The Week in Tech: Draper Esprit raises £176m, Samsung’s AI, tackling diversity and more

Draper Esprit

Hello and welcome to the Week in Tech, your weekly roundup of the top technology news stories from across the globe.

This week, we bring you the latest UK tech investment news, Draper Esprit’s staggering raise, the implications for European tech startups and more. 

VC firm Draper Esprit raises £176m

Draper Esprit, a European technology VC firm, has raised £176m to boost the European tech startup scence.

The raise was made through the firm’s Bookbuild. It will be used to invest in early and growth-stage digital technology businesses across Europe in the consumer technology, enterprise technology, hardware and healthcare sectors, as well as some Series A rounds and beyond. 

Draper IPO’d in June 2016 and has funded over 25 new businesses and grown their gross portfolio value by 209%, to a total of £243.5m.

Simon Cook, CEO of Draper Esprit commented on the news: “European tech startups are crying out for the growth capital they need in order to scale up and become the global technology giants of tomorrow and, with this additional funding, we will be able to play our part in helping to bridge this gap thanks to our ability to invest, hold and grow our investments for far longer than our non-listed competitors can.

“We are now one of the most active venture capital investors in Europe, deploying over £100m a year to help build the companies that will shape our future.”

Seedcamp closes a £60m fund

Early-stage investor Seedcamp closed its fourth round of funding at £60m, including £2m of investment from some of its founders and mentors.

The founder of UiPath, TransferWise, Gumtree, and Skyscanner are just a few of the 100 who contributed to the round.

The money will enable Seedcamp to invest in up to 100 startups across Europe at pre-Seed and Seed stages. The company has already started making investment with this fund, which first closed at £41m in November 2017.

Factmata, Sweatcoin, Pace, Homie, Vantik, doctorly, StepLadder, Maze and Veratrak are among those that are being backed by the funding. 

Albion Capital leads PayAsUGym’s Series A

PayAsUGym, an online fitness marketplace, raised £6.5m in Series A funding led by Albion Capital. Concentric and Angel investors also contributed.

As the name suggests, PAUG offers access to health and fitness clubs across the UK on a flexible pay-as-you-go basis.

The money will be used to build the PAUG’s team, continue developing and enhancing its product and grow its user base.

Ideal Flatmate valued at £3.75m

Flatshare finder Ideal Flatmate raised £750,000 as a top up to its Seed round, which closed in 2017 – bringing its value up to £3.75m post-money.

The UK company helps customers find flatshares based on compatibility and living habits. This was its second funding round, and the fresh money brings its total investment to date to £1.25m.

The money will used to hire, grow its user base and boost the implementation of machine learning into its platform.

Tom Gatzen and Rob Imonikhe founded the company, and claim to add 2,000 new properties to its system every month.

AI startup secures £10m to treat heart disease

Ultromics, a startup aiming to use AI to diagnose coronary heart disease, has landed £10m. The Series A round was led by Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), and drew support from the likes of Netpute, RT Ventures and GT Healthcare.

The fresh cash injection will be used to aid R&D and launch the technology in the US and the UK. Called ‘Topological Analysis’, the tech is being trialled at six NHS Hospitals and could end up being used in 20.

PureClarity gets money to create more jobs

PureClarity, a York-based software company, secured £500k from NPIF, which is managed by Mercia Fund Managers.

The company, which was founded in 2014, has built technology to help e-commerce businesses to increase sales. PureClarity uses big data and artificial intelligence to analyse customers’ behaviour and recommend the most relevant products when they search for goods in online stores. The funding will allow the business to further develop its product and create eight new jobs for sales and marketing staff at its premises in York.

CEO Dr Paul Gibson identified a need for the product, which was released in 2017 and is now used by organisations including the Royal British Legion, Norwich City Football Club and bike accessories supplier Zyro Fisher.

Other investments:

Samsung opens AI centre

In other news, global electronics company Samsung announced the opening of its new research centre in Cambridge. The aim is to develop its AI capabilities and explore the technology’s user-centric potential.

The Samsung AI Centre will be chaired by Professor Andrew Blake. He commented on the launch, saying: “The centre’s research will help us to better understand human behaviour, exploring areas like emotion recognition, and further expand the boundaries of user-centric communication to develop AI technologies that ultimately improve people’s lives.”

VCs partner to tackle diversity problem

DiversityVC, the British Business Bank and BVCA  are working together on a new initiative to tackle the diversity problem in the tech industry.

The scheme is calling on VCs to share their diversity data anonymously. Some 10 VCs have already agreed to share their data. These firms are: Amadeus Capital, Atomico, Balderton Capital, Draper Esprit, Frog Capital, Frontline Ventures, LocalGlobe, Notion Capital, Oxford Capital Partners and Scottish Equity Partners.

The results should shed light on the true picture of diversity figures in the UK.