[Sight Diagnostics in Crowdfund Insider] Koch Disruptive Technologies Invests in Sight Diagnostics Alongside OurCrowd in $71 Million Series D

Koch Disruptive Technologies has announced an investment in Sight Diagnostics alongside global crowdfunding platform OurCrowdSight Diagnostics is a long time portfolio company of OurCrowd. The Series D funding raised a solid $ 71 million. Total funding now tops $ 124 million. A valuation of the Medtech firm was not provided.

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[Sight Diagnostics in The New York Times] Israel’s Sight Diagnostics Raises $71 Million for Its Blood Analyzer

Israel’s Sight Diagnostics said on Wednesday it raised $ 71 million in private funding to expand sales of its finger-prick blood analyzer and support research and development. Koch Disruptive Technologies, Longliv Ventures, which is part of the CK Hutchison Group, and Israel’s OurCrowd participated in the round, which brings Sight’s total funding to more than $ 124 million.

Read more here.

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Berlin-based Segmentive secures €2 million to launch new live video editing tools for mobile

Deep-tech computer vision startup, Segmentive, today announced closing its €2 million seed round in a bid to deliver whole-body video segmentation, in real-time and on mobile.

Founded in 2019, Segmentive allows users to intelligently remove themselves from live backgrounds to be transported into a scene of their choice, enabling a broad range of AR/VR use cases. Segmentive’s cutting-edge approach combines deep learning techniques with the industry’s most advanced online learning neural network algorithms to replicate and scale human understanding of scene identification. The startup is actually a spin-off from parent company, Cinector, with years of special effect experience in movies. 

To date, removing the background from a video of a moving person on a mobile device in real-time has been impossible. The technology is designed to be used by social media platforms looking for unique features to transport users to different worlds by changing their backgrounds. Segmentive has applications with mobile phone manufacturers and tech giants looking to push the boundaries of computer vision to create new commercial applications.

Lutz Roellig, Segmentive CEO commented: “[This] funding will accelerate the delivery of our multi-layer segmentation technology mobile prototype and allow us to make key hires to support execution. VR and AR use cases have been held back by an inability to display crisp edges on mobile devices as humans move around in virtual environments –  Segmentive’s technology breaks through this barrier to deliver fine details in real-time video on modern mobile devices.”

Segmentive unlocks new computer vision capabilities, never seen before by pre-classifying each frame into background and foreground using a pre-trained, convolutional neural network. Using online learned classifiers, Segmentive can achieve super-sharp edges in real-time dynamic videos.

The €2 million seed round was led by Leipzig based Technologiegruenderfonds Sachsen (TGFS). TGFS is an early-stage VC fund targeting high tech startups with strong growth potential and has invested in over 120 companies in its 20-year history.

TGFS’s Investment Director, Friedemann Stier commented: “Segmentive has proven the technology works and TGFS is pleased to be able to fund the growing team of computer vision experts to deliver the first working prototype. Leadership, combined with the teams’ skill and ingenuity makes Segmentive stand out as a winning combination.”


Vienna-based RegTech kompany lands €6 million to further develop its KYC services

Austrian startup kompany, a RegTech platform for Business KYC (KYB), has announced a new investment of almost €6 million, the company’s largest single investment round to date. 

Fairway Global Investment led the round, together with Global Brain, a major venture capital firm based in Tokyo, Japan, who acted as co-investor. Both are global investors in RegTech, FinTech and the payment sector and expect their portfolio companies to benefit from kompany’s technological lead in Business KYC (KYB). Existing shareholders, including the European Super Angels Club and the kompany management team also participated in this round. 

“kompany’s Business KYC services have been shown to bring significant efficiency gains for their clients and are particularly relevant to our investments in the payments sector and also our corporate partners. We look forward to leveraging this new partnership with kompany to support our other portfolio companies and partners”, said Naoki Kamimaeda, Partner at Global Brain.

“Our vision is to enable the 5 second cross-border payment with full AML and KYB compliance embedded”, explained founder and CEO Russell Perry. “If you have ever wondered why an international bank transfer can take hours or frequently even days to post – it is directly linked to regulatory requirements and our platform replaces those legacy practices.” 

The kompany team has doubled in the last year to outpace the new regulatory realities of highly enforced Anti-Money Laundering regulation in Europe (AMLD 4&5) and the pending US AML regulation. Additionally, potentially due to government COVID-19 support, the startup has seen a market rush to rapidly digitize and automate formerly manual compliance processes. As a result, market interest has seen the value of kompany’s sales pipeline increase to an eight-figure number in the last twelve months. 

