Top startups news to follow this week:
1. Autonomous delivery startup Nuro has raised $600 million in a fundraising round led by new investor Tiger Global Management, capital that the autonomous delivery startup will use to ramp up commercial operations. The funding has pushed Nuro’s valuation to about $8.6 billion — or some 72% higher than a year ago — according to people familiar with the round who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak for the company. “With the boost of this new funding, we’re turning our focus to commercializing and scaling the production of our third-generation vehicle at our new facility in Southern Nevada,” Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder, and the president said in an email to TechCrunch. He added that construction on its manufacturing facility will begin in December and is expected to be completed in 2022.
2. The biotech incubator behind Moderna will pool together its portfolio startups to work on new treatments for cystic fibrosis using up to $110 million in financing from a foundation dedicated to the genetic disease that ultimately derails one’s ability to breathe. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation will dole out up to that amount to Pioneering Medicines, which brings together technologies from biotechs incubated at Flagship Pioneering. One of the outfits central to the work will be Tessera Therapeutics, which snagged its own haul of $230 million back in January.
3. Clinical AI assistant startup Notable has closed a $100 million Series B funding round led by ICONIQ Growth. Notable’s platform takes on administration tasks for doctors and healthcare providers from updating Electronic Health Records (EHR) to scheduling and reminding patients of upcoming appointments. Notable’s platform offers AI help to healthcare providers for both internal needs and communicating with patients. The idea is to cut down on paperwork and data entry so that doctors have more time to focus on the actual medical concerns. The AI responds to both text and voice commands to help the doctor go through documents and records, integrating new information as it arrives and looking for tasks it can complete. The startup claims it cuts more than 700 hours of repetitive tasks a year for every clinician thanks to its automation.
4. WhyLabs, a machine learning startup that was spun out of the Allen Institute last year, helps data teams monitor the health of their AI models and the data pipelines that fuel them. Last year, the startup raised a $4 million seed round and today, the team announced that it has raised a $10 million Series A round co-led by Defy Partners and Andrew Ng’s AI Fund. Existing investors Madrona Venture Group and Bezos Expeditions also participated in this round.
5. Mark Cuban and former Oculus CEO back 3D e-commerce startup VNTANA, which helps e-commerce retailers show off products on their sites in glorious 3D, while also allowing users to view objects in augmented reality and try on items virtually. The startup, founded back in 2012, has had a central focus on 3D content for years but has shifted its attention from bringing holograms to live events pre-pandemic to bringing 3D content to storefronts across the web. The startup tells TechCrunch it has raised $12.5 million in Series A funding across multiple raises. Backers of the startup’s latest fundings include Mark Cuban, former Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe, Flexport, and Anorak Ventures, among others.
6. OQmented, a German pioneer in AR/VR Display and 3D Sensing Solutions, scores €8 million in funding. OQmented is a deep tech startup developing and selling the most advanced MEMS mirror and laser scanning technologies available on the market today. The fresh capital will be invested in the expansion mainly of the company’s location in Itzehoe, accelerating their Research & Development as well as fostering existing partnerships and establishing cooperations with new partners. Also, the capital will be invested to fast-track market penetration of OQmented’s MEMS mirror-based laser beam scanning (LBS) technology for AR/VR smart glasses. The tiny projection display—the industry’s first one-chip solution—gives product innovators the essential enabling technology for smart glasses that offer powerful visualization capabilities in a stylish, virtually weightless frame. The product will contribute to propel AR/VR technologies into the mainstream, smoothing the runway to the next iteration of the internet, and enabling applications like 3D cameras, LiDAR, and machine vision products.
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7. Kitman Labs, the Dublin-based sports technology and analytics company setting a new industry standard for how elite sports organizations use data and operate, just announced the close of a €45 million investment round led by Guggenheim Investments (on behalf of certain of its managed accounts), a global asset investment and advisory firm with more than $259 billion in assets under management. The latest investment brings Kitman Labs’ total outside funding to €70 million. Elite sports leagues and teams are collecting record amounts of player data from wearables, tracking systems, and legacy point solutions often used by a single department. On average, 2.5 million data points per athlete will be gathered this year. By 2025, that number is expected to increase to 230 million data points per athlete – a staggering increase of over 9,000%. With this influx, organizations around the globe are currently faced with the challenge of finding meaningful insights in this data that can be shared by the entire organization. Kitman Labs has created an operating system for sport that enables organizations to consolidate and transform data from point solutions into actionable, team-specific insights with advanced analytics that guide collaborative decisions about talent strategies, performance, health and safety, and youth development.
