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DIGIT Deal Roundup Column: August 2020

David Paul

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deal roundup

DIGIT’s latest Deal Roundup column features new funding announcements and milestones from Zumo, Brightsolid, Logan Energy and Aceville.

Investment

Zumo

Edinburgh cryptocurrency startup, Zumo, had a brilliant August, raising more than £1 million in 48-hours as part of a crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs.

The company launched its crowdfunding campaign to highlight the benefits of cryptocurrencies to a wider audience.

The campaign secured £1,080,646 from 34 investors (at time of original writing), which equates to 98% of the firm’s £1.1 million funding goal.

New investors and current Zumo users are being encouraged to invest and own a part of the cryptocurrency startup.

Announcing the campaign, Zumo founder Nick Jones said: “We are so excited to hit the red button on our first crowdfunding campaign with Seedrs.

“It’s the perfect example of what we set out to do with Zumo – sharing the benefits of investing in cryptocurrencies with everyone in our bid to create a better, more equal global financial system.”

The Edinburgh cryptocurrency startup has had several significant milestones, earlier in August activating the sterling (GBP) exchange function on its digital wallet following a partnership with digital payments scaleup, Modulr.

Zumo also recently secured £500,000 in funding from Ilya Fund, which added to recent wins with Murray Capital’s David Murray and Coldplay musician Guy Berryman.

Zumo said it plans to use the crowdfunding success as a springboard to a Series A funding round later in the year. The firm also aims to capitalise on the 1.1 million new cryptocurrency wallets – like those held on the Zumo app – that have been created in the UK in the past year alone.

For the full story, click here.


Horisk Leslie Development

Scottish software consultancy Horisk Leslie Development will supply a new platform specifically developed for Scottish Procurement after winning a £61,000 Scottish Government contract, it said last month.

The Sustainable Procurement Tools platform will help Scotland’s public bodies embed sustainability requirements into their procurement process, kickstarting the national economic recovery post-Covid-19.

The contract award took place as part of a competitive tender in one of the Scottish Government’s national frameworks designed to ensure best value and quality in privately sourced services and products.

Speaking about the new platform, Director Brian Horisk, said: “We’re delighted to have had another large public sector client – a directorate of The Scottish Government – select us to develop a key tool which will be used by many organisations throughout Scotland to help us not only recover from the social, economic and environmental damage done by Covid-19 but also rebuild in a socially-inclusive and environmentally sustainable way so the benefits are enjoyed by all and help Scotland meet its climate goals.

“As someone committed to sustainable development, this has been a very satisfying project to use our specialism in bespoke software systems which simplify using organisation processes. It’s great to see it being adopted so widely already – allowing the benefits to be realised so soon.”

Lorraine Hook, of Scottish Procurement, said: “Horisk’s experience of developing similar tools for other public sector organisations was invaluable and meant they could hit the ground running on our project.

“They were able to offer innovative solutions to our requirements and, despite the pandemic, continued to work with us to deliver our project on time. As a result, we now have a single platform which provides easier access to our suite of tools and supporting guidance.

For DIGIT’s full article, click here.


Scottish Science Centres

The Scottish Government is offering Scotland’s four science centres an additional £2 million of funding to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Glasgow Science Centre, Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, Dundee Science Centre, and Aberdeen Science Centre will receive the money in addition to their annual government funding of £2.67 million.

While the four centres have been closed since March, they have used video-based content to engage with school pupils, teachers, families and the wider public. The funds will be used to help the centres install safeguards to protect visitors with a view to re-opening in the autumn.

Science Minister, Richard Lochhead, said: “Our science centres are a valuable national asset, and even though they are currently closed to visitors, they have continued to deliver STEM learning opportunities through the creative and innovative use of online learning.”

“From daily online videos and weekly themed home-learning programmes to stay-at-home science and STEM care packages, they have been providing valuable resources to support parents, teachers and young people during the school closures.”

Lochhead added: “Science, technology, engineering and maths impact our everyday lives and this has never been more relevant than in the current global pandemic. The huge contributions of Scotland’s STEM-related research and industry have been highlighted nationally and internationally throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

“This extra money puts our science centres in a stronger position to continue to showcase Scottish research and industry excellence in STEM, inspiring our young people and supporting their learning, while helping Scotland realise its ambitions as a science and innovation nation.”

Full article available here.


