Tech News: 18th Jan

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The rise of mega-rockets, such as SpaceX’s Starship, could make or break the ‘New Space’ industry, according to experts. Countries including South Korea, Japan, India and UAE are planning to launch their first missions the Moon, which will require the use of so-called mega-rockets. “Public enthusiasm for space will remain high with the launch of new mega-rockets in the coming year,” CEO of Seraphim Space, Mark Boggett said. “This includes NASA’s giant moon rocket and SpaceX’s next-generation Starship, to return humans to the moon and some day to Mars.” The space economy has breezed through yet another record year for private capital investment, swallowing $12.4bn in 2021 – an increase of more than 60 per cent from the year before, London-listed Seraphim Space found. 


The UK is today home to nearly 200 accelerators, drawing on the model pioneered in California by Y Combinator — an early backer of Airbnb, Dropbox and Reddit. Sifted and Beauhurst analysed the portfolios of the nine most active UK accelerators between 2011 and 2018. They’re ranked by the percentage of portfolio companies that have since gone on to raise external funds. We’ve also looked at the percentage of startups that have raised more than £40m and are still active. The best performing accelerator was Tech Nation’s UK growth programme Upscale, founded in 2016. Their portfolio companies were most likely to get funded and to raise a serious round. 


A British start-up is preparing to make driverless food deliveries for Ocado and Asda this year after raising $200m (£147m) from investors including Sir Richard Branson. Wayve’s fundraising, which also included investment from Microsoft and Baillie Gifford, brings its total backing to $258m, making it Britain’s best-funded start-up developing autonomous vehicles. Alex Kendall, the company’s 29-year-old founder, said Wayve planned to start deploying self-driving electric delivery vans around London under tests with Ocado and Asda. The company said it would later expand outside of London and had tested its technology in five other UK cities. The company eventually plans to use its technology for passenger journeys. 


Nordic banking app Lunar is switching to the cloud-native core banking firm, Thought Machines for its banking engine Vault. Specifically, Lunar says the switch will enable it to migrate all its existing accounts and functionality while opening a path to building entirely new products. “To continue scaling our service across the region, investing in the latest and best technology is a top priority for Lunar. We searched for a core banking engine that would enable us to deliver on our product roadmap – not dictate it,” said Lunar’s CEO and founder Ken Villum Klausen. 


London-based smart logistics startup 7bridges has raised $17m (£12.5m) in a funding round led by venture capital fund Eight Roads. Existing investors Local Global and Crane provided further funds in the Series A round, along with additional investment from Maersk Growth. Founded in 2016 by Philip Ashton and Matei Beremski, 7bridges’ platform pulls a company’s logistics data into one place and then uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automate and optimise supply chain processes. For example, its software can find the optimal dispatch site, route and carrier for an order and automatically creates and labels associated paperwork.