Startups

UVeye, an Israeli startup that combines AI, machine learning, and computer vision to detect physical and mechanical flaws in vehicles, has raised $31 million in series B funding led by Toyota, Volvo, and W.R. Berkley Corp.The Tel-Aviv based company developed a technology for scanning vehicles to instantly identify anomalies, attracting the attention of carmakers and insurance companies alike and raising $31 million in the latest series B funding round, closed today. The startup, which was founded in 2016, assesses damage and abnormalities by taking images of the vehicle while it moves through a scanner. Those images are then analyzed using computer vision and AI to generate a prompt report. “We’re able to find everything from a really small scratch, as small as 2 millimeters, to then understanding the gaps, or in case of collision to understand exactly what parts were damaged,” Amir Hever, the company founder and CEO, said to Forbes.The drive-through inspection system can be applied anywhere along an assembly line to discover potential flaws in the production process, or at the end of the line for a final inspection before the vehicle leaves the factory. Another application of this vehicle inspection technology is in rental car lots and car dealerships. Insurance companies use it there to discover mechanical damages to their fleet. “Our customers can use the whole solution together or each can be used standalone,” Hever explains. In fact, each of the key investors in the Israeli startup has its own plan for implementing the technology. Toyota Tsusho, a member of the Toyota Group that provides a number of car-related services such as exporting, intends to use UVeye solution to “support distribution to used-car centers and throughout the company’s footprint within the Japanese auto market,” according to a news release. Volvo, on the other hand, wants to deploy the flaw-detecting scanner in its factories, dealerships, and on its aftermarket products.“Premium quality standards are at the core of the Volvo brand, and we are intrigued by the possibilities that UVeye’s technology offers,” said Zaki Fasihuddin, CEO of the Volvo Cars Tech Fund. “This type of advanced scanning technology could allow us to take the next step in quality.”W.R. Berkley, the insurer who previously participated in the in series A round of funding, sees a broader application of UVeye technology in the insurance industry. “When we made our initial investment in UVeye two years ago, we believed its system could have game-changing impact within security and inspection applications globally, and today’s announcement validates that early hypothesis,” said Mike Nannizzi, director of Fintech investments from W. R. Berkley.Hever said other industries are showing interest in his scanning technology, which aims to replace the outdated analog way of inspecting vehicles. “We get a lot of inquiries for aviation, trains, ships,” he said, “but we’re focusing on the car industry because we understand there are a lot of opportunities for us.”According to CrunchBase, UVeye has raised $35 million in two funding rounds.

By Ivana V. July 22,2019

A 2019 Women in Technology Leadership Report, recently published by the Silicon Valley Bank, shows that women are still under-represented in tech.The sixth annual report on the state of gender (in)equality in the world of startups, based on the answers provided by 1,377 tech and healthcare founders and executives primarily from the U.S., the UK, China, and Canada, shows that the tech world is still dominated by men, even though the number of women in executive positions and boards of directors has slightly increased in the last few years.“Our report shows evidence that more women are joining startup boards and fillingexecutive roles than in the recent past. As we see it, we are moving in the right direction and need to seize the opportunity to expand inclusion of women — and other underrepresented individuals — across the startup ecosystem,” said Greg Becker, the CEO of Silicon Valley Bank.China leads the way to gender equalityThe combined results reveal that only 56% of startups have at least one woman in an executive position, and only 40% have at least one woman on the board of directors. However, when we break that information down to individual countries, we see that China is the most progressive with 70% of Chinese startups employing at least one woman in an executive role and 50% of newly established tech and healthcare companies from China having at least one woman on the board of directors.The U.S. is on the other end of the spectrum, however. There’s at least one woman serving as an executive in just 53% of U.S. startups. And the situation is even worse when it comes to boards of directors—only 37% of startups from the U.S. have at least one female member.Lack of female founders leads to fewer women in leadership rolesAnalyzing the gender structure of startup founders, the Silicon Valley Bank uncovered some disappointing results. The percentage of startups with at least one female founder in all four countries was just 28. And the report reveals a strong correlation between female founders and the roles women in leadership positions serve. In companies with at least one woman on the founding team, women are more likely to act in the capacity of the CEO or COO, whereas in startups set up by men, women usually fill the role of the Head of HR or Chief Marketing Officer.And the numbers are harsh—just 5% of startups founded by men have a female CEO, whereas 63% have a woman as HR Chief.Plans to increase the number of women in leadership rolesAccording to the report, six in 10 startups have programs in place designed to increase the number of women in leadership positions, irrespective of the gender of the founding team.The most popular program, offered by 55% of surveyed startups is creating a flexible working environment which allows women to reach their professional goals while still being able to dedicate time to the needs of their families. Other leading programs include recruiting/interview techniques, deployed by 37% of respondents, and leadership development that 34% of surveyed startups rely on. For more information, consult the full Women in Technology Leadership Report here.

