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The European tech startup ecosystem is continuously hitting the headlines even amidst the slowdown in the industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. As the lockdown is getting lifted gradually, several European tech startups are securing funding to develop their business, tap into new markets, and help recover from the impact caused by the pandemic. Having said that, here we list some of the hottest happenings in the tech startup arena in Europe this week.
BrightHR invests in cutting-edge tool for businesses
BrightHR, the international HR software and employment law advice service has invested £1 million (nearly €1.12 million) in a new, cutting-edge tool, the Back to Work Navigator. This tool gives employers a central hub to manage their back to work processes helping them bounce back to their business quickly after they reopen. Businesses can change furlough statuses in seconds, send in-app notifications to employees, and set up staggered shift times as they reopen. The new tool from BrightHR comes with a complete content library of essential guidance including health and safety, COVID-19 risk assessments, restructuring processes and annual leave planning.
Spanish healthy fat innovator secures funding
Blue Horizon Ventures, an international sustainable food investor, gets along with MOIRA Capital Partners and invests in leading healthy fat innovator, CUBIQ FOODS amidst COVID-19 crisis. Blue Horizon Ventures is specialised in the sustainable food sector and promotes a positive global impact on the environment, animal rights, and human health. Talking about CUBIQ FOODS, it is the first cultivated fat cell platform producing high-quality omega-3’s. The Spanish healthy fat innovator intends to make two of its new products commercially available in both the domestic and international markets later this year. CUBIQ FOODS’ vegan SMART FAT offers a full flavour profile with fewer calories and less saturated fats.
Barcelona-based e-mobility startup raises funding
Wallbox, a Spanish e-vehicle charging startup recently secured €12 million second tranche for the Series A funding taking the overall Series A funding to €23 million. The investment was led by Seaya Ventures, a VC fund with additional investment from Endeavor Catalyst and Iberdrola, an existing investor. Wallbox operates with the mission to change the way energy is used. It’s smart charging system makes use of cutting-edge technology and manages the communication between the charger and car in an easy way. The fresh Investment will be used to drive the e-mobility startup’s international growth in North America and China and expansion of its innovation and R&D efforts.
British travel tech startup secures funding
Fly Now Pay Later, a British travel and fintech startup grabbed €39.2 million Series A equity and debt funding from Revenio Capital and Shawbrook Bank. This startup brings flexibility in paying for trips. Instead of buying tickets up front, this startup lets users pay for the same up to 12 months with 0% APR. Travel providers can sign up to be listed on the platform. Fly Now Pay Later will use the fresh investment to boost its product offering, develop its propriety payment technology and support the launch of its new app that will let users browse options when travel restrictions are lifted.
Belgian SaaS startup secures funding, eyes expansion
Hello Customer, a Belgian startup that deals with customer data has secured €6 million funding from Senovo Capital and Peak Capital. This startup lets businesses analyse customer feedback and expectations and improved customer experience with the same. The customer data platform’s technology is based on simple open feedback surveys and applies Artificial Intelligence and linguistic algorithms to the same. Since its debut, Hello Customer has expanded into France, the Netherlands, and Spain. As there is a demand from other regions, this startup intends to expand into the US.
IDvet launches COVID-19 antibody test
French startup IDvet specialises in the production and development of diagnostic tests to detect infectious diseases in farm animals. This startup has announced the commercial launch of a COVID-19 antibody test for humans. This new diagnostic test is ready to be rolled out on an industrial scale and will be made available to laboratories across the world. This test will help find out if an individual has developed antibodies to COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2). The new lab technique is dubbed ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assays). It is designed for high-volume testing in laboratories. What’s interesting is that this test developed by IDvet does not require any specific or expensive equipment.
Meet UK’s first demand-responsive bus for NHS workers
ViaVan is known for using tech to power the future of public transportation across Europe. Now, ViaVan has teamed up with Stagecoach, the largest British bus operator to launch the first demand-responsive public bus service for NHS workers for free of cost. Notably, Stagecoach Connect was launched at Sherwood Forest Hospital NHS in Nottinghamshire. This bus uses ViaVan’s technology to expand access to flexible, safe and efficient transport to healthcare professionals working in hospital shifts in the morning and late evening hours. With the launch of this service, healthcare workers can pre-book seats via the Stagecoach Connect app.
henQ invests in learning experience platform
London-based Aula developed a learning experience platform (LXP) for higher education. It helps universities create life-changing learning experiences for students. Aula makes it easy to access high-quality learning experiences online enabling both educators and students to connect outside the classroom easily. In a recent development, Aula secured investment from the VC firm henQ. Currently, the global crisis has made physical classrooms a thing of the past and educators and institutions are opting for online classes. At this point in time, Aula has grabbed Investment from henQ. And, it has witnessed an increase in 2x as much user engagement than before.