The University of Strathclyde

Strathclyde University researchers received funding in August to develop a new online platform to carry out building inspections.

The six-month project, which has received £35,000 from the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre i-Con Challenge, will help improve the management and monitoring of the construction phase of buildings.

Researchers said the aim of the project is to introduce state-of-the-art algorithms for defect detection and sizing in image data, drawing upon deep learning algorithms, traditional image processing techniques and virtual reality interfaces.

According to the research team, the platform will help improve productivity, quality and cut down on defects.

Andrew Agapiou, senior lecturer from the Department of Architecture and lead researcher on the project, said: “The ability to accurately detect errors and defects in remote and hard-to-access buildings has significant value for the organisations.”

“The use of advanced photogrammetry and artificial intelligence technologies will help data gathering and analysis with minimum human interaction with buildings,” Agapiou added.

Project partners include the Scottish Government Building Standards Division, Sublime, Robert Gordon University, Balfour Beatty Construction, BDP, Anomalous Technologies, Scottish Futures Trust Hub-Cos Partnership, Highlands Council, and the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre.

Full article.


Sunamp

Scottish thermal battery maker Sunamp has raised £4.5 million as part of a Series A financing round.

Sunamp received £3.2 million from Chilean venture capital firm, Aurus Capital Industrial, with additional funds coming from the Scottish Investment Bank and existing private investors.

With the funding, Sunamp aims to scale up its operations in the UK and expand into Central Europe, Asia, and North America.

As the only heat battery manufacturer in the world to receive A Grade RAL Certification, Sunamp has global growth potential.

Aurus Capital Managing Partner Victor Aguilera said: “We are excited to be part of Sunamp and being able to contribute to its global scaling. We have been impressed by what the team has accomplished so far and look forward to supporting their vision for a better planet.

“We believe that Sunamp has the opportunity to become a game-changer in the energy sector and contribute significantly to protect our environment by enabling more renewable energy to go into heating and cooling and at the same time-saving money in millions of homes and industries across the world.

“This is another example of our focus on investing in leading companies with advanced materials technologies generating positive impacts.”

Scottish Investment Bank director Kerry Sharp said: “It is fantastic to see Sunamp’s growth and we are pleased to have supported this innovative company as it leads the way in green power technology.”

“This highlights Scotland’s global reputation and talent for renewables that will shape our future low carbon economy and drive towards meeting net-zero targets.”

Want to find out more? Check out the original article here.


Rigetti

The UK Government is backing Britain’s first quantum computer as part of its ambition to become the world’s first quantum-ready economy.

With £10 million in funding, the computer will be hosted in Abington, Oxfordshire, with the aim of assisting businesses looking to adopt quantum technology in the future.

The tech could provide up to £4 billion of economic opportunities globally by 2024, and productivity gains resulting from quantum computing are expected to surpass over £341 billion globally within the next few decades.

The government says that the adoption of quantum technology would also result in new jobs, skills and knowledge across the country.

Speaking after the Quantum Summit, Science Minister Amanda Solloway, who announced the funding, said: “Our ambition is to be the world’s first quantum-ready economy, which could provide UK businesses and industries with billions of pounds worth of opportunities.

“Therefore, I am delighted that companies across the country will have access to our first commercial quantum computer, to be based in Abingdon.

“This a key part of our plan to build back better using the latest technology, attract the brightest and best talent to the UK and encourage world-leading companies to invest here”

The computer will be produced by tech company Rigetti Computing, alongside Oxford Instruments, Standard Chartered and Bristol and London-based quantum software start-up Phasecraft, as well as the University of Edinburgh.

Chad Rigetti, CEO of Rigetti Computing, commented on the project: “We are excited to deliver the UK’s first quantum computer and help accelerate the development of practical algorithms and applications.

“By providing access to quantum hardware, the collaboration aims to unlock new capabilities within the thriving UK ecosystem of quantum information science researchers, start-ups, and enterprises who have already begun to explore the potential impact of quantum computing.”

The project is part of the government’s previous plan to attract the top talent and world-leading companies to the UK, beginning with the commitment of £93 million in funding for the establishment of A National Quantum Computing Centre in 2018.

The government says Rigetti’s funding is part of its “Quantum Technologies Challenge,” led by UK Research & Innovation. In June 2020, the government announced 38 new projects that are benefiting from over £70 million funding.

