News from around the world – July 4

 

A compilation of important news from the startup world: 

Hillary Clinton reveals tech agenda for STEM education and women-led start-ups
The U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has announced her technology and innovation policy, which according to her, would harness the power of energy, manufacturing, transportation, health, retail, services, and countless other sectors such as Information Technology to produce trillions of dollars in economic output and would create high-paying jobs across the country, bring more people into the workforce and reduce inequality. This would be achieved by focussing on technology, promoting entrepreneurial ecosystem, new commitments in computer science and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education including other policies which would build the human capital pipelines. She pointed out that only one-in-five school students in America has ever taken a computer science course with only 7 percent of country’s high schools even offering an Advanced Placement Course in Computer Science as against over half a million good-paying tech jobs unfilled and by 2020, the requirement would rise to 1.4 million such jobs. She pledged her support to the Obama administration’s ‘Computer Science Education for All’ initiative and to build on it by launching the next generation of ‘Investing in Innovation (i3) grants’ – as sustained in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as the Education Innovation and Research Program.

Inaugural AIA-Konica Minolta Digital Health Accelerator: Graduation Day
The Inaugural ‘Graduation day’ of the AIA-Konica Minolta Digital Health Accelerator powered by Nest was held on the 28th of June, 2016. Eight healthtech start-ups had been sieved out of over 100 plus candidates from across the world to participate in the 12 weeks of the Digital Health Accelerator Programme culminating in the ‘Demo Day’. The 8 health-tech start-ups participated in this first-ever Singapore based accelerator programme of its kind. They were able to pitch their innovations to the invited audience of investors, government officials, research institutes, partners and corporate executives in the hope of securing crucial investor support for the next stage of their commercial development. During the 12 weeks of trials, these start-ups were able to take advantage of the corporate and commercial expertise offered by the 2 founding companies, AIA and Konica Minolta, as well as having exclusive access to resources, markets and mentor networks spanning across industry, education, research and government assembled by the programme. The start-ups spanning across continents from France to India, Singapore to Australia and America are all Digital Health Startups focussing on innovating solutions to address childhood obesity, physical inactivity and effective rehabilitation. Biotechin. Asia will be covering these start-ups individually on our “Featured Startups Section”.

Digital nomads land dream jobs thanks to Estonian startups
Upwardly-mobile, tech-savvy young professionals across the globe are swapping their briefcases and brogues for backpacks and sneakers, setting themselves up as digital nomads who can operate from wherever their laptops can go. Jobbatical and Teleport, two recent tech startups, promise to take the guess-work out of digital job hunting on a global scale. Both hail from tiny tech titan Estonia and are part of a crop of cutting-edge online sites catering to digital nomads, typically young males who work remotely and move around regions like Southeast Asia every few months.Their creators insist the startups have the potential to shake things up on the global job market, similar to how Estonians previously transformed global communications with Skype and digital international money transfers via Transferwise. Tallinn-based entrepreneur Karoli Hindriks said she launched Jobbatical two years ago to fill the growing gaps she noticed in global recruiting. With employment offers from Greece, to Thailand and Costa Rica among others, it takes just a few clicks of the mouse for product or account managers, programmers and other tech professionals to land a dream job, whether programming in Malaysia’s tropical paradise of Penang or managing an adventure travel operation in Bali. Jobbatical targets “adventurous tech, business, and creative professionals with over five years of working experience,” Hindriks told AFP at the Latitude59 technology conference in Estonia’s capital Tallinn.

