparrot points out that some 60% of the 2BN tonnes of solid waste produced globally each year ends up in open dumps and landfill, causing major environmental impact. While global recycling rates are just 14% — a consequence of inefficient recycling systems, rising labour costs, and strict quality requirements imposed on recycled material. Hence the major opportunity the team has lit on for applying waste recognition software to boost recycling efficiency, reduce impurities and support scalability.
By embedding their hardware agnostic software into industrial recycling processes Greyparrot says it can offer real-time analysis on all waste flows, thereby increasing efficiency while enabling a facility to provide quality guarantee to buyers, mitigating against risk.
Currently less than 1% of waste is monitored and audited, per the startup, given the expensive involved in doing those tasks manually. So this is an application of AI that’s not so much taking over a human job as doing something humans mostly don’t bother with, to the detriment of the environment and its resources.
Greyparrot’s first product is an Automated Waste Monitoring System which is currently deployed on moving conveyor belts in sorting facilities to measure large waste flows — automating the identification of different types of waste, as well as providing composition information and analytics to help facilities increase recycling rates.
It partnered with ACI, the largest recycling system integrator in South Korea, to work on early product-market fit. It says the new funding will be used to further develop its product and scale across global markets. It’s also collaborating with suppliers of next-gen systems such as smart bins and sorting robots to integrate its software.
“One of the key problems we are solving is the lack of data,” said Mikela Druckman, co-founder & CEO of Greyparrot in a statement. “We see increasing demand from consumers, brands, governments and waste managers for better insights to transition to a more circular economy. There is an urgent opportunity to optimise waste management with further digitisation and automation using deep learning.”
“Waste is not only a massive market — it builds up to a global crisis. With an increase in both world population and per capita consumption, waste management is critical to sustaining our way of living. Greyparrot’s solution has proven to bring down recycling costs and help plants recover more waste. Ultimately it unlocks the value of waste and creates a measurable impact for the environment,” added Marie-Hélène Ametsreiter, lead partner at Speedinvest Industry, in another statement.
Greyparrot is sitting pretty in another aspect — aligning with several strategic areas of focus for the European Union, which has made digitization of legacy industries, industrial data sharing, investment in AI, plus a green transition to a circular economy core planks of its policy plan for the next five+ years. Just yesterday the Commission announced a €750BN pan-EU support proposal to feed such transitions as part of a wider coronavirus recovery plan for the trading bloc.
Food waste and the pressures on the global food supply chain wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic have captured headlines around the world, and one small startup based in the coastal California city of Santa Barbara has just announced $ 250 million in financing to provide a solution.
The company is called Apeel Sciences, and over the past eight years it has grown from a humble startup launched with a $ 100,000 grant from the Gates Foundation to a giant, globe-spanning company worth more than $ 1 billion and attracting celebrity backers like Oprah Winfrey and Katy Perry, as well as large multi-national investors like Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund.
What’s drawn these financiers and the fabulously famous to invest is the technology that Apeel has developed, which promises to keep food fresh for longer periods on store shelves, which prevents waste and (somewhat counterintuitively) encourages shoppers to buy more vegetables.
At least, that’s the pitch that Apeel Sciences founder and chief executive James Rogers has been making for the last eight years. It has netted his company roughly $ 360 million in total financing and attracted investors like Upfront Ventures, S2G Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and Powerplant Ventures.
“The [food] system is taxed beyond its limit,” says Rogers. “We view our job at Apeel to build the food system and support the weight of a couple of more billion people on the planet.”
Rogers started working on the technology that would become the core of Apeel’s product while pursuing his doctorate at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The first-time entrepreneur’s epiphany came on the road from Lawrence Livermore Laboratory where he was working as an intern.
Driving past acres of California cropland, Rogers surmised that the problem with the food supply network that exists wasn’t necessarily the ability to produce enough food, it was that much of that food is spoiled and wasted between where it’s grown and where it needs to be distributed.
In the past, farmers had turned to pesticides to prevent disease and infestations that could kill crops, and preservative methods like single-use plastic packaging or chemical treatments that had the seeds of other environmental catastrophes.
“We’re out of shortcuts,” says Rogers. “Single-use plastic had its day and pesticides had their day.” For Rogers, it’s time for Apeel’s preservative technologies to have their day.
With all the new cash in Apeel’s coffers, Rogers said that the company would begin expanding its operations and working with the big farming companies and growers in Africa, Central America and South America. “To maintain 52 weeks of supply on shelves we need to have operations in the Northern and Southern hemispheres,” Rogers said.
For all of the company’s lofty goals, the company is working with a relatively limited range of produce — avocados, asparagus, lemons and limes. Still, the pitch — and Rogers’ vision — is much broader. “Let’s take what the orange knows and teach it to the cucumber so that it doesn’t have to be wrapped in plastic,” says Rogers. “When you reduce that waste there’s a ton of economic value that is unlocked.”
Right now, the way the business works is through convincing retailers about all that economic value that’s waiting to be unlocked.
In practice, once a company agrees to try out Apeel’s technology, it installs the company’s treatment systems at the back end of its supply chain where all of their vegetable deliveries come in to be shipped to various locations, according to Rogers.
A single run of Apeel’s system can treat 10,000 kilograms of food in an hour, Rogers said. So far this year, Apeel is on track to treat 20 million pieces of fruit with its coatings, the company said.
Apeel Sciences is already working with food retailers in the U.S. and Europe. On average, grocers that use Apeel have experienced a 50% reduction in shrink, a 5-10% growth in dollar sales and an incremental 10% growth in dollar sales when sold in conjunction with in-store marketing campaigns, the company said.
“Food waste is an invisible tax imposed on everyone that participates in the food system. Eliminating global food waste can free up $ 2.6 trillion annually, allowing us to make the food ecosystem better for growers, distributors, retailers, consumers and our planet,” said Rogers in a statement. “Together, we’re putting time back on the industry’s side to help deal with the food waste crisis and the challenges it poses to food businesses.”
Two young entrepreneurs are using leftover coffee cherry husks to create a new range of natural plant-based energy drinks. Nomad Trading Company is the “not-just-for-profit” startup looking to turn a coffee by-product into an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable supply chain.
Forbes – Startups