Want to find out more? Check out the original article here.


Announcements

Aceville and Brightsolid

Hybrid cloud managed services company, Brightsolid, announced in August that magazine publisher Aceville has become the first organisation to use its new professional services practice.

Aceville has a hybrid cloud approach having used public cloud solutions since 2010. However, following the Covid-19 pandemic and an increase in remote working – and subsequent increase in cyber threats – the publisher approached Brightsolid for an independent review of its security and digital services.

The review was conducted remotely over three days, assessing Aceville’s AWS environment against the Brightsolid cloud control framework. Brightsolid also ran an automated assessment of the environment against CIS AWS benchmark criteria.

David Coe, Head of Digital at Aceville, said: “We’ve been incorporating public cloud solutions from AWS into our strategy for ten years, and are no stranger to the importance of cybersecurity. The digital environment is constantly evolving, but drastic changes to our work environment in recent months has led to rapid increase in cyber threats and corresponding security opportunities.

“Given Brightsolid’s history of working closely with clients to provide a flexible, tailored service, we were confident in its ability to help us identify opportunities to enhance our digital environment. Brightsolid provided a very clear security analysis, showing a great understanding of our organisation and detailing our next steps.”

Jon Gasparini, CTO at Brightsolid, added: “Over the past few months, more organisations have seen the value of using hybrid and public cloud models. But even those who are familiar with it, such as Aceville, recognise the cloud environment is rapidly developing due to changing work practices.

“Given our strengths in cloud managed services and digital technology, we have a deep understanding of how businesses can benefit from digital transformation and using technology to overcome current economic challenges.

“Our Professional Services offering supports businesses as they push the boundaries of their existing systems to achieve maximum benefits whilst remaining operationally secure.”


Falkirk Council

Scotland’s largest electric vehicle charging station has officially opened in the heart of the Central Belt.

The new £1.4 million facilities, located at the Falkirk Stadium, has the capacity to charge 26 electric vehicles at any one time – 30% more than the second-largest EV charging station in Scotland.

Funding for the new project has come from Falkirk Council and the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund through Transport Scotland’s Low Carbon Travel and Transport Challenge Fund.

Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, said: “By delivering the largest electric vehicle charging hub in Scotland, Falkirk Council has demonstrated their commitment to Scotland’s net-zero vision.

“I am pleased we’ve been able to support their leadership through our Low Carbon Travel and Transport Challenge Fund, which has helped finance this impressive charging hub here at Falkirk Stadium through the European Regional Development Fund,” Matheson said.

Councillor Paul Garner, Falkirk Council’s spokesperson for the Environment, said the new hub marks a significant step forward for EV infrastructure and will play a key role in cutting carbon emissions.

“The Falkirk and Grangemouth area is committed to a move towards a Net Zero carbon future and this major investment by Falkirk Council and Transport Scotland to create Scotland’s largest EV station demonstrates not only the local area’s determination to drive down carbon emissions but also reflects positively on Scotland’s national commitment,” he said.

Want to find out more? Check out the original article here.


Logan Energy

Logan Energy

Hydrogen technology firm Logan Energy has been selected to supply two of the first publicly accessible hydrogen refuelling stations in Teesside.

The Edinburgh-based firm will supply fuel-cell quality hydrogen for vehicles in addition to delivering and operating two new Hydrogen Refuelling Stations to accommodate increasing local demand.

The initial four-year contract is part of a UK Government project, funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles’ (OLEV) Hydrogen for Transport Fund, which aims to deliver five new hydrogen refuelling stations across the UK.

Of the five refuelling stations funded by OLEV, a joint proposal from the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority, the Materials Processing Institute, and Northern Gas Networks successfully bid £1.3 million to have two located across Teesside.

It is believed that the hydrogen industry could regenerate the Teesside economy, create as many as 1000 jobs and contribute up to £7 billion to the region by 2050.

The company hopes to extend this work further as both the network of HRS and number of hydrogen-fuelled vehicles increases across the Tees Valley and the UK.

Bill Ireland, CEO of Logan Energy, said: “This initiative provides an opportunity for Logan Energy to leverage its industry experience and deliver its first commercial hydrogen supply and refuelling contract for passenger vehicles.

“Tees Valley has a long and successful relationship with hydrogen energy that is unparalleled across the UK.”