By Ivana V. July 22,2019

Billionaire visionary Elon Musk unveiled plans for his brain control interface startup yesterday, during a live presentation.The company, Neuralink, founded in 2017, and its main goal is to control brain interfaces and essentially alleviate the risks of AI while enhancing its potential. The startup also aims at developing pain relievers for medical conditions like epilepsy.“Developing ultra-high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers” is the only formal description Neuralink provided on their website. The “brain-on-a-chip” technology has been in the research phase since 2017. According to the New York Times, Musk has invested $100 million in his ambitious startup, which seems to be aiming well beyond its initial goal.Musk hopes that the brain-computer startup will help humans to communicate with AI on a mental level, avoiding the need to translate our thoughts into language and input them via keyboard. Simply put, Neuralink’s goal is to be able to talk with a computer without having to move a finger. Even though Musk has been quite secretive about the project, ever since its initial launch, he has shared thoughts on the progress made:“A monkey has been able to control the computer with his brain,” he said in his recent startup presentation live stream. The CEO of Tesla added that he hopes to “help secure humanity’s future as a civilization relative to AI”.This new technology could also benefit animals, as it could potentially eliminate the need for animal testing in laboratories.Elon Musk believes that the technology could eventually assist with cognitive problems involving speech and sight. “In about four years time,” the billionaire says, “we are aiming to bring something to the market that helps with certain brain injuries (stroke, cancer lesion, congenital).”Such a step will undoubtedly present huge evolutionary progress. It will certainly be one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind. Whether the dream becomes a reality – only time will tell.

By Ivana V. July 17,2019

RoadBotics, a tech startup that focuses on standardizing road assessment by using computer vision AI, has raised $7.5 million in Series A round of funding led by Radical Ventures.According to Crunchbase data, the Pittsburgh-based artificial intelligence startup closed this early stage fundraising series today, with capital investments by Radical Ventures, Hyperplane Venture Capital and Wharton Alumni Angels.Founded in late 2016 by a team of Carnegie Mellon robotics researchers, RoadBotics aims at revolutionizing the way governments and engineering firms maintain paved roads by simplifying the data collection process and applying machine learning algorithms (AI) to automate the road rating process.During the two and a half years the infrastructure tech company has been around, it has served 150 customers in 23 U.S. states and 11 countries. With a fresh infusion of funds, Mark DeSantis, the company CEO and one of its co-founders, is confident RoadBotics will spread out in the future."This fresh capital, together with Radical Venture's vast network and AI domain expertise, will enable us to grow even faster, and ultimately to extend our reach into other vertical markets," said DeSantis said to PR Newswire."No one understands the impact deep learning is and will have on the management of large-scale public infrastructure like the Radical team who previously built their own deep learning company. They share our vision of AI helping to create a safer, better future," he added.Radical Ventures is a Canadian venture capital company that mainly invests in tech firms and entrepreneurs who are developing deep tech with the goal of disrupting massive industries. It launched a $350 million AI fund in May."We're excited to be part of the RoadBotics journey," said Jordan Jacobs, co-founder and Managing Partner of the fund. "Maintaining roads has an enormous financial cost – hundreds of billions of dollars globally each year, mostly borne by governments and thus taxpayers. Assessing roads has been done the same way for thousands of years – people riding around and subjectively determining what to fix and when. It's a broken system.”Jacobs believes that RoadBotic’s simple-to-use computer vision system has the potential to cut costs, reduce vehicle damage, and ultimately save lives thanks to its objective assessments of the state of paved roads. “RoadBotics is a perfect example of Artifical Intelligence fixing an enormous global problem," he added.Christoph Mertz, Chief Scientist at RoadBotics, got the idea to start the company while working as a researcher at the Carnegie Mellon University Navigation Laboratory— an early hub for the application of machine vision to the autonomous navigation. "I thought we could use this tech to assess the roads on which our autonomous vehicles drive," Mertz. Soon after setting up RoadBotics, he co-founded the company with Benjamin Schmidt, Courtney Ehrlichman, and Mark DeSantis.

