Top startups news and tech trends to follow this week:
1. Private equity, venture capitals investment drops 27% in startups during April: Report
According to a report by industry grouping IVCA and EY, investments into startups by venture capital funds have halved to $1.6 billion across 82 deals in the month under review – which resulted in pulling down of the overall number.
On the other hand, the report highlighted that in April this year, investments classified as those for ‘growth’ recorded a three-fold jump from the year-ago period to $ 2.8 billion.
Also, in April, the largest deal saw Verse Innovations raise $805 million in a funding round — the second-largest in the media and entertainment sector.
As per a PTI report, the consultancy’s partner Vivek Soni acknowledged that rate tightening by the US Fed will reduce liquidity, but added that international funds are sitting on large amounts of dry powder and India can lead emerging market capital allocations because it is one of the few large economies with strong growth.
He added, “Downside risks that can temper growth expectations and PE/ VC investment activity include rising inflation, oil prices, dollar appreciation vs Indian Rupee and rising Indian interest rates.”
2. Food security & sustainability drove $2.6b in funding for Ag Biotech in 2021
Agricultural biotechnology startups raked in $2.6 billion across 209 deals in 2021 according to AgFunder’s 2022 Agrifoodtech Investment Report.
It 2020, the Ag Biotech category was one of the fastest growing in the farm tech sector, raising $1.6 billion across 173 deals. Its continued growth between then and now illustrates the rising interest in more sustainable crop and animal health solutions versus their traditional chemical-based counterparts.
Ag Biotech is an AgFunder-defined category that includes companies developing biological inputs for crops, animal health solutions, and those working with seed and animal genetics, among other areas.
3. Digital biomarkers are healthcare’s next frontier, reports TechCrunch
Blood pressure, body temperature, hemoglobin A1c levels, and other biomarkers have been used for decades to track disease. While this information is essential for chronic condition management, these and many other physiological measurements are typically captured only periodically, making it difficult to reliably detect early meaningful changes.
Moreover, biomarkers extracted from blood require uncomfortable blood draws, can be expensive to analyze, and again, are not always timely.
Historically, continuous tracking of an individual’s vital signs meant they had to be in a hospital. But that’s not true anymore. Digital biomarkers, collected from wearable sensors or through a device, offer healthcare providers an abundance of traditional and new data to precisely monitor and even predict a patient’s disease trajectory.
With cloud-based servers and sophisticated, yet inexpensive, sensors both on the body and off, patients can be monitored at home more effectively than in a hospital, especially when the sensor data is analyzed with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning technology.
A major opportunity for digital biomarkers is in addressing neurodegenerative diseases such as mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
Neurodegenerative disease is a major target for digital biomarker development due to a lack of easily accessible indicators to help providers diagnose and manage these conditions. A definitive diagnosis for Alzheimer’s disease today, for example, generally requires positron emission tomography (PET), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or other imaging studies, which are often expensive and not always accurate or reliable.
4. Eight Roads launches $250 million healthcare and life science fund in India
Eight Roads, a global investment firm backed by Fidelity, has launched its first dedicated India healthcare and life sciences fund of $250 million, making it the largest pool of capital available for the sector in the country.
“The healthcare market in India is at a tipping point. We have seen that play out in the markets such as China and the US,” Prem Pavoor, senior partner, head of India, and healthcare investments at Eight Roads Ventures, told ET.
Though the sector has been a mainstay for the firm for the last decade and a half that it has been active in India, “now was the time for a dedicated sector focused fund,” he added.
“We will make early to growth stage bets on companies and can go up to $40 million in an investment,” Pavoor said. It will look to back at around 15-20 companies in lifesciences, healthcare services, consumer health, and digital health sectors. “We are looking to deploy this capital over the next three to fo ..
5. Netherlands-based life sciences firm to set up U.S. headquarters in Keene, NH
The expansion is in partnership with the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship and Keene State College, which will provide space for Detact to create a clinical laboratory improvement amendment (CLIA)-certified laboratories as well as an expansive internship and employment program.
