After nearly a decade in operation, QuantumScape, a San Jose-based startup backed by Volkswagen and Bill Gates, is finally breaking its silence. In a virtual “battery day” event for investors, the recently public company announced that its “solid state” batteries for electric vehicles will charge faster, hold more power, and last longer than traditional EV batteries.
Solid-state batteries have eluded researchers for decades. Most EV companies use “wet” lithium-ion batteries, which use liquid electrolytes to move energy around. But these batteries can be slow to charge, can freeze up in subzero temperatures, and contain flammable material that can be hazardous in the event of a crash.
QuantumScape claims to have developed a production-ready solid-state battery with cells that are made of solid and “dry” conductive material. And while most startups pursuing solid-state batteries remain mired in the lab, QuantumScape says it will be ready to go into production in 2024. Read More>>
Volocopter, the German aviation startup specializing in urban air mobility, will be the first company to test its full-scale electrical air taxis near Paris after spending nearly a decade in development. Organized in partnership with Groupe ADP and RATP Groupe, the company hopes to revolutionize transportation with a specific focus on electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles. Not only does Paris offer a significant strategic advantage as a major European hub generally, but the upcoming 2024 Olympics and Paralympics set to take place there only provide more opportunity for Volocopter to make its mark. By making waves in the next couple of years, the startup could corner the burgeoning market for novel intra-city air travel before any significant competitors arise. But because the technology involved is still in its infancy, the testing site won’t be too close to the city center just yet. A designated area, specifically, the Pontoise airfield located nearly 22 miles northwest of Paris. The first half of 2021 will see Volocopter setting up the necessary infrastructure, first in the air and then in the boarding areas within the nearby buildings. With the cooperation of the DGAC (the local Civil Aviation Authority), parking, take-off and landing operations, as well as operations around the vehicle, whether maintenance or electrical recharging, will be tested beginning in June 2021. Read More >>
An award-winning app that can help patients with dementia will launch later this month in app stores. But unlike most apps — made by professional software developers in a male-dominated tech industry — this one was created by three teenage girls. The Nigerian-Irish teens are the champions of Technovation Girls, an international competition that challenges young women to develop an app that can solve a problem in their community. The annual competition is hosted by Technovation, a nonprofit organization that empowers girls to become leaders in tech. The girls were guided by project mentor Evelyn Nomayo, an Afro-Irish developer and the founder of Phase Innovate, an organization that trains and mentors underrepresented minorities and women in tech. Nomayo told them about her mother, who experienced dementia, and that inspired the teens, who live in Drogheda, Ireland, to create an app that could help with the disorder. The 12-week challenge resulted in Memory Haven, which beat out more than 1,500 submissions from 62 countries. Memory Haven can be used by both patients and caregivers. Its six features target three problems faced by those with dementia: memory loss and difficulty with recognition and speech. A reminder feature, for example, alerts both the patient and caregiver that it’s time for medication, while photo albums allow users to flip through tagged photos identifying who is in the image. Read More >>
The rules of the new social network Telepath are simple: Be kind. Don’t be mean. No harassment, and no fake news. The existential question for Telepath will be whether that’s easier said than done. “It’s becoming harder and harder for people to have great conversations on existing platforms,” said Telepath’s co-founder and chairman, Marc Bodnick. “People are mean to each other, and that meanness is kind of rewarded with distribution. There’s tons of disinformation. Women are treated very badly. And so our view was that there’s an opportunity to create a new social network really focused on conversation and connecting people who share the same interest.” Telepath acknowledges that public figures will be treated and handled differently, and it won’t be immune to criticism. “There is somewhat of a difficult line here where we want to encourage kindness and empathy, particularly between people in conversations on Telepath, but also it’s not our intention to silence criticism,” Henry said. “I think in this world that we live in now, it’s not everyone, but I think a lot of people in the business, financial investor world believe in the possibility of quality and the potential of a great social product,” Bodnick said. “And so I don’t think you have to rush out the door to explode your scale or start making money in some sort of cheesy way.” Read More >>
This week, startups relevant to the travel sector announced more than $24 million in funding. We define a startup as a company formed to test and build a repeatable and scalable business model. Few companies meet that definition. The rare ones that do often attract venture capital. Their funding rounds come in waves. Seed capital is money used to start a business, often led by angel investors and friends or family. Series A financing is typically drawn from venture capitalists. The round aims to help a startup’s founders make sure that their product is something that customers truly want to buy. Series B financing is mainly about venture capitalist firms helping a company grow faster. These fundraising rounds can assist in recruiting skilled workers and developing cost-effective marketing. Series C financing is ordinarily about helping a company expand, such as through acquisitions. In addition to VCs, hedge funds, investment banks, and private equity firms often participate. Series D, E and beyond These mainly mature businesses and the funding round may help a company prepare to go public or be acquired. A variety of types of private investors might participate. Read More >>
