Startup Monday: Latest tech trends & news happening in the global startup ecosystem (Issue 55)

Episode 48


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Top startups news to follow this week:

1. The global biopharmaceutical market size is expected to hit US$ 856.1 billion by 2030 and is expanding growth at a noteworthy CAGR of 12.5% from 2021 to 2030.

According to Precedence Research, the global biopharmaceutical market was estimated at US$ 265.4 billion in 2020. The rising prevalence of various chronic diseases, growing geriatric population, rising investments in the research and development of the new drugs, supportive regulations of the government, and rising adoption of the biopharmaceuticals among the global population are some of the important factors that drives the growth of the global biopharmaceutical market.

The biopharmaceutical market is growing at a rapid rate and it accounts for around 20% of the global pharmaceutical industry. The increasing awareness about the effectiveness and availability of the biopharmaceuticals among the population is significantly boosting the demand for the biopharmaceuticals across the globe.

2. Chris Dixon, Marc Andreessen back $30M fund exclusively investing in NFT art

The world of NFTs is never dull — as long as the money never stops. While investors continue to pour billions into the sector, albeit at a slowing pace, more crypto buyers are spinning up funds to back NFT platforms, projects and the non-fungible tokens themselves.

The $30 million fund called Curated is devoted to buying and holding NFT artwork, TechCrunch reports . The fund is backed by a who’s who of crypto investors, with LPs including a sizable chunk of a16z’s investing team (Marc Andreessen, Chris Dixon, Andrew Chen, Arianna Simpson and Jon Lai are all backers), as well as Alexis Ohanian, Justin Kan, Electric Capital’s Avichal Garg and Curtis Spencer and a host of other investors and founders in the space.

The fund plans to invest about half of the fund in so-called “blue-chip NFTs,” including popular projects like CryptoPunks, Art Blocks and Bored Apes, as well as works from popular artists selling singular NFT works. The other half of the fund is going into what Jiang and Goldberg deem as “high potential collections” from artists with smaller existing markets.

“NFT assets are what we think are going to be a really big deal over the next decade, like orders of magnitude larger than they are today, because NFTs give us a digitally native way to invest in culture at internet scale,” Goldberg tells TechCrunch in an interview. “We want to become a very high-signal collector that acquires the top assets and is also helpful to creators and builders.”

3. By 2032, the Hazardous Area Equipment Market to be worth US$ 16139.80 Billion; Growing Attention on Boosting Safety Measures Says Future Market Insights 

Hazardous area equipment is devices that may either limit or diminish the damage caused by accidents such as fires or have the capacity to work effectively in harsh settings.

They are used in hazardous locations based on the division, class, or zone and include cable glands and attachments, control panels, buttons, illumination, and strobe beacons.

The rising emphasis on industry safety measures, as well as the increased use of LED lighting solutions for hazardous and safe environments, is driving the growth of the hazardous area equipment market.

The desire for low-cost solutions is projected to present the substantial potential for hazardous area equipment market participants.

The expansion of industrial safety measures, particularly in process sectors where the operations of hazardous work equipment are required to continue, as well as rising urbanisation and population growth throughout the world, will emerge as the primary factors driving hazardous area equipment market growth.

4. Zeta Surgical comes out of stealth with a $5.2M raise for image-guided surgery

Boston-based Zeta Surgical comes out of stealth this week, with the announcement of a $5.2 million seed round. The funding, led by Innospark Ventures, follows a $250,000 pre-seed featuring Y Combinator and Plug and Play Ventures.

The company was founded by Harvard graduates Jose Maria Amich and Raahil Sha, who currently serve as CEO and CTO, respectively. Harvard Medical School Associate Professor of Neurosurgery William Gormley serves as the company’s chief medical officer. The team’s mission is delivering precise surgical imaging guidance for non-invasive surgeries performed outside the operating room.

