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21 February, Tue
The value of venture capital investors and the importance of physical infrastructure

On the back of the news that Wing Venture Capital has closed its second fund, to the tune of $250 million, venture capital is once again under the spotlight.

At the end of November, the U.K. government also focused heavily on the industry as part of its Autumn Statement, with plans to invest £2 billion into science and tech innovation, as well as a plan to invest £400 million via the British Business Bank into VC funds for growth capital. Interestingly, the U.K.’s Autumn Statement was also laced with new funds and investment strategies around infrastructure.

So why is it important to invest via VCs, and do they add value further to the money they invest into a growth business? Furthermore, what role do physical transport links play in terms of business success and innovation in this, the digital age?

Seemingly, in this very modern and digital world to which most developed societies are now accustomed, there are all manner of different mediums by which to connect, communicate, share knowledge and even send physical objects, in the guise of 3D printers, without need for physical transfer or transport. So surely enhanced physical transport links will have little impact, right?

Wrong.

Research we undertook over the last year was trying to empirically prove or disprove the idea that venture capital investors actually added value further to the capital they invested. We undertook the study predominantly in the U.S., with U.S. businesses and U.S. investors, looking at how direct flights increased face to face interaction between investors and portfolio, and how that in turn impacted those businesses’ probability of success and innovation. The results were really quite interesting.

A good old-fashioned face to face should not be overlooked.

Our research showed that better infrastructure links between investors and portfolio, in the shape of a new direct airline route in this instance, led to an increase in face to face interactions between investors and portfolio businesses due to the comparative time and cost saved. The results for those portfolio with increased face to face time highlighted that the number of patents filed rose by three percent, and the citations per patent rose by almost 6 percent, indicating an increased quantity and quality of innovation.

Furthermore, the probability that those portfolio would IPO or achieve a successful exit also increased. By controlling the impact of “local shocks,” we confirmed that pre-existing trends were not driving these results and that VCs really are adding value to their investments.

Therefore, we were able to empirically prove that venture capital investors do add value to their investments further to the cash injection they are able to provide. How each VC does this will be specific to their skill sets and relationships, but most will be able to offer sound advice and support due to their own business acumen, and open doors to which startup founders may not have access.

Furthermore, the research also highlighted the importance of face to face interactions for businesses, even in this digital age when video calls and emails are seen to be more efficient ways of doing business. In the case of our U.S.-centric study, the introduction of direct flights were effective in increasing these interactions. In the U.K., and other, less expansive, nation states, direct flights are less feasible in terms of intra-city travel, but enhanced transport links such as high-speed trains could have a big impact on increasing these interactions, and, in turn, the success and innovative nature of their growth businesses.

In light of Brexit, it is interesting to see the U.K. investing heavily in infrastructure, whilst other European hubs, which already have access to things such as high-speed rail, namely Germany and France, jostle to take the U.K.’s crown as the European king of startups and venture capital. With other European nations, such as Sweden and Portugal, also working hard to support their blooming tech and investment ecosystems, it is no secret how important innovation, high-growth businesses and their VCs are to the economies of nation-states. These businesses and technologies are the future, but a good old-fashioned face to face should not be overlooked, especially with VC investors.

 

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July 2017
28 July, Friday
Apple imagines AR glasses that fulfill the dream of Google Glass

Tim Cook has not-so-subtly hinted that Apple is working on some sort of augmented reality product. And while ARKit may be the start, a patent application published today hints at what Apple could be picturing down the road.


27 July, Thursday
Amazon has a secret health tech team called 1492 working on medical records, virtual doc visits

  • Amazon has a secret skunkworks lab called 1492, dedicated to health care tech.
  • Areas of exploration include a platform for electronic medical record data, telemedicine and health apps for existing devices like the Amazon Echo.

26 July, Wednesday
Apple and Cochlear team up to roll out the first implant made for the iPhone

Apple has teamed up with Australian-based Cochlear to bring iPhone users the first made for iPhone Cochlear implant.

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June, Cochlear’s Nucleus 7 Sound Processor can now stream sound directly from a compatible iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to the sound processor.

