#UK Luminance closes Series B at $100m to expand legal AI

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Cambridge-based legal AI technology business Luminance has raised a fresh $10 million from existing investors Invoke Capital, Talis Capital and Slaughter and May to wrap up a $100m Series B round. 

The funds will be used to support the Cambridge University spin-out’s recent product expansion and global growth. The UK company’s machine learning technology is now deployed in over 130 organisations on six continents following its September 2016 launch.

The announcement follows the business’ recent opening of a fifth office in New York to support global growth, adding to bases in London, Cambridge, Chicago and Singapore. The company now has four offerings and over 70 employees.

Whether used for legal due diligence, compliance reviews or eDiscovery, Luminance’s technology operates on advanced pattern recognition and machine learning algorithms that behave much like the human brain, sorting through high-volume documentation and flagging anomalies at speed, offering lawyers greater control and insight into their documents.

In just two years, the company’s technology has been deployed in over 40 countries and is used by thousands of lawyers on a daily basis. In 2018 alone, Luminance’s customer base increased by over 150 per cent, with global employee headcount more than doubling to meet this demand.

CEO Emily Foges said: “2018 was a year of significant achievement for Luminance. We have expanded from one product to four, owing to the flexibility and innovative nature of our core technology.

“This has enabled a remarkable rate of global customer acquisition over the last 12 months and these funds will valuably support this continued expansion.”

Luminance’s decision to open a New York office came as its US customer base continued to expand – now including Global Top 100 firms McDermott Will & Emery and Holland & Knight, among others. 

The company was founded by a group of mathematicians and software engineers from the University of Cambridge following years of research into pattern recognition and machine intelligence.

from Business Weekly http://bit.ly/2THFy7X

Posted in #UK

#UK Global scale-up by PragmatIC after $17m fundraise

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Flexible electronics pioneer PragmatIC has further ramped global production from its Cambridge UK base after raising an additional $17 million.

Cambridge Innovation Capital led the latest round for PragmatIC, backed by fellow shareholders Arm and Avery Dennison, as well as new investors who share PragmatIC’s vision for leveraging the technology to digitally connect everyday objects.

With funding in place, PragmatIC has announced shipment of the first products in its ConnectIC family, the PR1101 and PR1102 FlexICs, designed for use in closed RFID (radio-frequency identification) systems.

The groundbreaking ConnectIC family will be pivotal in the acceleration of the smart packaging market.

Developed using PragmatIC’s unique platform of patented technologies, ConnectICs deliver connectivity solutions at the lowest cost point in the market. 

These revolutionary FlexICs are ultra-thin and flexible; suitable for embedding into a wide range of substrates, including paper and plastic; and reduce the complexity of inlays by using single layer antennas, delivering a further step down in cost to brand owners and retailers. 

These ConnectICs are extremely attractive for high-volume fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) and other mass market applications, with electronic connectivity no longer limited to high value, luxury items.

The PR1100 product series facilitates rapid detection of objects when one or more low-cost custom readers are integrated into the system. Designed for proximity identification applications, these FlexICs are ideal for applications including hierarchical inventory management, item identification and tracking, supply chain assurance and brand authentication. 

They are targeted at market segments such as food and beverage, personal and home care, pharmaceutical and healthcare. They also support the introduction of digital interactivity into physical toys and games.

CEO Scott White said: “The ConnectIC family is set to bring connectivity to items we buy every day. We have already started shipping to our partners and we anticipate rapid expansion based on clear opportunities for global customers with extensive brand portfolios who wish to add traceability and interactivity to their products.”

Victor Christou, CEO of Cambridge Innovation Capital added: “We are delighted to continue to support the PragmatIC team as it develops its range of FlexIC products which are designed to revolutionise the functionality of packaging across an extensive range of industries.”

from Business Weekly http://bit.ly/2WJJ3wx

Posted in #UK

#UK Raspberry Pi takes Amazon trail with High Street launch

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Raspberry Pi, Cambridge pioneer of the world’s smallest but most powerful micro computer, has followed a trail blazed by global e-retailer giants like Amazon by opening a bricks and mortar shop in the technology cluster’s Grand Arcade.

