The Bulletin
1D
Healthtech firm Accolade pays $460m for 2nd.MD
Accolade, the tech firm that helps workers control their healthcare plans, is to acquire 2nd.MD. The $460m deal was confirmed this week after initial reports on CNBC. 2nd.MD is a telehealth startup which has seen demand for its services soar during COVID-19. It serves more than seven million employees across its 300 business clients. Accolade's CEO praised 2nd.MD's "world class" digital approach.
1D
OneWeb reduces size of broadband satellite constellation
OneWeb is slashing the size of its proposed satellite constellation, from 47,844 to 6,732. The constellation, which aims to deliver broadband globally, which will orbit the Earth at 1,200km. However, the London-based company has announced $1.4bn in funding. The cash injection comes from SoftBank Group and Hughes Network Systems. OneWeb currently has 1110 satellites in orbit.
1D
Startups involved in UK smart city accelerator
Six UK startups are to take part in a smart city accelerator at Salford's MediaCityUK. The accelerator will focus on how the companies' prototype tech solutions could help cities adapt to a post-COVID-19 world. Investment will be available to the startups at the end of the programme. Companies involved in the testbed include air quality data company Atmo and IoT security platform OvertAI.
2D
Microsoft, Oracle and others team up on digital COVID-19 vaccine records
Technology and health companies are collaborating in an attempt to establish a global standard for digital COVID-19 vaccination records. The ‘Vaccination Credential Initiative’ includes companies such as Salesforce, Microsoft, Epic and healthcare non-profit Mayo Clinic. The platform would have to keep data secure, while also being verifiable and traceable.
2D
Lumiata raises $14m to predict healthcare outcomes
Lumiata has been boosted by a $14m funding round. The healthtech company uses data analytics and AI to predict and manage healthcare costs. "Lumiata is breaking new ground in the adoption of AI across healthcare’s core functions," said it's co-founder. The Series B finance round was led by venture capital firms Defy.vc and AllegisNL Capital. The cash will be used to scale its enterprise platform.
2D
Carbyne nabs $25m for emergency response platform
Carbyne, which has built tech to improve emergency responses, has raised $25 million. The firm's cloud-based platform gives responders more information on callers, and offers extra telemedicine services. An Israeli startup, Carbyne grew its revenues by 350% last year. Its Series B1 round has been led by Hanaco Ventures and ELSTED Capital Partners. Carbyne will now look to grow into new markets.
2D
Blue Origin to launch New Shepard rocket
Blue Origin will launch one of its New Shepard rockets today, January 4th at 9:45 AM CST, carrying Mannequin Skywalker, Blue Origin’s test dummy. The new rocket includes improved sound and temperature regulation, display panels, speakers and push-to-talk microphones. Today's mission, NS-14 will test multiple communication and safety alert systems.
2D
Google blocks Indian lending apps accused of abusing customers
Google has removed 10 lending apps from India's Play Store, after a report revealed that they had breached Google's rules on loan repayment lengths aimed at protecting vulnerable borrowers.“We have reviewed hundreds of personal loan apps in India, based on flags submitted by users and government agencies,” Suzanne Frey, Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy has said.
2D
Saudi Arabia unveils smart city built in straight line
Saudi Arabia has launches its vision for a zero-carbon city built in a 170km straight line. The Line will “reimagine and revitalise the future of urban living,” according to the Kingdom. The $5bn megacity will be devoid of cars and streets, with autonomous high-speed transit connecting communities. Construction will begin this year, and all urban developments will be powered by clean energy.
3D
French government partners with Doctolib for COVID-19 vaccine rollout
After a slow take-up of the COVID-19 vaccine, the French government has looked to increase the rollout speed by partnering with Doctolib. Digital healthtech firm Doctolib will offer online appointment bookings through medical centres that have paid a fee to sign up to its site. An IPSOS poll found that only 45% of French adults would accept a vaccine, far lower than other European countries.
3D
Intuitive Machines to hitch ride on SpaceX for moon landing
Intuitive Machines has announced a second lunar mission aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The first was already pencilled in for launch this year, while the second will take place no earlier than 2022. Intuitive Machines will deliver a mining drill and a mass spectrometer. “These missions, in partnership with NASA, will help further the goal of extending humanity’s reach beyond Earth,” said SpaceX.
3D
Apple announces first recipients of $100m Racial Equity and Justice Initiative
Last June, Apple pledged to spend $100 million as part of its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative. The first round will donate $25 million donation to the Propel Center, a learning hub for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and fund the creation of the Apple Developer Academy to support coding students in Detroit, and a venture capital funding for Black and Brown founders.