By Ivana V. July 17,2019

Lolli intends to make Bitcoin payments commonplace by providing incentives for shoppers and retailers alike.The company CEO Alex Adelman discussed his master plan for getting Bitcoins into the hands of millions of people in a panel at a recently held Bitcoin 2019 Conference in San Francisco. What is Lolli?Lolli is a rewards platform that gives users Bitcoins when they shop online with more than 500 retail partners. It works as a browser extension - once installed and activated, users can carry on with their regular online shopping activities, but at the end of the process, they receive the cryptocurrency in their Lolli wallets. The incentive can be as high as 30% of the amount spent.The company was founded by Alex Adelman and Matt Senter in March 2018, and its name was inspired by Adelman’s trips to the bank as a child. He recalls disliking those visits, but he was always looking forward to the lollipop at the end. “I believe Bitcoin is the bank of the future and all that's missing is Lolli,” Adelman says on the company website.Bringing value to shoppers and merchants alikeAs the Lolli CEO explained during the panel, currently, merchants don’t allow Bitcoin payments because there are not that many people interested in using them for everyday transactions. However, he hopes to change that by providing benefits for both retailers and customers.“When we think about: How are we going to have mass adoption for Bitcoin? It’s not just for consumers. It’s also with merchants as well. And if we want Bitcoin to be the rails, we have to think about: How is it better and to whom is it better for?” he said.Currently, Walmart, who is one of Lolli’s largest retail partners, spends a considerable amount of money on credit card processing fees every year, just like other retailers do. This could be Lolli’s selling point, but Adelman feels that pushing the acceptance of Bitcoin payments isn’t the right move at the moment, since there are not enough customers who hold the cryptocurrency.Rather than pressuring merchants to implement a giant technical integration into their payment systems, Adelman proposes incentives that both merchants and shoppers can get interested in.  Lolli signed Walmart as a partner by saying that the rewards program can attract more customers to the shop and by taking care of the integration process.  “They don’t even have to touch Bitcoin. It’s just a thing for them to attract new customers,” said Adelman.On the other hand, the rewards platform creates more consumers who own some Bitcoin and need somewhere to spend it. Adelman believes Lolli can create more supporters of the cryptocurrency by making it more accessible through his platform. “When you can incentivize someone with something for free that, so far since we launched, has tripled in value, you start to train the savvy shopper,” he said at the conference.Lolli’s Long GameIn the past, Bitcoin payments never got off the ground because the incentives targeted only merchants. Without consumers who would use the cryptocurrency, there was no point in setting up integrations for such payments, which led to a vicious cycle. However, Lolli’s rewards program has the potential to break it. After a while, Lolli’s merchant partners could start accepting Bitcoin payments when on one hand, the credit card processing fees continue to cost retailers millions and on the other, the number of customers who shop at their stores regularly and hold Bitcoin increases.“It gets really interesting because you have to reevaluate what they’re optimizing for. You start playing into those margins of the $5 billion worth of credit card fees, and you say, ‘Look. We have a million users that are shopping at Walmart. You’re spending, let’s just say, $10 million in credit card fees on those users. What if we saved you $10 million in credit card fees by accepting Bitcoin?’” explained Adelman.