Moving Nashville tech beyond health care
There is no arguing that health care is a boon to Nashville. But through the lens of the technology industry, Nashville’s focus on the health care industry can be a barrier to progress.For example, we’ve seen entrepreneurial resources pulled toward health care, a la Jumpstart Foundry’s health care focus and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center’s Project Healthcare. This is great for the health care industry, but reinforces the perception that health care is the only game in town.And it’s become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Our city’s health care tech companies roll off the tongue — Medalogix, Trinisys, Entrada, Qualifacts, CGS and Experian, to name but a few. But when you consider non-health care tech innovators founded or headquartered here — like LeanKit, Emma, Digital Reasoning and our firm — they are fewer and farther between.So is it time to ignore health care so that Nashville tech can thrive? Absolutely not. Health care helps put Nashville on the enterprise map. But Nashville needs more energy around tech innovation in a range of industries, lest we pigeonhole our community into a single vertical that stifles our opportunity to become a leading center of technology enterprise. The good news is that we’re moving in the right direction. For instance, my company recently expanded our relationship with Google through its Google Manufacturer Center platform. And if a worldwide leader in tech believes in Middle Tennessee’s technology industry, the trajectory is there. It just needs more support.

Sacramento devotes $10 million to high-tech firms, but plan faces risks
When the City Council approved a $10 million fund for high-tech investments last month, Sacramento joined a handful of municipalities across the country hoping to buy their way into the economy of the future with public money.Philadelphia, Portland, Ore., – and now Sacramento – don’t expect to turn themselves into the next Silicon Valley. But the idea is to leverage taxpayer dollars to spark innovation specific to local industries, creating a high-tech hub uniquely tied to the region.For Sacramento, that likely starts with looking at how government, agriculture and biotech sectors need help, according to the city’s interim chief innovation officer, Abhi Nemani. Drones for farm work, software for streamlining state bureaucracy, sensors for tracking air pollution for asthma research – solutions in areas where expertise and customers exist.Mayor Kevin Johnson, who will leave office in December and sees the fund as a legacy, hired Nemani on a seven-month, $81,000 contract to put together a plan to make that vision happen. Nemani came up with a two-part approach that initially focuses on grants to give local entrepreneurs resources and training. Once that happens, he envisions the city getting into the venture capital business to grow those nascent companies – and keep them from getting poached by other places.If the ambitious and long-range plan works, Johnson believes Sacramento will shed its stodgy government-town past and become a youth-centric city of big ideas and thriving startups.

The CEO of a high-flying London tech startup is considering expanding to Ireland or Germany after the EU referendum
Josh March, CEO of customer service software provider Conversocial, is contemplating a move from London to somewhere else in Europe following Britain’s decision to leave the EU.March is concerned that Brexit will make it harder for him to hire engineers from across the continent at his company, which has raised $22 million (£16 million) since it was founded in 2009.“There is a huge demand for high-quality engineers and any advantage a company has in accessing talent is a huge factor,” he told Business Insider. “Easy access to European engineering talent was a powerful engine for growth that may now be removed.”Access to European funding and access to European markets will also influence March’s decision, he said.Potential new office locations for Conversocial include Ireland and Germany but the company won’t be making any hasty decisions. “We’re monitoring what impact this has on our engineering hiring over the next 1-2 quarters.

A scandal-ridden tech startup is slashing its valuation in half to start over
Zenefits, a once high-flying startup that has become emblematic of deception and excess in Silicon Valley, is chopping its valuation by more than 50%.The human-resources software startup shot to a $4.5 billion valuation in just two years by brokering health-insurance benefits and automating traditional HR tasks such as payroll and compliance. The company was a darling of Silicon Valley until last fall, when it came out that Zenefits had allowed salespeople in at least seven states to act as insurance brokers without the proper licensing.Those troubles compounded in February, when it was revealed that Zenefits founder and then-CEO Parker Conrad had created a secret software program, known as a macro, that let its health-insurance brokers in California fake the completion of a mandatory online training course. Conrad resigned that month. Now, in an effort to move past those scandals, Zenefits has proposed a settlement with investors that reprices its existing stock at a $2 billion valuation and grants them additional shares in exchange for releasing the company of potential legal claims. Investors who participate in the agreement must sign a release of claims against Zenefits. Fidelity, investment management firm TPG, and venture-capital firms Insight Venture Partners, and Andreessen Horowitz have already approved the deal.

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