It has simultaneously introducing a new all-in-one starter kit to address broader consumer markets.

Raspberry Pi’s low-cost, credit card-sized PCs have captured hearts, minds and wallets worldwide.

Its first shop is designed to be an experiential space, offering an environment in which visitors can try their hand at programming the tiny PCs. 

Alongside a large range of Raspberry Pi’s existing products and merchandise, the outlet will also offer a new ‘Everything you need to get started with Raspberry Pi’ kit.

This includes the latest Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ alongside a complete set of official peripherals and everything a beginner needs to get started with programming their PC.

Eben Upton, CEO of Raspberry Pi (Trading), said: “Opening Raspberry Pi’s first shop and introducing the new kit, are important steps on our way to achieving broader adoption of our products. 

“Our vision has always been to make low-cost PCs accessible to everyone: the shop provides potential customers with a chance to learn about Raspberry Pi, while at the same time giving us a chance to learn more about their needs. The kit is intended to provide a smoother out-of-box experience for this group of new customers.

“Of course, the shop will also be a great destination for existing Raspberry Pi fans. We have a loyal and highly engaged community and it’s great to be able to offer them another way to interact with us and our products.”

Raspberry Pi was founded in Cambridge and has just taken major office space at The Maurice Wilkes Building at St John’s Innovation Park.

It provides outreach and education to help more people access computing and digital making; this entails developing free resources to help people learn about computing and how to make things with computers, and train educators who can guide other people to learn.

• Image courtesy – Raspberry Pi

from Business Weekly http://bit.ly/2MTnqoR

Posted in #UK

#UK Fetch.AI’s ICO could be a first for Cambridge

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Cambridge-based artificial intelligence startup Fetch.AI launches an Initial Coin Offering on Binance Launchpad on February 25 and believes it may be the first ICO by a company based in Cambridge.

The company is coy about fixing potential values to the token sale but believe it will prove considerable and underpin its global growth strategy.

The Fetch.AI token acts as a medium of exchange, allowing autonomous agents to exchange tokens for data, services, and other goods within the Fetch.AI network, supporting machine-to-machine microtransactions.

For businesses, the new approach means virtually any networked machine or real-world asset, such as a hotel room or hospital bed, can now be represented by an autonomous agent so they can manage their own affairs, like autonomous booking, pricing, and maintainance. 

This type of infrastructure enables new marketplaces to evolve and flourish without the need for intermediaries.

Binance was founded in China but moved its servers and headquarters out of China and into Japan in advance of the Chinese government ban on cryptocurrency trading in September 2017. By March 2018 the company had established offices in Taiwan.

Humayun Sheikh, CEO of Fetch.AI said: “Today’s internet is built for ecommerce solutions that enable connectivity between humans. 

“The new web needs to enable more autonomous, machine-based solutions and this requires building the infrastructure and tools to make it deployable. Fetch.AI is building the deployment infrastructure which brings the new AI-based autonomous machine economy to life.”

For users, an autonomous agent can live on a smartphone continuously learning the intimate needs of the user based on decisions the human takes and by accessing data from calendars, email, and many other systems to enable highly personalised experiences. 

The data needed to inform this step-change in personalisation and automation remains sovereign to the user, informing the agent but without the need for the agent to reveal the underlying data to third-parties.

Sheikh added: “Let’s take travel. Today, people rely on traditional travel agents or spend hours searching for the travel combinations they need. An autonomous agent learns from your behaviour to build a clearer picture of your needs. It uses that insight to search vast combinations of options, confirms availability with, say, an airline or rail network, negotiates a price and completes the transaction.

“For businesses, this enables a more targeted selling opportunity without the need for a user’s personal data or deployment of machine learning algorithms.”

