News from around the world – June 16

A compilation of important news from the startup world:

The Ups and Downs of Investing in Today’s Energy Tech Startups
At the risk of stating the obvious, the effects of the commodity price crash are severe.  According to the Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, the oil price drop has led to a $50 billion cut to Canada’s national income and, according to CanOils, more than $66 billion in market value has been wiped off Canada’s top 50 energy companies since September 2014. Canadians are among the biggest homebody investors with their holdings tending to be concentrated in Canadian companies and Canadian dollars and therefore they have been experiencing a sustained devaluing of portfolios heavily weighted in energy-tied stocks.  With deep layers of historical baggage and tried-and-tested approaches entrenched in how the industry functions, while the adoption of new innovations might have real and tangible value, the significant obstacles involved for innovators looking to change existing behaviour, seemingly caused many to avoid trying altogether.

Tech entrepreneur raises $25M for health IT startup to support employer insurance choices
OMERS Ventures, Canada’s largest investment firm, led the $25 million financing round. Infinite Potential Technologies, Real Ventures, and BDC IT Venture Fund also took part. The company claims that its business fills a gap in insurance market products for employers by providing health spending accounts, wellness accounts, and group insurance plans from a mobile platform. Several health IT startups have also spotted an opportunity in helping established payers resposition themselves to be more consumer friendly and provide service to help them change how they work with providers and health systems to meet the requirements of healthcare reform. Serbinis has previously led companies in the technology space such as Kobo, a digital reading company that views itself as a competitor to Amazon’s Kindle and has 20 million customers in 190 countries.

Singapore: CapitaLand launches C31 Ventures with S$100m fund targeting startups
Singapore’s CapitaLand Limited announced Wednesday that it is setting up C31 Ventures – a venture fund to tap global technology startup ventures – in its ongoing effort to adapt to innovations impacting the real estate sector.  Starting with the Group’s S$15 million ($11.05 million) investment in the Early Stage Venture Fund III (ESVFIII) by Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF) in May 2016 for local tech start-ups, CapitaLand is prepared to eventually invest up to S$100 million ($73.6 million) as it seeks compelling investment opportunities beyond Singapore. The launch of C31 Ventures was announced by Lim Ming Yan, President & Group CEO of CapitaLand Limited, at the company’s ‘Gateway to Asia’ networking event in San Francisco, USA.

Golden Gate Ventures wraps up second Southeast Asia fund at $60 mln
Golden Gate Ventures is announcing the final close of its second early stage venture fund. The final size of the fund is USD $60 million, with investors from across Asia, Europe and The Middle East. The fund was oversubscribed by USD $10 million, after initially targeting a fund size of USD $50 million. Having invested in over 30 companies across two funds, the company will double down on the Southeast Asia opportunity with its new warchest. Golden Gate Ventures’ view is the startup activity in the ecosystem is at a critical inflexion point, with venture capital funding doubling year on year in the first quarter of 2016 despite the slowing global economy and volatility in emerging markets. Google and Temasek’s report forecasts US$40 billion in investment over the next 10 years to match the region’s GDP growth. With its new fund, Golden Gate Ventures will continue its role as an industry leader for early stage Venture Capital in Southeast Asia.

Queensland pledges a further $225 million to the startup sector
The Queensland government has committed a further $225 million to the state’s startup sector as part of a “whole-of-government” innovation agenda with 13 new initiatives. Announced by premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Monday, the funding adds to the $180 million previously pledged to the Advance Queensland program and will be a “centrepiece” of the state’s 2016-17 budget. The total of $405 million in funding for Accelerating Advance Queensland will be spread across a number of innovation initiatives, including $22.7 million for the Advancing Small Business Queensland Strategy, $6 million for building regional innovation hubs and $33.5 million for a program connecting startups with Asia.

Tiendeo boosts its presence in Asia and will join the MWC Shanghai 2016
Tiendeo, the leading online catalogues and deals portal, will be participating in the Mobile World Congress in Shanghai as a partner company in the Barcelona Mobile World Capital Foundation. The Spanish start-up was one of 16 companies chosen to participate in the trade mission organized by the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism, represented by, the government of Catalonia, with ACTION, and the City of Barcelona, through Barcelona Activa and MWCapital, to be held between 29 June and 1 July 2016. The Spanish startup has grown exponentially in its 5 years of existence to become the leading platform for online catalogues and promotions in Spain. It currently has a staff of around 100 professionals of different nationalities who strive every day to drive the growth of the company. Always at the forefront of innovation, Tiendeo was created as an alternative to the traditional mailshot, thus revolutionising the brochures and catalogues sector, and offered a more sustainable and effective form of mailshotting, for both businesses and consumers alike.

Electric car startups fueled by Chinese money aim to catch Tesla
A few miles from Tesla Motors Inc’s Palo Alto headquarters, a Silicon Valley startup plans to challenge the electric car maker with a rival family of vehicles designed and built in the United States with major backing from Chinese investors. Atieva plans to put a premium electric sedan on the road in 2018, followed by a pair of luxury crossovers in 2020-2021, company executives told Reuters in an exclusive interview. The company is racing not just against Tesla, but also against three China-based startups that are using Silicon Valley technologists. Two of Atieva’s biggest shareholders are Chinese: State-owned Beijing Auto and a subsidiary of publicly traded LeEco, an internet company that has also declared it intends to offer an electriccar. LeEco is controlled by Chinese tech entrepreneur Jia Yueting.

Andreessen sees big exits for tech startups in next wave
Marc Andreessen sees technology startups cashing out in a wave of acquisitions and public stock offerings over the next few years.  Andreessen, the co-founder of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, expects many more M&A deals this year and a stream of IPOs in 2017 and 2018. The pendulum has swung too far away from the public markets in recent years and closely held companies have remained private far longer than the historical norm, he said Tuesday at the Bloomberg Technology Conference in San Francisco. “We have a team inside the firm focused on IPO preparedness,” said Andreessen, who in the past has promoted the benefits of startups staying private. Twitter Inc., the social media company speculated to be a takeover target, has gained 9.6 percent since the LinkedIn deal was announced.

Ed-tech Startups Stepping in to Bridge the Skills Gap, Improve College Graduation Rates
Higher education is one of those things that’s stayed the same for decades, lagging behind the needs of employers today as companies struggle to find qualified graduates. There are a number of institutions that are struggling to ensure students are career-ready upon graduation. The result of thousands of interviews with people in all levels of academia, Copley Systems came up with a software-based alert system that will clue college and university counselors in early on if a student is at risk of dropping out. Start-ups can come in many forms and there are even the ones that aren’t in it to make money but to exact change. And that is where edX comes in.

Cisco backs Northern tech start-ups with Manchester innovation hub
Multinational technology company Cisco – Europe’s Corporate Startup Stars winner – has joined forces with Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP) to open a new innovation centre in the city. Mi-IDEA marks Cisco Create’s second site: a collaborative research programme which seeks to bring together industry partners, start-ups government, research institutions and universities to find technological solutions to “some of the most pressing real world challenges of today”.  The hub is Cisco’s second start-up focused innovation centre following the launch of IDEALondon in 2013 which is said to have raised more than £20m in funding and created 120 jobs.


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