11 SEPTEMBER 2019

HOTEL INTERCONTINENTAL, WARSAW

Vodafone closes in on a mammoth €18.4bn acquisition in Eastern Europe

Vodafone now becomes the largest provider of converged telecoms services in Europe
Vodafone has officially completed the acquisition of a string of Liberty Global’s assets in Eastern Europe for €18.4 billion.

Vodafone will take possession of Liberty’s operations in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania.

“With the acquisition of Liberty’s assets in Germany and CEE, we have completed our transformation into Europe’s leading converged operator. Not only have we reshaped our business, becoming the owner of the largest gigabit-capable next generation network infrastructure in the region, we are now able to play our part in realising the digital society for millions of customers,” said Vodafone Group CEO, Nick Read.

The deal officially makes Vodafone the largest provider of converged telecoms services in Europe, knocking Deutsche Telekom into second place. Vodafone now boasts 124 million homes and businesses on its next generation networks across Europe.

Vodafone said that just under half of its total revenues in Europe came from growing fixed and converged services packages.

In other news, Vodafone Group has also announced the full divestiture of Vodafone New Zealand for €2.1 billion. The 100 per cent sale of Vodafone New Zealand was made to a consortium headed up by Infratil Limited and Brookfield Asset Management Inc.

“This transaction is a continuation of our strategy to optimise our portfolio and reduce our debt. I am pleased we will continue our 21-year relationship with the business and talented team in New Zealand through a Partner Market agreement, delivering Vodafone’s technology and services to benefit the country as it transitions to a digital society,” Read said.

Latvian Drone startup raises €2.7 million

Latvian drone startup Aerones has just raised 2.7 million euros from the InnoEnergy investment platform to continue developing its technology and prepare its manufacturing platform with the implementation of a global franchise business model in mind.

Backed by Y Combinator, Aerones makes high-power drones that can assist in the maintenance of wind turbines, the cleaning of big buildings and even with firefighting.

“InnoEnergy’s support is a meaningful step in Aerones’ development because it will allow it to develop its existing drone technologies as well as new robotics solutions for servicing wind turbines. The initially successful wind turbine cleaning service via drones will be expanded to include robotic systems that will make it possible to technically service and monitor wind turbines. In its segment, this is a unique service at a global level,” said Zigmārs Rekaitis, a member of Aerones’ board.

Earlier in 2019, Aerones’ subsidiary Aerones Nordic raised 2.2 million euros from Expansion Capital and Altum, with which they are planning to develop drone export services to Scandinavian and Baltic countries.

“Now, Aerones Nordic has become practically the only company in the world that can offer one-stop services to owners of wind turbines. By using the additional financing from InnoEnergy, the service will be expanded with robotic solutions for technical servicing of wind turbines. The first pilot projects have been successfully implemented in Latvia and Aerones Nordic has already begun offering its services in Germany. The company is also planning for rapid growth in other leading wind turbine markets in Europe, such as Spain, Great Britain, and France,” explains Eriks Fricsons, a member of the board at Expansion Capital AIFP and an earlier investor in Aerones.

Tilde beats Google and Microsoft for the 3rd consecutive year as the world’s best translation machine

For the third consecutive year, the Baltic-based language technology company Tilde has won the “Olympics” of the machine translation technology – the WMT 2019 competition. This year Tilde team participated with its machine translation technology for the English-Lithuanian language pair, outperforming online translation platforms such as Google, Microsoft, and others.

“The continuous success at WMT proves that we have all the necessary skills and resources to develop outstanding artificial intelligence technologies, specifically by focusing on difficult languages and complex linguistic aspects. This achievement is the result of our long-term investment in research and close cooperation with the industry-leading European universities and research centers. The winning technologies of Tilde can be successfully applied not only to languages of Baltic countries but other less-resourced languages and specific areas of machine translation,” comments Andrejs Vasiļjevs, Executive Chairman of Tilde.

The WMT competition has already been taking place for 13 years, and the competing teams include large tech companies, research centers, and universities from all around the globe. Since 2017 the competition has included tasks in the Baltic languages.

Last year, Tilde won the WMT competition with the Estonian-English machine translation tool, and in 2017 – was announced as the best in the Latvian-English language pair translation task. This year, Tilde team participated with its latest neural machine translation system for the Lithuanian language and took the prize for the third time in a fierce competition with the leading technology companies and research centers in the world. According to the English-Lithuanian test results, the system developed by Tilde team received 72,8 out of 100 points, while the Microsoft team scored only 69,1. The work submitted by a professional human translator was rated with 90,5 points. In this competition, Tilde participated with an expert team of eight neural network architects, including four PhDs who built the system in 4 months.

Machine translation technology helps to take down language barriers in communication, cut operational costs, and increase the productivity of translators, journalists, and other professionals. Tilde is developing customized machine translation solutions for public institutions and businesses with the specific terminology and communication language style that offer such benefits as more efficient information circulation and reduction of translation costs by more than 35%.

The latest neural machine translation systems have helped Tilde make a mark as the leading machine translation technology service provider. Already for three years, Tilde has been providing the presidency of the Council of the EU with its customized machine translation tool which assists the organizers, translators, guests and media representatives to translate various texts, documents and web pages in the majority of the official EU languages. This helps people overcome language barriers and ensures that all of the information is accessible in the official language of each member state.

Tilde machine translation technologies are freely accessible for Latvian, Lithuanian, Estonian, Finnish, English, Russian, Polish and Arabic languages here: translate.tilde.com. It allows one to translate not only plain text, but also larger documents and web pages.

Romanian scientists develop world’s first terrestrial flying saucer

Against a clear blue sky, a craft that looks strikingly similar to two pie plates stacked atop each other suddenly ascends into the air. Swiftly charging forward, as the object passes by, it’s nearly impossible not to suddenly feel a kinship with pilot Kenneth Arnold. However, unlike Arnold and his famous 1947 flying saucer sighting, this particular flying object isn’t unidentified. Instead, this is the brainchild of Romanian engineer Razvan Sabie and aerodynamicist Iosif Taposu, who claim they’ve developed a fully functional flying saucer.

Without question, the All-Directional Flying Object, or ADIFO, looks exactly like a stereotypical flying saucer. However, ADIFO’s creators say the inspiration for their uniquely shaped aircraft doesn’t come from UFO lore. Instead, they say the disk is designed to mimic the back cross-section of a dolphin’s airfoil.

In his first interview with American media, inventor Razan Sabie said the ADIFO isn’t the work of audacious mad science. “The aerodynamics behind this aircraft is the result of more than two decades of work and is very well reasoned in hundreds of pages and confirmed by computer simulations and wind tunnel tests,” Sabie explained. Sabie’s partner is Iosif Taposu, a former senior scientist at Romania’s National Institute for Aerospatiale Research, and Head of Theoretical Aerodynamics at the National Aviation Institute. On paper, the duo don’t appear to be a pair of rogue backyard engineers or hobbyists.

Operating like a quadcopter, ADIFO handles “take-off, landing, and slow speed maneuvers” through four ducted fans. A pair of jet engines located at the rear of the flying disc provide horizontal thrust. Sabie says the dual-propulsion system can vector individually, affording the ADIFO a high degree of agility during level flight. Rounding out ADIFO’s unique design are a pair of lateral thrust nozzles located on each side of the disc, which allow the disk to rapidly push itself sideways in either direction, or quickly rotate while in flight.

Sabie and Taposu unveiled a 4-foot operational prototype of ADIFO in spring of this year. According to Sabie, a full-scale model of the flying saucer would represent “a new and revolutionary flight paradigm.” Sabie claims the ADIFO’s unusual shape “is ‘natural born’ for supersonic flight.” He said the design should “reduce shock waves on the disk’s surface” thus preventing the occurrence of sonic booms during transonic flight. He believes the disk will be capable of “sudden lateral transitions and sudden yaw,” in addition to “smooth transitions during subsonic to supersonic flight.”

According to their media guide, “The only limit to maneuverability is the pilot’s imagination.”

But before you go booking your flight on a flying saucer, it’s important to remember this isn’t humankind’s first rodeo with this sort of technology.

In 1932, another Romanian aerospace engineer, Henri Coanda, is credited with being the person to develop a small-scale flying disk prototype. Twelve years before a flying saucer allegedly crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1936, Coanda was even successful in securing a patent for his “Propelling Device.” Unfortunately, no full-scale version of the device, which intended to achieve flight through the use of high-pressure gases flowing through a ring-shaped vent system, was ever built. Instead, Coanda had to settle on being forever known for discovering the “Coanda Effect”—the physics behind why a spinning ping pong ball can be suspended by a diagonal stream of air.

Years later, the most notable attempt to develop a man-made flying saucer came in the late 1950s, with British aircraft designer John “Jack” Frost.

Funded by the US Air Force, Frost’s initial vision was a disc-shaped fighter-like aircraft that would be capable of achieving speeds upwards of Mach 3.5 and reaching altitudes of 100,000 feet. Called the Y-2 “Flat Riser, Frost believed he could achieve lift and thrust by using the Coanda Effect from the exhaust produced by a single “turborotor.”

Operating under the Air Force codename “Project 1794” after three years of design and testing, the results were a Y-2 prototype that caught fire three times and after a 1956 test, where the craft’s Viper jet engine “ran wild,” even the staff was scared of the vehicle.

In 1958 Frost scrapped the Y-2 and decided to try and create a smaller flying disk, dubbed the “Avrocar.” No longer a high-flying fighter, the US Army eagerly bought in on the idea, considering the Avrocar to be the eventual replacement for the jeep and helicopter.

Sadly, the Avrocar equally had serious flight control problems. As NASA Ames Chief Test Pilot Fred J. Drinkwater III put it, “Flying the Avrocar was “like trying to balance on a beach ball.” By 1961, after it was determined flight above 10,000 feet was “dangerous if not nearly impossible,” funding for Avrocar was canceled.

Since the demise of the Avorcar, a few others have made unfounded claims that they’d designed a real flying saucer. Engineer Paul Moller has spent nearly 50-years trying to develop one, but has yet to deliver on his promise of an affordable flying saucer-style hovercraft, the Moller M200G Volantor. Provided, of course, you don’t count those reverse-engineered alien ships the government’s assuredly hiding out at Area-51, this leaves the ADIFO as being sole claim to the world’s first terrestrial flying saucer.

Claims aside, Sabie cautions the current ADIFO prototype, “is a very-very basic model of what we have in mind,” calling it “the peak of the iceberg,” for what they intend to do. Instead of the proposed jet engines, the current ADIFO prototype achieves thrust by using two small electrical fans. Sabie says the next stage of development will involve performing more complex simulations, wind tunnel tests, and developing the control system to demonstrate the disk will be capable of traveling at transonic and supersonic speeds.

So far, Sabie indicates one major aircraft manufacturer, two government entities and more than 10 possible partners and venture funds have reached out to express interest in the ADIFO, though Motherboard has not been able to independently verify those claims. With the prototype being completed using personal funds, “to proceed further we need partners,” Sabie said. At the moment, what they’ve made is a glorified quadcopter, albeit with features that current quadcopters don’t have.

Given flying saucers’ troubled past, logic suggests the odds of the ADIFO revolutionizing aviation aren’t particularly good. Of course, listening to Sabie’s confidence in what the ADIFO is be capable of, one cannot help wondering what someone like the US government, with billions and billions of dollars at their disposal, might already have tucked away in the land of classified programs. If nothing else, it’s hard to deny the claimed capabilities of ADIFO bear striking similarities to some of the strange flying crafts US Navy pilots have been recently claiming to have encountered off America’s coasts.

Alas, whether or not it will be the ADIFO remains to be seen. However, hopefully one day, we’ll be able to definitively say: flying saucers are real!

Source : https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/kz4qey/romanian-engineers-have-created-a-fully-functional-flying-saucer-adifo

Poland moves to tackle air pollution, Energy giant announces major biomass investment

The billionaire owner of a Poland’s fourth-biggest energy group ZE PAK has announced he will invest in greener energy sources.

ZE PAK, a brown coal-fuelled power station, generates power from burning lignite from open pit mines and has been heavily criticised by environmentalists. Owner Zygmunt Solorz has revealed the company will now move away from polluting fuels.

In a statement, the company said: “ZE PAK has started the process of reducing the share of coal in energy production and development of projects related to renewable sources. Transforming ZE PAK from coal energy into green energy will take some time, but this is an irreversible process.”

Currently, renewable sources only account for 7.5% of the firm’s energy production. However, its plans include building a photovoltaic plant and an increase in biomass investment.

Solorz is one of Poland’s richest men and is also the owner of telecommunication group Cyfrowy Polsat. Reuters reported a comment from Solorz’s spokesman as saying: “Today we all need clean air…I have already asked the companies which I am involved in to look at what we could do.”

Poland generates most of its electricity from coal and sustaining this industry has been at the forefront of the government’s agenda. However, the government has signalled that it is prepared to embrace renewable energy sources due to societal demand and environmental concerns

Naspers invests a further $30mn in Brainly

Brainly says the latest round of funding will be used to enhance its user experience and create the next generation of the platform

SA internet giant Naspers said on Wednesday it would invest $30m (R422m) in Brainly, a peer-to-peer learning community for students, parents and teachers.

Combined with Brainly’s previous funding rounds, the latest investment brings total funding to $68.5m. The funding is with participation from Runa Capital and Manta Ray.

Brainly said this round of funding will be used to enhance its user experience and create the next generation of the platform. Additionally, funds will help expand its user base in the US, a key market for the company.

“We have been impressed by Brainly’s growth over the past 10 years, particularly in the US and high-growth markets like India, Indonesia, Turkey and Brazil,” said Larry Illg, CEO of Naspers Ventures in a statement.

“Brainly has the potential to serve the needs of hundreds of millions of students around the world,” he said.

With 150-million monthly active users, the business was set up to recreate local student study groups in a global online community. The service has users in 35 countries, with the largest communities being in the US, Russia, Indonesia, India, Turkey, Brazil and Poland.

Brainly CEO and co-founder Michał Borkowski said: “Our goal is to extend that access to every one of the 76-million US students and beyond, giving them the resources and the tools to succeed and inspire collaborative learning.

“Every student struggles with schoolwork at some point. But never before has there been such widespread access and opportunity for students to learn from one another,” said Borkowski.

In 2016 and 2017, Brainly closed $15m Series B funding and $14m Series B-1 funding, led by Naspers and Kulczyk Investments.

In June, Naspers’s R1.4bn startup fund, Naspers Foundry, invested R30m in SA technology startup SweepSouth, which operates an online cleaning services platform.

Earlier in July, the company’s payments and fintech business, PayU, announced its acquisition of a majority stake in Red Dot Payment, a Southeast Asia-focused online payments business

Lithuanian Medical Imaging startup raises $1.7mn

Oxipit are the authors of ChestEye AI-powered radiology software suite. Automated AI-based diagnosis and reporting by ChestEye enables radiologists to improve productivity, reduce error-rate, discover overlooked secondary findings and address the shortage and ever-increasing workload of radiology specialists.

The round marks the largest investment for medical AI solutions in the Baltic states. It is also one of the largest seed rounds among Baltic startups.

In February ChestEye software received CE certification paving the way for clinical solution deployment in 32 European markets. The investment round co-led by a Practica Capital, Koinvesticinis fund and angel investors aims to capitalize on the vanguard capabilities of ChestEye software and bring AI diagnostics into routine medical practice.

“ChestEye aims to improve the quality of service for patients by addressing the shortage of radiology specialists in developed markets. Currently the patient wait time for X-ray doctor report can take days, even weeks. Our trials showed that by harnessing AI diagnostic capabilities, ChestEye can save 30% time per patient and reduce error-rate” – notes CEO of Oxipit Gediminas Peksys.

ChestEye encompasses more than 90% of findings a radiology department encounters in day-to-day operations. The solution localizes these findings on a given radiograph and provides automatic finding description. The software generates a preliminary report immediately after the X-Ray was taken. It also automatically arranges patient scans by urgency reducing time-to-treatment for time sensitive medical conditions. The software produces finalized medical reports in 12 languages, including English, German, French, Spanish, Polish, Romanian, Finnish, Turkish, Dutch, Hungarian and Czech and Lithuanian.