Binance CEO and founder, Changpeng Zhao added: “The Fetch network is in a position to help overcome barriers presented by centralised systems for bringing data to life, leveraging an AI and decentralised solution. 

“We are looking forward to this project that will help create a decentralised digital world for the future of economic activities and marketplaces.”

from Business Weekly http://bit.ly/2GuYGST

Posted in #UK

#UK New DNA search engine a ‘bug-busting Google’

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A new search engine which effectively acts as a Google for bug-busting genomic scientists has been unveiled by researchers at EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute at the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus in Cambridge.

They have combined their knowledge of bacterial genetics and web search algorithms to build a DNA search engine for microbial data.

The search engine, described in a paper published in Nature Biotechnology, could enable researchers and public health agencies to use genome sequencing data to monitor the spread of antibiotic resistance genes. 

By making this vast amount of data discoverable, the search engine could also allow researchers to learn more about bacteria and viruses.

The search engine, called Bitsliced Genomic Signature Index (BIGSI), fulfils a similar purpose to internet search engines, such as Google.

The amount of sequenced microbial DNA is doubling every two years. Until now, there was no practical way to search this data. This type of search could prove extremely useful for understanding disease. 

Google and other search engines use natural language processing to search through billions of websites. They are able to take advantage of the fact that human language is relatively unchanging. 

By contrast, microbial DNA shows the imprint of billions of years of evolution, so each new microbial genome can contain new ‘language’ that has never been seen before. The key to making BIGSI work was finding a way to build a search index that could cope with the diversity of microbial DNA.
 
Take, for example, an outbreak of food poisoning, where the cause is a Salmonella strain containing a drug-resistance plasmid (a ‘hitchhiking’ DNA element that can spread drug resistance across different bacterial species). 

For the first time, BIGSI allows researchers to easily spot if and when the plasmid has been seen before.

Zamin Iqbal, research group leader at EMBL-EBI said: “We know that bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics either through mutations or with the help of plasmids.

“We also know that we can use mutations in bacterial DNA as a historical record of bacterial ancestry. This allows us to infer, to some extent, how bacteria might spread across a hospital ward, a country or the world. 

“BIGSI helps us study all of these things at massive scale. For the first time, it allows scientists to ask questions such as ‘has this outbreak strain been seen before?’ or ‘has this drug resistance gene spread to a new species?’.”

The search engine complements other existing tools and offers a solution that can scale to the vast amounts of data the lab is now generating.

Iqbal adds: “As DNA sequencing becomes cheaper, we will see a whole new host of users outside basic research, and a rapid increase in the volume of data generated. “

We will very likely see DNA sequencing used in clinics, or in the field, to diagnose patients and prescribe treatment, but we could also see it used for a range of other things, such as checking what type of meat is in a burger. Making genomics data searchable at this point is essential and it will allow us to learn a huge amount about biology, evolution, the spread of disease, and much more.”

from Business Weekly http://bit.ly/2SvwOEn

Posted in #UK

#UK Sosei Heptares and Medicxi form €40m neuro disease venture

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Cambridge brainpower is spearheading a €40 million play to fight neurological diseases.

Sosei Heptares, whose R & D mothership is in Cambridge, is partnering with Medicxi – whose founding partner and chief scientist, David Grainger, operates internationally from a Cambridge base – to form two independent companies, Orexia  and Inexia.

The new ventures aim to develop novel therapies based on positive modulators of the G protein-coupled receptors Orexin OX1 and OX2 for neurological diseases. Medicxi will be investing in both companies with an aggregate amount of up to €40 million.

Orexia and Inexia will obtain a portfolio of related patents and have the rights to exploit a series of Orexin OX1 and OX2 positive modulators and products derived.

Orexia will focus on the development of oral therapies while Inexia will steer development of candidates for intranasal delivery using the Optinose Exhalation Delivery System. 

Japanese owned parent company Sosei Group Corporation will retain an equity holding in both businesses and receive R & D payments as well as further payments on the achievement of pre-defined development milestones.