German job platform acquires Dutch startup
StepStone, a Berlin online job platform has acquired a Dutch video recruitment software provider Cammio. Since last month, StepStone has been offering the video tool from Cammio to recruiters. With the acquisition, the Dutch startup is integrated as a part of StepStone’s portfolio with immediate effect. Cammio’s software offers digital job interviews, video formats for motivation letters, automated video interviews and video messaging. These are combined with speech-to-text technology, AI-driven personality analysis and a scheduling module.
German startup bags funding to transform modern manufacturing
German modular production platform, arculus has secured €16 million Series A funding led by Atomico along with participation from Visionaries Club and previous investors La Famiglia. arculus will use the fresh funding to strengthen product development, prepare for a global rollout, and broaden its customer base. Since its advent, arculus has worked with companies across industries such as Viessmann in logistics, Siemens in robotics, and Audi in automotive. This German startup aims to expand its reach to other industries such as aerospace, computer hardware, consumer electronics and more.
Main image picture credits: CUBIQ FOODS
Stay tuned to Silicon Canals for more European technology news.
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Commercial real estate, the traditional heart of most cities, may have lost its reason to exist in the last few months. The world is about to find out what the situation is as more locations start to reopen.
First up in our ongoing coverage of the topic, Connie Loizos caught up with a couple proptech investors this week for TechCrunch, who saw existing trends accelerating — with many medically focused additions.
Brendan Wallace of Fifth Wall is looking for more aggressive pickup of smart tech in general, along the lines of what you already see in some other countries. “He notes sensors that can determine how many people are in a room or pass through a turnstile. He points to facial recognition tech that can help keep points of physical contact to a minimum. He imagines that more companies might embrace robots to patrol buildings and, possibly, to clean them, too.”
Darren Bechtel of Brick and Mortar saw tech remaking the construction site, with growing practices like using large-scale pre-fabricated components: “If you’re limited by how many people can work in the field, and you have to put in controls for people not working on top of each other, the question becomes: how can you do the work in a more controlled environment, with a next-gen HVAC system [to purify the air] and markings on the floor?…. People are now saying, ‘How much can we prepare off-site?’”
Buildings are also going to be focused on health features, Connie wrote. “[B]oth Wallace and Bechtel mentioned advanced air purifiers and air handling units used to recondition and circulate air as part of a heating, ventilating and air-conditioning plan. Both say it will likely become a growing area of interest for building owners and developers.”
What about beyond the buildings? A few writers here put together some thoughts in a post for Extra Crunch. Here’s Danny Crichton’s view from Brooklyn:
Few of us can live in the dreary confines of a suburban enclave our entire workweek. And so I expect to see a revitalization of the classic Main Street clusters that once dotted towns across America as people appreciate the close proximity of amenities that they need throughout their day and remote work makes it possible to skip the commute to the central business district.
It’s not going to be a simple transition, of course. The built environment alone will probably take decades to fully transition. But the spirit of Jane Jacobs lives on and will move beyond the downtown core neighborhoods she observed to spread to medium and perhaps even small towns across the country and throughout the world.
If you want more on the topic, check out our recent investor survey with six other top proptech investors from late March (for subscribers).
Just want to settle down at home and get to work? Check out Darrell Etherington’s TechCrunch guide to setting up a pro-grade videoconference studio.
The $ 100M ARR club continues to grow, despite everything
When Alex Wilhelm rejoined TechCrunch late last year, he kicked things off with a list of companies that he called “the $ 100M ARR club” to signify unicorns that were also generating a lot of revenue. It was a clever way of organizing which of the hundreds of highly valued companies heading towards IPOs were most set up for success, and our readers agreed.