Oxipit was founded in 2017 by a team of 6 scientists coming from diverse academic backgrounds. The team features multiple-time Kaggle competition winners, as well as members with proven track record in leading global AI and data-science applications.

“Oxipit is a great example of how a proprietary technology can turn into disruptive innovation product. The role of AI in healthcare has risen a lot in recent years and still has huge and wide-reaching potential, with application opportunities being endless. Especially in medical diagnostics. We believe that the future of healthcare and machine learning are definitely interconnected, which will bring healthcare to a completely another level worldwide,” said Practica Capital’s partner Donatas Keras.

Practica Capital invests in the Baltic innovation and technology-driven ventures. Koinvesticinis fondas is a venture capital co-investment fund. Together with its partners – business angels – fund invests into early stage companies.

“We are pleased that besides our investment we bring a really strong expertise and contact network of group of business angels, who can help the company to revolutionise the way radiologists operate” – says Koinvesticinis fondas Investment Project Manager Paulius Uziela.

Santander & MBank prepare for Open Banking

TPP is a new type of activity introduced to the financial sector by the European Union’s PSD II directive

mBank published a press release announcing that the company obtained permission from the Polish Financial Supervision Authority to act as a Third Party Provider (TPP). This will allow the bank, together with its sister company mElements, to offer customers new solutions when it comes to payments and additional services.

TPPs are a new type of company that will appear on the financial market thanks to new regulations introduced by the PSD II directive. They will be able to connect to banking systems and therefore offer new payment methods, as well as other services that use bank account information. Data will be exchanged between companies only if the customer agrees to it.

Both new companies and existing ones, such as payment institutions and banks, will be able to become TPPs. – Thanks to the Financial Supervision Authority’s decision, we are embarking on a path of open banking. We have always said that we view PSD II as an opportunity and we’re glad we can start taking advantage of it – says Joanna Erdman, mBank’s vice president for strategic projects.

Meanwhile, during today’s press conference about the publication of second quarter financial results, Santander announced that the bank has obtained the Financial Supervision Authority’s permission to change the company’s statute in relation to PSD II. The bank’s press office explained that this permission authorizes Santander to provide services as a TPP. It’s likely just a matter of time before other major commercial banks on the Polish market announce similar news.

Source : https://www.cashless.pl/6155-santander-mbank-open-banking

Paysera launches in Romania

Lithuanian fintech Paysera officially launched its operations in Romania on Tuesday, July 16. The company offers free bank accounts in over 30 currencies at once and money transfer with lower commissions to any country in the world to Romanian companies and individuals.

“Nowadays, the international payments market in Romania has high commissions for transfers in different currencies. In addition, for a local company that operates on any foreign market it’s very hard and expensive to open an account abroad. This is the main reason why we are launching Paysera services in Romania. We want businesses and individuals to have an opportunity to perform money transfers with as low as possible commissions, to FX exchange currency at the best rates and have a multicurrency account in the country they need in order to work with their foreign partners easily,” said Daniel Turbatu, country manager for Paysera Romania.

Local clients will also have Customer Support in Romanian. The transfer fees for companies will be EUR 0.15 for euro transfers within EEA while for individual transfers will be free of charge.

Ukrainian fintech startup raises $3 million

Ukrainian startup MyCredit has raised $3 million in its latest funding round, led by TAS financial group that announced the news.

MyCreditis valued at over $20 million.

What is MyCredit
MyCredit is a fast loan service that transfers money to your card online. The project kicked off in 2016 and within three years managed to rise to the top and become one of the top three online loan market leaders of Ukraine.

MyCreditis available as a mobile application for Android. iOS version is still being developed.

Startup performance results
More than 500,000 customers used the services of the company since its founding.

“In the environment of tough market competition, MyCredit demonstrates impressive growth and high quality of its loan portfolio,” says Anton Kernasovsky, investment director at TAS Group.

Where funds raised will go
The funds raised during the funding round will be directed towards attracting new customers, increasing the loan portfolio, and further product development.

“For us, it is a strategic partnership. It took us a while to pick not merely a financial investor, but “smart money” investor who will be able to strengthen our expertise in the financial sector, and who also has experience of growth in competitive markets,” commented MyCredit CEO Dmitry Stenzya.

Poland Lures Private Equity With $737 Million Co-Investment Plan

Poland’s government wants to boost private investment in the country’s small companies, and it’s putting up 2.8 billion zloty ($737 million) of public money to prime the pump.

The Polish Development Fund plans to invest 2.2 billion zloty jointly with private-equity and venture-capital firms, Annemarie Dalka, head of private-equity investments at the fund, said in an interview in Warsaw. Another 600 million zloty will go into a so-called fund of funds intended to kickstart investment in midsize companies.

Major private-equity firms including CVC Capital Partners Europe Ltd and Permira Holdings LLP have made multi-billion-dollar deals in Poland in recent years, but smaller companies have struggled to find investors. The development fund will therefore target that segment of the market and seek out private-equity firms that invest at least half their money in Poland.

“We’re seeing firms grow bigger and their partners chase larger targets, so we want to stimulate the mid-cap segment that’s best-suited to Poland’s needs,” Dalka said.

The push to attract private-equity investment coincides with a new pension program that could provide as much as $2 billion in funding for companies and reinvigorate the equity and debt markets. Under the program, pension funds will be allowed to invest as much as 10% of their assets in private-equity funds.

‘Future Unicorns’
The development fund, known by its Polish initials PFR, has already contributed into the Accession Mezzanine Capital IV fund run by Mezzanine Management. AMC IV, which closed last November with capital commitments of 264 million euros ($295 million), invests in mid-market companies in central Europe.

On top of that, PFR has committed an undisclosed amount to a 91 million euro fund run by lower-mid market buyout manager Value4Capital. The state authority is also in talks on potential investments with other firms, Dalka said.

On the venture capital side, PFR money helped attract Finch Capital to look at Polish tech companies. Aman Ghei, a principal at Finch, said by email that the firm sees Poland as an up-and-coming European hub for fintech and deeptech companies after the country has welcomed IT centers run by multinational companies.

“The talent available in this market is what is exciting to us as we meet bolder and more ambitious entrepreneurs willing to take risk and build future unicorns,” Ghei said. “PFR provides a fantastic gateway for us to be even more closely involved in the ecosystem.”

Source : https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-24/poland-lures-private-equity-with-737-million-co-investment-plan

Lithuania aims to be the Fintech hotspot in EU

Lithuania is going full speed ahead at becoming a top fintech hub in Europe after it recently introduced a set of reforms to attract foreign firms. Although the Baltic country has managed to attract new talents in recent years, it is now looking to bring more headquarters and C-level executives with the view of becoming a key fintech decision centre.

Speaking at the Startup Fair in Vilnius at the end of May, the mayor of Lithuania’s capital, Remigijus Šimašius, said the city was willing to bring new innovative and disruptive ideas in town and would like to welcome more start-ups and entrepreneurs with the view of creating a real ecosystem.

This is precisely what Lithuania has been doing with the fintech sector over recent years. A report published by Invest Lithuania in February this year showed that the fintech ecosystem grew by 45 percent in 2018, with some 700 new positions created.

“Almost 2,700 specialists are employed in the sector across a wide range of positions and functions,” the report notes. “Many of the local fintech teams are tasked with providing mission-critical services, like customer support for an entire firm or all the development and testing for brand-new products,” it added.

The authors of the report concede that, at the moment, most teams in Lithuania are smaller in scale, but they argue that this situation is set to change rapidly, with 88 percent of the fintech firms saying that they are planning to further expand their Lithuanian teams in 2019.

However, what Lithuania needs now are high-ranked executives in charge of companies’ leadership. This will allow the country to position itself as a real decision centre in the world of fintech.

Even though 70 percent of fintech firms in Lithuania have their headquarters in the country – according to the report published by Invest Lithuania – the local champion, TransferGo, which provides cross-border payments, still has its headquarters in the UK.

In an interview on the sidelines of the conference, Daumantas Dvilinskas, CEO of the firm, argued that he and his co-founders first met at university in the UK and therefore decided to launch TransferGo in London.

He went on to say that “although TransferGo originally launched in London in 2012, the Vilnius office is actually the largest in size in terms of employees, with most of the developers being based in Lithuania where the firm owns a licence.”

As a way of showing its strong commitment towards keeping a footprint in Lithuania, TransferGo has recently recruited three new C-level executives from abroad.

“We have managed to hire three C-level executives for instance who are relocating from Berlin,” says Dvilinskas when speaking at the Start-up Fair conference the day before. “Of course, their Lithuanian spouses have helped a lot in convincing them to relocate to Vilnius and I would like to thank them for that,” he added – raising laughter in the audience.

In private, Dvilinskas added that: “bringing C-level executives in Vilnius was a big success for the firm. People don’t necessarily need to be based here full time, but they can commute regularly, especially thanks to the new airline opened between Vilnius and London City airport.”

The recruitment shows an interesting move for TransferGo, which has recently secured $17.6 million in series B funding and is now looking to scale up its business, by launching new products lines in the B2B sector and by targeting new emerging markets.

It also comes at a time when many fintech firms currently based in London are looking for a second home as the UK is preparing to leave the European Union.

In an interview with FintechFutures, Lithuania’s minister of finance, Vilius Šapoka, did not elaborate his view on Brexit, but admitted that the current political situation in the UK brings huge uncertainty to the financial industry.

He added that Lithuania and the UK have enjoyed a very strong relationship over the years, because “we are like-minded countries,” when it comes to regulatory frameworks and policy development.

He went on to say: “quite a few fintech firms are considering the option of moving their offices to Lithuania, but I do believe that those tight relations between Lithuania and the UK will be preserved and even strengthened despite Brexit.”

Šapoka nonetheless made a call for Lithuania to become “the number one fintech hub in Europe”.

To do so, Lithuania has set up a strategy called STIG, which stands for Start, Technovate, Invest and Grow.

A number of incentives for fintech start-ups to relocate to Lithuania were set up as a part of this strategy, such as: tax rebates; a start-up programme where new entrants are being helped by the Central Bank to deal with various legal issues, especially compliance; a regulatory sandbox for fledgling businesses as well as a framework to encourage future development; R&D expenses being deductible three times; and competitive taxation rates for companies providing investment and employment.

“We are headed on the right direction and Vilnius has now been put on the map as a place everybody is talking about,” says Dvilinskas. “This is the first step, and if we continue on the same path – to talk about Vilnius and if we are still visible – everybody will understand how amazing Vilnius can be compare to other big cities in Europe when it comes to doing business, and also live here.”

Fintech firms welcome these initiatives and encourage the government to pursue its efforts.

Source : https://www.bankingtech.com/2019/07/lithuania-seeks-to-attract-more-fintech-firms/

Polish start ups to get access to new EU-backed investment fund

Polish start-ups will be able to tap into an EUR-55 million fund backed by the European Union.

Cogito Capital, a Warsaw-based venture capital firm, has announced the closing of the multi-million-euro Cogito Fund 1, in which the European Investment Fund (EIF) is the main investor.

The European money comes under the auspice of an EU plan, sometimes called the “Juncker Plan”, to invest in start-ups.

Cogito’s fund is focused on late and growth-stage B2B software, fintech and mobility companies. Cogito will predominantly invest in Polish and Central European companies that have the potential to expand or are already growing in other European markets and the USA.

Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commission vice president, says the agreement with Cogito will see ‘high-potential’ European companies gain the support they need.

“The Juncker Plan’s European Fund for Strategic Investments is playing an important role in assisting start-ups across Europe gain access to finance to innovate, grow and expand,” Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commission vice-president, said in a statement.

“This agreement will see even more high-potential European technology companies gain the support they need to take their next steps,” he added.

Along with European cash the fund has also attracted money from professional investors and funds managed by the Polish Development Fund (PFR).

‘We are delighted to be launching our first fund with such strong institutional support from the EIF,’ says Cogito’s Janik.

“We are delighted to be launching our first fund with such strong institutional support from the EIF as the anchor investor and the PFR as the local investor, making Cogito the first such case for CEE-focused growth-stage fund,” Sylwester Janik, Cogito’s general partner, said in the press release.

Maciej Ćwikiewicz, president of PFR Ventures, added: “We are happy to invest in Cogito side by side with the EIF. The combined commitment goes to a team with significant experience in global investments and understanding of the Polish market and the CEE region.”

As of June 2019, the Juncker Plan has mobilized nearly EUR 410 billion in investment funding, including EUR 18.1 billion in Poland. The plan is currently supporting 952,000 small and medium-sized businesses across Europe.

Cogito Capital was founded in 2018 by Sylwester Janik and Martin Jasinski, who have 25 years of experience in the world of venture capital.

Source : https://www.thefirstnews.com/article/polish-start-ups-to-get-access-to-new-eu-backed-investment-fund-6927

Warsaw-based Cogito Capital completes first closing of its Cogito Fund I at €55 million to invest in late stage rounds in the CEE

Warsaw-based Cogito Capital has completed its first closing of its Cogito Fund I at €55 million. The fund will focus on late- and growth-stage B2B software, fintech and mobility startups in the CEE.

Cogito will predominantly invest in Series B and C tech companies operating in Central Europe that have the potential to expand or are already growing in other European markets and the USA. In recent years Central European countries have increasingly originated global success stories such as UIPath, TransferWise, Taxify, CD Project, Skype, and AVG. Cogito intends to capitalize on this growing pipeline of attractive investment opportunities, and with a team based in Warsaw and New York, the VC firm is well poised to support portfolio companies in their international expansion.

The European Investment Fund as the main investor in the new fund, along with the PFR KOFFI Fund and the PFR NCBR CVC Fund managed by the Polish Development Fund (PFR), as well as other professional investors.

Cogito Capital was founded in 2018 by Sylwester Janik and Martin Jasinski, venture capital and corporate executives with 25 years of experience in the international tech and VC industry.

“We are delighted to be launching our first fund with such strong institutional support from the EIF as the anchor investor and the PFR as the local investor, making Cogito the first such case for CEE-focused growth-stage fund,” said Cogito’s General Partner, Sylwester Janik.

“We are happy to accompany Cogito Fund I in its search for innovative companies in Poland and Central Europe, a region with strong potential in innovation and creativity,” said EIF Chief Executive Pier Luigi Gilibert. “As the leading provider of venture capital in Europe, the EIF is convinced that supporting startups as they seek to establish themselves and grow is key to ensuring that their work can have a material impact on the economy. We are also happy to team up with the Polish Development Fund in financing the future protagonists of the Polish economy.”

Cogito has already made its first investment in London-based MarketInvoice, Europe’s largest online invoice finance platform, joining its €30 million Series B round in January. The Cogito team will support the company in the launch of a “cross-border fintech-bank partnerships” program and expansion into new markets in Europe, including Poland.

Romanian Fintect startup Finqware raises EUR 180,000 seed investment

Finqware, a Romanian start-up fintech that is preparing to launch on the European bank aggregation market, receives a seed investment of EUR 180,000 from Gapminder VC. It is the company’s first round of external financing after being set up in 2018 and planning to become the market leader for Open Banking in Europe in the coming years.

The amount attracted by the startup founded by Cosmin Cosma, Dumitru Taraianu and Danut Covalciuc will be used to further develop the solution and infrastructure. The company’s objective is that in the autumn of this year, when the Revised Payments Directive (PSD2) issued by the European Commission enters into force and obliges banks to open their systems, Finqware customers will be the first wave of adoption of Open Banking.

Under the term “Open Banking at work”, Finqware develops a bank aggregation infrastructure linking banks and financial providers with companies wishing to develop innovative digital products and solutions in the financial industry.

“It can be said that we are an innovation platform. All financial applications, such as mobile banking or digital wallets, will begin to help the user simplify their financial lives by managing their bank accounts and other financial products in one place. We provide these applications with the connection infrastructure to the banks so that the technological complexity of simultaneously interconnecting hundreds of data sources is not a hindrance to innovation,” says Cosmin Cosma, co-founder and CEO of Finqware.

In parallel with the development of API (Application Programming Interface), the company also builds its regional coverage, already having various collaborations with banks and fintech companies in Romania, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.