Ireland added: “It is an ideal location to demonstrate a viable, renewable hydrogen supply-and-demand scenario that has the potential to be replicated not just regionally but in towns and cities throughout the UK, Europe and further afield.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Hydrogen is vital to our clean energy plans across the region and we are now well placed to see the successful delivery of this pioneering technology which will benefit the people of Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.

“Working together, we can drive a stronger economy which will put us at the forefront of innovative, clean technologies that will be essential in helping us meet our net-zero objectives and create high-quality careers for local people for decades to come.”

Want to find out more? Check out the original article here.


Good-Loop

Ethical ad startup Good-Loop announced the donation £1 million to charities in August.

Linking companies such as Unilever, Coca-Cola, and H&M with homeless shelters, beach clean-ups and human rights campaigners, the ads being circulated via Good-Loop have positively impacted thousands of people over the past three-and-a-half years.

Despite a challenging period, the Edinburgh-based firm confirmed it is also on track to hit its funding target of £5 million donated to good causes by 2022.

Charities that have benefited from Good-Loop advertising include Street Games. In partnership with Coca-Cola, over £40,000 has been donated to help train football coaches and open sports access to facilities in various communities.

Amy Williams, CEO and co-founder of Good-Loop commented: “Media spend typically represents 90% of global brands’ advertising budgets, equivalent to over £100 billion each year.

“Imagine all the good that money could do if spent in a way that is not inadvertently funding online hate, for example, but actually adds positive impact in the world? Smashing our £1m target is proof that the notion of ‘good business – doing good’ is anything but imaginary.”

Want to find out more? Check out the original article here.


TravelTech

deal roundup

A new cluster organisation says it could help Scotland’s tourism industry recover from the impact of Covid-19.

The Traveltech for Scotland cluster group will build a support network for travel technology pioneers to collaborate, foster an online community of entrepreneurs and promote industry events.

It is hoped the venture will support economic recovery and create new opportunities for businesses, such as digital tour operators, online booking providers and companies exploring the use of robotics to enhance customer service.

Led by the University of Edinburgh and funded via the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise, the three-year, £342,000 initiative will also tap into Scotland’s research excellence and seek to nurture the country’s tech graduate talent.

The newly appointed director of Traveltech for Scotland, Joshua Ryan-Saha, of the Edinburgh Futures Institute, said the organisation will support the industry to overcome significant challenges ahead.

“The travel industry faces unprecedented challenges and we need to invest now in Traveltech to build a better, more resilient and sustainable future for Scotland’s travel industry,” he said.

Steve Dunlop, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise is confident Traveltech can support economic recovery in communities that rely on tourism and help the sector to ‘build back better’ by developing sustainability and resilience.

Similarly, drawing on the growing strength of Scotland’s tech sector could enable more businesses to modernise and adopt new technologies. In 2018, Scotland’s tech industry was valued at £4.9 billion, with over 100,000 people employed in the sector.

“By bringing together our digital and visitor economies, there’s a real opportunity for the Scottish technology sector to lead the way in creating innovative solutions to the challenges faced by the tourism industry on a global scale,” Dunlop said.

Want to find out more? Check out the original article here.


The Scotland 5G Centre

deal roundup

The Scotland 5G Centre is collaborating with the Scottish Futures Trust, Connected Places Catapult, global legal business DWF, and IT and telecoms consultancy FarrPoint to accelerate the installation of 4G and 5G networks across Scotland.

The Infralink programme – funded by The Scotland 5G Centre – will engage with public sector property owners and telecoms providers to improve mobile connectivity by streamlining and simplifying the network roll-out process.

By harnessing enhanced 4G and 5G connectivity, the Scottish economy could receive a significant economic boost – a study by Deloitte found enhancements to wireless technologies could increase GDP by more than £17 billion by 2035.

Sarah Eynon, Infralink programme manager and associate director of the Scottish Futures Trust’s (SFT) Digital Infrastructure Team, said: “The Infralink team has identified that if we take a national approach to make the process of identifying a site and agreeing to the terms of the lease more efficient, we have a stronger chance of Scotland leading the way in digital infrastructure deployment and connectivity.

“This will reduce the burden placed on both the public sector and industry, and should lead to quicker, collaborative results.

“We’re already speaking with an initial group of industry stakeholders, government agencies and local authorities to gather data and get valuable feedback on our proposed activities. We hope to shift the overall focus to concentrate on the opportunities available to everyone involved.