25 July, Tuesday
Google’s DeepMind made an AI that can imagine the future

Google’s London-based AI outfit DeepMind has created two different types of AI that can use their ‘imagination’ to plan ahead and perform tasks with a higher success rate than AIs without imagination. Sorry if I made you click because you wanted AIs predicted flying cars. I promise this is cool too.

24 July, Monday
Scientists are now using Wi-Fi to read human emotions

Scientists at MIT are using Wi-Fi and AI to determine your emotional state. They’ve created an algorithm that can detect and measure individual heartbeats by bouncing RF signals off of people.

21 July, Friday
This little USB stick is designed to make AI plug-and-play

The Neural Compute Stick from Movidius makes it easy to add a machine vision processor to any device.

18 July, Tuesday
GOOGLE GLASS 2.0 IS A STARTLING SECOND ACT

Yep. Glass is back.

17 July, Monday
Elon Musk Lays Out Worst-Case Scenario for AI Threat

Powerful technology will threaten all human jobs, could even spark a war, Tesla CEO says

14 July, Friday
High-speed Hyperloop project ready for key test in Nevada

Engineers will soon conduct a crucial test of a futuristic technology championed by entrepreneur Elon Musk that seeks to revolutionize transportation by sending passengers and cargo packed into pods through an intercity system of vacuum tubes.

13 July, Thursday
Uber, Yandex combine ridesharing and UberEATS in Russian markets in a $3.72B JV

Uber announced that it will be combining its rides-on-demand business and UberEATS, its food ordering and delivery business, in Russia and neighboring markets, with Yandex.Taxi, the ridesharing business.

12 July, Wednesday
Microsoft's new iPhone app narrates the world for blind people

The app uses AI to recognize people, objects, and scenes

07 July, Friday
Tesla will build world’s largest battery storage facility for Australian wind farm

Tesla will up its game in the renewable energy storage market with the largest lithium-ion battery storage facility in the world, to be built for Australia’s Hornsdale Wind Farm, with a completion date of December 1, 2017. 

05 July, Wednesday
Amazon’s Alexa passes 15,000 skills, up from 10,000 in February

Amazon’s Alexa voice platform has now passed 15,000 skills — the voice-powered apps that run on devices like the Echo speaker, Echo Dot, newer Echo Show and others. The figure is up from the 10,000 skills Amazon officially announced back in February, which had then represented a 3x increase from September.

June 2017
29 June, Thursday
Instagram now uses AI to block offensive comments

Instagram is introducing an enhanced comment filter today meant to wipe out nasty remarks using AI. 

28 June, Wednesday
Russia and Brazil aim to develop high tech partnerships

During official talks with his Brazilian counterpart, Michel Temer, in Moscow on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the cooperation between the two countries in the field of technologies.

Putin noted that Russia and Brazil already cooperate closely in space exploration and that there are plans to develop cooperation in Earth monitoring from space.

27 June, Tuesday
Apple acquires SMI eye-tracking company

In a move that is sure to stoke rumors about Apple’s future work in augmented and virtual reality technologies, Apple has acquired SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI), an eye-tracking firm, MacRumors reports.

22 June, Thursday
X-Ray Eyes in the Sky

UCSB researchers have proposed a new method for 3D through-wall imaging that utilizes drones and WiFi

21 June, Wednesday
Why Atlanta is a great place for startups

Atlanta has long been a hub for big companies—think Home Depot, UPS, Cisco, and Coca-Cola—and now it’s quickly becoming the tech startup center of the South

20 June, Tuesday
Global risk analysis gets an artificial intelligence upgrade with GeoQuant

The global risk analysis used by big banks, hedge funds, and governments to inform their decision-making around everything from foreign currency investment to foreign aid is getting the machine learning treatment with the launch of the new startup GeoQuant.

May 2017
31 May, Wednesday
Elon Musk's Solar Roofs Have Some Serious (and Seriously Cheap) Competition

A team of researchers in Australia has created a solution that could make solar energy far more accessible.

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