“We are at the stage where we begin to test Open Banking functionalities with partner banks and finches. Opportunities are enormous, only one has to start implementing them, learn about them by experimenting with various pilot projects. Otherwise, we remain on the theories about the benefits of financial innovation. We hope that things will unfreeze soon to us so that we can show, through the countries where we go, concrete examples implemented with banks and companies in Romania,” says Cosma.

Finqware has recently received recognition from the European Commission (“Seal of Excellence”) for the innovation potential of the solution it is developing. In fact, just 18 months after launch, Finqware has won numerous awards in innovative start-up events both in Romania and abroad. Among these is the big prize at Warsaw’s “PSD2 CEE Regional Challenge” in October 2018, when the Romanian fintech was recognized as the most innovative Open Banking solution in the CEE region.

“We have been watching for some time this highly global offer of banking data aggregation. Finqware is a Romanian company we have been focusing on for over a year, almost immediately after it was created, and with its agility that has developed in such a short time it has convinced us that it can be a strong player on this market in training. Funding from GapMinder corresponds to our objective of supporting the region’s innovative companies and capital to help them grow globally,” said Sergiu Rosca, Founder Partner GapMinder Venture Partners.

GapMinder Venture Partners is an investment fund designed to provide capital to start-up but growing companies and to the development of technology-intensive SMEs both locally and internationally. The investment fund focuses on technology and services, product-oriented objectives and team. GapMinder invests in companies in the first investment phase (series A), seed and pre-seed (acceleration).

Source : https://business-review.eu/tech/finqware-received-eur-180000-seed-investment-from-gapminder-vc-203351

Polish HR tech startup HCM Deck raises $3.2 million

Krakow-founded employee development platform HCM Deck has secured $3.2 million in a funding round led by mAccelerator, a VC fund of Poland’s mBank.

The platform developed by HCM Deck allows organisation “to manage, automate, and analyse employee development in three key areas — learning, communication and feedback,” the startup said in a statement. It consists of several modules, including the knowledge base, training courses, performance reviews, and so on.

“Current HR enterprise software still misses a lot in terms of flexibility, scalability, and user experience,” said the startup’s founder and CEO Simon Janicki. “HCM Deck not only solves the pains of modern L&D department while offering a great experience for end-users, but it also helps organizations automate processes, deliver growth and greater productivity.”

Source : https://tech.eu/brief/polish-hr-tech-startup-hcm-deck-raises-3-2-million/

Enterprise Investors to sell 3S for €96Mln

Enterprise Investors has agreed to sell 3S, a provider of fiber-optic and data center services, to Play Communications for €96 million. The deal nets the acquirer a company with revenues of 80 million Polish zlotych (around €20.7 million) in 2018, EBITDA of 32 million zlotych and around 250 employees.

Poland & US based Data Analytics company raises $10mln

Flyr, a company developing data analytics products that forecast airfare volatility, today revealed (via an interview with Kambr Media) that it has raised over $10 million in second-round funding. The fresh capital brings the company’s total raised to roughly $25 million, and Flyr CTO and cofounder Alexander Mans says it will be used to promote research and development, expedite product updates, and expand the company’s workforce of 85 employees.

Flyr, which Mans cofounded in 2013 with Cyril Guiraud and Jean Tripier, launched with a consumer focus and is currently based in Poland and San Francisco. Much like Hopper, Volantio, Kayak, Google Flights, and other real-time airline booking services on the market, it tracked fares to highlight optimal booking times based on factors like price and availability and let travelers lock in the price of an airline ticket for a one-time fee of about $20. But several years ago, Flyr began pivoting to a strictly enterprise model, which culminated in the launch of its FusionRM suite of predictive airfare tools.

FusionRM — which operates in private clouds, hybrid clouds, fully managed clouds, and on-premises systems — integrates with over 30 legacy systems to standardize and correlate all of an air carrier’s historical and real-time data, including flight schedules, fare structures, seat maps, seat availabilities, competitor pricing, web analytics, ancillary sales, fare filings, and promotional calendars. It leverages machine learning to anticipate customers’ willingness to pay for in-air and non-air products and services, enabling Flyr’s customers to calculate pricing for products dynamically and even combine them into bundles likely to boost conversions.

FusionRM’s real-time continuous pricing also takes into account “all circumstances” at the time of a shopping request, such as market conditions, the sales channel, and behaviors associated with the buyer. It optionally adjusts by channel market or customer segment automatically, and it enables managers to tweak the aggressiveness of its price generation and correct for individual customer preferences.

Somewhat novelly, FusionRM doesn’t operate using fare classes. Instead, its dynamic pricing micro-adjusts by as little as a single cent at up to 200 different price points. Additionally, through a bespoke inventory component — Synthetic Inventory — it’s able to manage and orchestrate things like fare rules, as well as amenities like priority lane, food and beverages, Wi-Fi, and other products.

Flyr counts four carrier clients among its customer base, including full-service carriers in the U.S., Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Australia. Previous and existing Flyr backers include Peter Thiel, JetBlue Technology Ventures, AXA Strategic Investors, Plug and Play, Chasm Capital Management, Streamlined Ventures, Western Technology Investment (WTI), and Amadeus.

Source : https://venturebeat.com/2019/06/24/flyr-raises-10-million-to-apply-ai-to-airfare/

Revolut and Monese bring Apple Pay to Central and Eastern Europe

Revolut and Monese announced on the same day they are expanding their support for Apple Pay to twelve EU countries, most of them in Central and Eastern Europe. Now the service is available throughout the whole European Union and some member countries of the European Economic Area.

The full list includes Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, with Monese bringing the service to Liechtenstein as well, making its total one more than the competitor Revolut.

Revolut announced on Twitter the good news, and pushed notifications to all users from the markets mentioned above. Monese, on the other hand, went all in with a full press release, including a statement from its CEO, saying that most of the customers rely heavily on digital payments, including contactless, so there was a “very strong appetite” for Apple Pay in these particular countries.

Revolut and Monese managed to enroll their services in more countries, but local banks are counter-attacking too. According to one report, Slovakian banks like Slovenska Sporitelna, Tatra bank, mBank and J&T Bank have also announced support for the service through their own banking applications.

Poland’s BLIK Partners With Mastercard, Netflix And Uber For Payments

People who use Polish payment system BLIK will soon be able to pay for things like Netflix and Uber with it, according to a report by Reuters.

The chief executive of the Polish Payment Standard (PPS), Dariusz Mazurkiewicz, shared the news on Friday (June 28). PPS was created by a tie-up between six Polish banking institutions, and it’s embedded BLIK into banking apps so customers can transfer money, use ATMs and use it pay online or in stores.

“Enlarging the scope of our activity with this kind of player … means that we are building a very interesting acceptance network, not only for Polish bank customers, it might be any other bank customer,” Mazurkiewicz told the news outlet. “The next step will be to invite banks from other countries and this is why we want to concentrate our efforts right now on our region, central Europe.”

PPS also wants to sell software to other countries, but not under the BLIK name, and also wants to sell the whole system to companies that operate in Latin America and Africa.

PPS also partnered with Mastercard with plans to offer users a contactless payment option for the latter half of next year.

In a press release, the companies said that Mastercard and BLIK will provide consumers and merchants with contactless payments for BLIK users at all Mastercard-branded payment terminals across the globe.

BLIK is taking advantage of Mastercard virtual debit cards tokenized by the Mastercard Digital Enablement Service (MDES) to make it happen. That will enable BLIK customers to access what Polish Payment Standard said is the most convenient point of sale payment experience throughout the world.

The company is not, however, considering going public, according to Mazurkiewicz.

BLIK is popular in Poland, with around 91 million transactions in 2018, which is up from 2 million.

“It’s just tripled from one year to another and … we think that we will stick to this triple growth from one year to another in 2019,” Mazurkiewicz said.

Golem Launches New Entity Based on Its 2016 Crowdfunding

Decentralized CPU power developer Golem is spinning off a new entity using funds of the original capital raised in its crowdfunding back in 2016

In a blog post on June 28, Golem Factory CEO Julian Zawistowski announced the launch of a new division called the Golem Foundation, which will purportedly allow Golem to expand its solutions and “potentially increase the value of the entire project.”

The Golem Foundation intends to develop some new approaches for its Golem Network Token (GNT), Zawistowski wrote in the post, adding that the initiative includes testing some “new hypotheses,” which envisions an “even better use” of the company’s resources.

The new foundation will be led by Zawistowski, as well as his colleague Andrzej Regulski, who was COO at the firm, while two other Golem co-founders, Piotr Janiuk and Aleksandra Skrzypczak, will be solely responsible for the Golem Factory.

According to a report by crypto media outlet CoinDesk, the Golem Factory is preparing to announce a new structure focusing on Golem’s upgraded version with two new use-case in the upcoming weeks. Тhe report cited a new $40 million transaction in ether (ETH) and GNT sent on June 28 from the multi-signature account of the Golem Factory to the Foundation.

The Poland-based Golem Network is a cryptocurrency and peer-to-peer (P2P) application developer that raised about 820,000 ETH ($256 million at press time) back in its crowdfunding campaign in late 2016. Based on the Ethereum blockchain, the company developed a P2P computing ecosystem in order to deliver global decentralized CPU power.

Last year, Golem joined the Ethereum Community Fund (EFC) that aims to connect and fund the growth of the Ethereum infrastructure along with projects such as OmiseGo, Cosmos and Maker, among others.

Recently, ETC Labs, a San Francisco-based incubator for the Ethereum Classic blockchain, announced the development of a solution for ETH/ETC interoperability in a collaboration with Metronome.

Infermedica raises $3.65 mn, continues rapid US expansion

Backed by Karma Ventures, Dreamit Ventures, Inovo Venture Partners and Müller Medien​, the Polish-born company plans to expand its US team.

This morning AI-enabled symptom checker Infermedica revealed exclusively to MobiHealthNews a new $3.65 million funding round. Estonian investor Karma Ventures led the round with participation from Dreamit Ventures, Inovo Venture Partners and Müller Medien​.

Originally founded in Poland, the company has recently expanded its international footprint with a move into the United States.

WHAT THEY DO

Patients using Infermedica’s platform are able to enter their chief complaint into a symptom checker. Using artificial intelligence, the platform will then ask the patient another set of questions. The system was designed to eventually help guide patients on the best course of action for treatment. For example, it could suggest to the patient a virtual follow-up, or a trip to an urgent care center or emergency room.

In order to train the AI, the startup used a variety of databases.

“We have two sources of medical knowledge we use to train the algorithm. So first of all, we use medical literature,” Piotr Orzechowski, cofounder and CEO of Infermedica, told MobiHealthNews. “For this purpose, we have a medical team of about 20 people and they use journals, textbooks, applications to prepopulate the original medical knowledge base. So far, we have spent over 20,000 hours of work to curate the research literature. Number two, we use data sets that we either acquire from our patients or we use other data from sources like the CDC.”

In the future the company plans on using a closed-loop system, meaning that the system will continuously learn from anonymized patient interactions with the platform and a final diagnosis from the physician.

When the company was first founded in 2012, it started with a direct-to-consumer model. The company found initial success with the technology, but Orzechowski said it was difficult to monetize the service. That was when the company made a pivot to the B2B model.

“We changed from a D2C service to a B2B provider,” Orzechowski said. “We [offer] symptom checking and specialized services for providing white label solutions to insurance companies, hospital systems and also some health IT companies.”

In addition to the symptom checker, the company also provides its clients with a call center triage service and a medical API system.

WHAT IT’S FOR

Another big change for the company is its new global focus. The company started in Poland and first expanded to the European market.

Its move overseas began when it started working with one of its original founders, Innovation Net, which works with European companies to bring them to the US market. The investor introduced the company on a tour of the US where the startup got feedback and tweaks. Now the company is finally launching in the US, supported by this new infusion of cash.

“The funding will be used to continue developing the product. The second part will be used to establish our US operations,” Orzechowski said. “We are hiring for several US roles. We are looking for the head of sales [and] head of marketing.”

MARKET SNAPSHOT

The symptom checker industry is growing. One of the biggest competitors in the US space is Buoy Health. Much like Infermedica, the goal of Buoy is to help guide patients to the right care spot.

“We are not diagnosing people,” Dr. Andrew Le, CEO and cofounder of Buoy Health, told MobiHealthNews in September. “We are just trying to help them understand most likely what is going on so that they get to the right type of care at the right time.”

The Boston-based startup recently announced five new partners including Workit Health, Hinge Health, LetsGetChecked, Healthcare Bluebook and CirrusMD.

Another big name in the chatbot industry is British company Babylon. The UK-based company lets users answers a number of questions via the chatbot and if need be hands the case off to a clinician via video call. The idea is to take some of the pressure off of the system.

When asked about the competition in the market, Orzechowski said, he thinks the startup’s additional offerings including the call center and the API, as well as the track record in Europe, will set the company apart.

ON THE RECORD

“We’ve followed Infermedica’s progress for some time, and we’ve been impressed with their dedication to building outstanding products, as well as their ability to create a profitable business,” Margus Uudam, the Founding Partner at Karma Ventures, said in a statement. “Infermedica has a unique technology angle and business approach over the competition that allows them to become a winning solution in this massive market.”

Wroclaw based Biotech teats a Neurological Autoimmune Disorder Using DNA

Pure Biologics is a biotech based in Wrocław developing DNA molecules that could treat the incurable neurological condition Devic’s disease with fewer side effects than existing treatments.

pure biologics poland aptamer devic’s syndrome Neuromyelitis optica wroclawMission: To develop a treatment that makes an existing treatment for Devic’s disease, plasmapheresis, more targeted and with fewer side effects than at present.

Also known as neuromyelitis optica, Devic’s disease is an autoimmune disorder where antibodies periodically attack the optic nerve and spinal cord, resulting in temporary loss of sight and paralysis. One main treatment is taking out the patient’s blood, removing the plasma containing the harmful antibodies, and returning the blood cells to the patient in replacement plasma in a process called plasmapheresis.

Pure Biologics is developing drugs made out of DNA, called aptamers, to reduce side effects from plasmapheresis, such as bleeds or clots. These side effects can happen when taking out the plasma and using replacement plasma. The drugs are designed to improve plasmapheresis by binding to these harmful antibodies and removing them from the blood. This enhanced treatment doesn’t need to remove the whole plasma, so causes fewer side effects than plasmapheresis alone.

“We’ve consulted many physicians working with Devic’s syndrome patients and they all agree that making plasmapheresis safer would bring tremendous benefits to those patients,” Przemysław Jurek, Director of Business Development at Pure Biologics, told me.

Founded in 2010, the company is currently developing candidate aptamer drugs and expects to begin clinical trials in 2023.

Pure Biologics also has a separate program developing an antibody drug that binds two targets at once, called a bispecific antibody. Although there are other companies developing similar antibodies in immuno-oncology, Pure Biologics’ treatment could potentially become a first-in-class treatment for colorectal cancer. The company expects to test these antibodies in animals in early 2020.

What we think:

By enhancing an existing treatment, Pure Biologics could bring a better quality of life for many patients with Devic’s disease undergoing plasmapheresis. The autoimmune disorder is considered an orphan disease, and there are comparatively few companies developing new treatments.

One company with a fairly advanced treatment is the US biotech Viela Bio. It has an antibody drug in phase II development that attacks immune cells producing the autoantibodies. Over in Spain, Bionure has an interesting approach. Instead of simply stopping the damage, the company is developing a drug that has the potential to activate neural cells to reverse the damage caused by the immune system.

In terms of Pure Biologics’s other focus, antibody treatments for cancer, the field is more active. However, according to Jurek, Pure Biologics’ drug targets are novel enough to cut through the competition.

“Indeed the field seems crowded, but this might be a little bit misleading — in fact most companies focus on known and confirmed targets and modes of actions, such as the PD-1/PD-L1 or CTLA-4 pathways,” he said. “On the contrary, in immuno-oncology there is plenty of room at the bottom.”

The Polish startup ecosystem has been advancing fast in the last several years, but Jurek told me that there is a way to go before Poland catches up to the rest of Europe in terms of biotech innovation.

“The Polish biotech market is still slightly lagging in the drug development startup phase, where most innovative and disruptive ideas are generated,” Jurek told me. “We see this changing — Pure Biologics being a prime example, accompanied by a small bunch of other companies — but Poland still needs to expand its startup-enabling capabilities, especially regarding the early financing climate. But we are surely on the right track.”