But, with entire market categories whipsawed by the pandemic, it has been hard to find companies willing to share numbers lately. He still found a few, as he wrote up for Extra Crunch this week: ActiveCampaign, Recorded Future and ON24. Here’s a vignette from the CEO of ActiveCampaign:
While we had the CEO’s attention, TechCrunch wanted to know if ActiveCampaign was taking incoming fire from COVID-19 and its related economic and labor disruptions. As some other SMB-focused software companies have told us, the answer is no. Here’s [Jason] VandeBoom:
We anticipate continued growth in 2020 and are already seeing further acceleration to support this. The past four months have been the best in company history and we’ve seen monthly trials double in that timeframe and new customer acquisition numbers at 4500, 5500, 6000 and 7000 respectively from January to April.
He did hedge those results a little, adding that while his firm has “seen some acceleration from COVID-19 and the digital transformation that it is inspiring,” the CEO is more convinced that “the need for customer experience is what is fueling the majority of this growth.”
This week in China trade news….
The already basic trade agreement between the Trump administration and the Chinese government from last year looks ready to blow up; the administration banned selling more tech to Huawei; TSMC plans to open a factory in Arizona following urging from the US government; Foxconn profits crashed… Danny Crichton has a clear takeaway on TechCrunch for startups about the latest headlines:
[T]he world of semiconductors, of internet infrastructure, of the tech ties that have bound the U.S. and China together for decades — they are frayed and are almost gone. It’s a new era in supply chains and trade, and an open world for new approaches to these huge existing industries.
If your company is not already planning for a more chaotic, multi-polar world than what most of us can remember living through, it may already be too late.
Investor survey: hospitals to increase tech focus after pandemic
Sarah Buhr talked to top investors in the healthcare B2B and infrastructure businesses for one of our investor surveys this week on Extra Crunch. They generally seemed to agree that the pandemic was going to push the system wholesale towards better technology. Here’s Bilal Zuberi of Lux Capital:
While a lot of our healthcare infrastructure will take a little bit of time recovering from the stress COVID placed on it, we anticipate this to provide a push to the system to adopt new technologies that enable distributed health, build resiliency in our delivery networks and deploy data-enabled healthcare. Hospital balance sheets might struggle in the short term to buy new technologies, but payers as well as large businesses might participate in infrastructure development and deployment in a bigger way. We anticipate selling to hospitals to be difficult in the short term, as they try to recover from the revenue shortfall they experienced during COVID-19, but will generally emerge more interested in adopting new technologies, digital and remote health solutions and automation in various functions. Needless to say, a wide-scale digital transformation of our healthcare industry is underway, and there is no looking back.
Don’t miss our other survey this week, on how the mobility investors are viewing the pandemic.
Protecting your equity as a startup employee
Wouter Witvoet of fintech startup SecFi wrote a guest post for TechCrunch going over some key points for anyone working at a startup right now (or recently). As an occasional startup founder and/or employee myself, I’d like to recommend this one for special consideration: “Negotiate for equity during a pay cut or furlough.”
Startups typically offer equity as a means of deferred compensation and as a way to incentivize employees to own a piece of the company they are building. The compensation is deferred as most startups are cash-strapped and cannot afford to pay you what a larger company may be able to.
If your company is now asking you to take a pay cut, or even take no pay during this time, you should consider asking for additional equity to make up for the lost compensation. While not all companies may be amenable to offering more equity, there is no cash outlay from the company’s standpoint, so it’s an efficient way for your company to compensate you for your sacrifice while preserving their cash.
In addition, offering more equity shows a commitment from management to their employees during this difficult time. It may be the win-win scenario for your company and yourself in the long-run so it’s worth having the conversation with management to discuss if this is available for you.
At first it seems weird when you consider typical venture dynamics. The founders have probably already lost leverage against the company’s investors. These investors have probably already lost leverage against their LPs. So nobody is naturally included to give up even more. And the employees were already last in line on the cap table and first to go, so why should founders do anything different?
Tactically, the best employees will be attracted go work at bigger more stable companies as the pandemic recession stretches on — and you might not have the cash to afford the effort to rehire. Strategically, now is the time to build the esprit de corp that will carry your company forward into better times… a few extra basis points for the team now could help deliver a priceless return.
Across the week
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.
Are you a regular Equity listener? Take our survey here! We talk about it on the show.
From home once again this week, Danny, Natasha, Alex and Chris got together to pull the show together. But unlike last week’s episode (catch up here if you are behind), this week’s show features a game that actually worked. It’s at the end, as you’ll see.