The new fundraising round directly supports the further development of two key technologies: the AI-based instant shareholder discovery and the fusion of Digital Identity with Business KYC (KYB) for cross-border payments.  

John Vorrias, Chief Investment Officer at Fairway Global Investment added: “RegTech generally, and kompany specifically has the potential to be a game-changer in terms of the broad use-case applications across multiple industries and segments. And kompany operates the only real-time proprietary global register network that connects to primary source commercial registers and financial & tax authorities in over 200 countries and jurisdictions.”


Jakarta-based Wahyoo gets $5 million Series A to help small eateries digitize their operations

Wahyoo’s team, including CEO Peter Shearer (third from left)

While growing up, Peter Shearer watched his mother get up every day at 2AM or 3AM to prepare for her catering business. For many people who own small food businesses in Indonesia, “everything is handled on their own, so I really, really wanted to create a system so they can have better operations and get more quality of life,” Shearer told TechCrunch.

His startup, Wahyoo, was founded in 2017 to help small eateries, called warung makan, digitize and automate more tasks, from ordering supplies to managing finances. Today, Wahyoo announced that it has raised $ 5 million in Series A funding led by Intudo Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on Indonesia.

Other investors in the round included Kinesys Group, Amatil X (the corporate venture program of Coca-Cola Amatil, one of the world’ five largest Coca-Cola bottlers), Arkblu Capital, Indogen Capital, Selera Kapital, Gratyo Universal Indonesia and Isenta Hioe. The capital will be used on hiring, developing Wahyoo’s tech platform and expanding beyond the Greater Jakarta area.

In a press statement about the investment, Intudo Ventures founding partner Patrick Yip said, “Small-and medium enterprises represent one of the major engines of economic growth in Indonesia and are being transformed through new innovative businesses like Wahyoo, bringing greater economic prosperity to small business owners throughout the country. Through the company’s digitization efforts, Wahyoo’s highly targeted support for warung makan businesses is creating positive economic and social impact for Indonesia’s working class.”

Wahyoo launched its app almost exactly a year ago and has onboarded about 13,800 warung makan so far. The company’s co-founders are Shearer, the chief executive officer; chief operating officer Daniel Cahyadi; and chief technology officer Michael Dihardja.

With about 268 million people, Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest markets, and there are already startups, like Warung Pintar and BakuWarung, that focus on helping warung, or small corner stores, digitize more of their operations.

Shearer said he wanted to focus on Indonesian eateries in particular because “my background is in the food industry and I love anything related to food. Second, the potential is very big because no one has tapped into this type of warung before. Everyone focuses on retail, but no one taps into the culinary business.”

Wahyoo currently employs about 170 people, including on-the-ground teams who meet with warung makan owners. The eateries are “usually run by a family, from generation to generation,” with almost all tasks performed manually, including bookkeeping and going to markets early in the morning to buy ingredients, Shearer said.

A warung makan owner on Wahyoo’s platform

Wahyoo’s features include a next-day grocery delivery service from its own warehouses and integration with Go Food, a popular delivery app. The startup also runs an education program called Wahyoo Academy, with financial courses to help warung makan owners increase customer traffic and revenue, and offers advertising and brand partnerships.

For example, a restaurant on Wahyoo’s platform can earn money by placing ad banners or brochures in their stores. That is one of the way Wahyoo monetizes. It is free to use for restaurant owners, and makes revenue by taking a percentage of brand commissions.

Another revenue stream is Wahyoo’s fried chicken franchise, which gives warung makan owners the option of opening a small stall in front of their stores. It currently has about 350 stalls and keeps costs low by partnering with one of Indonesia’s largest poultry suppliers. Shearer said the company’s goal is to increase the number of stalls to 1,000 by the end of this year.

While eateries on Wahyoo saw a drop in their business in April and May because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shearer said that it began to recover in June and July, and is now back to normal, partly because of the platform’s Go Food integration.

In the future, Wahyoo may face competition from other warung-focused startups if they decided to expand their services to restaurants as well, and new startups that want to tap into the business opportunity offered by the 59.3 million small- to medium-sized businesses in Indonesia, many of which haven’t digitized their operations yet.

Shearer said Wahyoo’s value proposition is its portfolio of complementary services. “We are basically creating an ecosystem,” he added. “We are not only focusing on the supply chain, but also our own brand. We have the fried chicken brand and in the future we will tap into financial technology and the catering business as well.”