Monese adds innovative new money management feature

Monese, the banking service that gives people the financial freedom to thrive anywhere, today adds Monese Pots, in Pounds and Euros, to its ever-growing range of money management features.

Monese Pots do not offer interest, but they are a place where you can safely keep your savings separate from your day-to-day spending. Pots are ideal if you’re saving up for your next trip abroad, the next stage in your life, or you simply want to keep some leftover change aside for a rainy day. Customers across Europe can set up automated, recurring payments to their Monese Pots, making for an even easier way to save for that special something.

Pots are available to all personal account customers across Europe and to all Monese Business customers. Pots do not require a minimum deposit to open, and Monese customers can open a Pot for every personal and business account they have with Monese. For example, if you use Monese in both Pounds and Euros, you can also have a Pot for both currencies.

With the ability to access your savings whenever and wherever you need, Pots are designed around the lives of the internationally mobile Monese customer and those who use Monese as a primary bank account (with over 70% of incoming funds being from salary payments, Monese is a primary account for the majority of its customers). These customers increasingly want greater financial freedom, and more control over their spending and savings, wherever they may be.

Money withdrawn from your Monese Pot goes directly into the Monese account it was created from – providing users easier access to their funds, at the click of a button. Monese users will also be able to see all transactions happening between their Pots and their main accounts, giving them full control of their finances and spending.

Norris Koppel, CEO and Founder of Monese said: “We are constantly listening to the feedback our customers provide and we’re delighted to be adding Pots to our ever-expanding range of money management features. The majority of our customers use Monese as a primary account, so giving these users smart and intelligent features, to freely manage their finances and thrive anywhere is very important. We want our customers to feel even more in control of their money and our Pots are another step in this direction.”

Monese recently announced that 1 million people have signed-up to Monese, with customer growth tripling in 2018, and over 3,000 people now joining Monese every day. Demand for Monese across mainland Europe surpassed that of the UK in November 2018, and in March 2019, two-thirds of all sign-ups to Monese were in mainland Europe. This milestone demonstrates significant momentum, following Monese’s successful $60 million Series B fundraise in September 2018.

Monese now offers Apple Pay across 13 European countries. Customers living in the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Norway and Iceland are able to use their Monese cards with Apple Pay, wherever Apple Pay is accepted globally.

Monese fully supports and speaks: English, French, German, Romanian, Polish, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, Bulgarian, Czech, Lithuanian and Turkish languages.

The company employs over 250 people, and has offices in London, Tallinn, Lisbon and Berlin.

Irish tech companies coming to Poland

More Irish companies are to open their branches in Poland and expand their activities in the country. On June 4-5, a group of Irish businesses will – under the leadership of representatives of Enterprise Ireland, an Irish government agency supporting Irish exports – participate in a trade mission to Warsaw and meet representatives of Polish enterprises interested in their services. Representatives of the Irish government hope to further develop the cooperation between Polish and Irish companies, especially in the field of new technologies.

Currently, the value of Polish-Irish trade amounts to €3.5 billion and is growing by 10-15 percent per year. Various analyses show that the Polish community in Ireland is becoming increasingly active in business. There are numerous examples of companies founded by Poles and supported financially and logistically by Enterprise Ireland.

Team from Kielce university of Tech wins “The World’s Top Mars Rover” Title

The University Rover Challenge (URC) awarded the title of World’s Top Mars Rover to the IMPULS team from Kielce University of Technology in Poland on June 1. The 2019 rendition of URC hosted 34 rovers and more than 500 students from ten countries at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in southern Utah. URC is an annual competition which asks college students to design and build the world’s best Mars rover.

The win for the IMPULS team, their first ever, comes after a strong third place finish in 2018. The rest of the 2019 podium featured returning teams with breakout performances, vaulting each into the top three for the first time in their respective teams’ histories. The Ryerson Rams Robotics (R3) team from Ryerson University in Canada finished in second place, and the Stanford Student Robotics team from Stanford University in the United States finished in third place.

The international robotics competition for college students, which is part of the Mars Society’s Rover Challenge Series, featured an elite field of teams vying to build the world’s best student-designed Mars rover. 84 teams from 13 countries took part in URC2019. Following a rigorous two-stage down-selection process 36 teams were invited to the field competition at MDRS. 34 teams from ten countries arrived with their rovers ready for the exciting challenges in the Utah desert.

Reliability and ingenuity were the keys to success for several teams throughout the 3 day event, as the field competed in four incredibly difficult and unique events (Science Mission, Extreme Retrieval and Delivery Mission, Equipment Servicing Mission, and Autonomous Traversal Mission). Each event tasked teams to deliver a complex system requiring a wide range of skills. The IMPULS team’s performance was highlighted by earning a perfect score in the Science Mission, in which the rover was tasked with analyzing several soil and rock samples, providing the team with the necessary data to deliver a field briefing to a judging panel of astrobiologists from NASA Ames Research Center. That performance ultimately secured the victory for IMPULS.

While the champions earned 362.9 points (out of 500), an astounding seven teams scored above 300 points, an impressive and distinguished benchmark. Those teams included four from the United States (Stanford Student Robotics, the Mars Rover Design Team from Missouri University of Science & Technology, Cornell Mars Rover from Cornell University, and the Michigan Mars Rover Team from the University of Michigan), two from Poland (IMPULS, and the 2018 champions, PCz Rover Team from Czestochowa University of Technology, and one from Canada (Ryerson Rams Robotics).

More than 1,000 students were involved in URC projects at their local universities during the 2018-2019 academic year. The rovers they built reflected the dedication, passion, and ingenuity of the student teams, a point that was not lost on the judges and industry representatives attending the event. URC was proud to welcome guests from Protocase, Honeybee Robotics, Microsoft, and NASA Ames Research Center who were able to help provide invaluable feedback to teams and help students see the connection between their current projects and future careers as industry leaders.

Polish startup Symmetrical.ai raises Euros 1.35mn

Polish startup Symmetrical.ai has secured 1.35 million euros in funding. The investors included Finch Capital, Market One Capital and Plug & Play.

Symmetrical.ai raises 1.35 mln EUR to democratise credit in the cloud. It announces global expansion plans Symmetrical.ai is a Polish company building the credit of fintech-as-a- service stack. The startup offers Credit Cloud API which enables any business to plug credit infrastructure into their mobile and web apps in just a few clicks. As part of the pre-seed round Symmetrical has raised EUR 1.35 million from three renowned VC funds and a group of business angels. It plans international expansion including Latin and North America.

The global fintech scene has gained another strong player who has the ambition and resources to deliver global infrastructure for credit origination and secondary trading. The company Symmetrical.ai, which is working on reducing information asymmetry and improvement of the financial services market efficiency, has just closed its first round of financing, from which it raised EUR 1.35 million.

– Symmetrical is the answer to the development of the financial services industry in the last 20 years. A development that has gone often too far in the wrong direction. Today, finding a customer tailored and well-priced financial product is difficult and takes a lot of time. As a result, many people remain outside the banking market, and the rest usually overpay for most financial services. – commented Piotr Smoleń, CEO and Co-Founder of the company, serial entrepreneur who recently sold his fintech firm Turbine Analytics (buy-side analytics SaaS) to the industry investor – ProService Finteco from PE fund Oaktree Capital Management portfolio.

– The company wants to revolutionize the market and create a fair, transparent and effective infrastructure for the banking sector allowing clients all over the world to access cheap and ethical financing, while at the same time allowing investors to effectively allocate capital, with virtually no transaction costs – stated Daniel Wartołowski, COO and the other Co-Founder. We are glad that such renowned investors have noticed the value of our company at such an early stage of development and want to support it in its further dynamic growth – he adds.

New Symmetrical.ai investors are three renowned VC funds: Finch Capital (lead investor), Market One Capital and Plug & Play. The company was also backed by a group of business angels.

Symmetrical will allocate the acquired funds for further dynamic product development and expansion on the British and Polish market. But it is just the beginning. In the coming years it plans further international expansion: to start with Europe and Spain as the first target market, and after that aiming at Latin American countries that will be a bridgehead for further expansion in the USA.

– Symmetrical can fundamentally change how credit is delivered to consumers by businesses. For far too long, credit has been local, but with Symmertical’s API and technology stack, a business trying to offer its customer credit can do so now on a global scale. This will change the global banking order – thinks Aman Ghei from Finch Capital, a technology investor in fintech companies with such companies as Grab, Zopa, or Twisto in its portfolio.

– We invest in companies whose business model allows for quick scaling and international expansion. Symmetrical has operated now for just a couple of months, but this period, as well as the track record of its founders allows you to forecast future success – stated Marcin Kurek from Market One Capital, considered the best Polish VC fund investing in marketplaces.

The transaction involving Symmetrical.ai is one of the largest pre-seed funding round in the history of Poland. It is also one of the largest financing rounds involving VC funds on the Polish market since the beginning of this year.

– We noticed from Silicon Valley that the Polish fintech scene is developing very dynamically. Symmetrical will be one of the best companies to transform not only the Polish but also the global banking sector. – Alireza Masrour, General Partner, from Plug and Play, Corporate Innovation Platform and a VC fund from Silicon Valley, which has a track record of investments in companies like Paypal, LendingClub and N26.

How does it work?
Symmetrical.ai operates in the fintech-as-a-service model, as demonstrated in in advanced economies with companies such as Solaris Bank, Tink and Plaid.com. The company creates a platform within the credit cloud, to which anyone, regardless of the context, can join in a dozen or so minutes and start granting loans just like a real financial institution. For individual clients, the Symmetrical.ai platform means that various financial institutions will compete for granting the loan, offering the best terms for them: both when the process of customer service is initiated by the financial institutions, as well as when the client is actively seeking financing of the current consumption needs. In this way, the company creates an effective and transparent financial market that at the same time promotes ethical finances. For Symmetrical’s mission is to give back to society control over data and increase accessibility (inclusiveness) of capital around the world.

New fintech company enters Romanian market

Paysera, a fintech company founded in 2004 in Lithuania, opened its office in Bucharest a few months ago and launched the Romanian version of the application and the web page this week, Wall-street.ro reported.

Paysera offers its customers, both natural and legal persons, a mobile banking and Internet banking application competing with other services such as UK fintech Revolut. The registration process is 100% online, and individuals are required to enter a series of personal data, an identity card photo, and a selfie. Companies that want access to Paysera’s solutions need to upload several documents, such as the registration certificate, the updated constitutive act, and the certificate from the Trade Registry’s Office.

Apart from Romania, the company is present in countries like Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, the United Kingdom, and Bulgaria.

Paysera is a “healthy” company, which, unlike other players in the FinTech industry, generates profits and does not rely on venture capital funds, according to Paysera CEO Vytenis Morkunas. “Last year, we recorded transactions worth about EUR 4 billion, which brought us a USD 9 million income. The profit was around USD 1.9 million,” Morkunas said.

Estateguru Raises 1.3M EUR from Speedinvest

Baltic property p2p lending marketplace Estateguru announced, that it has raised a 1.3M EUR round led by Speedinvest f. Speedinvest f is a focus fund launched by Speedinvest, targeting Fintech investments across Europe. Speedinvest will support EstateGuru in its geographic expansion across Europe.

Marek Pärtel, founder and CEO of EstateGuru, outlines the company’s mission to become the largest pan-European real estate financing marketplace: ‘Today, EstateGuru has become the largest platform in mainland Europe, showing an average annual growth rate of 100%. Simultaneously, we have discovered excellent opportunities to further increase our market coverage and it is for this purpose that we have drafted a clear technological development plan that requires a strong partner in order to be implemented successfully.’

Christopher Zemina, Investment Manager at Speedinvest, explains the background of the investment: ‘EstateGuru is the story of a small team that has achieved extraordinary growth without much external funding. The team has executed their plans and constantly outperformed our expectations. We are determined to support the company in its next stage of growth.’

Estonia launches AI to assist with doctor appointments, when to exercise and even what job to do

Ott Velsberg, Estonia’s fresh-faced, 28-year-old chief data officer, is on a mission put AI into every part of the country’s public services, from healthcare to education and job centres.

“The aim is to make government more proactive and responsive to people’s life-events,” says Velsberg. Instead of citizens having to apply for things like driver’s licences and school places, he envisions a system where public bodies can anticipate and preemptively respond to the needs people have at different stages of their life.

“We’re not telling people what to do. That might happen in China but not in Estonia, or in Europe as a whole.”

Take enrolling children in school. There is no reason why parents should have to apply for a place for their children, says Velsberg. You can calculate a child’s school needs based on birth data obtained from hospitals. Estonia is due to automated the process by the end of this year, says Velsberg adding that the programme doesn’t even really need AI to run.

But AI comes into play for more complex problems, such as calculating when people are called in to see a doctor. Estonia worked with Microsoft and the World Bank to develop a solution that would scan healthcare records to help doctors decide when patients need to be called in for medical checkups.

“For example, a patient with a disability and also suffering from heart disease may need to visit the doctor much more frequently, maybe every month, while someone with just diabetes and no other problems needs to be seen every six months,” explains Velsberg. The AI helps doctors manage their patient lists and time more effectively.

Another, slightly less developed plan is to create personalised, sports advice for teens, which would take into account puberty and recommend an exercise regime suited to their particular developmental stage.

I ask Velsberg whether he thinks teenagers would take advice from a government-run AI bot. He admits he isn’t sure.

“How we give information out is still up for debate,” he says. He’s quick to add that the AI would not dictate to people.

“We’re not telling people what to do, we are giving options to consider. You can still make up your own mind. The government can never go to the individual level of telling you what to do. That might happen in China but not in Estonia, or in Europe as a whole.”

Velsberg seems, to be honest, a little shaken by THAT article in Wired earlier this year, which outlined his plan to develop a “robot judge” for Estonia’s Ministry of Justice, where an AI programme would review legal documents and adjudicate in small claims disputes. The plan gained a huge amount of attention (and concern) in the media — Google Velsberg’s name and you get pages and pages of news stories about it.

He says he realises now that outside of Estonia there is considerably more concern about AI. In Estonia, he maintains, it is not a big deal.

“I haven’t seen any negative reaction to the use of AI [in Estonia]. Everyone is used to everything being digital. The government is being extremely transparent and everyone can see what data is being collected.”

Estonia is the world’s most advanced e-government. The small Baltic nation has had digital ID for its 1.3m citizens since 2002, online voting since 2005, and put digitised health records on the blockchain more than a decade ago. Using AI to automate services is a logical next step. Velsberg was hired last August with a specific remit to introduce AI into various ministries.

Velsberg says there are already some 16 government processes that have been automated using AI, and the healthcare bookings and sports advice are just two of a long list of projects he wants to test out.

The government has a €10m fund to help get innovative projects, including AI-related ones, off the ground — €5m for very experimental ideas that still need to be tested and the rest for more established projects that need to be scaled up.

Projects include everything from using natural language processing to replace court stenographers, to using machine learning to calculate the most efficient routes for the icebreakers that keep shipping lines clear in winter, a project that Velsberg says could save €1m.

Around 72% of people who were suggested a job by the AI system were still employed six months later, compared with 58% of those advised by a human.

There have been some early successes. Job centres have been equipped with AI that can parse people’s work history to try to match them with the job they are best suited for. The AI system appears so far to have a better hit rate than its human counterparts: around 72% of people who were suggested a job by the AI system were still employed six months later, compared with 58% of those advised by a human.

The government has also saved €665,000 on farming subsidies by using AI and satellite images to determine whether farmers really have mown their hay fields or not to qualify for a payout. Previously inspectors would have had to visit farms in person, and were able to cover less than 10% of the country’s farmland.

The system is more than 85% accurate, Velsberg says. But changes of light can still confuse the programme, and a rain-flatten field may appear mown. He is keen to stress that machine learning like this will never be able to entirely replace humans.

“We are not getting rid of people, but enhancing what they can do,” he says.

As if to underscore the point, Estonia has recently opted not to give artificial intelligence separate legal status. Since 2016 a special task force had been considering this so-called “kratt law” (kratts are creatures in Estonian mythology, made of inanimate household objects that come to life — and another handy metaphor for AI) but had come to the conclusion that this was unnecessary.