By Ivana V. July 10,2019

On Wednesday, the Sony Corporation and Daiwa Capital Holdings Co., Ltd. announced that they are setting up a joint venture capital firm. The goal is to raise between $140 million and $185 million in total.Once they reach the target sum, they plan to invest in tech companies within “key high-growth industries” in the U.S., Israel, Japan, and Europe.Sony’s previous $100 million Sony Innovation Fund was launched in 2016 and has made over 40 investments to date. The Innovation Growth Fund is not meant to replace Sony’s smaller investment efforts which helped seed and early-stage robotics and AI startups. Instead, Innovation Growth will enable more substantial investments in companies from similar sectors. Innovation Fund Growth will be run jointly with Daiwa Capital Holdings and should help write bigger checks than what Sony would be typically able to manage by itself. Daiwa Capital Holdings is the VC arm of Daiwa Securities, a Japanese investment bank with the biggest securities brokerage second only to Nomura Securities. The confirmed early limited partnerships include Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Osaka Shoko Shinkin Bank and Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance Company Limited. Sony has refused to disclose the exact amount raised so far, but the target figure has not been reached.  With Daiwa’s help, Sony aims to help its portfolio companies grow into public firms. The private equity and venture capital company’s knowledge of public listings will make all the difference. The fund should also open the path for portfolio companies to make connections with “renowned research institutions.” “We believe that the integration of Sony’s insight of cutting-edge technologies and Daiwa Securities Group’s expertise in finance will lead to the creation of a new kind of venture capital business while providing the spark for new trends in the venture capital ecosystem,” said executive managing director of Daiwa Securities, Yoshihisa Kaneko.Innovation Growth Ventures is expected to invest in mid-stage startups in AI, fintech, and robotics, along with other “fast-growing tech startups in other market segments.”“Through its corporate venture capital activities to date, Sony has incubated the next generation of technologies and startups while promoting open innovation. With the establishment of this fund through IGV, we hope to accelerate open innovation while contributing to social development. Sony will support IGV’s efforts to maximize the performance of this fund, based on the experience it has cultivated through its corporate venture capital activities,” Toshimoto Mitomo, Executive Vice President, Sony Corporation, said in a statement.Gen Tsuchikawa, Representative Director of Innovation Growth Ventures Inc., summed up the investment plans as follows, “By harnessing the various resources of Sony and Daiwa Securities Group, IGV aims to support the business growth of portfolio companies and thereby increasing investment returns. Furthermore, by supporting collaborations between the portfolio companies and third parties, including renowned research institutions and other startup companies, we also hope to contribute to the promotion of open innovation. We hope to take full advantage of the wealth of corporate venture capital experience offered by both Sony and Daiwa Securities Group.” 