3D
UK government invests in 5G to "improve people's lives"
The UK is committing £28m ($38m) to 5G projects which it hopes will "improve people's lives". The joint investment, made alongside businesses, will trial the potential of 5G in nine projects. Some of the different instances will demonstrate the power of 5G to improve fan experiences inside stadiums, enhance the visitor experience at tourism attractions and to broadcast high-quality, live content.
3D
DarkMarket, the world’s largest illegal online marketplace, taken down
A Europol-coordinated international operation has taken down DarkMarket, the world’s largest dark web marketplace. The German police arrested the operator of the site, an unnamed 34-year-old Australian man, and seized 20 servers that hosted it. DarkMarked had almost a half-million users, who bought drugs, counterfeit money, stolen or counterfeit credit card details, unnamed SIM cards and malware.
3D
Amazon launches online academy in India
Amazon has launched an app and website which will offer training for aspiring engineers in India. The online academy will prepare students for the country's most competitive college entrance tests, the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE). It will offer lectures, learning material and assessments, and will initially be free. The move is seen as Amazon wanting a slice of India's booming edtech market.
4D
Uber and Moderna partner for COVID-19 vaccination campaign
Uber and Moderna have announced a new partnership around COVID-19 vaccination. They will provide users of Uber's consumer app with up to date, factual information about COVID-19 vaccine safety. However, the companies are also considering additional services such as building ride scheduling via Uber directly into the immunization appointment booking process and sending text reminders.
4D
GM to launch BrightDrop electric delivery vehicle business
General Motors General Motors has announced its plans to enter the electric delivery vehicle. Mary Barra, GM's CEO has revealed that the company's plans to deliver its first BrightDrop commercial vans by the end of the years. GM estimates the U.S. market for parcel and food delivery will be worth over $850 billion by 2025, as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
4D
Google fights COVID-19 misinformation with $3m campaign
Google has launched the ‘COVID-19 Vaccine Counter Misinformation Open Fund’ to fight the spread of misinformation around vaccinations. It is putting $3m into the pot for projects that can help audiences fact-checks news around the COVID-19 vaccines. A 14-person jury, including representatives of the World Health Organization, will review the applications.
4D
Zyter unveils Smart Hospitals system
Digital health company Zyter has launched its new Smart Hospitals system. It says the solution, which is 5G-ready, can connect virtually all of a hospital's electronic systems. It offers hospital bed device monitoring and asset monitoring, as well as patient tracking. Zyter's CEO says users "will gain the competitive advantage of a safer and more personal patient experience".
4D
Chinese EV start-up Xpeng secures $2b credit line
Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer Xpeng Inc. has signed an agreement with banks for a $2 billion line of credit to expand its business. The agreement was signed with Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China, China Construction Bank, China CITIC Bank and Guangzhou Rural Commercial Bank. Last month, Xpeng raised $2.5 billion in its first follow-on public offering.
5D
Dina, an AI-powered at-home care service, raises $7m
Dina, a startup developing an AI-powered at-home care platform, has raised $7 million in a Series A funding round led by Osage Venture Partners. The Chicago-based company will use the funds to expand its AI products to help the health care industry transition to in-home care, an option that has become increasingly popular in light of the high COVID-19 mortality rates of elderly care facilities.
5D
Alula launches platform for cancer patients, gets cash boost
Alula has announced a $2.2m fund-raise as it launches its platform for cancer patients. The platform's aim is to bring together resources to support cancer sufferers and their families. Liya Shuster, whose mother had breast cancer and who developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma herself, founded the company. A number of venture capital funds and angel investors have supported its launch.
5D
AWS suspends Parler for allowing the publication of "violent content"
Amazon Web Services has banned Parler from using its cloud services, forcing it to go offline. AWS has explained that the decision was prompted by the app's "lack of content moderation" which led to the publication of "violent content". Parler increased its popularity within Trump supporters after the assault on the U.S. Capitol. Google and Apple have also banned Parler from their app stores.
5D
Confirmed: Baidu to build electric cars
Baidu and Geely have confirmed they will create a new company for "intelligent" electric vehicles. The story was first reported by Reuters last week. A joint press release on Monday confirmed the initiative. The EVs will utilise Geely's electric vehicle architecture, though further detail was sparse. Baidu adds its name to the list of Chinese tech companies exploring the automotive space.
8D
Tesla launches new cheaper Model Y SUV
Tesla has launched a cheaper variant of the Model Y, priced at $41,990, placing it only $4,000 over the company's most affordable model, Model 3. The news comes as a reversal of Elon Musk's statements that said that the company was planning of putting the vehicle on hold because the lower range “would be unacceptably low (< 250 mile EPA).”