“Our legal discussions came to a conclusion that at this point we do not need “kratt law”,” says Velsberg. “Kratts remain a tool that humans use, thus humans are responsible.”

SOURCE : https://sifted.eu/articles/estonia-government-ai-doctor-appointments/

Report lays out Nordic fintech manifesto

The majority of fintechs in the Nordic and Baltics belive that the region can dominate the fintech landscape in years to come but only if they can secure greater access to investment capital.

This is the chief finding from the fourth Nordic Fintech Disruptors Report which found that confidence among the regions fintechs is at an all-time high at 68%, up by 14% from the previous year.

However, the study also found this confidence tempered by some realism as regards the fundraising challenges and the importance of building partnerships.A similar majority of respondents (67%) believe that greater access to capital is needed for the region to fulfill its potential, up by a signficant 24% than in 2018. And over half of respondents believe that greater willingness to partner with other fintechs and incumbents will help the region to compete on a global scale.

“Since we started the research in 2014, we have seen a region that has outperformed many in developing and nurturing fintech innovation but true collaboration and trust across the ecosystem remains an issue which has to be addressed if the region is to fulfill its potential as a global fintech hub,” said Simon hardie, author of the report.

Consequently the report lays out a manifesto for Nordic and Baltic-based fintechs to be more successful on a global scale. this includes attracting greater skills to the marketplace, bringing more customers on board to build sustainable businesses, fertilisong new ideas at scale and shortening times to profit and growing the region’s reputation as “a virtuous circle for success”.

Evarvest prepares new type of stock trading app

Evarvest, a Lithuania-based start-up, has plans to launch a stock trading app in the second half of 2019, uniting the world’s stock exchanges and making them accessible to investors across the globe.

The company launched its first public crowdfunding round on the British platform Seedrs, which has exceedingly met its goal of $75,000.

This comes with the news of the partnership with payments platform Currencycloud, to allow cross-border payments for new investors accessing the largest stock markets in the world. The new partnership will provide Evarvest with the ability to scale from its initial launch in five countries including the UK, Poland, Spain, Portugal and Lithuania, and future global expansion, the firms say.

The app, which claims to be deisgned similarly to Spotify, aims to provide an easy to use, transparent and low-cost way to access stocks, bonds and ETFs in over 30 stock markets around the world.

Evarvest has already launched an “Educational Library” aimed at the promotion of financial literacy supporting smart investment decisions.

The firm has already confirmed commission-free access to the US stock market, the largest in the world.

The firm claims the app will have a functional and user-friendly interface, easy-picking stock playlists, no minimum account balances and incentives for community engagement – which “makes it much more similar” to popular social media platforms.

Its users will be able to create and share their own portfolios as well as follow the portfolios of their friends and Evarvest top performing investors.

Another important feature will be a new kind of watchlist, one that tracks your returns since adding a stock to it. This acts as a practice portfolio, where users will be able to try their investment strategies, for free and risk-free.

Founder and CEO Stephanie Brennan says: “The finance industry can’t keep up with the needs and expectations of modern investors the way that tech companies like Facebook, Uber and Spotify can – both in terms of convenience and cost-efficiency. Today, people need easy, quick and inexpensive investment solutions, which aren’t restricted by any barriers.”

The first launch markets it will be available to investors in are the UK, Spain, Portugal, Poland and Lithuania before expanding to other European markets as well as USA, Australia and Asia.

EML Payments Acquires Flex-e-Card Limited

(“EML”) is pleased to announce the acquisition of Flex-e-Card Limited (‘FEC’). EML Payments Europe Limited has agreed to acquire 100% of Flex-e-Card Limited (‘FEC’) which trades as flex-e-card and flex-e-vouchers.

FEC is a FinTech company providing the shopping mall sector with gift card solutions, servicing 226 shopping centres under contract through Europe (principally the United Kingdom, Ireland, Poland, Italy, and Finland), and the United Arab Emirates.

The transaction is expected to complete on 28 June, subject to satisfaction or waiver of conditions precedent.

With the addition of the 226 new shopping malls gift card programs the acquisition enhances a core segment, which will be largely self-issued by EML in FY20. With increased penetration into the shopping mall vertical, it secures EML to be the global leader of this segment with more than 800 shopping mall gift card programs under management, enhancing EML’s relationship with existing mall operators such as ECE and Unibail-Radamco-Westfield, and new relationships with major mall owners, Intu (UK) and EMAAR (UAE).

The acquisition further increases EML’s geographic spread into Poland and the United Arab Emirates. FEC has had significant success and is demonstrating rapid growth in Poland (74 shopping mall programs) and United Arab Emirates (24 mall programs, as well as incentive programs for car dealerships) where EML does not currently operate. The acquisition of FEC also consolidates our market leading positions in Europe.

FEC has strong online sales capabilities, which will complement the deployment of EML’s innovative mobile pays technology to the segment and further expands product capabilities.

FEC has a strong track record of results, having delivered consistent growth with a 3 year Gross Debit Volume CAGR of 24.7% to 2018. FEC is profitable and cash generative with significant growth potential across all regions.

The acquisition is a great fit with very little integration challenge with FEC’s primary office in Newcastle, UK. Neil Wake, Flex-e-Card Managing Director, has run the business since 2015 and will remain in the role. FEC staff are specialists in the shopping mall space and bring significant expertise to EML. FEC bring an additional 52 employees to the EML Group.

Blackstone Invests €175m in the largest Romanian omni-channel sports betting and gaming operator

Superbet (the “Company”), the largest omni-channel sports betting and gaming operator in Romania, and Blackstone (BX) announce a €175m strategic minority equity investment in Superbet by funds managed or advised by Blackstone’s Tactical Opportunities business. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Sacha Dragic, founder and Group CEO of Superbet, said, “We look forward to our strategic partnership with the Blackstone team. Blackstone’s equity investment and extensive experience will help us maintain and grow our market-leading position in Romania and pursue expansion opportunities in Central Eastern Europe and globally.”

Andrea Valeri, senior managing director of Blackstone, said, “We look forward to working with Sacha Dragic and the excellent management team he has assembled. The Company’s continued investment in world-class, online and multi-channel operations, including the launch of a market-leading native app and proprietary online sports and gaming engine, is very exciting. We look forward to supporting Superbet’s impressive growth trajectory, through international expansion and continued investment in technology.”

Superbet’s high-quality shops and customer-oriented pricing and service have underpinned its rapid growth. The Company has brought on seasoned technology leadership with strong industry experience to facilitate the development of a state-of-the-art and disruptive online sports betting platform. This provides a differentiated user experience and more flexibility and scalability than current competitive offerings.

Stifel advised on the overall transaction. Herzog, Fox & Neeman acted as legal adviser to Superbet; Jones Day acted as legal adviser to Blackstone. UBS Investment Bank provided financial advice to Blackstone.

About Superbet

Founded in 2008 by CEO Sacha Dragic, Superbet’s retail network spans across over 1,200 shops in Romania and Poland and offers customers pre-match and live sports betting, slots, virtual betting and lottery offerings. Superbet launched online operations in Romania in February 2016, releasing a mobile native app in September 2018. The Company launched retail operations in Poland in November 2017, with the launch of online sports betting scheduled for late 2019. Superbet’s technology platform and proprietary betting engine further positions the Company to expand throughout Central Eastern Europe and in the broader, global online sports betting vertical.

About Blackstone

Blackstone is one of the world’s leading investment firms. The Blackstone team seeks to create positive economic impact and long-term value for investors, the companies Blackstone invests in, and the communities in which Blackstone works. Blackstone does this by using extraordinary people and flexible capital to help companies solve problems. Its asset management businesses, with $512 billion in assets under management, include investment vehicles focused on private equity, real estate, public debt and equity, non-investment grade credit, real assets and secondary funds, all on a global basis.

Polish BioTech Company with technology that cuts analysis to an incredible half a second

Combining technological edge with scientific expertise, Polish biotech company Bioavlee is bringing its innovative devices for laboratories to the wider European market.

Biotechnology involves applying science and engineering to the processing of materials by biological agents to design drugs and other products. According to the Polish Investment and Trade Agency, it is one of the fastest-growing sectors in Poland, despite still being at an early stage. The country has six mature biotech clusters, including in Warsaw, Kraków and Wrocław, it notes.

Based in Wrocław, Bioavlee creates devices for the laboratory market, seeking to make lab work “more accurate, faster, cheaper and simpler”. With its emphasis on R&D, the company draws on expertise from a range of fields, from optics to electronics, and from microbiology to programming.

The company’s products include the Quantica 500, a compact device that automatically counts microorganism colonies in microbiological quantitative analysis.

Carried out during microbiological testing, this type of analysis is usually time consuming for laboratory staff. Using the Quantica 500, with its optimised algorithms, allows them to cut the counting time to just half a second. In addition to counting, the device, which became available on the market last year through a Polish distributor, can generate reports based on the results.

Now Bioavlee is preparing for expansion in Europe. At the end of April, it announced four contracts for the distribution of the Quantica 500.

The contracts, signed with distributors in Spain, Italy, Austria and Switzerland, will bring the product to a broad range of potential customers outside Poland.

“When we were looking for the right business partners for Bioavlee, we wanted the joint activities to bring synergy,” said Michał Wronecki, the company’s CEO.

In practice, the four distributors of the Quantica 500, each of them with an established base of regular customers, translate into over 2000 buyers, he explained.

In addition to these contracts, the company has signed letters of intent with distributors in eight other countries, including some outside the EU, such as India and Israel, according to its website. The company has won awards for its work, including the Polish Intelligent Development Award 2017 in the “Innovative Company” category.

DocPlanner raises €80 million

Healthcare platform DocPlanner founded in Poland has raised a funding round of €80 million led by One Peak Partners and Goldman Sachs Private Capital Investing, with participation from existing investors Piton Capital and ENERN Investments. This round brings the total amount raised by the company to some €130 million.

DocPlanner’s product includes an appointment booking platform for patients with reviews and search, as well as a SaaS tool for doctors that digitises their workflow and could supposedly reduce no-shows. The company says that it currently serves 30 million patients and processes 1.5 million bookings every month.

“Since our last funding round, we’ve focused on the core marketplace and SaaS business; now we are making a concentrated push into new growth areas,” said Mariusz Gralewski, founder and CEO of DocPlanner. “We’re seeing more opportunities in our space, both in terms of the customer segment and product offering, as the health tech market matures.”

Founded in Poland in 2012, DocPlanner currently employs more than 1,000 people across its offices in Warsaw, Barcelona, Istanbul, Rome, Mexico City and Curitiba. It operates in 15 countries, with a total of more than 2 million healthcare professionals with a total of 2.4 million patient reviews listed on its local websites.

Talent Alpha announces record-breaking $5 million Seed Financing

Talent Alpha, a company with the goal of revolutionizing the global IT services market, announced 22 May that it had received PLN 18.5 million (~5 million USD) from external investors as part of its seed funding round.

The company matches big international enterprises, that continuously seek IT professionals, with smaller service providers particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. It has introduced the innovative model,‘Tech Talent as a Service’. The company is creating a modern technology platform that allows the selection of the best talent for a specific project, and the automation of a large part of this matching process with use of AI.

Talent Alpha is a technology startup founded in September 2018 by Przemek Berendt, Mike Kennedy and Szymon Niemczura. The company creates a new model of global IT services based on the concept of the Human Cloud. Talent Alpha is helping to address the serious shortage of technology specialists across global markets, providing global giants with the possibility of cooperating with flexible, experienced IT teams from countries that are rich in talent. At the same time, it offers small local businesses the chance to develop, with engineers having the opportunity to work on interesting projects – without the need to replace a smaller employer with a large corporation.

“Our target group includes companies listed on the Fortune 500. Some of these firms have already shown a vital interest in the services that Talent Alpha has to offer. We supply international companies with teams that have a proven track record of competence and that are run by experienced managers. On the other hand, we support the development of small and medium-sized businesses in countries that have large pools of human resources” – says Przemek Berendt, CEO and co-founder of Talent Alpha, formerly global Vice-President at Luxoft, a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

A head start
On 20th May, Talent Alpha signed an agreement with Aper Ventures, supported by PFR Ventures, and private investors, for a total amount of PLN 18.5 million. The investment was announced at Impact’19 conference. The company will allocate this part of the investment for the development of technology, establishment of relations with customers and partners as well as company promotion and internal growth.

“In Central and Eastern Europe I know only three companies, ours among them, which were able to gather such a significant amount of money from VCs in a seed round, and this is the biggest at a seed round for PFR Ventures. Talent Alpha is also the biggest beneficiary from the Open Innovations program so far. As it only took eight months after the launch of our business operations to convince serious players to invest in our company, for us it is proof of the company’s huge potential”, says Mike Kennedy, member of the Board and co-founder of Talent Alpha, former Executive Director at Goldman Sachs.

Moreover, the company has also attracted support from investors and experts alike. Jacek Kłeczek, an experienced investor whose portfolio includes hundreds of companies worldwide, decided to invest a substantial amount of money in Talent Alpha. He also serves as the head of the supervisory board. Dr. Piotr Wiśniewski, an investor and specialist in the field of automation, also announced his participation on the board. In addition, the company has recruited experienced specialists including Tomasz Kaczanowski – former COO of Codewise, Marta Aserigadu – who previously served as Head of Business Services at HAYS, Dr. Anna Chuderska – specialist in cognitive psychology and HR, and Agnieszka Porębska – former PR/Public Affairs Director for CEE and Strategic Director for global marketing in Luxoft.

Ambitious development plans
Talent Alpha has signed its first contracts with customers. The company has already started on projects, with negotiations now at an advanced stage with customers in the USA, Hong Kong and Western Europe. The company has also launched cooperation with nearly sixty Software Houses from Poland, Belarus, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Romania and Ukraine, employing together several thousand IT specialists. The company is building a technology platform that will not only facilitate contact between customers and suppliers, but also match professionals to the specific needs of a project.

“We will be able to offer customers an IT team selected in terms of not only hard skills but soft and personal skills as well, crucial for any successful project. As yet, no other vendor in the world has such a solution on the market. We cooperate with psychologists, are starting to cooperate with The National Centre for Research and Development (NCBiR), and also have a group of specialists on board who are responsible for developing a unique technology platform that will be powered by machine learning and deep learning algorithms”, comments Szymon Niemczura, co-founder and member of the Board at Talent Alpha, who already has several successful startup businesses to his name.

Talent Alpha has already been recognized by a group of top-notch foreign experts. The Polish startup was a finalist in a prestigious competition organized by Harvard Business School in Boston. Prior to this, the company won the European stage of this competition in Paris, winning both the jury and audience award. Last week, Talent Alpha was recognized during the Unleash conference in Las Vegas, winning the startup award – the Lightning Round Startup Award.

Sperm-tech startups tackling the male infertility crisis

The male fertility forum on the social media site Reddit makes for painful reading. Hundreds of men go there to talk “openly and honestly about sperm”, comparing test results and sharing heartfelt stories.

One man, with the handle 69sperms, says his hopes were rising when his wife’s period was three days late. But then it came, and he was devastated. “I’ve never been violent before, but I punched and broke my car radio and cried in my car for 30 minutes.”

These men are at the forefront of a crisis in male fertility, with a study showing that the concentration of sperm in semen in the western world has decreased by 52% in 40 years. Awareness of male fertility as an issue is also growing.

“I’ve never been violent before, but I punched and broke my car radio and cried in my car for 30 minutes.”

Startups are capitalising on this crisis. In Europe, companies such as Legacy and ExSeed have raised millions in venture capital money offering sperm-freezing and testing services, while others such as Coolmen are looking at ways to improve fertility.

In the US startups such as Dadi, at-home fertility test and sperm storage company, have launched with great fanfare. Earlier this year Dadi raised $2m in funding from London-based seed fund Firstminute Capital and New York-based venture firm Third Kind.

Denmark: the sperm capital
In the late 80s, Ole Schou changed the course of sperm business by opening what would become one of the world’s biggest sperm banks.

After having a dream of freezing sperm, he started the Danish company Cryos in 1987. Freezing sperm was not, as it turns out, a profitable business, but when the company pivoted into selling donated sperm to clinics, everything changed.