“The Shared Rural Network programme, for example, will be critical to getting mass 4G coverage across Scotland and the tools produced by Infralink will make that roll out more efficient for both sides.

“We are using the experience from the Scotland 4G Infill project that SFT manages and other UK programmes to ensure we are building on best practice. The aim is to have the first set of tools in place by the end of the year, which can ultimately make Scotland a more inviting place to invest and boost the deployment of mobile connectivity.”

Paul Coffey, CEO of The Scotland 5G Centre, added: “Accelerating the deployment and adoption of 5G is a priority for The Scotland 5G Centre. By encouraging collaboration through projects like Infralink and engaging with partners from across the UK, we hope to raise awareness of the benefits of 5G, while also addressing some of the misconceptions and challenges that might prevent people and businesses from getting involved.

“5G is entirely different from the technologies that have come before. It will require a greater level of infrastructure to achieve a high level of coverage needed to open up the many exciting opportunities for people, businesses and public services across the country.”

Want to find out more? Check out the original article here.


OGTC and TechX

deal roundup

The Oil & Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) has unveiled the third cohort of its TechX Accelerator programme.

This year’s accelerator, which is being held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will see Equinor join BP and KPMG as the programme’s strategic industry partners.

The energy giants will work closely with the 12 accelerator participants to provide “unrivalled” access to tech specialists, financial experts and test facilities.

Participants will also be supported by a range of delivery partners and associates throughout the 16-week programme, with each startup receiving investor readiness skills and training as well as support from over 110 experienced mentors.

Companies taking part in this year’s accelerator include:

  • Actuation Lab
  • Carnot Ltd
  • Cried 7
  • ENGTECH
  • Nudge Exchange
  • PulseUK
  • QLM
  • Steel Space Drilling
  • Mellizyme
  • Mission Zero
  • sHYp
  • Supercritical

Half of the 2020 TechX Accelerator cohort are cleantech companies, which OGTC chief executive Colette Cohen said highlights the ongoing industry shift toward net-zero.

She said: “With 50% of this year’s cohort being cleantech, not only is TechX supporting the UK oil and gas/energy industry, but also the industry’s pivot towards a net-zero economy.

“The disruptive and exciting technologies offered by these upcoming start-ups are key to our success as an industry. Especially in the midst of a global pandemic and one of the world’s worst economic downturns, our TechX pioneers represent a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Funding of up to £100,000 is available through the accelerator programme, and all intellectual property will be retained by the startups. So far, TechX has supported 33 companies and provided around £3.3 million in funding to support these early-stage tech firms.

David Millar, TechX Director at the OGTC, said: “2020 has been a disruptive year for everyone. At TechX we have embraced the disruption and pivoted our offering to a virtual one to ensure we continue to provide world-class support to these exciting startups.

“As we look towards the accelerated energy transition and the ever-looming threat of climate change we are delighted that half of our cohort this year is focused in this area. All 12 companies in this year’s cohort have high growth potential and are ready to take on the industry challenges they have been selected to solve.”

Want to find out more? Check out the original article here.


Ionburst

Tech innovator Ionburst — which offers ultra-secure distributed public, hybrid and multi-Cloud storage — launched its Ionburst Flex and Flex Monthly products from its US headquarters in Cadillac, Michigan.

Ionburst Flex is an easy-to-adopt, self-service, pay-as-you-go solution for developers and small and micro-businesses.

It costs just $0.01 per transaction and $0.03 per GB per month storage. For organisations managing limited budgets, Flex Monthly delivers privacy and recovery of any data from $25 a month.

Anne Lanc, Chief Executive Officer of Ionburst (US) LLC and Former International Treasury Director of BlackRock, commented: “With over 8.5 billion Cloud records exposed in 2019 due to poor migrations, misconfiguration and human error, today’s data security isn’t working for Cloud data.

“Ionburst’s novel ‘self-defending and self-repairing’ security innovations fix these problems. Ionburst also seamlessly protects and recovers data in Cloud stores exposed to ransomware attacks and malicious actors.”

Lanc added: “It’s only when organisations move to the Cloud that its unique complexities become clear. That’s when they learn that Cloud data privacy, recovery and security pose different challenges to those on-premise. That’s where Ionburst excels.”

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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