“With its easily accessible networking opportunities compared to larger markets, plus its life-sciences ecosystem and the support from Hannah Grimes, New Hampshire is the ideal destination for our U.S. expansion,” said Joost Gazendam, Detact’s CEO. “From its proximity to the Manchester and Nashua areas, to its affordability, quality of life, and community connectivity, this rural region offers endless benefits that will allow us to continue to grow our company, educate a new generation of professionals and deploy life-changing technology.”
CLIA-certified laboratories are federally regulated sites that test human specimens to diagnose, prevent and treat disease. The lab space, to be developed at Keene State, will be used for Detact’s on-site bacterial-detection platforms, which enable healthcare providers and food-processing professionals to detect the presence of virus and bacteria and allow for fast, affordable and precise treatment.
By measuring the amount of light released by a specimen, the patented Detact platform technology, called VIPER (Visualization by Infrared Peptide Reaction), can determine the presence of bacteria or viruses.
6. German proptech startup Predium picks up €1.6 million for its ESG software solution
It’s reported that real estate is responsible for about 30% of Co2 emissions in Germany, causing 115 million tons of CO2. Founded in 2021, Predium wants to help companies manage their buildings in an economically and ecologically forward-thinking way, to help make this sector greener and more planet-friendly.
The Munich-based startup has just picked up €1.6 million in pre-seed funding for its mission. The funding was led by both Partners and 2bX. Other investors include business angels Maximilian Viessmann (Viessmann Group), Kristofer Fichtner (Thermondo and ecoworks) and Michael Wax (forto).
Predium is an all-in-one platform that brings together various process steps for sustainable real estate management in one place. This makes it easier for project developers, property managers, and housing companies in particular to define ESG goals for properties, select measures and price the investment financially, practically at the push of a button. Previously, these complex process steps had to be performed individually in a time-consuming manner.
While Europe is on the road towards net-zero, all industries need to find ways to reduce carbon footprints and contribute. In the real estate world, it’s no different. Rising energy prices and legal requirements for the sustainable management of real estate are increasing the pressure on the real estate industry.
Jens Thumm, founder and CEO of Predium Technology, explained: “Often, the current CO2 balance of the buildings is missing. In addition, companies cannot refurbish all buildings in the short term. The question arises as to which measures should be implemented at what point in time and what costs and savings these entail over time. The answer to this is currently an expensive and cumbersome mix of Excel and consulting projects. We are changing that with Predium.”
7. Romanian startup Cyscale lands €3 million to make cloud security more efficient
Cybersecurity is crucial to any business – regardless of the size. In this digital world, making sure that data and cyber assets are protected is becoming more and more important yet also more and more convoluted. Romanian startup Cyscale wants to change this and has just picked up €3 million.
The funding was led by Notion Capital, with participation from Seedcamp, GapMinder, Micha Hernandez van Leuffen, previously founder of Wercker and now Fiberplane and NP-Hard Ventures; and David Mytton, founder of Console.dev and Server Density.
Founded in 2019, Cyscale’s goal is to help companies to be more competitive due to information protection and digitalization. In 2020, the team raised €350k in just 4 hours!
Within most modern infrastructures, all cyber assets are interconnected, generating a massive digital footprint for organizations. Understanding risk is therefore of critical importance. It can make the difference between a security program that works, and alert fatigue that burdens security and development teams.
Manuela Ticudean, the co-founder of Cyscale, explained: “The cybersecurity industry needs to shift toward understanding cyber risk in context. Only then will we be able to fight the increasingly sophisticated and advanced threats targeting our organizations and our lives. Most cloud security tools analyze cloud infrastructures by running through sets of configuration best practices and verifying them against each cloud resource. This approach can be useful, but the problem is the rate of false positives. Looked at in isolation, a resource may be misconfigured, but there are other contextual factors that determine the actual danger for a business. False positives create noise and keep security engineers from focusing on the highest-risk issues. As a result, businesses waste valuable time and risk becoming the victims of cyber-attacks.”