“It is a moment of perfect timing when both research and technology are coming together.”

Today, Cryos sperm bank alone holds 170 litres of sperm, is responsible for around 2,000 babies a year, and has made Denmark one of the world’s top export countries when it comes to high-quality sperm. The two largest sperm banks both deliver to about 100 countries.

In countries such as Finland and Sweden, where lesbian couples and single women are able to inseminate, the sperm is often flown in from Denmark due to the lack of local sperm donors.

Startups take over
Given this historical dominance, it is no surprise that some of the most exciting startups in the global sperm-tech space are coming from Europe, and many from Denmark itself.

Copenhagen-based ExSeed, which has raised around £1m, is an at-home sperm testing company, where users can skip sending the samples to a lab. With a device and a mobile phone, the answer will be delivered to your phone. ExSeed has soft-launched in Denmark and Norway, and is now set on the UK market.

For them and others such as Legacy and Coolmen, there is a big opportunity because there is a growing awareness of male fertility as an issue — since the 2017 study showing the 52% drop — at the same time as technology is coming on in leaps and bounds.

“It is a moment of perfect timing when both research and technology are coming together. The famous study that came out two years ago about western men’s sperm quality has done a lot,” says Morten Ulsted, cofounder of the home test kit ExSeed Health.

“And then the rise of femtech companies such as Natural Cycles, Clue, Glow and Elvie, they have basically created a $40bn category that didn’t exist ten years ago. That has also played a part.”

Better science
There is still uncertainty about why male fertility is decreasing, and why only in the West. It is also unclear how much sperm concentration actually affects fertility among men overall.

“There isn’t enough research done on this so if there is an overall fall in male fertility, that has not been validated,” says Mohamed Taha, one of the scientists and the chief executive of French fertility startup Mojo Diagnostics, which develops a tool for improving sperm analysis.

“Age is, however, an important factor and many are not aware of the fact that the DNA of sperm changes after the age of 35, which can increase the risk of miscarriages among other things.”

“While female fertility is well researched, male fertility is still in the dark.”

The science may not be clear, but what we do know is that across Europe, there are hundreds of clinics that do male fertility assessment and the number of these tests has skyrocketed in the last few years, according to Taha.

At the same time, the results of assessments vary greatly between clinics. To help solve this problem, Mojo Diagnostics is now developing a tool using computer vision to automate sperm analysis, which will drastically speed up and improve the test results at fertility clinics.

In June, Mojo Diagnostics will start to pilot its product in 10 clinics in London — where the company is also planning to move its operations from the French city of Lyon in May.

“London is our choice because the UK is the mecca of fertility in the world, in terms of size and in terms of doctors. Almost all advancements in this field have roots in London,” says Taha.

“Many are not aware of the fact that the DNA of sperm changes after the age of 35, which can increase the risk of miscarriages.”

Ulsted from ExSeed says: “The Scandinavian research community within reproduction is one of the strongest in the world so it would be silly not to make use of those strong ties,” Ulsted says. “But then from a commercialisation perspective, we’ve had more of a born global mentality. The UK made sense since one of our main investors, MNC Health, is well aware of the legal framework in the UK.”

The ExSeed home testing kit, according to Ulsted, uses the exact same software as being used in the most advanced andrology labs. And with a clever correction algorithm and optical optimisation algorithm, ExSeed makes it possible to draw the data with its at-home kit and a smartphone.

“It is only now that the mobile phone technology has advanced enough for us. A few years ago, that technology wasn’t available,” says Ulsted.

Not just freezing
Many of these companies are in the area of analysing and freezing sperm, but there are others looking to help with male fertility more generally.

In Wrocław in Poland, Coolmen has focused on the fact that keeping the testicles cool seems to have a positive effect on the semen.

Research done in a hospital setting in 70s Germany, showed that the cooling of men’s testicles had a positive effect on sperm. This is something that the founders of Coolmen believed could still work but with an easier-to-use wearable, according to Dorota Partyka, project manager at Coolmen.

“The founders found there was a huge gap in the market. While female fertility is well researched, male fertility is still in the dark,” Partyka says.

The wearable is attached to the testicles and will cool them down during the eight hours a day that it is worn for best results, according to Partyka. The company, which is about to get the product through medical certification in Europe, believe it can start selling to consumers by late autumn.

For couples facing difficulties getting pregnant, the products and services that are on offer from a variety of startups may come as a way to take control of the problem. However, it often comes with a hefty price-tag. And when it comes to Coolmen’s cooling product, it is not just about money.

“For people that are struggling with not having babies, they are doing a lot of other, more intrusive things to get there. We have used materials to make it as pro-consumer as possible, but of course, it is weird — but it is also weird because it is new,” Partyka says.

Eight European male tech companies
Mojo Diagnostics is a French company developing software that uses computer vision to make better assessments of male fertility than what is usually used by clinics. The company will start testing its software with 10 clinics in London this summer.

Legacy is a Swiss company founded in 2018 to help men both with male fertility assessment and, if desired, frozen storage of sperm. Operational across the US, Legacy’s customers get privacy by having a testing kit delivered to their homes and then later picked up at a convenient time. It is not for free though — the price tag for the cheapest package is $350. Funding to date: $500,000.

ExSeed’s home testing kit is available in Denmark and Norway and soon also in the UK.
ExSeed Health is a Danish startup that also relies on home testing, however, no need to have the semen collected. With a device and mobile phone, the answer will be delivered to your phone. ExSeed has soft-launched in Denmark and Norway and is now set on the UK. The price for an ExSeed home kit is £145. Funding to date: £1m.

Coolmen is a Polish company that has spent the last couple of years coming up with a wearable to keep the testicles cool. The product that is still in its testing phase will be ready for sale in Poland in late autumn 2019.

Eddie is a British company that delivers Viagra straight to your door. Based in London, the company has been marketing itself massively on public transport.

Comphya is a Swiss company with a solution to erectile dysfunction when Viagra and other oral treatments don’t work. The company has developed a solution based on implanting a neuro-stimulator in the pelvic cavity, which can be switched on and off by a wireless remote control.

Manual is a British wellness site for men’s health issues including hair loss and erectile dysfunction. As much as women need to find out more about female health issues, men do too — at least that is what Manual’s founders and investors believe. The company managed to raise £5m in seed funding earlier this year from UK’s Felix Capital, Germany’s Cherry Ventures and US-based Cassius Capital among others.

CDLP is a Swedish startup that is not exactly marketing itself as a solution to low male fertility; however, the men’s underwear that the company sells is supposed to breathe much better than cotton underwear and therefore keep the package cool and fresh.

Azimo safeguards its EU passporting rights with Dutch licence

Azimo’s accreditation from the Dutch Central Bank is interesting in these uncertain times.

It is yet another example of UK base companies setting up operations in other EU countries, the ones that don’t want to leave, to ensure they can operate right across the EU when the UK leaves the trading block.

The cross border payments money transfer fintech has guaranteed itself the right to operate across Europe whatever happens with Brexit. This is a good move given that nobody seems to have an idea.

Azimo CEO and co-founder Michael Kent in March mentioned what a bad idea he thinks Brexit is and how things have got worse as the process of trying to leave has unfolded.

He also said the company’s operation in Krakow, where its development and compliance teams sit would be operationalised if need be.

The company has now taken a further step with the Dutch licence and office in Amsterdam.

This is yet more evidence that London might be the best place for fintechs to thrive, but it is not the only place. And Brexit could make places like Amsterdam even more attractive.

Kent said the company looked at many jurisdictions but decided the best place to expand its European operations was the Netherlands.

“Outside the UK, it’s the best place to grow a fintech company in Europe. It offers a welcoming culture open to innovation, access to talent, a thriving banking sector and a strong regulator.”

The authorities in the Netherlands are certainly welcoming. Jeroen Nijland, commissioner for the Netherlands foreign investment agency, (NFIA), said the country’s growing ecosystem of fintechs serves consumers and businesses across the European continent and beyond. “Azimo will be in good company amongst global players like Bloomberg and MarketAxess, and homegrown successes such as Adyen and ‪Booking.com‪.”

Cybersecurity Provider Evident raises $20M Series B

Atlanta-based identity verification startup Evident has raised $20 million in a Series B funding round led by Aspect Ventures, with participation from existing investors New Enterprise Associates, cybersecurity veteran and investor Tom Noonan and new investor Blue Cloud Ventures.

“We anticipate that this funding will not only ramp up our headcount, but will also drive product innovation,” founder and CEO David Thomas tells Hypepotamus. “Evident plans to use our newly raised capital to expand and improve our technology and product capabilities, and to take our business into new markets.”

Evident’s technology uses a mix of AI, machine learning, and computer vision to provide a robust background check and verification platform.

Enterprises can integrate Evident’s API to continuously verify who they’re hiring, onboarding, or registering to avoid fraudulent activity. This is also essential for enterprises that need to accept users, but aren’t internally set up to protect their data.

Evident’s addressable market will grow to more than $20 billion by 2022, according to reports, as enterprise data breaches continue to occur.

Their solution has now expanded beyond identity verification, according to Thomas. The platform is able to verify credentials like insurance, motor vehicle records, professional licenses, driver’s licenses, drug tests, medical and financial records, and more.

“The ability to simultaneously verify multiple data points at once and connect the dots to provide a holistic view of an individual’s identity is unprecedented for our industry, in which most providers can only verify a single credential, like an identity document, credit report, or criminal history,” says Thomas.

The security startup has solidified important clients since their Series A raise in 2017, working with several large tech companies like Airbnb, Porch, Sifted, and Wag. They’ve also forged partnerships with data providers like Urjanet and Marsh Global to broaden their verification capabilities.

The Marsh Global partnership has resulted in the first-ever blockchain-based verification solution to streamline the process of onboarding sharing economy employees.

“Through our blockchain insurance and identity verification solution, marketplace platforms can confidently validate their users and minimize their exposure to personally identifiable information,” says Thomas.

The three-year-old company has seen a 300 percent year-over-year growth and opened a European headquarters in Krakow, Poland this past February, expanding the engineering and development teams.

Thomas shares that they’re aiming to triple their headcount by the end of the year to around 100 employees.

“Identity verification has never been more important, especially as businesses consider the conflict of mitigating fraud while prioritizing growth and streamlined user experiences,” said Vanessa Larco, Partner at NEA, in a statement. “Evident is solving these crucial challenges while maintaining the highest standards of privacy and security.”

Credit and payments app Twisto raises €14m

Twisto, the credit-based mobile payments app, has raised €14 million in a Series B round with new and existing investors to fund its further expansion in Europe.

The investment round was led by Finch Capital and co-led by Velocity Capital. ING Ventures, UNIQA Ventures and ING Bank Slaski also joined the round, following their earlier €5 million Series A investment. Enern stays on as main investor.

The investment will help Twisto to reach two million customers in Central and Eastern Europe in the next five years.

Fintech firm Twisto, founded in 2013 in Prague, created an app for daily payments and instant financing for consumers. Later this year, a debit feature will also be added to the Twisto solution, which enables consumers to prepay their purchases.

The app offers an advanced bill and invoice payment solution (Snap) and split-purchase function (Split).

Twisto says it has been used by over 500,000 customers in the Czech Republic and Poland since its launch.

In February 2019, Twisto started offering Apple Pay in the Czech Republic. Twisto expanded to Poland in mid-2018.

To date, Twisto has secured €21 million equity and €15 million in debt, which is used to finance the customer credit portfolio. To speed up the expansion, the firm is seeking additional €30-40 million in debt by year-end.

Behind the company’s growth is a built in-house scoring engine called Nikita. Nikita utilises big data and artificial intelligence (AI) for fraud detection and to check client creditworthiness in a fraction of a second, the firm says.

Fintech company Mintos launches Baltic Sea environmental fund

Latvian Fintech company Mintos said April 15 it is launching the “Mintos Impact Fund”, the first initiative of which will be cleaning up the Baltic Sea together with Pasaules Dabas Fonds (the local associated partner of WWF) and WWF Deutschland.
he aim is to supports the protection and preservation of the Baltic Sea’s marine ecosystem and together with investors, Mintos says it will crowdfund 100 000 euros to donate to the project.

Mintos CEO and Co-Founder Martins Sulte said: “We believe it’s about time that startups also step up and do something for the environment. Mintos has a strong base of cognisant and critically thinking customers – investors who see the need to do their part in preserving our world – that’s what lets us join together in this environmental sustainability initiative and do good together. Our first project – supporting the Baltic Sea’s marine ecosystem – is also symbolic of where the majority of our investors’, as well as our company’s roots are from.”

Baltic Sea and Freshwater Program Manager at Pasaules Dabas Fonds, Elza Ozolina said: “We are pleased to see that the interest in environmental protection grows within the Baltic region. Cooperation with Mintos indicates that the new generation of young, fast-growing tech entrepreneurs are entering the arena with a clear sustainable development vision both locally and internationally. We are happy to be the partners of the Mintos Impact Fund debut project.”

The goal of the Mintos Impact Fund’s first project is to raise EUR 100 000 for Baltic Sea preservation by the time the company marks the milestone of three billion euros funded in loans. With investors funding almost EUR 200 million of loans each month, Mintos expects to reach that target by September 2019. The funds will be crowdfunded together with more than 125 000 Mintos investors with Mintos participating with its share to reach the EUR 100 000 goal.

Funds will be allocated to Baltic Sea sustainability projects – to support the preservation of the endangered Baltic Sea and its coasts framing the sea including Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden.

LSM interviewed Mintos’ Martins Sulte last year about his fast-growing company.

Romania-founded startup UiPath raises $568 mln in new financing

UiPath, a robotic process automation (RPA) startup founded in Romania, said on Tuesday that it has closed its series D funding round, raising $568 million (510 million euro) at a post-money valuation of $7 billion.

At the $7 billion valuation, UiPath is one of the fastest growing and highest-valued AI enterprise software companies worldwide, UiPath said in a press release.

“We are at the tipping point. Business leaders everywhere are augmenting their workforces with software robots, rapidly accelerating the digital transformation of their entire business and freeing employees to spend time on more impactful work,” UiPath CEO and co-founder Daniel Dines said.

Since closing its Series A funding in April 2017, the company managed to cultivate the world’s largest community in RPA, now exceeding 400,000 users worldwide across 200 countries, to increase annual recurring revenue from $8 million to over $200 million and to increase headcount to over 2,500, a 16x increase during the period, it added.

At end-March, UiPath opened on Tuesday in Bucharest its first immersion lab in the EMEA region following a 500,000 euro investment, and said it plans to open more around the world.

Last year, UiPath managed to grow its market value to over $1.1 billion following various successful financing rounds, thus becoming the first Romanian unicorn company. ‘Unicorn’ is a business term used when a startup company is valued at over $1 billion.

UiPath was created in 2015 on the foundations of DeskOver – a company established in 2005 in Bucharest by entrepreneurs Daniel Dines and Marius Tirca.

UiPath is currently US-based and is present with 21 offices in 45 countries in North America, Europe and Asia.

Riga: CEE X-Tech City Tour and Deep-Tech MeetUp

Deep-Tech Atelier brings in Science-based Baltic companies aiming for global expansion.

Held on 12-13 April in Riga, this Baltic city is a growing hub to the region’s top deep-tech talent. Our CEE X-Tech City Tour meetup was held in conjunction with the Magnetic Latvia Technology conference Deep Tech Atelier, which focuses on creation and maintenance of the eco-system for science-based businesses, and organized by Investment and Development Agency of Latvia and Commercialization Reactor.
Facebook Photos:

Hong Kong VC backs new digital bank with European ambitions

“It is about digital only, mobile-first bank and wealth management across Europe,” says founder Slawomir Lachowski.

Commerzbank had wanted Copernicus, a digital project to be run by its Polish subsidiary, mBank, to be the first Pan-European lender. When it got cold feet last year, mBank’s ex-boss decided to go ahead anyway.
In August 2018, Germany’s second-largest bank, Commerzbank, wound up a crack team its Polish unit mBank had set up to create a pan-European digital bank called Copernicus.
At the time, mBank – 70%-owned by Commerzbank — had just started to license its mobile and online banking system to financial institutions outside Poland, including La Banque Postale in France. According to Puls Biznesu, a Polish daily newspaper, work was advanced in Warsaw and Frankfurt and several dozen people were working on the project, named after the German-Polish astrologer.