8D
Apple and Hyundai in talks over electric vehicle collaboration
Hyundai has revealed it is in talks with Apple about partnering on electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries. The news was originally leaked by a South Korean broadcaster, who reported Hyundai and Apple were planning to manufacture self-driving EVs by 2027. In response Hyundai said in a statement: “Apple and Hyundai are in discussion, but as it is early stage, nothing has been decided.”
8D
Vodafone offers free data to UK businesses
Vodafone is offering free connectivity to businesses in the UK because of the impact of COVID-19. Free broadband for the remainder of the year will be on offer to companies with up to 50 employees - although customers will need to sign up to a 36-month contract. The deal comes on the basis of new research from Vodafone partner Enterprise Nation, a UK small business community network.
9D
Germany triples EV sales in 2020
Germany's road traffic regulator KBA has published statistics that show that the sales of battery-electric vehicles increased three-fold to more than 194,000 units in 2020. The German government's goal is to have seven to ten million registered electric vehicles on German roads by 2030. “E-mobility has become a mainstream feature of the mobile society,” Richard Damm, president of KBA, has said.
9D
Baidu to make EVs - report
Baidu is to build its own electric vehicles (EV) at Geely plants. The move was first rumoured at the end of last year, and has now been firmed up by Reuters. Baidu will take a majority stake in a new company, leading on software development and taking engineering input from Geely. Baidu will hold absolute voting power in the venture. The two companies are also discussing using Geely's EV platform.
9D
Too Good To Go to continue food waste mission with $31m cash injection
Too Good To Go has raised $31m from a new funding round. The app allows users to buy food at discounted rates, just before it goes to waste. It has been operating in Europe for a number of years. COVID-19 hit the business but it has now raised cash in a round led by blisce/, which is investing $15.4m. The company says it has saved around 50 million meals, and that 30 million people have signed up.
9D
Change Healthcare bought by UnitedHealth for $13bn
UnitedHealth Group has purchased Change Healthcare for $13bn to form part of its health information and tech arm, Optum. Change will strengthen UnitedHealth’s delivery of customer platforms and software, medical imaging data and data analytics. “Together we will help streamline and inform the vital clinical, administrative and payment processes,” said Andrew Witty, president of UnitedHealth.
10D
Senti Bio nabs $105m for gene circuit tech platform
Senti Bio, the healthtech company that has built technology to engineer gene circuits, has received major backing from pharma giant Bayer. The tech is helping to develop cell and gene therapies to fight diseases like cancer. The investment arm of Bayer, Bayer Leads, has led a $105m Series B financing round which Senti Bio says will transform the speed at which it can grow.
10D
New fuel-powered vehicles to be banned by Massachusetts
Massachusetts has announced that all vehicles sold in the state will have to be electric by 2035. It follows California in agreeing to ban the sales of petrol and diesel cars. It is part of Massachusetts’ ambition to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. "The costly impacts of climate change are on display in the Commonwealth, making it critical that we take action,” said Gov. Charlie Baker.
10D
Apple executive's bonuses will depend on their environmental commitment
Apple Inc has announced that, from 2021, its executives' cash bonuses will be modified based on whether they act within the company’s social and environmental values. Some of the aspects that will be taken into account are the use of recycled materials in products, diversity and inclusion among its workforce and the privacy and security of its devices.
10D
Hinge Health raises $310m - reports
Hinge Health has completed a Series D funding round worth $310m, according to reports. The healthtech firm, which has built a digital platform to support those with chronic back and joint conditions, is now valued at $3bn. The round was led by Coatue and Tiger Global. Hinge Health's platform combines wearable sensors, an app and virtual coaching to help its users. Its main market is the U.S..
11D
Lenovo to roll out carbon offset programme
Lenovo is to roll out carbon offset services across EMEA, Asia Pacific and North America. The move comes after a pilot in the Nordics, where customers offset the carbon emissions of Think branded products. Its customers have offset the equivalent emissions of 1.7 million kilometres of airline flights in nine months. The initiative is believed to be one of the first its kind in the IT industry.
11D
Malaysian researchers make disposable drones from pineapple waste
Malaysian researchers at Putra University have transformed the fibre found in pineapple leaves into a material that can be used to build the frames for unmanned aircrafts or drones. The prototype drone built using this material has been able to fly to a height of about 1,000 metres and stay in the air for 20 minutes. It was also cheaper, lighter and easier to dispose of than normal drones.
11D
Bill Gates-backed Boston Metal raises $50m for sustainable steel production
Boston Metal, the startup backed in the past by Bill Gates-financed Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund, has raised $50 million. The startup has created a new process called molten oxide electrolysis (“MOE”) with the goal of producing emissions-free steel. The company aims to have a semi-industrial cell line operating in Woburn by the end of 2022.
