The Bulletin
NASA targets electric aircraft by 2035
NASA says it wants to work with the aviation industry to design planes that use an Electrified Aircraft Propulsion (EAP) system. NASA’s studies say that electrifying aircrafts will result in a significant reduction in carbon and nitrogen oxide emissions, as well as energy use. It is aiming for global flights by 2035. Commercial planes currently account for 2% of all human-produced emissions.
Following Australia, Indian government passes social media laws
India's government has announced a new set of sweeping rules regulating social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google, and streaming services like Netflix. The rules will force these companies to erase contentious content faster and assist investigations. In sensitive cases such as those surrounding explicit sexual content, firms will need t take down the content within 24 hours.
Cognizant to pump $250m into CSR
Tech giant Cognizant has pledged to spend $250m across a new five-year CSR programme. It says it wants "to advance economic mobility, educational opportunity, diversity and inclusion, and health and well-being" in communities the world over. It will focus in particular on Australia, Canada, Germany and the UK. "We care deeply about unlocking human potential," said Cognizant's CEO Brian Humphries.
Foodtech startup Next Gen raises $10m
Next Gen, a plant-based foodtech startup, has raised $10m in seed funding. Launched only last October, Next Gen is launching its first product, TiNDLE, in Singaporean restaurants in March. TiNDLE is an alternative to chicken thighs, which uses a mix of plant-based fats to replicate chicken. Next Gen claims that $10m is the largest seed round funding raised by a plant-based food tech company.
GCHQ plans to use AI to fight child abuse, trafficking and cyberattacks
UK intelligence agency GCHQ has published a paper called 'Ethics of AI: Pioneering a New National Security' explaining how GCHQ will put AI at the hearts of its operations to fight child sexual abuse, disinformation, human trafficking and cyberattacks. "AI is already invaluable in many of our missions as we protect the country, its people and way of life," said GCHQ director Jeremy Fleming.
Healthcare startup Redox raises $45m
Redox, a healthcare cloud data solutions startup, has raised $45m in a Series D round. Redox’s integration platform allows different healthcare organisations to securely exchange data, and it integrates with AWS and Salesforce. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen Redox's integrations rise by 300%, with over 1400 using its platform. The funding was led by Adams Street Partners, a private equity firm.
NHS launches assessment framework for digital health tools
NHSX, the digital transformation arm of the NHS, has unveiled its new framework to assess digital health tools. The Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC) is designed to give patients confidence that tools meet NHS standards. DTAC is a process that can be completed in just a few days, and all parts of the NHS will be encouraged to use it. It was first released in beta last year.
Hyundai to recall 82,000 EVs due to fire risk
Hyundai is recalling around 82,000 Kona electric vehicles globally following issues with its battery pack. The South Korean manufacturer will replace the packs following 15 fires and warnings to not charge the Kona above 90%. The South Korean transport ministry blamed the battery cell maker, LG Chem, which LG has denied. The recall could cost an estimated $900m.
Yuanfudao eyes yet more funding - report
Chinese edtech giant Yuanfudao is targeting another sizeable funding round, reports Bloomberg. The Tencent-backed company looks set to raise yet more cash at a valuation of around $20bn. According to the report, it has held preliminary discussions with investors Boyu Capital and DCP Capital. Only last October it raised $2.2bn in new funding. Yuanfudao is China's leading online learning tool.
Truvian Sciences nabs $105 million for blood-testing tech
Truvian Sciences has completed a huge Series C funding round. The company's automated benchtop blood-testing technology has proven popular with investors, who backed Truvian to the tune of $105m. The round was led by TYH Ventures, Glen Tullman of 7wireVentures and Wittington Ventures. Truvian says it will now grow its product development team around the automation piece.
Seville turns leftover oranges into electricity
The Spanish city of Seville produces over 5.7 million kilograms of oranges, which have become a hazard for road safety. Seville's municipal water company has launched a pilot scheme to use the methane produced during fermentation to generate electricity to run one of the city’s water purification plants. Eventually, the plan is to put surplus electricity back into the grid and power homes.
India's Flipkart to deploy over 25,000 EVs by 2030
India's Flipkart has announced its plans to deploy more than 25,000 electric vehicles in its supply chain by 2030, in order to meet its goal of becoming 100% electric within the next decade. The Walmart-owned company has partnered with leading EV makers such as Hero Electric, Mahindra Electric, and Piaggio to build its new EV models. Flipkart has already deployed over 450 EV this year in India.