At the same time, mBank’s founder, Slawomir Lachowski, was meeting with Hong Kong investors to push ahead with plans to create his own pan-European bank, Golden Sand Bank.
The two events are not entirely coincidental, Lachowski says. “Copernicus is simply a continuation of mBank’s 2006 idea to create a low- cost, simple and convenient bank on the go for mobile customers in borderless Europe,” he says. But Commerzbank didn’t want it then, and doesn’t want it now, he adds.

“I am not surprised my colleagues went ahead. But also not surprised that it was not carried through,” he says.
“I was asked to become a member of the Commerzbank management and implement this ambitious project from within this giant corporation. At the time I had long, long meetings with Commerzbank in Frankfurt, but finally in 2008 I rejected this seemingly attractive proposal, realizing that I would have much more chances of success realizing this project based on the resources and experience of mBank Poland. I said ‘guys, no, this won’t work.’ So, I left Commerzbank.”
There was an opinion at Commerzbank that mBank would be for the bank’s Eastern Europe operations and had no right to enter the Western European markets, a Warsaw source said.

Venture new
To be launched by the end of May, Lachowski’s new venture is financed by investment from Hong Kong-based venture capitalist GSR Capital. Golden Sand Bank is based in Gibraltar and has a British license as a financial institution. Technically, the bank will be supported by Asseco Poland and IBM.
The new project is slightly different from Copernicus, Lachowski admits. “It is about digital only, mobile-first bank and wealth management across Europe,” he says.
“We plan to launch within two months in Gibraltar, but Brexit has made that problematic, so we have also applied for a license to operate in Germany and could launch there within 12 months.”
Market sources suggest a minimum of €400 million ($451 million) is needed to meet reserves capital requirements and reports in 2018 suggested the overall cost of rolling out a new bank are around €700 million.
Lachowski is doubtful such high costs are needed. “Ten years ago, it was necessary to invest €200 million to €400 million to build a bank from scratch, he says. “Today a fintech bank needs €30 million to €50 million from scratch to start operating activities. The costs of marketing and operations to a break-even-point range from €50 million to €100 million depending on the type of activity and scale of operation.”
Lachowski, who had spent several years digitizing and transforming mBank, said the new bank will be active across Europe, with Germany top of its list for expansion.

Brexit has made Gibralter problematic, he says. “So, we applied for a license to operate in Germany and could launch there this year as well.”

Source: https://www.dw.com/en/ex-commerzbank-polish-banker-looks-to-orbits-beyond-copernicus/a-48281901

EU eyes Fintech for Global Euro dominance!

New pan-European payment instruments, including solutions based on emerging technologies in the financial sector or FinTech, are a part of the European Commission’s plan to boost the euro’s standing in international markets.

EU officials told EURACTIV that it is no easy task to break the US dollar’s dominance, as Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker pledged in September during his State of the EU speech.

Juncker to propose breaking dollar’s dominance in global markets
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to propose today (12 September) a bigger role for the euro in international markets and more efficient decision-making in EU foreign policy in his state of the union speech, European diplomats said.

Plans to boost the euro’s profile at international level will be released in December, just as the single currency prepares to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

One of the options being put on the table by the EU executive is promoting the euro as an international payment currency.

In that context, the Commission is considering developing new pan-European payment instruments based on the infrastructure of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA).

SEPA simplifies bank transfers denominated in euro, and improves efficiency in cross-border payments.

As part of the new solutions, officials are looking at the opportunities provided by FinTech, although they did not disclose further details as the plans are still under discussion.

The Commission is looking for incentives in order to convince more market players to use the euro and countries to hold its reserves in the European currency.

Part of this charm offensive also includes the promotion of the euro as a stable currency.

Draghi ‘confident’ about a deal on Italian budget
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi expressed his confidence on Thursday (25 October) about the likelihood of an agreement between the European Commission and the Italian government over Rome’s spending plan for next year.

But this attempt comes as Italy, the third-largest eurozone economy, is unnerving financial markets with its budgetary spat with the EU.

In order to increase the monetary union’s resilience and to increase its attractiveness for investors, sources stressed the importance of completing the capital markets union, as well as the banking union and taking steps toward a fiscal union.

Juncker referred to the geopolitical risks and the ongoing global trade dispute when he made his proposal in September.

He mentioned that 80% of EU’s energy imports are paid in dollars, despite only 2% of them come from the US.

EU official: Europe must send signal that it protects its ‘own economic interests’
The EU leaders need to send a message to the rest of the world that Europe will look after “its own economic interests”, an EU official told EURACTIV.com ahead of an informal EU summit in Sofia, overshadowed by the US threat to hit EU companies operating in Iran with sanctions.

However, the biggest gap between the dollar and the euro is registered as reserve currency, not in international transactions. The trade war could be a turning point, experts said.

“If Europe knows how to manoeuvre, the trade war could represent a great opportunity for the euro,” Alicia García-Herrero, senior fellow at the Bruegel think-tank, told this website.

According to the latest figures, Russia, China and Turkey are all reducing their acquisitions of dollars.

“We are looking at whether this is a coordinated move and if someone else is buying them,” she explained.

EU eyes Fintech for Global Euro dominance!

New pan-European payment instruments, including solutions based on emerging technologies in the financial sector or FinTech, are a part of the European Commission’s plan to boost the euro’s standing in international markets.

EU officials told EURACTIV that it is no easy task to break the US dollar’s dominance, as Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker pledged in September during his State of the EU speech.

Juncker to propose breaking dollar’s dominance in global markets
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to propose today (12 September) a bigger role for the euro in international markets and more efficient decision-making in EU foreign policy in his state of the union speech, European diplomats said.

Plans to boost the euro’s profile at international level will be released in December, just as the single currency prepares to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

One of the options being put on the table by the EU executive is promoting the euro as an international payment currency.

In that context, the Commission is considering developing new pan-European payment instruments based on the infrastructure of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA).

SEPA simplifies bank transfers denominated in euro, and improves efficiency in cross-border payments.

As part of the new solutions, officials are looking at the opportunities provided by FinTech, although they did not disclose further details as the plans are still under discussion.

The Commission is looking for incentives in order to convince more market players to use the euro and countries to hold its reserves in the European currency.

Part of this charm offensive also includes the promotion of the euro as a stable currency.

Draghi ‘confident’ about a deal on Italian budget
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi expressed his confidence on Thursday (25 October) about the likelihood of an agreement between the European Commission and the Italian government over Rome’s spending plan for next year.

But this attempt comes as Italy, the third-largest eurozone economy, is unnerving financial markets with its budgetary spat with the EU.

In order to increase the monetary union’s resilience and to increase its attractiveness for investors, sources stressed the importance of completing the capital markets union, as well as the banking union and taking steps toward a fiscal union.

Juncker referred to the geopolitical risks and the ongoing global trade dispute when he made his proposal in September.

He mentioned that 80% of EU’s energy imports are paid in dollars, despite only 2% of them come from the US.

EU official: Europe must send signal that it protects its ‘own economic interests’
The EU leaders need to send a message to the rest of the world that Europe will look after “its own economic interests”, an EU official told EURACTIV.com ahead of an informal EU summit in Sofia, overshadowed by the US threat to hit EU companies operating in Iran with sanctions.

However, the biggest gap between the dollar and the euro is registered as reserve currency, not in international transactions. The trade war could be a turning point, experts said.

“If Europe knows how to manoeuvre, the trade war could represent a great opportunity for the euro,” Alicia García-Herrero, senior fellow at the Bruegel think-tank, told this website.

According to the latest figures, Russia, China and Turkey are all reducing their acquisitions of dollars.

“We are looking at whether this is a coordinated move and if someone else is buying them,” she explained.

Lithuania the newest EU Fintech Hotspot!

China’s rapid economic expansion across the globe has been well documented. From Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pledge this month to invest a further $60 billion in Africa to the construction of a previously unimaginable deepwater port in Gwadar, as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, not to mention the propping up beleaguered Latin American economies with tens of billion dollars’ worth of loans — analysts have gone as far as to label our current age as the Chinese Century.

Much less, however, has been written about Chinese involvement in Europe but this is not to say it is a region outside of the interest of The Red Dragon.

Just last week Prague featured as the venue for a key China Investment Forum, chaired by the President of Czechia, Miloš Zeman. The event was not only attended by roughly 100 guests from Czechia but also 150 delegates from other Central and Eastern European countries plus 250 representatives from China itself. Whilst potential future investment within more traditional industries such as energy, transportation and infrastructure was on the agenda, fintech was the emergent sector which dominated discussions.

In particular, the Lithuanian delegation led by Marius Jurgilas, a board member at the Bank of Lithuania, made headlines after proclaiming that it was increasingly ready to welcome Chinese fintech firms and act as a gateway for access across not only the rest of Central and Eastern Europe but also the European Union.

“We have already established close ties with Asian authorities regarding maintaining regulatory flexibility and are building bridges for fintech businesses in the region,” Jurgilas said. “Banks, electronic money and payment institutions can all gain easy access to Europe’s fast-paced payments market via infrastructure provided and maintained by the Bank of Lithuania.”

Collaboration between the Bank of Lithuania and the Chinese sector is certainly not new with the bank signing a co-operation agreement with the China Banking Regulatory Commission in 2015. Since then, the Bank of Lithuania has already issued four electronic money institution licenses and one payment institution license to Chinese companies. Jurgilas also revealed that there are a further ten Chinese companies looking to join the bank’s central payment system Centrolink. In addition, Lithuania is constructing a fintech coordination center for the 16+1 organization in Vilnius and plans to hold a fintech conference in the city in October 2019.

The Chinese embrace of Lithuania as a key European fintech market is certainly no anomaly, however, with the country having long-established itself as a fintech superpower.

According to the Lithuania Fintech Report 2017, a total of 117 fintech firms were operating in the country employing over 2,000 people — a rapid increase from 45 companies in 2013. A report produced by local consultancy firm Versli Lietuva, revealed that the Baltic state saw a 305% increase in ICO investment over the past 18 months, with up to $570 million raised. The same report also detailed that cryptocurrency transfers involving Lithuanian firms reached a whopping $762 million between 2017 and 2018. Major companies including IBM IBM -1.31%AIG, Western Union WU -1.73% and Nasdaq have established a presence in the country, alongside tech giants like Google and domestic success stories such as CoinGate, Debifo and Bankera — which raised $100 million in its initial ICO in Lithuania earlier this year.

Lithuania already ranks tenth in Europe in the Index of Economic Freedom, the World Bank judged it to be the 16th out of 191 countries globally in its Doing Business Index 2018 while the country also finished 41st in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report.

For many in the country, however, this is just the beginning as Brexit is set to bring a wealth of opportunities to the Baltic nation. United Kingdom-headquartered start-up Revolut has already announced that it has set up a subsidiary office in the country to combat the UK leaving the EU.

“I cannot deny that,” said Jurgilas, when he was recently asked if Lithuania saw Brexit as an opportunity.

“We are not saying that we will be attracting top firms from the fintech hub of the world, which is and always will be London, to the new booming financial sector in Lithuania, no,” he said. “But there is a huge flow of firms — and we want to participate in that flow — who want to hedge the risk of Brexit.”

So, why is Lithuania such a booming fintech hub and why are globally renowned firms increasingly choosing to headquarter there?

Favorable Regulatory Environment

The explosion in the number of fintechs choosing Lithuania as their new hub can be attributed to the creation of a regulatory sandbox by the Bank of Lithuania, with submissions to enter having opened on October 15. Available to both existing authorized financial institutions and start-ups, the sandbox aims to provide a platform for firms to test innovation before bringing a product to market, ensuring no crucial errors when it falls into the hands of consumers.

In addition to this, fintech firms are not subject to regulatory sanctions within the first year of operating within the country while remote video Know Your Customer (KYC) rules are in place which allows firms not based within Lithuania to open an account in the country without maintaining a physical presence there.

Government Policy

Lithuania’s government under progressive and euro-centric President Dalia Grybauskaitė has also sought to introduce new laws and tax relief to the benefit of start-ups. Its corporate tax rate is the third-lowest in the EU and its personal income tax rate is the second-lowest in the union, while start-ups are able to obtain an e-money or payment license in just three months, the quickest in the EU. Furthermore, its initial capital requirements for “lite” bank licenses — for challenger banks — are five times smaller than in other EU countries and can be obtained in just six months, ideal for start-ups. Even for more traditional, established banks, the country currently only demands a $1.14 million investment — again, the smallest in the EU in order to encourage financial houses to relocate.

Lithuania has the quickest internet speed in the whole of the world, according to a study by telecommunications company Ooma

Lithuania’s government has also set aside $750 million in funding through organizations such as Enterprise Lithuania and the MITA Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology for start-ups. In the previous six years alone, MITA has helped to establish over 100 start-ups in the country through its “R&D Commercialization Program” which has provided grants for firms of up to $22,300 and helped to foster innovation across the country.

Lastly, Grybauskaitė’s government has recently approved a “Startup Visa” for entrepreneurs to ensure that relocation to the country from outside the EU is as easy as possible. More established firms can apply for the EU Blue Card program to obtain residency for highly-skilled non-EU citizens.

Talent Pool

Lithuania is also home to an extremely tech-savvy workforce, with 31,500 IT professionals in a country of just 2.9 million people. Out of these individuals, the level of English language proficiency is at 84%, ideal for start-ups looking for a hub with which to launch a product across the continent.

Furthermore, the country is ranked as the eight best in the entire world by Bloomberg for the percentage of graduates enrolled in higher education, with a large number of students undertaking “innovation degrees” in subjects such as science, mathematics or computing, thus meaning that the country has a ready-made workforce suited to the needs of many incoming foreign fintech firms.

“After my first visit to Vilnius I just felt that this city is a small version of Silicon Valley and this was absolutely unexpected,” chimes Jared Isaacman, the CEO of Harbortouch, the touchscreen point-of-sale (POS) system firm that has opened an office in Lithuania’s capital. “The city, its infrastructure, the prevalence of technology made an impression on me,” Isaacman continued.

While even the greatest Lithuanian fintech advocate may concede that its capital has some way to go before it rivals the Californian behemoth of Silicon Valley, it certainly is an advantageous location to base a start-up if a firm is looking to operate across Europe.

The Mercer Cost of Living Index found that it is one of the five least expensive cities in the EU and average office space in Vilnius is only $17.14 per sq/m. When compared to $26.28 in Berlin, $34.27 in Amsterdam, $47.98 in Stockholm and $153.09 in Central London, it is not difficult to understand why a start-up may look favorably upon the city. The city also has the fastest public Wi-Fi connection in the entire world for both average upload and download speeds, according to a study by telecommunications company Ooma.

Lithuania to position itself as China’s EU Fintech Gateway!

Lithuania is ready to welcome Chinese FinTech companies and serve as a gateway providing access to CEE and EU markets!

Marius Jurgilas, a board member at the Bank of Lithuania, presented Lithuania’s experience and future plans in the field of FinTech at a key China Investment Forum held in Prague in mid-October.

“We have already established close ties with Asian authorities regarding maintaining regulatory flexibility, and are building bridges for FinTech businesses in the region,” said Mr Jurgilas. “Banks, electronic money and payment institutions can all gain easy access to Europe’s fast-paced payments market via infrastructure provided and maintained by the Bank of Lithuania.”

According to Mr Jurgilas, Lithuania is boosting its international standing as a FinTech-friendly jurisdiction by developing a FinTech coordination centre of the 16+1 framework in the country’s capital Vilnius.

In addition, the country is organising a high-level FinTech conference to be held in Vilnius in October 2019.

To date, the Bank of Lithuania has already issued four Chinese companies with electronic money institution licences and one payment institution licence. There are also an addition 10 companies looking to join the bank’s central payment system Centrolink.

In particular, Mr Jurgilas highlighted the quick authorisation process and broad choice of business models, ranging from electronic money or payment institutions to specialised banks, as some of the key elements of Lithuania’s FinTech regulatory regime.

Cultivating a FinTech-conducive regulatory and supervisory ecosystem and fostering innovations in the financial sector is part of the bank’s key strategic goals for up to and including 2020. The bank and local authorities in Lithuania are working hard to create an environment that would attract new FinTech companies and encourage them to innovate in Lithuania.