8. Princeton NuEnergy, Inc., an emerging growth company primarily engaged in the regeneration of Lithium-Ion Battery (LIB) material, is selected as National Grand Prize Winner to 2021 Cleantech Open. Cleantech Open is a non-profit organization that runs the world’s most extensive clean technology accelerator program for cleantech startups. This year, following a rigorous evaluation process, Princeton NuEnergy (“PNE”) has been selected as the national winner in the 2021 Cleantech Open (“CTO”). As the national winner, PNE will have exclusive access to one of the world’s only cleantech-specific expert mentors, connection to a high-level national network of influencers and entrepreneurs, visibility to the market, and a prize in the amount of $50,000. Dr. Chao Yan, CEO of PNE stated, “Cleantech Open is a great platform to support us on business development, investor engagement, and customer base establishment. This award will help us with the execution of our pilot production line in Q1 2022. Additionally, the consulting and legal support will strengthen our position in intellectual property, business strategy, and marketing.”
Each year, over 150 companies participate in one of the Cleantech Open US, Global Climate Innovation, or Global Ideas programs. Since 2005, CTO has trained over 1600 early-stage clean technology startup entrepreneurs through its annual business accelerator, raised $1.2 billion for implementation in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and clean transport, and created over 3,000 clean economy jobs.
9. Last week, Amsterdam-based Amberscript, the AI speech recognition startup, announced that it has raised €8.65 million to further its mission of making all audio accessible. The Series A funding round was led by Endeit Capital, a leading German-Dutch growth capital firm founded by former executives of the media company Endemol, validating the potential for Amberscript’s technology in the media industry. Amberscript aims to make the power of language accessible to everyone and to bring the world closer together. By combining domain-specific AI speech recognition engines with a ‘human layer’ of transcribers, Amberscript produces subtitles with the highest accuracy in the market, delivered eight times faster than traditional manual methods.
10. Climate tech investment in Europe has grown 7x in the past five years, over the global average of 4.9x. Sustainability-focused VCs in Europe have raised $1.8bn this year so far, which includes the €350m fund by Ecosia-backed VC firm World Fund. But who are the VCs investing in sustainability in Europe? Sifted has created a list of sustainability and climate tech-focused VCs — and highlighted the active ones with big funds — so you can get to know them a bit better.
Here they are.
Astanor Ventures –
Latest fund size: $325m; tickets $1-10m
Focus: Series A-C; Europe and North America; agriculture, food and oceantech.
World Fund –
Latest fund size: €350m; tickets €1-3m (early-stage), €5-8m (late-stage)
Focus: Seed-Series B; mainly Europe, sector agnostic
HQ: London, with offices in Copenhagen and Berlin
Latest fund size: €270m
Focus: Early-stage; Europe; cities (construction, micromobility, etc)
Norrsken VC –
Latest fund size: €125m
Focus: Seed-Series A; Europe; sector agnostic
Blue Horizon –
Latest fund size: €183m
Focus: Seed-growth; global; foodtech, agritech
Emerald Technology Ventures –
Latest fund size: $100m
Focus: Europe and North America; Series A-D; energy, water, industrial IT, advanced materials, mobility, robotics and agriculture; tickets $500k-$5m.
SET Ventures –
Latest fund size: €100m
Focus: Early-stage to growth; Europe; energy
ETF Partners –
Latest fund size: £167m
Focus: Growth; Europe; energy, mobility, consumer, food
Rubio Impact Ventures–
Latest fund size: €110m
Focus: Mainly Dutch companies; early to growth; sector agnostic; tickets €1-8m
Pale Blue Dot –
HQ: Malmö, Sweden
Latest fund size: $87m
Focus: Pre-seed-seed; sector agnostic; tickets €200k-2m
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