By Andrea July 04,2019

Tencent, a Chinese internet giant, will join Paytm, an Indian e-commerce payment company, in a plan to invest about $100 million in MX player.MX Player is one of the many streaming services fighting for supremacy in a fast-growing but exceedingly fragmented Indian market. Currently the fastest-growing Indian streaming service, MX Player is one of the best content-streaming options in the country, with a number of foreign players crowding in. This Indian OTT platform and global offline video player is owned by Times Internet, a unit of Indian media conglomerate Bennett Coleman & Co. The final stages of the deal between Tencent and Paytm are still underway, and the specific terms are still susceptible to changes.  Tencent Holdings Ltd. has been investing in movies, television shows, and other forms of entertainment to boost user engagement. The Chinese tech and social media giant is a world-renowned investment holding conglomerate founded in 1998. Its many subsidiaries specialize in online services and products, AI, and entertainment. Tencent has been looking to expand its video-streaming efforts to Southeast Asia. Last month, it launched its first video streaming service in Thailand. With over 89 million subscribers, its video-streaming sites have seen a 43% year-on-year surge in subscriptions in Q1 2019. Investing in MX Player, one of the most downloaded entertainment apps worldwide, provides Tencent with a much-needed foothold in the Indian market. In India, the burgeoning smartphone users are consuming a variety of media via cheap wireless data plans. MX Player relies on smaller towns for about two-thirds of its viewership and competes with the likes of Amazon Prime Video and market leader Hotstar, whose owner is none other than Walt Disney Co.The projected streaming market growth in India should reach an annual rate of 22% ($1.7 billion) by 2023, PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates. Paytm, an Indian digital payment leader, reported 5.5 billion transactions in the 12 months ending with March 2019, with a gross value of more than $50 billion. MX Player’s 30 million registered users will expand Paytm’s online payment audience. Bloomberg’s source asked not to be named because the details are private. Jane Yip, a spokeswoman for Tencent, and representatives for Paytm and MX Player declined to comment.

By Andrea July 03,2019

An Irish healthcare startup Nutrias has discovered the first healthcare ingredient using artificial intelligence (AI). It plans to discover another four within the next 18 months.Nuritas has raised $65m (£51m) from a series of high-profile investors such as U2’s Bono, Salesforce founder Marc Benioff, and the Edge. It has also raised money from serial entrepreneur Ali Partovi, an early advisor to Dropbox, and the European Investment Bank.The startup’s machine learning method for drug discovery now prides itself on a 60% success rate — surpassing the results in the rest of the pharmaceutical industry by a long shot.The first ingredient with medicinal effects was discovered in collaboration with the German chemical giant BASF (BAS.DE), and it helps treat inflammation. By the end of 2019, the healthcare product should hit the market in a number of sports nutrition products, said CEO Emmet Browne, in his interview for Yahoo Finance UK.“We believe not only that we have launched the only healthcare ingredient found through AI, but we will, in fact, launch the second, third, fourth, and fifth within a 12–18 month period as well,” Browne commented in the interview.Such ingredients usually take five to seven years to discover, at an approximate cost of $35m. Nutrias has achieved the same goal in two years. “To have something in market that quickly is just exceedingly disruptive by comparison to what's normally the case with that particular arena,” said Browne.A three-stage process is all this startup needs to discover new healthcare products, starting with a manual identification of a range of possibilities. Once this stage is finalized, machine learning steps in to narrow down the options. Somewhere around 60% of identified ingredients will show the bioactive activity the scientists are searching for, according to Browne. “In effect, what we do is use artificial intelligence to unlock nature's secrets. That’s the depth of it.”“Nature carries an exhaustible reserve of bioactive opportunities,” Browne said, noting that the “vastness has until now made it relatively impenetrable to the 20th-century process of discovery.”Founded in 2014 by Dr. Nora Khaldi, an Irish-Algerian scientist, Nuritas combines AI and genomics to discover and unlock natural Bioactive Peptides with a wide array of health benefits. In a world of mounting health issues, a growing number of chronic diseases, and a rapidly aging population, Nutrias is trying to offer preventative options at an affordable price.Nutrias is also a founding member of a coalition of tech and health experts, pharmaceutical companies, and research organizations called the Alliance for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare. They aim to use AI and machine learning to build a healthier world for everyone. 