11D
Amazon, JPMorgan and Berkshire close down their healthcare JV
An ambitious healthcare joint venture between Amazon, JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway has been shut down. Launched just three years ago, Haven's aim was to help reduce rising healthcare costs. However, the three parties have agreed to end the formal arrangement because each company is pursuing different healthcare strategies. They will continue to collaborate informally on employee programmes.
11D
Singapore police can obtain data from COVID-19 tracing app
Police will be able to access privacy data from Singapore’s COVID-19 contact tracing app in a move that has alarmed privacy campaigners. The app, TraceTogether, is used by nearly 80% of Singapore’s population and has been heralded as a success. However, the Singapore Minister of State for Home Affairs, Desmond Tan, has admitted the police force can “obtain any data” for criminal investigations.
12D
Elke Temme to head up EV charging for Volkswagen
Volkswagen has hired utilities industry exec Elke Temme to head up its new Charging & Energy business unit. Temme has served for 18 years at energy company RWE/innogy. The new business area further establishes Volkswagen's push into electric vehicles. "With Elke Temme, we have won a proven expert in the fields of energy and charging for our company," said a company spokesperson.
12D
AMP Robotics boosted by $55m funding round
AMP Robotics, the company that has built a system to identify and differentiate recyclables, has raised $55m in Series B financing. The firm plans to invest the cash in creating new AI-based solutions to elevate its product. It also wants to expand its reach with consumer packaged goods companies. $200 billion worth of recyclable materials goes unrecovered annually.
12D
EU publishes new drone rules
The European Union has published a new set of rules to regulate drone use. The rules have been accepted by all member states as well as Norway, Iceland and the United Kingdom. The rules remove the distinction between commercial and recreational use and facilitate the identification of its owners, as all drones will need to be registered with the relevant aviation authority.
25D
Astroscale ships its ELSA-d space junk removal satellite to launch site
Astroscale the Japanese startup focused on long-term orbital sustainability solutions has shipped its End-of-Life Services (ELSA-d) satellite to Kazakhstan for a March 2021 launch on a Soyuz rocket. “We have officially moved from the manufacturing phase to the launch and operations preparation phase, and we are eager to see ELSA-d in orbit,” said Gene Fujii, Astroscale Chief Engineer.
25D
Ombu sold to Hambro Perks
Ombu, a group of seven companies in the environmental technology space, has been sold to Hambro Perks. This is the first major move from the newly-created enviro-tech arm of Hambro, the London-based VC firm. Ombu's portfolio includes water treatment startup Bluewater Bio and Iceotop, a cooling tech for data centres. Hambro Perks' CEO said the enviro-tech sector is ripe for "enormous growth".
25D
Apple invests in new battery technology for car production
Apple is looking to start car production in 2024 with new battery technology, according to Reuters. It is aiming to produce passenger vehicles with “next level” battery technology using a monocell design which allows room for more material to be stored inside the battery. This would give the car a longer driving range, as well as reducing the cost of batteries, according to Reuters’ sources.
26D
US COVID relief bill includes $7b for broadband access
The United States Congress has finally approved a $900 billion coronavirus relief deal which includes a $7 billion provision for broadband connectivity and infrastructure. That figure includes a $3.2 billion for a $50-per-month Emergency Broadband Benefit for people who are laid off or furloughed during the pandemic, as well as a $1.9 billion budget to "rip and replace" Huawei and ZTE equipment.
26D
Lockheed Martin boosts space tech with Aerojet Rocketdyne acquisition
Lockheed Martin is to pay $4.4bn for Aerojet Rocketdyne. The United States' largest defence contractor, Lockheed Martin wants to be part of the space race with new players like SpaceX and Blue Origin. Aerojet Rocketdyne makes advanced tech that Lockheed said will be boost its space and hypersonic capabilities. A spokesperson for the acquired firm said the deal will "accelerate our shared purpose".
26D
Eli Lilly eyes stake on UK's tech drug developer BenevolentAI
Eli Lilly the global pharmaceutical giant is considering a major strategic investment in BenevolentAI, the British-based technology company which uses artificial intelligence to develop drugs. According to Sky News Eli Lilly is likely to participate in a new funding round that could secure $75 million for BenevolentAI. BenevolentAI is run by Baroness Shields, the former Facebook executive.
26D
Gunvor backs Artemis and emission-free marine transportation
Gunvor has bought an equity stake in Artemis Technologies, a company that is building climate-friendly marine transport. Artemis has recently been awarded a £33m innovation grant from the UK government for its zero-emission, high-speed ferries. It is a spin-off of the Artemis Racing sailing team. Gunvor chairman Torbjörn Törnqvist said: “Artemis is working on a number of compelling innovations."