Hyundai launches latest electric vehicle crossover
Hyundai has unveiled it’s Ioniq 5 electric vehicle (EV) crossover. The South Korean company says the car uses fewer components than its current EVs, which allows for faster production. Hyundai believes its new operating platform will allow it to take up a 10% global share in EV sales by 2025. The Ioniq's driving range of 298 miles is almost 20% further than Hyundai's previous longest range.
ConstellR raises €1m to monitor land temperatures from space
German spacetech startup ConstellR has raised €1m in pre-seed funding. The company measures land surface temperatures via a 30-strong satellite constellation, with the data used by farmers to reduce monitoring costs through using less water and fertiliser. “Our mission is to monitor every single field on the planet every single day of the year,” says Dr Max Gulde, ConstellR's CEO.
Anuvia raises $103m to reduce carbons in agriculture
Anuvia Plant Nutrients has landed $103m from a Series C funding round. The company's fertiliser technology reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to a third compared to other fertilisers. It says it will use the cash to increase production capacity and expand the commercialisation of its product. Anuvia, used on approximately 1,200 farms in the U.S., aims to cover 20m acres by 2025.
FCC's $3.2bn broadband plan will provide internet to low-income families
The U.S.' Federal Communications Commission is finalising a $3.2 billion Emebergency Broadband Benefit Program to provide low-income families with access to the internet. The programme will include discounts on monthly internet service and on laptop and tablet purchases. “Without an internet connection too many households are locked out of modern life,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.
Tesla rival Lucid Motors set for $24bn SPAC deal
Electric vehicle maker Lucid Motors is to go public in a SPAC merger deal worth $24bn. It is to combine with blank-cheque firm Churchill Capital IV Corp in an effort to supercharge its growth. Lucid, founded by an ex-Tesla engineer, specialises in luxury EVs and is on track to put its Air model into production later this year. Its vehicles have a projected range of over 500 miles on one charge.
IBM eyes sale of Watson Health - reports
IBM is considering the sale of Watson Health, its healthcare technology arm. The business unit generates $1bn in revenue but isn't profitable, and a sale might suit CEO Arvind Krishna's approach of focusing IBM on hybrid cloud offering. The Wall Street Journal originally reported the story. IBM are understood to be considering both a private sale and a public listing via a SPAC acquisition.
EU presents action plan to invest in drone and space tech
The European Commission has unveiled three innovative projects as part of its Action Plan on Synergies between the civil, defence and space industries. The projects will focus on drone technologies, space communication and space traffic management. EU industry commissioner Thierry Breton said that the initiatives would help the bloc stand on its own feet instead of relying on other countries.
Twitter pledges to 25% diversity in leadership by 2025
Twitter has joined the 25x25 pledge, an initiative by Silicon Valley Leadership Group that challenges companies to increase diversity in business leadership. The company has set a goal of having at least 25% of its executives be underrepresented minorities and women by 2025. At the moment, only 13% of Twitter's leadership is made up of Black, Latinx, Indigenous or multiracial employees.
NASA's Perseverance rover successfully lands on Mars
After almost seven months of travelling through the galaxy, NASA’s rover Perseverance, the most advanced astrobiology lab ever sent to another world, has successfully landed on Mars. Perseverance's mission is to spend the next two years looking for traces of ancient microbial life on the Red Planet. The rover has landed in a deep crater near the planet's equator called Jezero.
Research identifies bias in healthcare AI models
Separate pieces of research from the University of South California and Queen Mary University have found bias in healthcare artificial intelligence models. One model, designed to recommend treatments, saw suggestions vary across different ethnic groups. In the Queen Mary University study, also looking predictive healthcare models, researchers found imbalance among different age groups.
Google appoints Marian Croak to lead responsible AI efforts
Google says Marian Croak will lead the company's renewed efforts to develop responsible artificial intelligence. Croak will take charge of a new centre of expertise, and will report into AI chief Jeff Dean. This reorganisation comes after the high-profile sacking of Black researcher Timnit Gebru following an internal conflict. Croak is one of Google's few Black executives.
Photomath closes $23m Series B
Photomath, a maths learning app which has had over 220m downloads, has completed a Series B funding round. It has raised $23m, with the bulk of the support coming from Menlo Ventures. Photomath uses computer vision tech to read and solve maths problems, guiding users through steps and instructions. According to the company, 56% of parents cannot help their children with maths homework.
Leverage Edu lands $6.5m to support Indian students
Leverage Edu, a startup which offers help to Indian students looking to enrol at leading colleges abroad, has completed a Series A funding round. The round totalled $6.5m and was led by Tomorrow Capital. Leverage Edu offers a range of services including application support, mentoring and workshops. Users access services through a digital dashboard. The firm now wants to scale its offering.