Beginning with procedures like ventriculostomy and neuromodulation, Zeta believes its technology can help democratize such procedures by offering more precision and lowering the barrier of entry.

The Zeta system includes a mixed reality overlay designed to help a surgeon pinpoint minimally invasive neurosurgery procedures. That’s combined with an optional robotic system that utilizes an off-the-shelf Doosan robotic arm combined with proprietary tools. The team says they’ve explored headsets for imaging, but believe the technology isn’t yet accurate enough for such surgeries.

5. Autobrains nabs $19M, bringing its Series C to $120M, to take on Mobileye in autonomous driving tech

AI has been the backbone of many a technological breakthrough over the years, but one challenge it has yet to solve is that of self-driving: try as they may, engineers have yet to build a platform that can manage all the practicalities and unexpected eventualities of conducting a vehicle as well as or better than a human can do, and which has also convinced regulators and the general population of its reliability. We’re still seeing a lot of development, however, and today, Autobrains — one of the hopefuls in this space that believes it has figured out how to fix the 1% margin of error typical in self-driving with a “self-learning” approach that is hardware-agnostic (more on that below) — is announcing yet more funding to continue developing its platform.

The Israeli startup has raised $19 million, rounding out its Series C at $120 million. The first tranche of this investment was made public in November 2021, and altogether the investor list includes Temasek, previous strategic backers Continental and BMW i Ventures, and new backers Knorr-Bremse AG and VinFast. As before, the company is not disclosing its valuation, but for some context, it’s a crowded space that provides some comparable numbers.

Israel’s Mobileye, which Autobrains’ CEO and founder Igal Rachelgauz describes as his company’s biggest competitor, earlier this month filed confidentially for an IPO (owner Intel would retain a stake in the spun-out company, should this go ahead). It’s been reported that Mobileye could be valued at around $50 billion if it lists. Wayve, a UK self-driving startup, raised $200 million in January, valued in the region of $1 billion.

6. Greentech startup Tibber raises over €90 million to make energy consumption smarter

Since launching in 2016, Tibber has been on a mission to help consumers lower their energy bills and make electricity consumption smarter. Today, they have just closed over €90 million in new capital.

The Series C round is led by the European impact fund, Summa Equity. This is the first big investment of its new sustainability fund. Existing investors Balderton, Eight Roads and Schibsted Ventures have also participated.

Tibber is a Nordic-based greentech startup revolutionizing the energy industry with its innovative business model. Tibber’s unique proposition lies in that, instead of profiting from their customers’ energy consumption, the company offers their customers renewable energy for the purchase price and smart technology that helps them control and lower their energy consumption.

By providing customers with real-time analytics into energy usage and smart home devices, Tibber gives customers control over their energy usage. Additionally, the startup also offers numerous smart home devices like electric vehicle chargers, smart thermostats and energy reading devices (e.g. Tibber Pulse) through its online store. 

Looking for Funding?

iFund Lab helps startups to raise non-dilutive funding through SBIR & other federal programs.

7. Vienna-based startup Arkeon picks up over €6.5 million to turn CO2 into food

Arkeon Biotechnologies is on a mission to create the most sustainable, nutritious and ethical food system, turning CO2 into food. The Vienna-based startup has just cooked up more than €6.5 million in a fresh funding round which included Synthesis Capital and ReGen Ventures. 

Arkeon is the first company in the world to leverage the technology of gas fermentation with the power of archaea, an ancient microorganism with unique properties, for food applications. The company’s proprietary technology produces all 20 amino acids for the human diet in one production step. What’s more, the tech is fully independent from agricultural land and with the ability to directly convert CO2 into food ingredients, the foodtech startup holds the key to unlocking a food system without resource constraints, without geographical restrictions, and free from animal suffering.

The biotech company uses Archae as the basis of this new innovation. Archaea are one of the most ancient microorganisms in the world and are intertwined with the creation of life on earth. They are exceptional in their capabilities and evolved to thrive in extreme environments like underwater volcanoes.

