Platform that Offers AI Investment Advice MDOTM Raises €6.2 million Series B, Currently holds € 750 million AUA


MDOTM, a platform that provides investment advice using artificial intelligence  (AI), has raised €6.2 million in Series B fundraising. Both institutions and individual investors participated in the funding round.

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[Report] Financial Institutions are increasingly adopting AI for supporting AML as Fintech adoption rises

Payments and standards

As noted in the report, almost £18 billion in Fintech investments were made in H1 2021, which is another record for the UK’s total investments in the financial technology space, and it now puts the country in second place, trailing only the US.

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London-based Semeris scoops £600K to speed up legal documentation


One of the biggest challenges for legal professionals is coping up with high volumes of routine and cumbersome legal work. Attempting to solve this problem is London-based legal AI startup, Semeris. Designed to help financial services companies review, analyse and summarise legal documentation, the company aims to deliver ‘superhuman powers’ for anyone interacting with complex legal documents.

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Can AI get you sued? How AI impacts IP

Intellectual property

The intersection between AI and Intellectual Property (IP) policy is a complex one and has many implications for key stakeholders both now and into the future. This week I look at the results of a public consultation driven by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) on the matter. Responses released looked at many issues around AI in relation to patents, trademarks, designs, trade secrets, and copyright.

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Smart money Fintech app Snoop Secures £15M via Series A with participation from US investment firm Paulson & Co. Inc


Fintech app Snoop has secured £15 million in capital in order to support its global expansion efforts. Established by ex- Virgin Money Chief Executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia, the smart money app Snoop closed its Series A round with contributions from US investment management company Paulson & Co. Inc.

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London-based Connectd completes $1M seed to develop matchmaking platform for founders


Connectd, a platform that brings together founders and potential investors to help maximise the chances of success without relying on connections, has announced the completion of a $1 million seed funding round. The investment was led by Nigel Wray, the owner of Saracens, who has previously invested in Nutmeg and Domino’s Pizza. He was joined by LiFE Ventures, Yobi Partners’ Toni Nijm and ABC Investors’ Steve Castle. Connectd plans to use the funding to expand their team and reach, supporting even more founders to build their businesses. 

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Swiss B2B Proptech PriceHubble finalizes $34M round from Digital+ Partners, Latitude Ventures, others

Price Hubble

Switzerland-based B2B Proptech firm PriceHubble reveals that it has finalized its $34 million Series B round.
PriceHubble’s investment round was oversubscribed and was led by Digital+ Partners, a European growth equity investor. The firm’s round was also joined by Latitude Ventures, the Series B+ sister fund of UK’s VC LocalGlobe and TX Ventures from Zurich, and TX Group AG’s venture unit.

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Coventry-based biotech grabs £6.2M funding to develop its novel biologic delivery platform


Coventry-based biotech, NanoSyrinx has raised a further £6.2m of seed financing, co-led by incoming Octopus Ventures and existing investor M Ventures (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), the corporate venture capital arm of Merck KGaA. Previous investors BioCity and the UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund (UKI2S) joined the funding round along with experienced deeptech investor IQ Capital and Jonathan Milner. The round was significantly oversubscribed with high demand both from existing and from new investors.

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Skymind targets the UK with its $800M AI investment fund


Skymind, which bills itself as the world’s first dedicated AI ecosystem builder, is focusing on the UK with its $800 million AI investment fund. Although the fund is global, the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic meant that much of the focus was geographically near the Malaysian base of its leadership team. However, having announced their first investments earlier this year, they are looking at the UK for their future investments and the future of AI. 

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Vaayu secures $1.6M in pre-seed funding to develop their world-saving product


Vaayu, a real-time carbon footprint tracker for retailers, has raised $1.6 million in pre-seed funding. The company plans to use the investment, which was led by Amsterdam-based female-led VC CapitalT, to support their expansion and product development ahead of moving out of their closed beta phase later this year. Further, the funding was supported by a number of angel investors including Atomico’s Angel Program, Planet Positive LP, Saarbrücker 21, Expedite Ventures and NP-Hard Ventures. 
The fashion industry is, globally, responsible for around 10% of annual carbon emissions. Vaayu’s product empowers retailers to act to reduce their contribution by providing real-time feedback. Modern trends, in both fashion and retail, mean that e-commerce has been having an increasing impact on the environment. This has grown during the pandemic, after an initial dip, with a big increase in things like shipping and packaging. Ecommerce also has several features that are significantly less common in traditional retail, such as returns and multiple orders for sizing. Collectively these add significantly to a retailer’s environmental impact. 
First-ever carbon tracking software for retailers
Vaayu was born out of co-founder Namrata Sandhu’s experience in fashion and sustainability. Starting as a sustainability consultant, she spent many years working in the Arcadia Group before becoming head of sustainability at Zalando. She started Vaayu, along with co-founders Anita Daminov and Luca Schmid in December 2020 and rapidly progressed the idea to a closed beta with 25 European retailers, including global brands like Missoma and Organic Basics. 
The business is also notably female-led. Not only are two of the three co-founders women, but they have taken their time to ensure that the company retains its gender diversity. The backing by female-led CapitalT was important, since Sandhu felt it meant they understood Vaayu’s wider goals and ambitions. It now means that over 60% of the people around Vaayu’s top table are women. 