By Andrea July 01,2019

Apple Inc. confirmed its acquisition of the self-driving car startup Drive.ai yesterday.The Silicon Valley autonomous vehicle startup filed WARN documentation with the Employment Development Department of California on June 12 announcing its closure on June 28. The news of Drive.ai shutting down was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.Earlier this month, there were rumors of Apple showing interest in purchasing the AI tech company which was once valued at $200 million.In yesterday’s statement, the creators of iPhone informed the public about their latest procurement. The value of the deal was not disclosed.This purchase confirms Apple’s on-going interest in self-driving car software. A few years ago, the tech giant started an autonomous driving vehicle initiative of its own called Project Titan, but not much is known about it.After the January layoffs of 200 employees who had been working on the stealthy self-driving car design, Apple found itself in need of skilled staff in the field of engineering and robotics. In response, it resorted to an acqui-hire, a well-known move in Silicon Valley. The term refers to a strategic buyout of smaller startups by large players in the industry with the sole purpose of acquiring their engineers.Even though the shuttle firm had been struggling financially and looking for a buyer since February, its talent pool is undeniable. Drive.ai was founded in Mounting View, CA in 2015 by a team of Stanford University graduates who worked under the supervision of the acclaimed AI expert Andrew Ng.In its early years, the company received quite a lot of attention and capital. According to CrunchBase data, the artificial intelligence startup raised $77 million in venture capital from backers such as New Enterprise Associates, GGV Capital, Northern Light Venture Capital, HOF Capital, Nvidia GPU Ventures. It was last valued at $200 million in June 2017. Before Apple acquired it, Drive.ai had been running a pilot program in Arlington, TX, offering on-demand service to the general public free of charge. Since October 2018, the interested citizens were able to order a self-driven vehicle via Drive.ai mobile app or by using one of the kiosks located across the city.Adrian Fine, director of communications and policy at Drive.ai, gave no statement to the media about the closure.

By Ivana V. June 26,2019

The mortgage technology company announced yesterday that it has raised $130 million in series E funding. The latest cash infusion possibly gives the San Francisco-based startup a tech unicorn status.Nima Ghamsari, co-founder and CEO of Blend said yesterday that the late-round funding was led by Temasek and General Atlantic. Existing backers such as Founders Fund, 8VC, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Greylock Partners also participated in series E.The company didn’t reveal the valuation of the latest round. However, Fortune reported that series E was “about doubling the series D valuation,” which was $500 million. If Blend has managed to attain this goal, it means that the company is now officially a tech unicorn—a term used for startups with a billion-dollar private valuation.Since its founding in 2012, the fintech startup has gathered a total of $310 million in venture capital. According to CrunchBase data, the previous round, series D, brought in $100 million in late August 2017.The financial technology lending platform provider intends to use the money raised to expand its 400-employee team further, broaden its offer of consumer lending products and invest in new technologies.Blend, which stands for better lending, is an online platform that provides customers with a simpler and quicker loan application process by cutting paperwork out of the process. “Together with our partners, we’ve made significant strides in transforming lending experiences for consumers and institutions across the country,” Ghamsarid said in a statement.What Blend’s SaaS solution essentially does is power the mortgage and loan application process on websites of banks such as U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo. Marc Greenberg, head of finance, says that the company “routinely processes nearly $2 billion in loans every day in partnership with more than 150 lender customers.”Apart from revealing how much venture capital it raised in series E, the tech startup took the opportunity to announce that Ann Mather, former Pixar CEO, will be joining the company as the first independent board member. Mather currently sits on the boards of a number of successful companies, including Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Netflix and Airbnb.“As we build toward a more transparent and frictionless future where lending transactions happen in one tap, we’re grateful to have the experience of , along with the teams at Temasek and General Atlantic, in our corner for this journey,” Ghamsari said in a press release yesterday.Before Mather, Blend had welcomed Tim Mayopoulos to the company in January. The former CEO of Fannie Mae took the role of the company president, taking charge of all the go-to-market operations.“We see this fundraise as a huge validation of our approach and our business model and partnership with banks,” Greenberg told Crunchbase News. “Having Tim join the company is like another huge brick in the building block.”