8.Wavemaker Closes $136 Million Fund for Southeast Asia Startups

Wavemaker Partners LLC, an early-stage venture capital firm, closed its fourth fund at $136 million to back startups in Southeast Asia’s fast-growing technology industry.

The firm exceeded its initial target of $120 million, with existing backers Temasek Holdings Pte, Pavilion Capital, International Finance Corp. and Vulcan Capital participating, the Singapore-based company said in a statement on Tuesday.

It also drew in institutional investors, university endowment funds, funds of funds, family offices, corporates and high net worth individuals, it said. The fourth fund will bring its total assets under management to $300 million.

One of Singapore’s earliest venture firms, Wavemaker has invested in over 170 companies since 2012. About 150 of these are working on sustainable technologies, enterprise-related ventures or scientific and engineering challenges. So far, the firm has had 13 exits, including Singapore software startup TradeGecko, according to its website.

Wavemaker’s portfolio companies include laser communications startup Transcelestial, agriculture technology startup EFishery and business-to-business marketplace GudangAda. Melissa Ho, who previously served as vice president of investments, has been promoted to lead the firm’s investment team.

9. Estonian agtech startup eAgronom raises €6.4 million to tackle emissions with farming-based carbon credits

Founded in 2016, eAgronom has grown into one of the biggest agtech companies in the Baltics. Beginning as a farm management software offering, the startup is now on a mission to transform the voluntary offset market and accelerate the transition to net-zero and has just raised €6.4 million to do so. The Series A equity round was led by Yolo Investments and ZGI Capital, with participation from Trind VC, Iron Wolf Capital and United Angels VC.

Agriculture is viewed as one of the major sources of global emissions today,  it also represents a considerable opportunity for removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Soils constitute the largest carbon sink outside oceans, with scientists estimating soils can sequester over a billion additional tonnes of carbon a year.

Robin Saluoks, co-founder and CEO of eAgronom, said: “Through our experience helping farmers with technology, we are uniquely positioned to capture the global agri-carbon opportunity. We leveraged our 1 million hectare farmer portfolio to get started but can’t stop there. To fight climate change, we have to provide transparent tracking and access to capital to all nature-based companies. We believe there is an outcome that can provide a win to farmers, consumers, the environment, and businesses looking to enhance their green credentials while incorporating the most rigorous standards to measure and certify carbon sequestration. We aim to become the leading developer of high-quality carbon credits.”

10. TrueCircle scoops $5.5M to use AI to drive recycling efficiency

UK-based TrueCircle, a computer vision startup founded just last year, has nabbed $5.5 million in pre-seed funding in a bid to bring data-driven AI to the recycling industry to improve recovery rates and quality — with the overarching goal of transforming the economics of waste reuse to shrink demand for virgin materials.

So far the startup has its tech up and running in eight UK waste sorting facilities but is ramping up quickly, with more launches coming in Q2 — when it will be expanding internationally into Europe and the US.

Recycling isn’t the most glamorous topic ofc but low levels of efficiency in the waste processing industry are a pressing problem from multiple angles — not least when combined with humanity’s pressing need to radically shrink global consumption in order to cut emissions and avoid catastrophic climate change — meaning there are real, meaningful problems here that tech could help solve.

Meanwhile AI-driven efficiency gains — and the digitalization of industrial processes more generally — are being specifically looked to to address climate change, including by policymakers in the Europe Union who are pushing a combined ‘green and digital’ transformation investment strategy for the bloc to try to hit net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

““The beauty of [our approach] is if you scale it up across the tonnage that’s been processed in the world today it’s a very scalable business model — if we were to just focus on this data-as-a-service business but our ambitions don’t stop there,” says Stocker. “I think this is the thing that gets us all super excited. We have a chance here to disrupt a $20BN per year industry through a much more digitalized trading infrastructure.”

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