The funding committed by Medicxi, will enable the further development and optimisation of lead candidates for oral or intranasal administration into clinical development and through to proof-of-concept, utilising Sosei Heptares’ platform, discovery and clinical development expertise including extensive experience of neurological disorders. 

Specific target indications will be determined as the programmes advance, and will include narcolepsy, a rare sleep disorder.

The orexin system is a key regulator of behavioural arousal, wakefulness and sleep. The loss of the orexin neurons has been shown to be strongly linked to multiple neurological conditions including narcolepsy. In this indication, orexin receptors remain intact and functional, providing an opportunity for therapeutic intervention.

The primary target indication of narcolepsy is characterised by frequent transitions between states of wakefulness and sleep and the inability of maintaining a wakeful state. 

Narcoleptic patients experience excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), manifesting as attacks of falling asleep at unpredictable times, as well as often suffering from cataplexy, a sudden debilitating but transient weakening of muscle tone that can cause sufferers to collapse. 

Dr Malcolm Weir, executive VP and chief R & D officer of Sosei Heptares, said: “The asset-centric approach pioneered by Medicxi has proved to be very successful for developing discreet and novel assets and for creating significant value, and allows us seamlessly to transfer our ongoing activities and IP into these two special purpose vehicles.

“We see great promise in the orexin agonist program and believe it can be advanced significantly with this focused funding and within these new structures in which we retain a significant stake.”

from Business Weekly http://bit.ly/2Bkq9TB

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#UK MoD fuels Marshall success as £35m Boeing liaison continues to take wing

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Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group in Cambridge is to supply the MoD with fuel tanks that will allow aircraft to hunt for submarines for long periods, the Minister for Defence Procurement Stuart Andrew has revealed.

During a visit to the UK company, the Minster said  that the first of the Boeing P-8A aircraft featuring the tanks will be ready for use in a year’s time.

Speaking to staff he said: “I’ve been truly impressed by this company and I think the work that you’re doing is really is superb. The design and manufacture of these vital parts could not be in the hands of a more trusted partner.

“It marks another important milestone for this very important programme. They will provide crucial global protection to NATO and our allies as well as enhancing maritime search and rescue capability.

“The Ministry of Defence is the defence industry’s largest customer, creating a global and thriving competitive defence industry. The P-8A is the latest chapter in our successful partnership and it will be setting the tone for our working relationship for many decades to come.”

Speaking to Business Weekly about the contract he said: “Marshalls are not backward in coming forward and going for new business. It’s a company that has had a long working relationship with the MoD to ensure that our armed forces get the capability they need, which is why it’s been really good to come here to see what they’re doing.”

He also praised Marshall for its commitment to apprenticeships. “What’s great about this company is that even when apprenticeships weren’t fashionable they were still doing them. There are a lot of lessons that other companies can learn about how Marshall have been doing things.”

On the inevitable subject of Brexit he said: “We are used to working with companies on a global scale, not just within the EU. We’re listening to industry but I see there are real opportunities for us in the future as we go forward whether that’s with us leaving with a deal or without. 
“I can see us having greater prosperity in the future if we take advantage of every opportunity that exists if we leave on March 29.”

Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group CEO CEO Alistair McPhee added: “This is a programme in which the company has invested a lot of effort and money for quite some time; we have provided these fuel tanks for US aircraft, for Australian aircraft, Indian aircraft and for many other fleets. It’s a proud moment to be actually doing this for our own RAF aircraft.”

Speaking to Business Weekly he added that the deal was part of ongoing work with Boeing that generates about £35 million a year and provides employment for around 65 people.

The group will also be taking on around 50 apprentices this year. McPhee said: “We’ve had an unbroken apprenticeship scheme for 98 years, which is down to the Marshall family and their commitment to young people.”

The RAF’s Air Commodore Ian Gale, who is responsible for the PA8 Programme spoke to staff of the importance of the aircraft:  “It’s a challenging place out there, primarily from Russia, but there are other people who have high interest in challenging our security.