Facebook doubles down efforts to fight climate change misinformation
Facebook has expanded its Climate Change Center and will double down efforts to fight climate change misinformation, redirecting users to these resources. The Climate Change Center will now include a section debunking specific myths crafted in consultation with experts from Yale, George Mason and the University of Cambridge. The feature is available in the US, Germany, the UK, and France.
Mobike Co-Founder Xia Yiping to become CEO of Baidu-Geely EV company
Baidu and Geely's new electric vehicle venture has found its Chief Executive Officer: Xia Yiping. Xia is Mobike's Co-Founder and former CEO and has worked for Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler. Baidu has announced that the new EV venture also has a brand and plans for its first design, but those have not yet been made public. Mobike was the pioneer of China’s bike-sharing boom.
Ford will go all-electric in Europe by 2030
Ford t will complete its transition to an all-electric lineup in Europe. By 2024, all of the automaker's commercial vehicles will “zero-emissions capable, all-electric or plug-in hybrid.” The automaker will spend $1 billion to convert its factory in Cologne, Germany, into its first EV production line on the continent. Ford is joining Jaguar and Bentley in this goal to go electric.
Edgybees raises $9.5m for emergency services augmented reality platform
Edgybees has closed on $9.5m in Series A funding, led by Seraphim Capital. Edgybees provides a platform that uses visual augmentation and real-time geotagging for aerial photos, which can be used by emergency services, such as firefighters viewing a fire from above. “Our mission is to ensure positive human outcomes during lifesaving missions,” said Adam Kaplan, co-founder and chief executive.
SeedFi raises $65m to support financially struggling Americans
SeedFi has launched with $65m in funding and the aim to support U.S. citizens struggling with their financial health. Right now it owns two products around credit building and borrowing. SeedFi's slogan is that it wants to "help Americans build credit, save money, access funds and plan for the future". Its funding includes $50m in debt and $15m from a Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz.
Immune system monitoring AI Ozette raises $6m
Ozette, a Seattle, Washington-based biotech startup has $6 million in seed funding from Madrona Venture Group and the Allen Institute for AI (AI2). Ozette is currently developing an AI tool that can monitor patients' immune system and predict healthcare outcomes. The project, which spun out from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, is currently focused on the treatment of cancer patients.
SpaceX worth $74bn after latest funding round
Elon Musk's SpaceX has raised $850 in its latest funding round, as reported by CNBC. The recently acquired funding would send the company’s valuation to about $74 billion, a 60% increase. This funding round will allow the company to continue working in its two future projects: the spaceship project Starship and the Starlink constellation, which aims to create a global high-speed network.
France calls for EU countries to have autonomy over bad tech
France’s digital economy minister Cédric O has met with other European Union nations in a bid to expand regulation that punishes the poor behaviour of tech companies. Currently, the proposed Digital Services Act allows the EU to punish tech companies, but France wants the decision to rest with individual member states. As part of the expansion Frances wants powers to remove content from platforms.
Ghana to relax telecom licensing rules to expand internet access
Ghana has announced its plans to broaden the scope of its telecommunications licenses to increase the spectrum available to mobile operators and reduce its consumer data costs. At the moment, Ghana's licenses are spectrum-specific and the technology is tied to a spectrum. The new rules will put an end to this and make the internet more accessible and affordable for the local population.
North Korea accused of hacking Pfizer to steal COVID-19 vaccine technology
South Korean intelligence officials have accused North Korea of attempting to COVID-19 vaccine technology from Pfizer by hacking its computer systems. North Korea has still not officially reported any cases of COVID-19 in the country, despite having sealed its borders at the start of 2020. It is currently unclear as to what, if any, data was stolen from Pfizer or other pharmaceutical companies.
Facebook developing smart watches to focus on health and wellbeing - reports
Facebook's proposed smart watches will focus heavily on health and wellbeing. Reports emerged last week from The Information regarding the social media giant's plans. It hopes to start selling devices next year. Health and wellbeing services could be provided through tie-ins with third parties, such as Peloton. Reports also suggest the watches will have an in-built cellular connection.
Jaguar to go all-electric by 2025
Jaguar has revealed that all its vehicles will be electric by 2025. The bold target was laid out by manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), which has also said that every model it builds will have an electric variant by 2030. This is viewed as the first major strategic move from new JLR chief executive Thierry Bollore. JLR also wants to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2039.