But before that piece of the puzzle, there was a bunch of news to go over. We had to leave SaaS valuations, the Liftoff List, Brex and FalconX on the floor, but there was still so much good stuff to cover:
- Slice raised $ 43 million from KKR, making us all rather hungry — and curious. Where does Slice fit into the food-delivery market, and does its restaurant-friendly model give it enough room to grow revenue so that its new valuation makes sense?
- The Uber Eats-Grubhub deal was an unavoidable topic this week, given that it has the chance to remake the food delivery landscape. What room would be left in the market for Postmates? And would it pass regulatory scrutiny? We’re curious.
- Sticking to the on-demand theme, Instacart has grown bonkers-quick in the last few months, even making some money in the process. We’re impressed.
- It’s not the only thing out there growing like hell — Shopify is also putting up insane numbers, as reflected in its share price. TechCrunch took a look back through its history the other day.
- The secondary markets saw some consolidation this week, which brought back some fond memories.
- Quizlet raised $ 30 million at a $ 1 billion valuation, causing some consternation among the hosts. And Vise raised a more modest $ 14.5 million in a round that Danny covered.
Then we played our game. Please hold us to account. And if you have listened to the show for a while, take our survey! It’s right after this next sentence.
Editor’s note: Get this weekly recap of TechCrunch news that any startup can use every Saturday morning by email (7am PT). Subscribe here.
A specific type of small startup has a window to raise crowdfunding in a somewhat less regulated way than normally required in the U.S., based on a temporary set of rule changes by the Securities and Exchange Commission announced this week. Excited yet?
The new terms are generally geared towards the millions of mom-and-pop businesses that were the intended recipients of the PPP grants, who did not actually receive those grants as needed, as Jon Shieber covered on TechCrunch this week. However, this grim fall-back measure to stave off disaster for a key part of the economy is also a way for small startups to start creating jobs a little faster, potentially. One of the main adjustments: if you’re looking to raise between $ 107,000 and $ 250,000, you don’t need to have your financial statements reviewed first by an outside auditor. Instead, the SEC says you just need “[f]inancial statements of the issuer and certain information from the issuer’s Federal income tax returns, both certified by the principal executive officer.”
The catch is you still have to follow a long list of other do’s and don’ts provided by the SEC, such as being in business least six months prior, and clear disclosures to investors about your financial reliance on this “relief.” The temporary permissiveness is set to expire by August 31.
Investors bet big on robotic automation during the pandemic
Automation will happen at an even more foundational level than one might guess as supply chains try to resolve huge new types of kinks. Here’s how Shahin Farshchi of Lux Capital describes it, in a sample from one of our investor surveys on Extra Crunch this week.
COVID-19 revealed that our just-in-time manufacturing and logistics infrastructure cannot react to unexpected change. We expect the best practices of tech companies: rapidly adopting new tools and quickly iterating on their products and processes to become common in the realm of manufacturing and logistics. Engineers will be handed credit cards to try the latest tools, building on open source will be widely embraced, and making bets on products from startups will become the norm in this industry which has its roots in the industrial revolution.
Where are the opportunities? Here’s DCVC’s Kelly Chen:
Despite the storm, we are optimistic about a number of things:
- As the crisis spotlighted, global supply chains are a delicate balance of factors that can easily be disrupted. In addition to growing labor costs, regulatory uncertainty, and higher international shipping costs, we believe companies will increasingly innovate on domestic manufacturing channels. “Bring manufacturing home” is a cry reverberating across many industries in many countries.
- Online commodity retail is finally getting a kick in the tail. Last year, 4% of groceries were ordered online. In a recent large survey after COVID-19, a third of respondents ordered groceries online, many for the first time. The traditional two-day delivery will benefit, but we think momentum will shift to micro-fulfillment, where large hubs will service distributed local warehouses that are much closer to the customer, auto-fulfilling orders within hours.
- Separate from fulfillment, we believe the hundreds of thousands of new manual delivery jobs will endure. We predict it will be years before tech allows for scalable automated door-to-door delivery.
- As employers explore tech to automate labor in tough times, they find that humans are incredibly difficult to replace. At DCVC, we like tech that automates the kind of tasks that could never be done at human scale — things that scale the value of human skills, not replace them.