“I’m really impressed when I come here with a number of things that you do, the way you do it and that you are a proper all-British company.  I’m delighted what you are doing with apprenticeships here at Marshalls.

“We value the work you are doing and are looking forward to seeing your fuel tanks in our aeroplanes.”

Anna Keeling, MD of Boeing Defence UK, outlined the value of the Marshall team to the global aviation giant. She said: “You are such a key supplier to Boeing. These tanks are going on a multi-mission, maritime control aircraft – one that is really proving itself every single day around the globe. When it arrives it will really provide the UK unparalleled capability.”

from Business Weekly http://bit.ly/2G1ci8Q

Posted in #UK

#UK Horizon unveils new CFO alongside 61 per cent revenue boom

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Cambridge UK gene editing pioneer Horizon Discovery has announced a revenue spike of more than 60 per cent and a new CFO in another headline grabbing day.

Horizon expects to report revenues of around £58.7m for the year to December 31, circa £60.5 million on a constant currency basis. 

The figures represent growth of approximately 61 per cent against the prior year, about 66 per cent up on a constant currency basis.  

The group also expects to report a significant expansion in gross margins to more than 67 per cent (FY 2017: 62 per cent) driven by portfolio optimisation of both products and services. 

EBITDA before exceptional items is expected to be positive and ahead of market expectations. The group cash balance of not less than £25 million is also well ahead of expectations, as a result of higher gross margins, cost discipline and a focus on debtor collection.

Horizon announced in parallel that CFO Richard Vellacott, who filled the breach as interim CEO when Darrin Disley surprisingly left the business last year, had himself stepped down after seven years with the business. He is replaced by Jayesh who joined Horizon Discovery’s finance department in April 2018 in an interim CFO capacity as Vellacott covered Dr Disley’s absence.

Pankhania was previously group CFO of Xtera while previous leadership roles include deputy CFO of Asia Resource Minerals Plc, CFO of Planned Maintenance at Carillion Plc and CFO of Rail and Metro at Serco Plc. 

CEO Terry Pizzie said the second half of 2018 had seen the continued growth of Horizon into a more focused global, commercial and scalable business.

He said: “As gene editing continues to industrialise, and with an already strong order book for the first half of 2019, we are seeing increasing interest and demand for our products and unique scientific expertise. 

“With positive sales momentum and a strong balance sheet, we are well positioned to execute our invest for growth strategy to build a commanding share in all our chosen markets. We are confident in our growth prospects and look forward to reporting on our exciting progress.”

The group expects to announce its results on April 29.

from Business Weekly http://bit.ly/2BcBLYR

Posted in #UK

#UK Horizon unveils new CFO alongside 61 per cent revenue boom

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Cambridge UK gene editing pioneer Horizon Discovery has announced a revenue spike of more than 60 per cent and a new CFO in another headline grabbing day.

Horizon expects to report revenues of around £58.7m for the year to December 31, circa £60.5 million on a constant currency basis. 

The figures represent growth of approximately 61 per cent against the prior year, about 66 per cent up on a constant currency basis.  

The group also expects to report a significant expansion in gross margins to more than 67 per cent (FY 2017: 62 per cent) driven by portfolio optimisation of both products and services. 

EBITDA before exceptional items is expected to be positive and ahead of market expectations. The group cash balance of not less than £25 million is also well ahead of expectations, as a result of higher gross margins, cost discipline and a focus on debtor collection.

Horizon announced in parallel that CFO Richard Vellacott, who filled the breach as interim CEO when Darrin Disley surprisingly left the business last year, had himself stepped down after seven years with the business. He is replaced by Jayesh who joined Horizon Discovery’s finance department in April 2018 in an interim CFO capacity as Vellacott covered Dr Disley’s absence.

Pankhania was previously group CFO of Xtera while previous leadership roles include deputy CFO of Asia Resource Minerals Plc, CFO of Planned Maintenance at Carillion Plc and CFO of Rail and Metro at Serco Plc. 