By Ivana V. June 25,2019

Online banking app Current claims Facebook has ripped off its logo for their recently announced crypto subsidiary Calibra. Founder and CEO of the online banking company Current shared the logo of his company and the logo of Facebook’s latest subsidiary Calibra on his Twitter account yesterday with the message “This is what happens when you only have 1 crayon left.”The resemblance between the two companies’ logos is undeniable. A tilde sign inside a circle featured on both, with color being the only differentiating factor. Making matters worse is the fact that their names are similar too.Earlier this week, Facebook announced that it was launching a new global cryptocurrency called Libra next year, with the goal of providing safe transactions with minimal fees. Together with the currency, Facebook will roll out an interoperable third-party wallet app Calibra, which will be used for storing and spending the digital currency. Calibra will be available on Messenger, Whatsapp and as a stand-alone app.Since Libra’s logo consists of three parallel tilde signs, it makes sense that the Calibra logo shares a similar aesthetic. However, the resemblance with Current’s logo is uncanny and confusing.Stuart Sopp, former Wall Street trader who founded the online bank Current in 2017, says he was shocked to see the logo of Facebook’s subsidiary company. Initially thinking he was being pranked, Sopp lawyered up as soon as he realized the logo was no joke. With the help of Goodwin Procter law firm, he set out to determine whether he has a trademark or patent infringement case against Facebook.Both Current and Calibra used a San Francisco-based design firm called Character to come up with their visual branding solution. The design company couldn’t be reached for comment.“We put six months of hard work into this with that design firm, which they basically reused for Facebook without changing much,” Sopp told CNBC. “Facebook is a big company that should have done their due diligence on this.”Current started as an app geared toward teenagers and parents, offering modern day allowance solutions. Since entering the market in 2017, it has expanded its array of services. Its most recent product - a feeless checking account - was launched earlier this year.Sopp says his motivation for creating the Current app was to disrupt the existing financial system, which is failing to meet the needs of many people. Zuckerberg has a similar plan but on a much larger scale. Servicing only 350,000 accounts and employing 45 people, Current poses no threat to Facebook’s ambitious crypto-goals.“This is a funny way to try and create trust in a new global financial system – by ripping off another fintech firm,” Sopp said in a phone interview. “Facebook has all the money and resources in the world. If they truly wanted to make banking more inclusive and fair, they should’ve come up with their own ideas and branding, like we have.”Photo credit: Current’s Twitter account, June 19, 2019

By Ivana V. June 21,2019

On June 18, San Francisco-based startup Orbit Fab completed a critical test of its technology on the International Space Station (ISS). It’s the first private company to successfully supply the International Space Station with water.Last fall, Orbit Fab announced their plans for its water transfer experiment. The ISS National Laboratory provided vital support and insight.The refueling took several days to complete and was done in microgravity with equipment and processes developed by Orbit Fab. Since water is one of the most inert propellants used in spaceflight thrusters, it was an ideal candidate for the June experiment. Still, the Orbit Fab-designed method could expand to other conventional propellants. This is why Orbit Fab also plans to use these methods and processes to develop tankers for refueling satellites.This orbital fuel supply startup was founded in 2018 and has already made an outstanding impact on the space technology business. Its experiment called Furphy demonstrated the ability to transfer water between two satellite testbeds.Following the completion of the initial experiment, Orbit Fab transferred the water into the station’s own supply. This marked the first time that a private payload supplied the station with water using these methods.Orbit Fab’s plan to set new standards for satellite refueling interfaces to be used in orbital hardware represents the next step in the standardization of reusable satellites. The less disposable hardware model used today might become obsolete.This sort of success could unlock the commercial potential of space technology for other startups and small businesses. Any capable startup could find possible pain points and then offer innovative solutions to improve the space business, leading to increased cost and resource efficiencies. Orbit Fab’s taking part in this experiment has broad implications for private businesses and startups all over the world. This startup has designed, developed, and successfully applied a functional water supply system for preexisting, ISS-made space infrastructure.With their space tech success story, Orbit Fab has proven that NASA isn’t the only institution with the expertise and the flexibility to dabble in the space business.

By Andrea June 19,2019