Startups – TechCrunch

British home décor startup Lick Home raises €3.3 million to grow its online DIY shop

With the majority of the world still following social distancing measures and staying at home as much as possible, it’s no wonder that home decoration projects are on the rise. British startup Lick Home, having launched this year, is riding this new wave of home improvement, having just landed a €3.3 million seed round led by Felix Capital.

Bringing home décor directly to consumer’s doorsteps, Lick Home is leading on the premise that a simple change in colour or design can have a massive impact on the way we feel about the spaces we live in. Taking the stress out of DIY, their online platform offers a range of durable and low-odour paints, artisan wallpaper, high quality decorating tools and true-to-colour stick-on samples.

Lick is not just hoping to target consumers, though. According to Lick, today 60% of the paint market is purchased and applied by professionals – a group that is focused not just on aesthetic and quality, but an easier and enhanced customer service experience. Lick’s product aims to address both audiences, through its two platforms, Lick Home and Lick Pro.

In addition, the visual nature of Lick’s product allows passionate people to share work and upload user-generated content. Lick has built a design blog that incorporates user photos, expert feedback, and how-to articles. The startups is also engaging with the community through many facets, including recently an “NHS Blue” paint colour supporting NHS (the British health service) charities.

Felix Capital commented: “When we met founders Lucas and Sam, it felt very clear that they were building much more than a paint brand. They are passionate about the opportunity to build Lick into a true home décor destination, not only by scaling into adjacent categories but also by leveraging their growing engaged community of individuals and professionals. It’s early days, but the pace and quality of execution have been spectacular with ingredients with love, such as attracting very strong and relevant talents around them.”


APEX Ventures launches €50 million fund for early-stage digital health startups

Today APEX Ventures has announced launching its second fund, focusing on digital health startups. The fund will back seed stage deep-tech companies with defendable IP. APEX Ventures invests in exceptional talented teams who are committed to improving patient outcomes and lives, and firmly believes that diversity and inclusion are key to building a strong community of entrepreneurs. 

The announcement follows a successful few weeks for APEX Ventures, which saw an exit for portfolio company ‘contextflow’ and the completion of four new investments in the areas of digital pathology, radiology and neurology. 

The fund will be headed by partner Gordon Euller, a qualified doctor and radiologist who has previously worked at AKH, Vienna’s General Hospital, as well as at McKinsey in London. “COVID-19 demonstrates to us worldwide how vulnerable our medical systems and processes are, particularly regarding capacity. These issues can only be solved by new innovative technologies as well as generous and wise investments in this asset category,” said Euller.

Founded in 2017, to date most of APEX Ventures’ investments have been made in the DACH region, through its Austrian base. With APEX Digital Health, the focus area will expand from DACH-based companies, to those based in the rest of Europe, Israel and the US. 

Venture partner Kelly Klein has recently joined the Fund to head up the firm’s activities in Israel. “Digital health is really prospering in Israel,” says Klein, “and one way this is done is by leveraging its medical data; Israel has 25 years of data and 90% of this is digitalised. One of the most important things once an Israeli startup gets funding is to internationalise it, and APEX can help to expand in the US, Europe and Asia.” 

In addition, APEX Ventures will shortly issue a call (along with the Herman Hauser Investment Group) for the best European startups in the strategic areas of In-silico trials and AI supported healthcare data marketplaces.


Paris-based DNA Script expands Series B to €75.5 million to launch world’s first DNA printer

French startup DNA Script has announced an approximate €42.4 million extension to its Series B financing, bringing the total investment of this round to around €75.5 million. This oversubscribed round was led by Casdin CapitalCasdin Capital and joined by Danaher Life Sciences, Agilent Technologies, Merck KgaA, Darmstadt, Germany, through its corporate venture arm, M Ventures – three of the world’s leaders in oligo synthesis – LSP, the Bpifrance Large Venture Fund and Illumina Ventures. 

Founded in 2014, this French biotech startup is working on revolutionizing DNA write with enzymes, in order to accelerate breakthroughs in personalised human health and the life sciences. Their flagship and first product is a world-first DNA printer, which can be used in many industries and applications, including developing new drugs and tests for cancer, as well as new foods like artificial meat.

The fresh funds will enable DNA Script to accelerate the development of its suite of enzymatic DNA synthesis technologies, and in particular support the commercial launch of their unique SYNTAX DNA benchtop printer.

