Startup Monday: Latest tech trends & news happening in the global startup ecosystem (Issue 57)

Episode 50

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Top startups news to follow this week:

1. North American digital health market is touted to reach a valuation of USD 261 billion by 2027, reports GLOBE NEWSWIRE

The adoption of IT solutions in healthcare, and the demand for advanced treatments is increasing among patients which are creating a positive industry outlook. Also, the high prevalence of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart diseases, increasing incidence of obesity, surging demand for remote patient monitoring services, and growing patient engagement & connectivity are aiding the industry growth.

In addition, increasing awareness about preventive healthcare and the availability of funds in various mHealth startups are further boosting market growth. Moreover, a marked surge in the number of patients suffering from ailments requiring long-term care (LTC) such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and CVDs is also propelling industry growth.

Based on the technology gamut, the market is divided into mHealth, [wearable {glucose meters, neurological monitors, pulse oximeters, BP monitors, sleep apnea monitors}, apps {fitness, medical}], telehealthcare [telecare {remote monitoring management, LTC monitoring, activity monitoring, video consultation}] digital health systems [e-prescribing system, EHR] and health analytics. Moving on to component type, the digital health industry is arrayed into software, hardware, and services.

2. Aurion Biotech Raises $120 Million from Deerfield Management, Petrichor, Flying L Partners, Falcon Vision/KKR, and Visionary Ventures

Aurion Biotech, whose mission is to restore vision to millions of patients with its life-changing regenerative therapies, the last week announced it has secured a $120 million financing with top-tier biotech and ophthalmology investors. The financing was led by Deerfield Management and included existing investors Petrichor Healthcare Capital Management, Flying L Partners, Falcon Vision, an ophthalmology-focused investment platform supported by KKR, and Visionary Ventures, a leading ophthalmology-focused venture fund creating value with better insight. Alcon also participated in the financing. Funds will be disbursed to the Company based on the achievement of key clinical and operational milestones.

“Andrew ElBardissi, M.D. and partner at Deerfield Management, and Patrick Lally, partner at Petrichor, will join Aurion Biotech’s board of directors.

“We invest in experienced entrepreneurs, brilliant scientists and clinicians, and disruptive technologies that address significant unmet patient needs,” said Dr. ElBardissi. “We believe that Aurion Biotech possesses each of those key success factors and we look forward to supporting the Company’s next phase of growth and innovation.”

3. Hoxton Ventures raises $215 million in funds aimed at seeding European startups, report Fortune.

Hoxton Ventures, a London-based venture capital firm that specializes in seed and early-stage financing for European companies that hope to make it big in the U.S., has raised a new $215 million fund. The firm has previously backed a number of successful startups, including three companies—food delivery app Deliveroo, cybersecurity firm Darktrace, and telemedicine and medical A.I. company Babylon Health—that went public in the past year. The new fund, the third it has raised since the firm was founded in 2013, is more than double the size of its last fund, which was raised just two years ago.

4. Forge Health secures $11M as it aims to be a ‘one-stop-shop for mental health and substance abuse care.

Forge Health, a company that integrates digital health services and in-person care for behavioral health and substance abuse care, picked up $11 million in new financing to build out its tech capabilities and expand its value-based partnerships.

The White Plains, a New York-based company operates clinics in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire that provide both in-person and digital mental health and substance use treatment. Forge Health plans to use the funding to expand its brick-and-mortar clinics in both existing and new markets, Eric Frieman, co-founder, and CEO of Forge Health told Fierce Healthcare.

“We are drowning in demand so we need to accelerate our growth and our expansion rapidly,” he said. The current behavioral health delivery system is “broken,” Frieman said, as care is extremely fragmented, emphasizes point solutions and fails to properly address the whole person. 

“Our mission is to address that significant unmet need for effective, affordable and accessible addiction and mental health treatment. We want to provide effective ‘one-stop-shop’ care to individuals, families and communities in need, especially those with moderate to severe conditions,” he said.

5. Boston tops San Francisco Bay Area to lead U.S. life-sciences lab construction

Boston, with more lab space under construction than anywhere else in the U.S., is poised to surpass the San Francisco Bay Area as the country’s biggest hub for life sciences.

For now, the Boston metropolitan area, including Cambridge, is slightly smaller with about 32 million square feet (3 million square meters) of life-sciences space, compared with almost 34 million in the Bay Area, according to Colliers. But Boston has 62 million square feet under construction or proposed — far more than the 18 million square feet in the West Coast metro, a report by the brokerage shows.

The Boston area, with a talent pool fed by dozens of colleges and universities, is pulling in more venture capital money, bolstering its ecosystem of big pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and biotech startups. To meet demand, landlords are busy converting offices, hotels, and retail space into labs, and building projects from the ground up.

Among recent deals, Eli Lilly & Co. said it plans to invest about $700 million to establish a genetic-medicine research center in Boston’s Seaport district. The company is leasing space at a 12-story building being developed by Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc., set to be completed in 2024.

“Boston will clearly define itself as the No. 1 hub for biosciences,” said Jeff Myers, a research director for Colliers. “If there is any doubt, the next couple years will clear that doubt away.”