Minneapolis bans police use of facial recognition software
The Minneapolis City Council has unanimously voted to ban the use of facial recognition software for its police department. This technology has been criticised for its flaws in identifying racial minorities and women. “If we have cameras all over the city tracking in real-time, that feels dystopian to me and that feels like it’s open for abuse,” council member Steve Fletcher, said.
Uber CEO defends gig worker's rights ahead of EU law
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has asked the European Union to introduce laws that protect gig workers. “The current legal ambiguity on the status of independent workers makes it difficult for platforms like Uber to provide both access to flexible work and to social protections,” he said. However, Uber has been criticised for classifying its drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.
Volkswagen 'not afraid' of an Apple EV - Herbert Diess
Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess says his company has nothing to fear over the prospect of an Apple electric vehicle (EV). Reports suggest Apple could mass produce EVs as soon as 2024. Diess (pictured), however, stated that no company could take over the automotive industry in a "single stroke". "We are not afraid,” he added in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.
Swedish police fined €250,000 for using facial recognition tool Clearview AI
IMY, Sweden’s data protection authority, has fined the local police authority €250,000 for breaking the country's Criminal Data Act by using the controversial facial recognition software Clearview AI. In addition, the police force must undergo training about the lawful use of citizen's data. Clearview AI has been accused of collecting photos without people's knowledge to train its algorithm.
Nigeria halts cryptocurrency regulations
Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has delayed its plans to regulate cryptocurrencies. The decision was a response to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s order to close bank accounts dealing in cryptocurrencies, saying the transactions threatened the economy. Nigeria's SEC will resume its plans once those affected by the CBN's order are able to open bank accounts in the country.
Immunai lands $60m for immune therapy AI
Immunai has raised $60m from a Series A funding round to expand its capabilities in the area of immune therapy. The startup's AI-based tool looks to improve current therapies, leading to better treatment. But with this cash, it now wants to explore the discovery of new and more targeted therapies. The round was led by Schusterman Family Investments and three other large private equity firms.
Truveta emerges from stealth to use data for medical research
Truveta, a platform that plans to use a huge amount of anonymised healthcare data to accelerate medical research, has launched. Fourteen of the biggest healthcare providers in the U.S. are involved in the project and will offer their data for "ethical" research. It is the brainchild of Terry Myerson, the former Microsoft executive. "We need data to really understand health," Myerson told Axios.
EU should aim for 1m EV charging points by 2024 - car lobby
The European Union (EU) has been advised to set firm targets for the number of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations it will build over the coming years. The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association says "binding targets" are essential in order to tackle the climate crisis. It says the EU should aim to build 1m public charging points for EVs by 2024, and 3m by 2029.
South Korea to build the world's largest offshore wind farm
The Government of South Korea has unveiled its $43 billion plan to build the largest offshore wind farm. The wind facility will be built by 2030 and produce 8.2GW. This project is part of South Korea's Green New Deal, which aims to make the country carbon neutral by 2050. “With this project, we are accelerating the eco-friendly energy transition,” South Korea's President Moon has said.
Scalarr gets backing to fight mobile ad fraud
A startup that uses machine learning to combat mobile advertising fraud has raised $7.5m to expand. Scalarr claims it saved its clients more than $22m in ad fraud refunds last year. The platform was created by CEO Inna Ushakova and CPO Yuriy Yashunin. The company's round was led by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development. It will use the cash to fund an expansion into Asia.
Insightin Health raises $12m for personalised health guidance
Insightin Health has announced a $12m Series A funding round as it looks to expand its platform. Founded in 2016, the American company has created data-driven tech through its AI-driven inGAGE platform, which collects data and uses its algorithm to suggest the best course of action for care management and retention for each person. Blue Venture Fund and Blue Heron Capital led the funding round.
SoftBank to invest $900m into Pacific Biosciences
SoftBank is making a sizeable investment in gene sequencing company Pacific Biosciences. It is to pour $900m into the Californian firm. PacBio's advanced systems are used to research and treat diseases. SoftBank already owns a 6% stake in the company, which will now aim to quicker commercialise its product. PacBio's shares have risen 11-fold since the middle of last year.
Electric planes startup Archer to go public after United Airlines $1.1bn deal
Electric aircraft startup Archer Aviation has landed a deal to go public via a SPAC merger, as well as a $1.1 billion order from United Airlines. Archer, valued at $3.8 billion, expects to deliver its first aircraft in 2024, subject to regulatory approval. “The partnership with United really gives us a chance to get to market first and really helps us accelerate our timeline,” Archer CEO said.