Tech News: 10th Feb

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The government has pumped £23m into Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data conversion courses for young and underrepresented groups, as the UK aims to be the industry leader. There will be up to two thousand scholarships for masters AI conversion courses, and the aim is to create a new generation of experts in data science and AI, as well as drive diversity in the tech space. The UK has a long history in AI, from codebreaker Alan Turing’s early work through to London-based powerhouse DeepMind’s research which will enable quicker and more advanced drug discovery. DCMS Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy Chris Philp said:“The UK is already a world leader in AI. Today we’re investing millions to ensure people from all parts of society can access the opportunities and benefits AI is creating in this country.  

Dozens of biotech companies are running low on cash and face an uphill struggle to raise fresh funds after “tourist” investors who snapped up their shares during the pandemic abandoned the sector. Dozens of biotech companies are running low on cash and face an uphill struggle to raise fresh funds after “tourist” investors who snapped up their shares during the pandemic abandoned the sector. Biotech groups, most of them lossmaking, raised a record $32.7bn in initial public offerings over the past two years, according to data from Refinitiv. But 83 per cent of recently listed US biotech and pharma stocks are now trading below their IPO price. Biotech groups that listed in 2021 are trading on average 37 per cent below their IPO price, compared to a 22 per cent fall for all newly US-listed companies. Many such companies raised money through IPOs with the expectation that they would be able to tap investors for fresh funds in subsequent share sales as their drugs progressed through the research and development cycle.

Credit bureau TransUnion is adding deferred payment credit (aka buy now, pay later) to its UK consumer credit files, a move that it claims is a UK-first. Starting from summer 2022 TransUnion will begin displaying the data on consumer data reports, and introducing it across its range of products. The credit bureau’s UK CEO Satrajit Saha said he was “delighted” that TransUnion was recognising the changes taking place in the credit ecosystem. The move comes ahead of the findings of the UK Treasury’s pay later consultation and subsequent FCA consultation on deferred payment credit—both of which are expected to call for more credit data sharing in the buy now, pay later sector. 

Kwasi Kwarteng is looking to use the taxpayer’s stake in OneWeb to build a satellite navigation system after Britain was removed from the European Galileo project after Brexit. The Business Secretary told MPs that the satellite broadband company could be used to provide “position, navigation and timing” (PNT) signals equivalent to Galileo or the US Global Positioning System. Mr Kwarteng said the stake in OneWeb, which Britain rescued from bankruptcy in 2020, “puts us in a much better position than we were two or three years ago”. The government considered plans for a fully-fledged £5bn alternative to the Galileo system but scrapped them in 2020 amid concerns about its cost. OneWeb, which aims to provide internet to rural areas, has said that a second generation of its satellites could provide navigation services, but Mr Kwarteng’s remarks are the most clear sign that the government sees it as a chance to build a sovereign system. 

M3ter, a London-based startup that provides a usage-based subscription service for software products instead of a flat rate, has raised $17.5m (£13m) to exit stealth mode. The startup said it will use the fresh capital – provided by Kindred Capital, Union Square Ventures and Insight Partners – to grow its team in Europe and the US and to expand into new markets. Founded in late 2020, M3ter said it is aiming to capitalise on a growing number of software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses switching to usage-based pricing.It provides the technical infrastructure for software businesses to calculate their data usage and provide a cost breakdown. It presents this on a dashboard and can automate billing cycles by integrating with a company’s CRM platform.