The benefits of a commercial real estate collapse in SF
Full-time CTO and long-time TechCrunch columnist Jon Evans has a fun muse for any reader who is looking to stay in the Bay Area and also pay less for housing. What is going to happen to all of the commercial real estate that is getting rendered obsolete as many companies go big on remote? Presumably a lot more housing stock. Here’s a taste of the full thing over on TechCrunch:
Consider San Francisco, everyone’s favorite overpriced, overcrowded, inequality poster child. It has roughly 150 million square feet of combined office and retail space at the moment. If the COVID-19 lockdown-then-recession eventually eats 20% of that — which is plausible between the retailpocalypse and what I will christen the “officepocalypse,” i.e. the revealed cost savings of working from home — that’s 30 million square feet of empty space.
If converted to housing, this could increase the city’s total housing stock by well over 10%. That would drive prices and rents, already pressured by the recession, way down — while presumably still remaining simultaneously profitable, since current prices are so high. Needless to say this conversion would also create a lot of jobs. (Although, in some cases, no conversion will be required.)
The rebirth of the vertical B2B marketplace startup
It was one of those seemingly guaranteed winners of the dot-com bubble, that got torched along with most other ideas around back then. Today, marketplaces for businesses in complex supply chains are back in vogue, Shieber writes for Extra Crunch this week. The original thesis was that “thousands of small businesses were making specialized products consumed by larger businesses in huge industries, but the reach of smaller players was limited by their dependence on a sales structure built on conferences and personal interactions.”
The opportunity has been clarified over the course of the past decade.
The first sign of life for the directory model came with the success of GoodRX back in 2011. The company proved that when information about pricing in a previously opaque industry becomes available, it can unleash a torrent of new demand.
“GoodRX did this to huge success,” said Shaun Maguire, a partner at Sequoia Capital, who invested in Knowde, a marketplace that follows a similar model. “The idea of crawling the public internet and creating structured data and winning SEO or doing SEO for the first time for something so you get a lot of traffic from buyers so you have something to offer sellers so you can get the sellers to cooperate with you… that playbook can be taken to many different industries.”
Across the week
From Alex Wilhelm:
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.
Every week we write this post with some opening line akin to wow, what a week, huh? This is yet another one of those weeks. Perhaps this is just life now, and every week will stretch before us, similar to what Gandalf said after killing that Balrog, that “every day was as long as the life age of the Earth.”
Anyhoo, we recorded Equity to try and make a little sense of the week as there was a lot going on. So, Natasha, Danny, and Alex once again gathered to parse it all. Here’s a rough digest of the topics from this episode:
- Techstars’ virtual demo days. Natasha and Alex are listening in to as many Techstars virtual demo confabs as they can along with other TC staff, pulling out favorites as we go. Today we dug into what is working, and what isn’t with virtual demo days.
- While VC Twitter might make it seem like every firm is open for business, that is not the reality. We talk about signaling risk, external signs a firm is investing, and throw pro rata chat around in between.
- Peanut, a social network for women, raised $ 12 million and that is the good news we needed this week. Think of it as a better, cleaner and more intimate version of your favorite Facebook group. About 1.6 million are on the platform.
- Every Mother raised a small sum to bring safety and community to pre and post natal workouts for mothers.
- Robinhood’s Series F. The new Robinhood round values the company at around $ 8.3 billion, a huge number but one that wasn’t as high as we might have expected, given how much its valuation used to grow between new funding events.
- Airbnb cut 1,900 people in a devastating round of layoffs for the travel and hospitality company. We discuss o-founder and CEO Brian Chesky’s detailed blogpost about the cuts, and whether it is better to be a public or a private company during this pandemic.
- Uber cut staff this week, and pumped money into a massive Lime downround that may see it offload its own micromobility business onto the smaller company. Not a good week for Uber, not a good week for Lime.
Amidst the panic caused by the COVID-19 outbreak while many industries are hit drastically, the tech ecosystem in Europe hasn’t stopped making headlines. Several tech startups across Europe have made interesting updates such as the next-generation delivery drones from the German drone maker, big funding rounds for UK’s leading refurbished device marketplace and others as detailed here.
Monzo bolstering its leadership team
Monzo, one of the leading challenger banks in the UK is bolstering its leadership team. The company has roped in Sujata Bhatia, a former American Express executive in Europe as its new Chief Operating Officer. She will replace Monzo’s previous COO Tom Foster-Carter, who resigned the bank back in November last year. Prior to roping in Bhatia, the challenger bank hired Mike Hudack, the former CTO of Deliveroo. He joined Monzo in March as the new Chief Product Officer.