CEO Terry Pizzie said the second half of 2018 had seen the continued growth of Horizon into a more focused global, commercial and scalable business.

He said: “As gene editing continues to industrialise, and with an already strong order book for the first half of 2019, we are seeing increasing interest and demand for our products and unique scientific expertise. 

“With positive sales momentum and a strong balance sheet, we are well positioned to execute our invest for growth strategy to build a commanding share in all our chosen markets. We are confident in our growth prospects and look forward to reporting on our exciting progress.”

The group expects to announce its results on April 29.

from Business Weekly http://bit.ly/2BcBLYR

Posted in #UK

#UK Designing a post-Brexit immigration system

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The White Paper published on December 19 contains proposals for a new regime that will apply to EU nationals arriving in the UK after Brexit, writes Clare Hedges, senior associate and head of immigration law at Birketts LLP

The end of free movement means they will face new restrictions. However, rather than apply the current visa system as it is, the Government has suggested some amendments, to soften the impact. These changes would also affect non-EU nationals, who may find it slightly easier to work in the UK than they do now. 

These are just proposals. The points covered below are not yet in force and may be subject to change.

Temporary work

Headlines have focused on plans for a new temporary short-term work route. Migrants would be allowed to do any job (no minimum skill level or sponsorship required), but would be limited to 12 months in this category, followed by a 12 month cooling off period. 

This will help employers who rely on EU nationals to fill lower skilled roles. However it could also be used by highly skilled migrants. It is only a transitional measure, to give the economy time to adjust to a post-Brexit world. It will be fully reviewed by 2025 and may be suspended earlier depending on economic conditions. 

There would be restrictions on numbers. Visas would be required and application fees would increase incrementally each year.

Furthermore, “it will only be open to migrants from specified low-risk countries”. So although presented as “a system where it is workers’ skills that matter, not which country they come from”, that is not actually the case.

Migrants could move between employers during the year of their visa. This would protect them from abuse and encourage competition. However, there would be no right to bring dependants, settle in the UK or access public funds. Whilst this should suppress net migration and reduce the burden on local services, it may exacerbate integration problems.

Changes to Tier 2 skilled work

Tier 2 sponsors will be pleased with proposals to remove quotas for Tier 2 General visas and abolish the resident labour market test. As more employers will need to become sponsors the government says it will adopt a lighter touch and speed up visa processes. But it will continue to use cost (Immigration Skills Charge) to deter employers from recruiting migrants. 

Currently employers can only sponsor roles skilled to RQF level 6 or above (degree level). The proposal is to lower this to RQF level 3 (A level). 

On the face of it this will broaden the type and number of roles that can be sponsored. However, this is tempered by confirmation that there will be a minimum salary level for sponsorship. 

The Home Secretary suggests maintaining this at £30k, which rules out even some RQF level 6 jobs, especially outside London and in the public sector. 

Post-study work

The Government intends to improve post-study work rights for migrants who complete a degree in the UK. They would be allowed to work for 6 months post-Bachelors or Masters and 12 months post-PhD. Concessions which facilitate switching to Tier 2 work visas would also be expanded.

Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme

The Government wishes to add more countries (i.e. EU) to this scheme. This may help employers fill vacancies at all skill levels for up to 2 years.

Tier 5 Agricultural Workers Scheme

A small scale pilot has already started and will be reviewed before deciding if it should be expanded. 

Importance of Consultation

Any new system is not expected to come into force until 1 January 2021. The government wishes to spend a year consulting before laying new Immigration Rules.

It is essential that employers participate in this consultation, in particular regarding the minimum salary level for Tier 2 visas and the maximum duration and cooling off period applicable to temporary work visas. Otherwise there is a risk that promises to soften the rules will have little impact in practice.

birketts.co.uk/our-lawyers/cambridge/clare-hedges

from Business Weekly http://bit.ly/2MBFPGy

Posted in #UK