Eskalera, a technology startup led by Goldman Sachs former human resources head Dane Holmes, has launched an index to measure corporate diversity and inclusiveness, the firm said on Thursday. Eskalera’s software collects information on employee sentiment and company culture and combines it with HR data to generate a score for inclusivity that can be measured against competitors. The goal is to give companies actionable information on changes needed to increase diversity. Eskalera is among a group of startups developing software to help corporations hire and retain more diverse staff. Many U.S. companies have pledged funds and issued statements in support of racial diversity amid protests that erupted since George Floyd, a black man, died on May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. The gestures by corporate America have drawn some criticism from diversity experts, who say companies should also look at improving racial equity within their ranks. Fewer than 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs are black, according to a 2019 study by the Center for Talent Innovation. Around 13% of Americans identify as black or African American, according to federal data. Read More >>
EagleHawk, a Tech Garden member and past GENIUS NY finalist, has engineered a safe, effective, and efficient process for disinfecting large areas against COVID-19, both outdoors and indoors. EagleHawk is using disinfectant chemicals approved by the EPA and New York DEC for effectiveness against the SARS-CoV-2 virus with a process that places the highest priority on safety of personnel and protection of facility equipment. The current and unprecedented global crisis caused by COVID-19 is changing the way people view the importance of facility cleanliness and the new normal is going to require higher levels of vigilance on cleanliness and sanitation. EagleHawk is currently a Tech Garden member and past GENIUS NY accelerator finalist. The company won a $500,000 award last year to continue developing its software and intelligent algorithm solutions for facility managers to better manage the maintenance and repair of their roofs, district heating systems, solar panel installations, building envelopes and facades, and other large-scale facility assets. Unfortunately, we have seen a number of companies recently begin to market such drone-enabled disinfection services using these agriculture drones, promising results that they won’t be able to deliver. EagleHawk has spent months researching, designing, and testing our solutions to ensure we’re offering a safe and effective service for our clients and are working closely with regulatory agencies such as the FAA, EPA and New York DEC to ensure all safety standards and protocols are followed. Read More >>
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a sledgehammer to the economy and the space industry is no exception. Before the pandemic, the global space industry was really coming into its stride, valued at around $360 billion. For the last few years, space startups with bold ideas could successfully close round after round of funding. Now, companies may have a hard time getting infusions from outside investors. That means companies will likely rely on government contracts, either from NASA or the Department of Defense, now more than ever as a guaranteed source of funding. A few high-profile space companies succumbed at the start of the pandemic. Analysts say these early losses are likely the result of problems that companies had before the pandemic, and the economic downturn just amplified those issues. Whether they’re keeping busy or just trying to keep the lights on, companies across the industry are all stuck in the same pandemic-induced holding pattern. Like many industries, it’s still too early to say what will happen in the future. But for smaller companies with loftier ambitions, the financial picture has already shifted. To make it through, they’ll have to tighten their belts and adjust their plans or scramble for a government-funded lifeline that keeps their unique space goals alive. Read More >>
The coronavirus pandemic has led to the panic-buying of one item in particular: toilet paper. This sudden demand for what some are calling “white gold” is proving a challenge, and an opportunity, for one fledgling family business in Maine, where the paper industry has seen some hard times. An abundance of skilled paper workers is one reason an American decided to use his life savings to launch a new toilet paper factory in Bangor, Maine, a small riverside city probably most famous for its association with several Stephen King horror stories, including as inspiration for the setting of It. But new enterprises are notoriously unprofitable. The entrepreneur says so far, they’ve only seen money “go in one direction”: out. There are signs of a turnaround. In February, he said Tissue Plus almost broke even, and with demand for the most important paper in the house only increasing, he’s predicting that the company will break even, and maybe even turn a small profit. Read More >>
Laszlo Bock has become a household name in terms of HR due to his strategic take on the common department. Two and a half years ago, Bock co-founded a company, Humu, that helps executives ensure that teams are as productive and happy as possible. He leveraged his experience at Google and GE to develop what “nudges” or reminders, timed at just the right time to impact behaviors in a positive fashion. Bock describes the genesis of Humu, the technology behind these nudges, and the impact he intends to make at companies as a result of Humu. He believes that we are on the cusp of a revolution in human resources akin to the operations and manufacturing revolutions of a century ago. He takes inspiration from his parents, who immigrated from Romania and inspired change with their businesses in America. Read More >>