The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has brought the whole world to a standstill bringing about travel restrictions and impacting the small and medium businesses. This has forced governments across the world to come forward to help the businesses that have been impacted. Though this is the scenario, the tech startups in Europe seem to flourish despite the global health crisis and have made big news in recent times.
Last week, whilst the lockdown and restrictions were still on, several European tech startups have been hitting the tech headlines as they have raised funding, made new announcements, entered various partnerships, etc. And, here we have detailed the tech headlines over the last week.
Billhop and Visa collab for Irish businesses
Billhop is a Swedish payment service that lets businesses and individuals pay their bills using their existing debit or credit card. Last week, this startup announced the collaboration with Visa in Ireland in an attempt to improve working capital for Irish businesses. With this collaboration, Irish businesses can experience cash flow pressures caused due to COVID-19 pandemic. These businesses can virtually pay all invoices using their existing credit card irrespective of the fact whether the supplier accepts credit payments or not.
While the usual headline rate for users is 2.95%, the collaboration between Billhop provides Visa cardholders a relatively lower rate of 1.99%. As there is no onboarding at the end of beneficiary, Billhop lets 100% of supplier payments on card simultaneously.
Million euro investment for Dutch online store
Amsterdam-based online interior outlet NADUVI, which offers items from popular interior brands with huge discounts, secured €1.1 million euros from the growth of its platform. Already, over 100 popular brands offer their products via the platform and it has been nominated as the ‘Best Starter’ at the Shopping Awards 2020. It has a slew of investors including Slingshot Ventures, the entrepreneurial fund and others such as Patrick Kerssemakers (Fonq), Ralph Cohen (IceMobile) and Gennie Freen (Scoupy).
What’s interesting about NADUVI is that it offers an innovative business model. As brands sell and send the articles directly to the customers via this online interior platform, the cost saved in logistics is minimised. Also, it ensures that already produced stock reaches a nice destination.
Free digital coaching program in Europe through coronavirus crisis
SparkUs is an HR Tech company providing scalable coaching solutions with a secure and customisable digital coaching platform, action tracking, and human interaction. With the intention to help the community during the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, the digital coaching platform provider has launched a free blended version of its leadership development program. This program is available in both Dutch and English.
With this leadership development program, SparkUs intends to address the challenges caused by COVID-19 among the European workforce. It supports business leaders and provides them with tools that will help them rebalance and readjust to the shifting business goals and align their virtual teams. Furthermore, the company moved its headquarters to Amsterdam to enable the global expansion of its digital coaching platform that debuted back in mid-2019.
Truck drivers rise to challenge
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak and related chaos, truck drivers are among the essential frontline players as they ensure there is no shortage in supply chains at a time when supermarkets, hospitals, pharmacies, etc. are running out of stock. Rising to the challenge, truck drivers delivering essential goods have joined the key works mandated by local governments. In the UK, the resilience of the supply chains are placed in the spotlight as carriers adapt quickly to the unprecedented challenge of keeping up with the volatile demand.
The freight transport service Ontruck claims that it has witnessed a whopping 500% increase in daily demand for core essential consumer items. The shortage in staff and increase in restrictions have brought new complications to the market. Notably, small businesses account for 85% of the transport market in Britain and Ontruck harnesses a wide network of truck drivers to ensure there is no shortage in the everyday flow of goods, food, and medical supplies.
New-age digital labeling
Eindhoven-based LabelFuse is a front-runner in real-time image labeling and deployment from a single platform. It provides a simple and secure interface powered by Artificial Intelligence letting customers to easily label and deploy their AI applications.
Over the last week, LabelFuse closed a successful seed round of €200k led by BOM Brabant Ventures. Half of this investment will be used to accelerate technical readiness for the mass market including the development of proprietary AI capabilities for users. The other half will be used for resource expansion as the startup is focused on serving a few markets such as medical imaging, drone imagery, robotics, retail, and cell microscopy.
3D body scanning app
Swiss tech startup meepl offers struggling SMEs in the fashion industry free access to its smartphone-enabled 3D body scanning tech. This will help fashion SMEs hit by the global health crisis during the COVID-19 outbreak. Though 3D body scanning is not new, it is becoming more important as customer behaviour is changed and retailers have to go online to survive. Also, it will let SME retailers attract customers, buyers order precisely fitting clothing, and reduce returns that will translate to lower packaging and shipping costs and less wastage.
Addressing this pain point directly, the meepl’s made-to-measure offering creates an almost 100% accurate body image with only two pictures in seconds. It uses visual computing and deep neural networks to obtain 45-150 measurements of the body instantly. With the latest body reconstruction algorithms, it will create a perfect duplicate of the users body.
France working on ‘Stop Covid’ contact-tracing app
French health minister Olivier Véran and digital minister Cédric O have announced that the French government is prepping a smartphone app that will slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The French government says that there will be an app designed to track people living in France. It will leverage the PEPP-PT protocol but the details on the implementation of the same in France remains thin.
The Ministry for the Digital Sector detailed how the country is leveraging tech to understand the coronavirus outbreak, improve the treatment of COVID-19 and plan to end the existing lockdown. Besides the app, the French government has rolled out an official website that informs people, encourages telemedicine services to provide treatment to patients, and leverages machine learning on big data to predict the coronavirus outbreak.
Vertical farms to help feed Bristol during COVID-19
Bristol-based LettUs Grow is an indoor farming tech startup. During the COVID-19 crisis, this startup is accelerating the building of two vertical farming modules in Bristol to help feed vulnerable communities. The startup has teamed up with FareShare South West, a food redistribution charity to ensure the produce reaches those who need it most.
LettUs Grow expects the first aeroponic farm modules to be ready to start producing from mid-April. In that case, the fresh produce will be delivered to FareShare in ten days. And, the second, larger module is expected to follow in June. As the farm’s operations are automated, it can be run with just one person on site following social distancing norms and ensuring safety of key workers.
€2.5M for anti-abandonment car seat device
Italian IoT startup Filo intends to make products that simplify various aspects of our everyday life. The startup has launched two devices – Filo Tag, which is a Bluetooth tracker for frequently misplaced objects like wallets and keys, and Tata Pad, which is a car seat device alerting parents if a child has been left in the car.
In a recent development, the Italian IoT startup secured €2.5 million funding from Pi Campus, LVenture Group, AI.Pe Invest, and some angels. With the new investment, the company will expand the sales of Tata Pad launched last year. The company touts that the tech has been integrated into some car seat models and has teamed up with Generali, an Italian insurance giant and Vodafone.
€3.9M for epilepsy diagnosis tech
Neuro Event Labs, a Finnish healthtech startup has secured €3.9 million funding from Hadean Ventures, SHS Capital and Maki.vc. This investment will be used to support the commercial expansion of Nelli, an AI-powered epilepsy diagnostic platform, which is its core product. Given that almost 65 million people across the world suffer from epilepsy, only 30% of diagnosed cases are disproved by new methods and the others continue to have seizures irrespective of treatment, it is important to enhance epilepsy diagnostics.
Talking about Nelli, it relies on video and audio recordings from the bedside of patients to identify the type of seizure that the patients suffer from and suggests personalised treatment. It also provides doctors with a cloud-based interactive report to be reviewed by the clinical team.
Main image picture credits: Billhop
Stay tuned to Silicon Canals for more European technology news.