The new COO with almost 16 years of experience at American Express will take up the role in late June. It will be a turbulent time for Monzo along with other fintech companies as it attempts to insulate from the COVID-19 crisis and the related economic turmoil.
North Wales fintech startup exceeds crowdfunding target
North Wales-based fintech startup monva announced that it has exceeded the initial crowdfunding target of £250,000 (nearly €285,000). Despite the uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic, the AI-powered comparison service is all set to enter a period of overfunding in the next two weeks. Notably, the startup backed by the Development Bank of Wales has secured significant private investment, which exceeds its initial goal.
Detailing on monva, it is a smart comparison service, which uses its cutting-edge technology and virtual money saving assistant Mo to lead the industry by providing customers access to better deals customised for them. Furthermore, it announced the appointment of Simon Dawson with experience at MoneysuperMarket, IBM and Paybreak as its new CTO.
Paris startup raises €111.3M for refurbished device marketplace
Paris-based premier global refurbished electronics marketplace, Back Market has secured $ 120 million (nearly €111.3 million) funding from Goldman Sachs, Aglaé Ventures (the venture arm of Groupe Arnault), and Eurazeo Growth. These investors will join Daphni as the backers of the company. It continues to tap into the refurbished electronics market by selling such devices and appliances such as tablets, laptops, smartphones, and other products directly to its customers.
Back Market leads the refurbished electronics industry by selling products from certified sellers that refurbish, verify, and offer a minimum warranty of 12 months for all products. The company intends to use the fresh investment in quality control, to grow quality team by up to three times and to solidify its leadership in the industry.
€27M for German automated bookkeeping startup
Zeitgold, a German-Israeli intelligent software platform for small business accounting automation secured €27 million Series B funding in a round led by Vintage Investment Partners, which is a leading global venture firm. The round involves funding from existing investors such as Battery Ventures, HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, Saban Ventures, and btov Partners, as well as insurance company AXA Germany and Deutsche Bank.
Zeitgold will use the fund to further develop its proprietary AI-powered software and continue focusing on the growth of the business to become the leading accounting automation platform in Europe. Already, over 80% of the booking scenarios are automated by Zeitgold software’s Artificial Intelligence. Using Zeitgold, business owners can significantly reduce the amount of work required to prepare their books and can therefore devote more resources to their core business.
New subscription service for unlimited and affordable rides
Italian micro-mobility startup Helbiz has launched its latest offering, Helbiz Unlimited, which is a subscription service that lets users worldwide take unlimited and affordable 30-minute trips on e-scooters and e-bikes every month. Helbiz Unlimited costs less than $ 1 per day and lets users to ride the company’s fleet of e-scooters or e-bikes for 30 minutes at a time. Currently, the company operates a fleet of 6,000 e-scooters and e-bikes in Milan, Verona, Rome, and Turin. It aims to expand the fleet to over 8,000 vehicles.
As governments are looking for micro-mobility solutions such as environment-friendly and socially conscious travel options, Helbiz is providing support and mobility assistance to let the world move. The micro-mobility startup has teamed up with the COVID-19 Task Force of the Italian government to provide guidance and support as the country plans to lift the stay-at-home order gradually.
German drone startups wins big
German drone manufacturer Wingcopter has won two prizes at the renowned Lake Kivu Challenge in Rwanda recently. Well, the organising committee of the Lake Kivu Challenge announced the Flying Competition backed by the World Bank. Wingcopter was awarded the winner of the Emergency Delivery category and received a special award for its safety procedures. It received GBP 65,000 as the prize money.
Notably, the Lake Kivu Challenge received 92 applications from 35 countries and only 10 drone companies were invited to put their drones and operators to the test at the competition. And, during the three weeks of flights, Wingcopter was able to impress the panel.of judges with its performance. This includes a fully automated delivery of an emergency package from a droneport on the mainland to Bugarura Island and a secure return landing.
Swedish audio startup appoints new CSO
Swedish sound pioneer Dirac that supplies audio tech to Taylor Swift just announced that it has roped in Agilent veteran Mats Oberg as its global Chief Sales Officer. Oberg joins Dirac from Waystream AB, which provides advanced digital infrastructure compliments and services. At Agilent Technologies, Oberg was the global market leader in analytical solutions for the biotech, chemical, and pharma industries.