Thomas Ybert, CEO and co-founder of DNA Script explains more about the DNA printer: “This first-of-its-kind DNA printer makes writing DNA as simple and straightforward as reading DNA is currently, meaning that research and clinical labs will be able to do same-day synthesis of oligonucleotides, saving precious time when it comes to iterating experiments or developing diagnostic or confirmatory tools.”

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for quick research iteration without relying on centralized distributors, which can be hampered by capacity and shipping bottlenecks, has been made even more clear. It’s no wonder that laboratories have had their attention turned to the value of in-lab tools, like the SYNTAX DNA benchtop printer.

The startup will soon begin testing the SYNTAX system with a select group of partners, with plans to launch a beta testing programme later this year and to take orders for the DNA printer by next year. In addition, the funds raised will be put towards a second project, which also received around €19.5 million from Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity’s Molecular Information Storage programme. This project aims to develop deployable DNA data storage and retrieval technology as part of the Molecular Encoding Consortium, along with partners at the Broad Institute and Harvard University.


[Ro in Business Insider] Ro earned unicorn status with a $200 million funding haul

The three-year-old telehealth startup bagged $ 200 million, catapulting it to unicorn status at a valuation of $ 1.5 billion. Ro plans to use the cash infusion to build out its tech capabilities and offer remote patient monitoring (RPM) tools for chronic disease management.

Read more here.

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London-based TaxScouts closes €5.5 million Series A to expand to Spain and the rest of Europe

British startup TaxScouts, the team on a mission to make tax preparation effortless for the UK market, has announced a Series A round of approximately €5.5 million to further its mission to build a pan-European tax service. The startup is expanding into its first market outside the UK and is establishing a team in Spain, following the appointment of a Country Manager. 

The latest investment round brings its total funding to date to around €7.2 million. The recent €5.5 million Series A was led by Octopus Ventures, with previous investors SpeedInvest, Seedcamp and Finch Capital, also returning for the round. They have been joined by Clocktower Technology Ventures, a Californian headquartered VC specialising in financial technology, TaxScout’s first American investor. 

Having been successful with its service to navigate the UK tax system, Spain has been chosen as the first market for the business due to the size of the market and the complexity of the tax system. TaxScouts will expand to further markets soon after. 

Mart Abramov, co-founder and CEO of TaxScouts, commented:  “We see a huge amount of potential in launching TaxScouts into Spain. Naturally, the weather and the wine were considered when picking the market, but having successfully built a solution for one of the trickiest tax systems in Europe, we are confident that we can deliver another great product for Spain’s complex tax structure. The market is double that of the UK, and this is the first step to us building a Pan-European tax service. We will build the go-to solution for anyone across Europe to easily file their tax return regardless of its complexity. This investment will enable us to quickly scale up a team to support our new Country Manager in Madrid, and launch other new products in the UK.”

Since launching in January 2018, TaxScouts has grown 5X year-on-year. The company expects to file tens of thousands of tax returns over the next year and is scaling up its partner network with even more accountants around the UK.

Compared to previous years, TaxScouts saw an additional 30% increase this April in the overall number of people looking for help with their self-assessment returns for the 2019/2020 tax year. The increased interest in early submissions has been driven by Covid19.

CEO Abramov added: “With the current Covid19 crisis and the pause on work for millions of self-employed people, many have been eager to get their taxes sorted as soon as possible in order to apply for any financial support from the UK Government. Social distancing enforced by the government means that people are now much more open to adopt fully online services where they can get all the support they need leaving their homes.”

In just a few clicks, customers provide enough information for a certified TaxScouts accountant to quickly prepare their tax return. This is submitted to HMRC via an integration, often in less than 24 hours, for the flat fee of £119 (around €131). Where possible the service pulls information from online sources.

Nick Sando, Investment Manager at Octopus Ventures, added: “We all know tax can be a nightmare, and for many, it can fill us with a sense of dread. It’s one of those things we know we have to do, but we don’t rush to do. TaxScouts changes this. What seems like a difficult task for an individual, becomes quick and easy. Having seen the success of TaxScouts and the potential for this to be replicated in other markets with complex tax systems, we see a huge potential for one service that works for everyone.”

Anthony Danon, Associate Partner at Speedinvest, said: “Having worked with TaxScouts and followed the team since 2018, we are delighted to continue to support the company. Co-Founders Mart, Dan, and Kaupo have great experience under their belts having come from Transferwise, MarketInvoice, and Skype. They have built a great team and a strong product, and we look forward to watching them expand into Europe.”