Nigerian fintech HerVest aims to bridge the $42bn gender finance gap
Over 4,000 women have already signed up to HerVest. The Nigerian company describes itself as “an inclusive fintech company” serving underserved and excluded women in Africa through a gender lens. “We want to address the gender gap in Africa by giving access to savings, impact investment and credit to women, regardless of who they are and where they live,” co-founder and CEO Solape Akinpelu said.
French insurance startup Alan acquires Jour to enter the mental health space
French startup Alan - better known for its health insurance products — has decided to build a super app called Alan Mind to support people's mental health. The company has also acquired Jour for $20m. “More than 13 million people in France are facing a mental health issue. If you look at people under 35, it’s 3 out of 4 people — so it’s basically everybody,” CEO Jean-Charles Samuelian-Werve said.
Near Space Labs raises $13m to send balloons to the stratosphere
Near Space Labs has closed a $13m Series A funding round led by Crosslink Capital to support its mission of gathering geospatial intelligence from the stratosphere. To do so, the startup uses small autonomous wind-powered robots attached to weather balloons. Each one is capable of reaching altitudes between 60,000 and 85,000 feet and capturing 400-1,000 square kilometres of imagery per flight.
Bill Gates raises over $1bn for green technologies
Bill Gates has raised more than $1bn for Breakthrough Energy Catalyst, a non-profit that develops clean technologies. American Airlines, ArcelorMittal, Bank of America, The BlackRock Foundation, Boston Consulting Group, General Motors and Microsoft are funding the initiative. The funds will be used to make eco-friendly technologies more affordable to help build a net-zero economy by 2050.
Virtual diabetes care platform launches with $3.7m in seed funding
Virtual diabetes clinic 9am.health has launched with $3.7 million in seed funding from Founders Fund, Define Ventures, Speedinvest and iSeed Ventures. The company provides people living with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes access to personalised care and affordable medications from their homes. Currently, one in three people in the US live with diabetes, including the company's two co-founders.
Facebook introduces new 'social harm' policy
Facebook is taking extra measures to crack down on bad coordinated behaviour on its platform. Its definition of such behaviour is "campaigns which systematically violate our policies to cause harm on or off our platform". It has started by removing 150 accounts linked to anti-lockdown demonstrators in Germany. "We’re continuing to monitor the situation," said a spokesperson.
Spring Health raises $190m, making April Koh the youngest woman to run a unicorn
Mental health platform Spring Health has raised $190m in a Series C funding round led by Kinnevik. The funding brinhs the company’s valuation to $2bn, making Spring Health's CEO, 29-year-old April Koh, the youngest woman to run a tech unicorn. "As a society, we face an unprecedented global mental health crisis that will long outlast the COVID-19 pandemic," Koh said in a statement.
Insurance company Unum launches vaccine verification tool
Unum has launched a digital tool to verify employee vaccinations. The story emerged days after President Biden mandated that all large employers have their workers protected against COVID-19. Unum's new portal will allow users to verify their vaccination status and upload the relevant documentation. The insurance giant's product will also allow companies to manage vaccine exemptions.
Healthtech startup Oxford Nanopore gets Oracle backing for IPO
British biotech company Oxford Nanopore has received a £150m investment from US tech giant Oracle. The startup is seeking to raise about £300m through its initial public offering to reach a £3bn valuation. Oxford Nanopore develops portable kits for analysing DNA samples to track new diseases, including COVID-19. Its technology performs about a fifth of coronavirus sequencing worldwide.
Issue 15
Gilead Sciences tells us about its groundbreaking digital platform PrEP Hub, which is helping to improve access to HIV drugs for those who need it the most. Elsewhere, we hear Two Sigma’s mission for data equity
Sponsored by
General Motors extends EV plant shutdown
General Motors (GM) says it will keep its Michigan assembly plant shut until mid-October. It has halted the production of the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle following a recall of the car after it was reported that battery issues had caused 12 fires, and three injuries. GM says it is seeking reimbursement from LG, the battery suppliers. The recall of 140,000 cars has cost an estimated $1.8bn.
Byju's acquires Tynker to expand global education platform
Byju's, which boasts more than 100 million students on its online education platform, has bought Tynker, the world’s leading K-12 creative coding platform. Tynker’s platform has reached over 60 million kids across 150 countries. “Joining forces with Tynker will unlock the ability for us to bring imagination to life for hundreds of millions of students,” said Byju's founder Byju Raveendran.
HeartLab eyes U.S. expansion after cash boost
New Zealand healthtech startup HeartLab has raised $2.45m to expand to the United States. The company's AI-based heart scanning and reporting tools have proven popular with cardiologists. It now wants to offer its platform to clinicians in the U.S. by early next year. The new funding round was led by Founders Fund. CEO Will Hewitt told Tech Crunch that scaling is HeartLab's next challenge.

Nigerian health startup 54gene raises $25m to advance drug discovery
Nigerian-based genomics startup 54gene has secured $25m in a Series B round, led by Cathay AfricInvest Innovation Fund. The company analyses genetic information to advance health and drug discovery research in Africa. Currently, less than 3% of genetic material used in global pharmaceutical research is from Africa, despite the African population being considered as the most genetically diverse.
More Australian states trial facial recognition to police COVID-19 rules
Australia's two biggest states are running a trial of facial recognition software to make sure residents are following COVID-19 rules. Products from Genvis will be used by police in New South Wales and Victoria to check whether people are quarantining. The controversial scheme has been received negatively by the Australian public. South Australia first trialled facial recognition tech last month.
SpaceX launches first all-civilian crew to orbit
The first all-civilian crew has been launched into space aboard a SpaceX rocket. They will now spend three days living in orbit before returning to Earth. The mission signals the start of a new era in the space tourism business marked by private flights. "We're very aware of how lucky we are, to be part of this history that SpaceX is creating right now," said Jared Isaacman, a member of the crew.