6. Crypto investor Katie Haun raises $1.5 billion for her venture capital fund, reports Fortune.

Former federal prosecutor Katie Haun is proving she’s a force to be reckoned with in crypto investing after her new venture capital firm raised $1.5 billion. Haun Ventures on Tuesday announced a $500 million early-stage fund and another $1 billion for more mature startups focusing on Web3, a more decentralized vision of the internet powered by blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, and nonfungible tokens.

The firm’s launch comes during a challenging time for the cryptocurrency industry. After a meteoritic surge that drove Bitcoin to an all-time high in early November, digital tokens have tumbled as the Federal Reserve has started to increase interest rates amid surging inflation. 

Still, Haun said in an interview that “it’s not a bad time to deploy a crypto fund” despite those challenges. “The extreme volatility is reminiscent of the first two crypto funds I deployed. What I learned from those funds is that great founders and great projects are going to be built in every cycle,” added Haun, who until recently was a partner at Andreessen Horowitz.

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7. Itilite secures $29M to automate corporate expensing workflows

Itilite, a Bengaluru, India-based company developing T&E software, last week announced that it raised $29 million in a Series C round co-led by Tiger Global and existing investor Dharana Capital with participation from Matrix Partners and Tenacity Ventures.

In an interview with TechCrunch, CEO Mayank Kukreja said that the proceeds will be put toward “aggressively expand[ing] in North America via product innovation, sales and marketing and partnership development.”

Itilite also features built-in fraud prevention tools that leverage AI to spot submission errors. That’s a requisite feature, depending on which survey data you believe. T&E expense firm Certify found in a 2014 analysis that businesses lost $30,000 each because of expense fraud reports, like mischaracterized expenses, fictitious expenses, overstated expenses, and multiple reimbursements.

The T&E space — which could be worth $17.4 billion by 2027, according to Grand View Research — is rife with competitors, including Concur, TripActions and Expensify. (IDC recently estimated that, as of 2018, Concur held onto over half of the overall T&E market.) But Kukreja claims that Itilite has over 300 customers ranging from Fortune 500 companies to startups in the U.S. and India. While he declined to share revenue numbers, he said that trip bookings on Itilite’s service increased 200% over pre-pandemic numbers while the company’s customer acquisition rate tripled.

8. Speckle snags $5.5M seed to build an open-source platform for 3D drawings, report TechCrunch

The founders of Speckle, an early-stage startup based in London, are both trained architects and engineers, probably a rare combination. It enabled them to see and understand firsthand the issues associated with exchanging large proprietary 3D files from vendors like Autodesk and Trimble. They wanted to make it easier by building an open-source platform to exchange and collaborate on these files.

As engineers, Dimitrie Stefanescu and Matteo Cominetti had the skill to start building something themselves, so they set out to develop a solution that solved a long-standing problem in the construction industry around sharing proprietary files among the various parties involved in a design and building project.

“Stefanescu said the goal is to provide a platform to open up the process and make it easier for companies to exchange information in 3D formats. “It’s very inaccessible from both a human point of view, as well as a machine point of view. So it’s very difficult to extract information from proprietary file formats,” he explained. The companies that dominate this space have existed for many years, and Stefanescu said they have had little motivation to innovate around file-sharing or open source. “When it comes to open sourcing, it’s just something that the architecture, engineering and construction industry completely missed until now.”

9. Finnish fintech startup Zevoy raises €15 million and plans European roll-out of its expense management tool, report EUStartups

With the goal to build the future of expense management for companies, fintech startup Zevoy has just bagged €15 million in a Series A round led by Blossom Capital. Investors and Brightly Ventures also took part. 

Founded in August 2020, Zevoy wants to shake up the expense management sector, bringing something to the market that is simple, smart, seamless and efficient. The Finnish startup offers an all-in-one expense management solution that links smart payment cards to efficient expense management software, saving companies time and money and improving employee satisfaction. 

Christoffer Rosqvist, CEO of Zevoy, explained: “Expense management is a big pain point for many companies and their employees: it’s time-consuming and the processes are often frustrating. To solve this, Zevoy offers All-In-One business card (virtual or physical) with which you can scan receipts, match purchases with receipts, manage and forward expenses digitally into accounting. Zevoy focuses on underserved markets and especially growing companies have proven to be a sweet spot for Zevoy meaning companies that have high creditworthiness and profitability.”

10. Binance Invests €100M in French Crypto Startups

Binance has partnered with Station F, the world’s largest startup campus based in Paris, to help the French crypto startup scene grow.

Binance has invested €100 million (around $108 million) in the French crypto scene in a bid to help grow the pie for everyone.

Speaking at Paris Blockchain Week Summit Wednesday, Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao announced that the firm had partnered with the world’s biggest startup incubator Station F and invested €100 million to help incubate French crypto startups. Zhao said that the aim of the investment is to grow the entire industry by supporting France’s crypto scene. “France is uniquely positioned to be the leader of this industry in Europe,” Zhao said at the conference, adding that the government’s attitude toward business and crypto “has been phenomenal.” He added that the French government was one of the most “progressive” and “open-minded” governments in the world.  

Besides pouring millions into the country’s Web3 startup scene, Zhao said that Binance plans to have people on the ground in Paris to advise and provide extensive support to French crypto startups. “We’ll invest in them, advise them on token economics, we’ll hopefully help them do their initial sells if their product gets traction, and then hopefully give them liquidity by listing them,” he said.


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