The 16+1 framework is a Chinese initiative aimed at expanding China’s cooperation with 16 countries in emerging Europe: 11 EU member states (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia) as well as five countries in the Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia), in the fields of transport, investment, finance, agriculture, healthcare, education and culture.

Romanian Startup bags a place in Microsoft accelerator in London!

Romanian fintech start-up FintechOS was accepted into the Microsoft accelerator program in London.

FintechOS is also the first Romanian start-up that joins the Microsoft UK accelerator, after having passed a complex registration and selection process.

As a result, the FintechOS platform will be listed in the global Microsoft marketplace, visible to a network of over 40,000 partners selling and implementing Microsoft technologies. It will also get mentorship on developing sales channels, personalized marketing programs and access to financial events as well as the newest Microsoft tools.

Joining this accelerator program is part of the company’s strategy to develop internationally and access the US and UK markets within the next two years.

FintechOS aims to help financial-banking institutions accelerate their digital transformation. The start-up is managed by Romanian entrepreneur Teodor Blidarus, one of its cofounders.

linkedin.com/in/teodor-blidarus-ba05367

fintechos.com

Polish Fintech joins large loan syndication platform!

Poland-based vendor finance fintech LeaseLink has joined Mintos, a loan syndication platform which this year also saw the onboarding of British lessor 1pm.

The fintech, part of the Pragma Faktoring group, offers leasing both directly through its website and in partnership with B2C and B2B merchants. It claims a portfolio of PLN 55m (€12.8m, £11.2m).

Applications for leases are made online and approved within 15 minutes. The fintech’s technology has also been licenced to banks including the Polish units of ING and Raiffeisen.

By tapping into Mintos’s 50,000-strong retail investor base, LeaseLink will be able to put loans up for syndication among retail investors, for up to 90% of the loans’ value. Loans will be listed both in Euros and Polish Zloty, and all listings will be covered by a buyback agreement in case of a delinquency of 60 days or more.

Wojciech Kazimierski, chief executive of LeaseLink, said: “Through our online channels, we offer Polish entrepreneurs a customised service for financing the purchase of fixed assets needed to develop their businesses. We are particularly proud of our business model and how it continues to gain market traction.

“In addition to customers who use our services, we are proud that we have merchants and partners which offer our services to their clients in parallel with their sales processes.”

The agreement with Mintos – whose panel of originators includes retail and commercial loan providers from across Europe and Central Asia – essentially allows lenders to spread risk from their balance sheets in order to free up more lending capacity. The majority of originators on the site provide buyback guarantees.

In February, British lessor 1pm also joined Mintos, the first UK loan originator to do so. The 1pm agreement terms are similar to LeaseLink’s, with the lessor being able to syndicate up to 90% of lease facilities, listed in GBP.

Polish MedTech startup wins big in Boston!

The Polish startup scene has just scored some major points in the international tech industry, all thanks to Genomtec. After competing with numerous innovators from all parts of the world at this year’s HUBweek festival in Boston, the biotech company emerged as a clear winner of the “Around the World in 2 Minutes of Less” contest.

In case you’re not familiar with the laureate, Genomtec is the developer of world’s first portable diagnostic device capable of analyzing virtually any sample. Despite not being much bigger than a standard smartphone, the device is able to carry out molecular diagnostic tests in a matter of minutes. Because of its portability, the innovation has the potential to revolutionize numerous industries – it could easily be used in veterinary sciences, but also the food industry, and even environmental hazard studies.

After a very successful year in Poland, where the startup had emerged as a finalist in the fourth edition of MIT Enterprise Forum Poland, Genomtec’s team travelled to Boston to compete in the international MIT Bootcamp alongside nine other Polish innovators. The program finished off with a pitching session at HUBweek, where their team got a chance to pitch their ideas in a special Demo Day in front of a live audience and a panel of judges. In the end, the Wrocław-native Genomtec wowed them all.

It is a great honor for us. Thanks to our participation in HUBweek, we have become part of an innovative ecosystem of startups who work hard to create a better future. The technology patented by Genomtec will make the existing, large and expensive laboratories, in need of hours, and sometimes even days for testing, be closed in a fast, cheap and portable device. This means that the diagnosis crucial for human life will last as long as a shopping spree and it will be possible to perform anywhere, even in an ambulance on its way to a hospital – said Miron Tokarski, president and co-founder of Genomtec.

HUBweek is an annual innovation festival hosted by The Boston Globe, the MIT, Harvard, and the Massachusetts General Hospital. Since 2014, the event has been gathering the most creative ideas impacting the development of science, technology, and art. As stated on their website, the newest edition of HUBweek brought together innovators from 59 countries and 38 industries to “inspire curiosity, break down silos, and spark bold solutions for a more inclusive future”.

Hardware Startup for IoT, Drones&Robotics open office in Poland!

In September, Brinc moved to their brand new office in the Business Link Maraton office space in Poznań

Its located in the Business Link Maraton office center on ul. Królowej Jadwigi 43, in the heart of the city. The building lies in close proximity to many key business, trade and cultural places in Poznań, such as Stary Browar, Półwiejska Street, the Old Market and many more. It is perfectly equipped for all possible business needs, has charging stations for electric cars, is fully accessible for the disabled and houses lots of amenities for cyclists. It is also 3 minutes of walking dinstance away from the nearest tram station and 10 minutes away from the Poznań Central Train Station, making commutes quiet easy to and from any part of the city.

Poznań is in fact one of the most attractive locations for doing business in Poland thanks to the highly skilled workforce, excellent business facilites and growing number of investments, including the creation of more and more modern office spaces.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/gasiormichal/ – Michal Gasior – Marketing&Product Head

Innovation Nest invests €1.6 million!

Innovation Nest invests in Infraspeak, the third Portuguese startup of its portfolio

The fund has lead an investment round in the total amount of 1.6 million euros. After Climber and Prodsmart, Infraspeak is the third portuguese SaaS company to be invested in by the Polish fund.

After having invested in Climber and Prodsmart, two companies from Lisbon, Innovation Nest, focused on investments in European SaaS early stage companies, keeps finding value in Portugal’s B2B technology startups, as it has now leading an investment round in Infraspeak.

Infraspeak, founded by Felipe Ávila da Costa and Luís Martins in 2015, develops a fully customisable, modular platform designed to make facility management smarter by using innovative technologies such as NFC, APIs, apps and sensors, making the work and lives of both managers and technicians significantly easier and more efficient, with less stress, less paper and lower costs. The startup, which has grown over 200% last year, will focus on entering new markets and reinforcing its team.
Within the next few months, Infraspeak will expand its operations in the United Kingdom, Spain, and France, which will have a positive impact on the company’s growth. To support this, the startup currently has 10 open job positions and plans to open more until the end of 2018.

“After three years focusing on product development, acquisition of renowned customers and putting together a team which we are proud of, it is now the time to aim for new heights. We reached the right partners to get Infraspeak into new international markets and we couldn’t be prouder of having some of the world’s biggest investors supporting us in this project”, says Felipe Ávila da Costa, co-founder and CEO of Infraspeak.

For Innovation Nest, with a portfolio of over 30 tech companies invested in Poland and all over Europe, the value was obvious.

“Innovation Nest is a thesis driven fund. We believe that we are in a software mega-trend that is transforming everything from how we work to how we do business. One of the key objectives of this software trend is to bring as many processes and assets online. Even today, Maintenance Management is mostly a pen and paper process. When we met Felipe and Luis, we knew instantly that Infraspeak is well positioned to digitise this market and help thousands of maintenance technicians make their work easier.” says Marcin Szelag, partner at Innovation Nest.

This investment, in the total amount of 1.6 million euros, was shared with top investors Firstminute Capital (United Kingdom), Construtech Ventures (Brazil), 500 Startups (USA) and Caixa Capital (Portugal).

About Innovation Nest

Innovation Nest is an early stage VC Firm focused on B2B Software investments all around Europe. Started in 2011, out of Krakow, Poland currently holds 30+ companies in its portfolio including: UXPin, Picodi, Growbots, and Estimote. The firm mission is to fund great teams based in Europe and help them to grow and scale globally.

Fintech startup Nordigen secures $1 million in total funding

Finance is among the traditional industries that have seen a groundbreaking change in the last few years. Due to regulation, the financial crisis and, more recently, ambitious new startups, legacy traditions are being replaced with more customer friendly solutions. Credit bureaus are next in line for disruption.

Banks across the world reject up to 90% of all loan applications daily. This is because banks base their decisions on credit history reports from credit bureaus, but not many people have a formal credit history. According to World Bank Group private credit bureau coverage report*, only 30% of the global population have any record at a credit bureau. In addition, credit bureaus have been working with the same old tools for decades and their insights are often incomplete and outdated. Bank account data is a good alternative to credit reports. It is full of risk-critical information that provides a transparent and more objective way to evaluate one’s ability to repay a loan in the future. That is where Nordigen comes in the picture.

Nordigen’s core product allows a lender to instantly verify a customer’s real income and spending habits to make the first assessment of their creditworthiness. The solution is based on open banking and the company’s “secret sauce” is the ability to identify risk-critical behaviours in customer account data with unparalleled accuracy.

“It’s hard to love credit bureaus at the moment. What they do was necessary, but with the rise of Open Banking, we’re now able to build technologies that are much faster, more reliable and more customer-friendly than traditional credit checks. This is a great time to build a global alternative to credit bureaus,” says Rolands Mesters, co-founder of Nordigen.

With a growing client base and recognition in the industry, Nordigen has been able to find support from powerhouse investors like Finland’s largest venture capital fund, Inventure, and Europe’s leading seed investor, Seedcamp to join pre-seed investor Change Ventures. Seedcamp, in particular, has extensive experience in the fintech sector from previous investments in two very successful European companies that are now worth over $1 billion – Revolut and Transferwise.

“Credit and debt are two major foundations of our financial system. The evaluation of creditworthiness has been much slower to progress, prohibiting many potential customers’ access to financial services. We’re excited to back the excellent founders of Nordigen and strongly believe in their desire to provide a more clear and transparent process making it easier for financial institutions to engage with more creditworthy customers and, in turn, for more customers to engage with financial services,” comments Carlos Espinal, Managing Partner at Seedcamp.

“The credit scoring industry has long been dominated by credit bureaus and other legacy software. This means that a lot of people who should not receive loans are getting loans and a lot of people who would be creditworthy, do not get their loans accepted or the loan is over-priced. Nordigen has a proprietary software solution that already today can outperform major credit bureaus in certain markets,” says Lauri Kokkila, Investment Manager at Inventure.

With the new funds, Nordigen will be hiring across the board with a focus on sales and business development. A big part of the investment will also be directed towards entering new markets, such as Brazil, South Africa, USA and UK.

Fintech startup Nordigen was established in 2016 in Riga, Latvia by a two Google Demo Day graduates, Rolands Mesters and Roberts Bernans. Today the company works with banks and alternative lenders in 12 countries across the world, including the Baltic states, Spain, Finland, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Czech Republic, Australia and New Zealand.

Tron enters Poland as it gets listed on Bitpay

Tron’s mass adoption intensifies as the most significant Poland crypto exchange, Bitpay, lists TRX on its platform.

The listing is to foster and create a wider audience for both Tron and Bitpay. The collaboration between Tron and Bitpay was done to create a better and safer means to purchase and trade TRX tokens.Tron listing on Bitpay serves as good news for Tron’s community because TRX can now be traded to Bitcoin, Polish Zloty, US Dollars, and Euro. Bitpay is one of the biggest exchanges in the world, and the founder of Tron (TRX) didn’t fail to acknowledge that. Sun further emphasized that the listing is another achievement for Tron and its community.
Read more at http://globalcoinreport.com/tron-trx-bitpay/

KPMG buys stake in a startup it lauded as a top 50 FinTech globally

Accounting and consulting firm KPMG has taken a minority stake in AdviceRobo, a FinTech startup which its acquirer last year lauded as one of the globe’s 50 most promising FinTechs. AdviceRobo, which is based in the Netherlands, provides a technology which helps banks and retail lenders with better predicting financial risk of people and companies taking out loans.

https://www.consultancy.eu/news/1800/kpmg-buys-stake-in-a-startup-it-lauded-as-a-top-100-fintech-globally

 

Best Romanian tech startups awarded at Central European Startup Awards

The Romanian event of the Central European Startup Awards (CESA) 2018 announced its winners on September 19. The event awarded the best technology-based startups and the most active entrepreneurs in this industry, in 13 categories.

Thus, Spherik Accelerator was the big winner of the Best Accelerator or Incubator category. Spherik brings together technology, education and investment opportunities, with the mission of improving the local startup ecosystem and the growth of startups that are growing internationally.

Meanwhile, Dalia’s Book (Cartea Daliei), an NGO that aims to promote education among all children through technology, won the Best Social Impact Startup award. Also, BittWatt, a solution for the optimization of transactions involving energy and its use as a currency, got the big prize in the Best Blockchain Startup category.

The Best Coworking Space award went to Nod Makerspace – the coworking space endowed with production workshops for creative industries, while Nutritio, an app that makes the activity of dieticians and nutritionists more efficient so they can help more patients reach their objectives in a shorter amount of time, won the Best Biotech Startup award.

Polish fintech bank set to enter Lithuania

A Polish digital bank led by former executives of PKO, one of the largest commercial banks in Poland, plans to enter the Lithuanian market. The blockchain-based bank plans to apply for a license from the Bank of Lithuania shortly.

Michal Turalski, one of the founders of Horum Bank and its head of marketing and strategy, confirmed it to BNS Lithuania that the bank plans to start operations in Lithuania.

“We are a team of experienced former managers of leading international banks and blockchain-age experts, who gathered together to set up a completely new bank. It will be a pan-european, a fully digital bank for the most financially undiscovered segments of clients, including SMEs & affluents,” Turalski told BNS Lithuania.

“As the Lithuanian banking authority supports financial solutions based on blockchain and there are some other favorable circumstances, we are planning to apply for a banking license in your country. After a successful licensing process, we want to start operating for Lithuanian companies and begin thinking about other European countries,” he added without disclosing any specific plans due to confidentiality agreements with business partners.

Representatives of the Bank of Lithuania have refused to comment on Horum Bank’s plans when approached by BNS Lithuania.

“We really feel the interest from Poland to set up financial market participants in Lithuania. And it’s very strong. We are holding regular conversations but I could not disclose specific names,” Giedrius Simonavicius, director of the Communication Department at the Bank of Lithuania, told BNS Lithuania.

Polish business daily Puls Biznesu reported in late July that the Horum Bank project was being led by Jacek Oblekowski, a former PKO vice president, and Malgorzata Siatkowska, who also used to work for PKO in the past, was also named as one of the founders of the new bank and its technology executive.

It was reported then that Horum Bank had 400-500 million zloty (93–116 millon euros) accumulated for the start of its activity.

Revolut to bid for fresh European licence as it reveals losses

Fintech powerhouse Revolut has revealed its post-Brexit strategy amid the publication of its 2017 financial accounts, which put a heavy spotlight on the banking app’s operational losses.

Primarily, a spokesperson for the London startup confirmed to City A.M. it had applied for a second e-money licence in Luxembourg, in addition to its 2017 application for a full banking licence in Lithuania.

The fintech currently operates under an e-money licence in the UK, through which it passports its services to other European countries.

In its financial year ending in December 2017, operational costs weighed heavily on Revolut as it incurred £14.8m in total losses after tax at a 52 per cent increase from the previous year, largely attributed to costs associated with its card scheme, acquiring and user acquisition as the app saw its user numbers treble.

http://www.cityam.com/263497/revolut-bid-fresh-european-licence-reveals-losses

11 Bit Studios wins the Best Transition To Main Market Award !


Events


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  • Wolves Summit, Warsaw

    Eighth edition of Wolves Summit, the biggest and, according to the participants, the most effective multinational event in Central and Eastern Europe focused on networking. Bridge between promising startups, tech companies, investors and corporations.

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    • 26 November, Warsaw. Our quarterly series of CEE Capital Markets & X-Tech Tour. In cooperation with BusinessLink and the Belgian Chamber of Commerce.