Dirac offers a suite of audio optimisation solutions that are used by leading blue chip tech companies In automotive, mobile, headphone and home theatre markets including Bentley, Rolls-Royce, OnePlus, Oppo, Xiaomi, Volvo, Harman, RHA, StormAudio, Datasat, NAD Electronics and more. For the uninitiated, Dirac showcased its breakthrough headphone tech at the CES 2020.
Nordic fintechs team up to enable neobank
Rocker, Swedish neobanking pioneer has selected Finland’s largest fintech startup Enfuce as a partner for card issuing and payment processing. With this collaboration, Rocker will be able to issue Visa prepaid cards securely and easily. Formerly known as Bynk, Rocker collaborated with Enfuce’s team of experts in order to fast-track an otherwise complex
card issuing process.
Besides supporting licensing, compliance and payment processing, Enfuce’s one-stop-shop service will help Rocker to process card transactions according to the highest security and compliance standards. By integrating Enfuce’s web-based API, Rocker can seamlessly control features like dynamic spending limits, push notifications and geo blocking.
Peak Capital leads funding in German startup
A German startup GraphCMS GmbH, which provides a Headless CMS that offers digital marketers and web developers a way to collect and distribute content for apps, websites, and other web applications from a single source has secured a seed extension round of €2.5 million led by Peak Capital along with a slew of existing investors.
GraphCMS works with the mission to build the most cutting-edge content management system on the market. The investment comes soon after a major update and rebranding of the GraphCMS product of last month. It will use this investment to further develop the product and strengthen its growth in the mid-to-large scale enterprise segment in North America and Europe.
Main image picture credits: Wingcopter
Stay tuned to Silicon Canals for more European technology news.
While industries across the world are impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak leaving millions of companies and people in a state of confusion and panic, the tech ecosystem is coming up with helpful solutions. There are tech startups that are introducing innovative products to make sure it is possible to combat the global crisis. These European startups not only ensure that their innovative solutions help fight the pandemic but also intend to let businesses continue the way they have to be. Having said that, here is a list of weekly updates that you should know only on Silicon Canals.
Online food vs COVID-19
Italian AI-driven startup BOOM Imagestudio has launched a new service called BOOM@Home to help restaurants go online with professional photos during the ongoing lockdown. This service lets customers in the food industry receive high-quality images for their business. This way, even freelance photographers can continue earning a living during the lockdown in a safe way. Given that food delivery platforms have teamed up with restaurants during the global crisis, there is an increase in the demand for photos of dishes to be posted online and this is where BOOM@Home comes to play. The dishes are prepared by the restaurant for which the shoot will be previously booked and delivered directly to the photographer’s home to be photographed.
WonderWork for employees
Wonderflow, which is a leader in AI-driven feedback analysis has launched WonderWork, its which is a free employee feedback tool. During the COVID-19 crisis, companies can leverage this employee feedback tool to support new ways of working, improving employee well-being, and monitoring the same. Amsterdam-based company’s new tool WonderWork combines both Natural Language Processing (NLP) tech and the employee feedback analysis experience to support new ways of working and the team’s well-being. The free version of WonderWork supports companies with over 50 employees and provides real-time access to actionable insights.
Riccardo Osti, Wonderflow’s CEO says, “The idea behind WonderWork dates back to 2018 when, to serve one of our enterprise clients in the transportation industry, we have developed a technology to analyze drivers’ feedback and improve their work experience. In a few months, the company managed to implement corrective actions that grew drivers’ satisfaction by 100%. This incredible result pushed us to plan the development of a new version of Wonderflow, dedicated to employee feedback. The idea never managed to become real due to the vast amount of work required to serve the growing customer base of our flagship product, the Wonderboard.”
He adds, “We finally decided to speed up the development of Wonderwork with the spread of the Coronavirus epidemic, when from one day to another, millions of people had to work from home, losing direct contact with employers and colleagues. We wanted to develop a solution to help brands understand the new needs of their employees to better support them now and in the future. Hence, we created a task force, starting from our team of linguists and developers, and in less than a month, we launched Wonderwork. The software is built on the same artificial intelligence that runs our enterprise product, considered one of the global top-performers for text analysis. In line with the reason behind its creation, which is helping brands navigate these challenging times, we decided to give WonderWork for free for the entire year. I believe that this is a unique opportunity for enterprises and SMEs to digitise, putting the well-being of their employees to the first place”.