Calculating a retailer’s carbon footprint had, previously, been a laborious and expensive process. Sandhu had been responsible for these, although many other retailers resorted to hiring external consultants for an annual process. “Traditionally, we’d pull things in and be calculating everything on Excel spreadsheets,” Sandhu explained to us. “But e-commerce is a fast-moving space, your business footprint changes quickly, and the big markets you had last year may not be the biggest markets you have this year.” The consequence was that businesses would have a carbon accounting statement that was already out of date when it was produced. 
Vaayu changes the calculation, using live data to provide immediate feedback. By integrating with point-of-sale systems, like Shopify or WooCommerce, it can understand the current business volumes and, using known information on logistics and operations — right down to the packaging required — give a current indication of the retailer’s carbon footprint. Live information has significant benefits, retailers can immediately see the consequences of their actions, but can also see what impact purchasing trends are having and, if necessary, work to minimise their environmental impact. 
The product focuses on fashion retail. So, while there are competitors who work in the carbon audit field, Vaayu only works in the fashion retail industry. “It means you’re much more able to benchmark different from a data perspective,” Sandhu says. “It makes the process of optimisation much more specific because it’s all focused on a specific business model.” 
Expansion plans in EU and UK
Having had a successfully closed beta phase, Berlin-based Vaayu will be using their pre-seed funding to plan for the next phases of their expansion. Currently focussed on Europe and later the UK, they are expanding their team and preparing for their public launch before seeking additional funding. Vaayu have deliberately worked with customers from the outset, ensuring they can build a model that offers more than just a theoretical assessment of carbon footprint. Their beta phase has focused on ensuring the integration provides actionable data for their businesses. Sandhu stresses that working in partnership with businesses is integral to their product, “we didn’t just go away into a silo and build an app. We really pulled in customers from the start, and built it with them because we wanted to make sure it helped them.” 
Vaayu is working with Missoma which is one of the UK’s fastest-growing private companies, Marisa Hordern, CEO and Creative Director, Missoma says, “Partnering with Vaayu as part of our sustainability journey was paramount to our own internal mission. With extensive backgrounds in retail, they truly understand our needs while allowing us to digitalise our data in real-time and push the boundaries of what we could be, even further.”
The UN has set a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 50% by 2030, less than nine years away. Retailers are the third-largest contributor to global emissions, and Vaayu plans to play a big role in helping them reduce that. Their goal is to help retailers reduce their emissions by one gigaton — more than the combined annual emissions of France and Germany — meaning that for Vaayu success not just a growing business, but a better world for everyone. 
Janneke Niessen, founding partner, CapitalT commented: “We are very excited to join Vaayu on their mission to reduce carbon emission for retailers worldwide. The Vaayu product is very scalable and its quick and easy implementation allows for fast adoption. We are confident that with this experienced team, Vaayu will soon be one of the fastest-growing climate tech companies in Europe and the world.”

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UK biotech startup Kuano lands £1M for AI-driven drug discovery

Kuano AI

With artificial intelligence (AI) geared up to transform the pharmaceutical industry, a growing number of biotech and pharma startups are harnessing cutting-edge AI technology for drug discovery and drug remodelling.  To shift the COVID-19 tide and get things back to normal, the sector has become a hotbed for growing investments. Investors have been increasingly optimistic about the promise of AI in drug discovery and pouring more money into AI-driven biotech startups. 

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ORCA Hub secures £2.5M to help offshore energy industry use robots to inspect, maintain, and repair platforms

Orca Hub

The Offshore Robotics for the Certification of Assets (ORCA) Hub is a research programme developing Robotics, AI, and Autonomous Systems for the offshore sector. Recently, the ORCA Hub secured £2.5 million in funding from UK Research & Innovation (UKRI).

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London’s AI-powered accident and disaster recovery platform Tractable raises $60 million in Series D round, joins the unicorn club


London-based accident and disaster recovery platform Tractable has raised $60 million in a Series D funding round led by Insight Partners and Georgian. Partnering with a leading insurer in Japan, Tractable will also use the funding to apply its technology to home-based claims. Over the course of 9 fundraising rounds, the firm has bagged $119.9 million and is now valued at $1 billion. As of today, Tractable becomes the UK’s first computer vision unicorn.

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A £22.4M worth National Robotarium to open in Edinburgh in 2022

National Robotarium

Construction work has begun on the new research facility for robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) – National Robotarium at Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh campus.  £22.4 million worth facility The £22.4 million worth facility will be the largest and most advanced facility for robotics and AI research in the UK. It will be a centre of excellence […]

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British intelligence agency GCHQ publishes ‘Ethics of AI’ report

GCHQ AI ethics report

The intelligence agency’s first-ever public report details how AI can be used “ethically” for cyber operations. GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) is tasked with providing signals intelligence and information assurance to the government and armed forces of the United Kingdom and its allies. Jeremy Fleming, Director of GCHQ, said: “We need honest, mature conversations about the […]

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Cloud data analytics service Phocas raises $34 million to grow AI, global footprint

Phocas Software‘s cloud data analytics tools might be best known in Australia, where they’re used by Thermo Fisher Scientific, Fiskars Royal Doulton, and Burson Automotive to streamline employee access to key financial data, but the company is planning to become more aggressive globally in 2021. Today, Phocas announced that it raised $34 million to bolster its AI capabilities and reach new customers across the world, while expanding its data tools to reach new verticals.

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NHS will use AI to improve COVID-19 treatment and shorten hospital stays

Combatting coronavirus

The UK’s NHS (National Health Service) will use AI to help improve the outcome for COVID-19 patients and reduce their time spent in hospital. While the UK’s vaccine rollout is among the fastest in the world – certainly in comparison to its European peers – a series of late lockdowns and initial lack of PPE…

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