8. Flying Fish Partners Closes Fund II, a $70M Fund to Back Early-Stage Startups
Flying Fish Partners (“Flying Fish”) last week announced the final closing of its second venture fund, Flying Fish Partners II, L.P., (Fund II) with $70 million in committed capital. Flying Fish invests in the rapidly growing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) sector.
Flying Fish makes seed-stage investments in software and mixed hardware and software companies that use AI or ML as foundations to their businesses, provide AI and ML products and services, or provide tools to AI and ML practitioners. Flying Fish has already made 10 investments in Fund II.
“When we started Flying Fish Partners, we were one of the first venture firms to recognize AI and ML as a rich investment opportunity and to leverage the Pacific Northwest’s strength in the sector,” said Geoff Harris, Flying Fish co-founder and managing director. “We believe our early confidence in the sector has proven out already and that we are still very early in the AI/ML revolution.”
Flying Fish’s team comes from a heavily operational background. Its three founders – Harris, Heather Redman and Frank Chang – have deep and complementary technical, operating and investing expertise.
9. Round13 Llaunches new venture find with initial $70 million USD to back blockchain companies providing “The Base” for Web3
Round13 Capital has unveiled a new venture fund focused on blockchain and Web3 infrastructure companies.
The Toronto-based tech and growth-stage-focused VC firm has secured $70 million USD for its recently launched Digital Asset Fund, from a group of undisclosed investors led by a “major Canadian pension fund,” with support from other institutions, family offices, high-net-worth individuals, and members of the Round13 team.
To date, Round13 has made a name for itself backing mostly Canadian software companies, like Hubdoc and LifeSpeak. According to Round13 Founding Partner Bruce Croxon, the firm’s evergreen Digital Asset Fund hits Round13’s “sweet spot,” and comes as “a natural extension” to the software investments and sectors that it has previously played in.
“We’re not speculating on cryptocurrencies like John [Eckert] and I might have been in late 2016,” Croxon told BetaKit in an interview. “We’ve evolved to be much more interested in the underlying infrastructure that is going to be supporting the next wave of innovation and protocols.”
From this perspective, said Croxon, this fund fits right within Round13’s wheelhouse. “We are venture investors looking to back companies that are going to provide the base for which this new industry is going to grow,” Croxon said.
Round13 has set an “initial target” of $100 million USD for the open Digital Asset Fund, but Croxon said he wouldn’t be surprised if the firm soon surpasses this goal.
10. Berlin-based Zolar lands €100 million to make green energy accessible to all
The demand for green energy is soaring. Across Europe, homes are now being heated and powered by green, more sustainable energy sources and it’s something that is here to stay. Whilst we have all been aware of the benefits of green energy for quite some time, and there are many different options out there, getting access to it has remained a challenge for many and it’s still generally seen as a more expensive choice.
On a mission to democratize access to green energy, Berlin-based zolar has just landed a massive €100 million of fresh funding. The round was led by Energy Impact Partners and GIC as the company’s customer growth quadruples in 2022. Existing investors including Inven Capital, Heartcore Capital, Statkraft Ventures and Pirate Impact Capital also participated in the round.
Founded in 2016 by Alex Melzer and Gregor Loukidis, zolar is a digital platform for individual solar solutions tailored to the needs of modern homeowners for green energy. With a completely digital shopping experience, the Greentech startup offers easy and digital access to photovoltaics. It removes the complexity of going green and democratizes access to the energy sources of the future. It means that even more people can use renewable energy in their own homes – empowering us all to become part of the journey to net-zero and protect our planet.
Using greener energy sources is a key target for European nations as part of the fight to ensure our planet’s wellbeing for future generations. With zolar, Europeans can take some action into their own hands and contribute to fighting climate change
Narine Emdjian, MBA
Federal Funding Expert- Helping startups & academic scientists to acquire federal funding / Podcast Host @hyetechminds