Patient care via imaging AI
Icometrix, a leading software solutions service provider based in Leuven (BE) and Chicago collaborated with universities and hospitals in a global initiative to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) in the fight against COVID-19. It has developed an AI algorithm called icolung, which received the CE-marking for clinical use in Europe. icolung has the potential of further decreasing workload in clinical practice by providing a fully automated and very reliable disease assessment. Such solutions can significantly alleviate the increasing burden on the ICU and allocate resources during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Ex-Uber exec to establish European startup funding HQ in London
Expa was founded by serial entrepreneur and Uber co-founder Garrett Camp to help entrepreneurs create and launch new companies. Recently, Expa announced that industry veteran David Clark will join as its newest Partner. Based in London, Clark has experience working with fast-growing companies such as Uber and will focus on expanding Expa’s presence throughout Europe and funding European-based startups. Also, the ex-Uber executive will open a startup funding headquarters in London marking the debut of a new era for the startup studio Expa that helps early-stage startups with capital and a network of advisors and experts.
Wearable Health T-shirt
Chronolife, an AI company that specialises in digital health has secured Class IIa medical certification from EU for its medical-grade smart T-shirt called KeeSense. This wearable device is fitted with multiple sensors that continuously monitor ECG, abdominal respiration, thoracic respiration, skin temperature, physical activity, and thoracic impedance so that healthcare professionals can remotely track vital clinical data of patients. KeeSense T-shirt is designed for all-day use and can be reusable. It is washable just like any other piece of garment. The T-shirt transmits data to the smartphone paired with it via Bluetooth and this is sent to a secure and certified server to be monitored by the healthcare team.
Collaboration to accelerate on-demand delivery in rapid time
Paazl, a multi-carrier shipping platform offers the option for on-demand deliveries along with Packaly, a Dutch mobility startup. The collaboration between these platforms gives retailers the chance to debut on-demand deliveries quickly via the Paazl platform. As of now, Packaly is active in Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Utrecht, and The Hague. It is growing at a fast pace and delivers packages for several big retailers such as Decathlon within 60 minutes or the same evening between 5PM and 9PM. Eventually, Paazl customers can deliver within Packaly’s active cities the same evening or the next day.
Curbing online fraud
UK-based leading free credit score and credit marketplace ClearScore has launched a new service called ClearScore Protect. It is a free anti-fraud dark web monitoring service. It is said that more than 55% of UK customers are more worried about online fraud now during the COVID-19 pandemic than ever before. This signifies the importance of having thorough security measures in place for any personal online activity. And, this is why ClearScore Protect has been developed. It is a free service that monitors the dark web for any stolen passwords and notifying users about potential breaches once in three months. The stolen information will be shown on a page containing all the beached passwords and will let users know how to change them.
TNW announces new series of online events
TNW announces a new series of online events along with supporting partner We Are Live. These new events are meant to bring communities together to discuss the shifting landscape, explore solutions for recovery, and outline success strategies with the help of experts and decision-makers. Dubbed TNW Couch Conferences, these events will be centered around five key topics. The new series of events are Re: Brand, Sprint, Checkout, Ecosystems, and Transform and these will be held from May 29 to July 2. The largest TNW event will take place in October this year.
EUvsVirus hackathon concludes successfully
The largest-ever pan-European online hackathon initiated by the European Commission, #EUvsVirus to find practical solutions to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic witnessed the submission of over 2100 projects. In less than two weeks, the European Commission managed to unite more than 30 European hackathon organisers related to COVID-19 to create a task force over more than 400 volunteers to come up with innovative solutions aimed at combating the virus outbreak. And, the #EUvsVirus included more than 37 challenges segmented into six different domains. Over the weekend, the hackathon managed to bring people together out of their homes virtually so that they can work as a community to end the crisis.
Telehealth startup intends to reshape mental health
During the COVID-19 outbreak, telehealth services are focusing on treating mental health conditions remotely and Flow Neuroscience is one such startup that is widespread due to its social distancing efforts. The Flow brain stimulation headset lets users manage their depression at home. It is a one-of-its-kind telehealth treatment to be medically approved in the UK and EU. The Flow headset uses tDCS, a type of brain stimulation, which is listed as a treatment to cure depression on the NHS website. While using the headset, users can engage with a therapy app that will treat depression by improving nutrition, exercise, and sleep.
Main image picture credits: Flow Neuroscience
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