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Sydney-based quantum sensing startup Q-CTRL raises $25M Series B led by Airbus Ventures

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Sydney-based quantum sensing startup Q-CTRL raises $25M Series B led by Airbus Ventures

Q-CTRL, a Sydney-based startup that provides quantum control engineering solutions, announced today it has raised a $25 million Series B led by Airbus Ventures with participation from Ridgeline Partners, Main Sequence Ventures, Horizons Ventures, SquarePeg Capital, Sierra Ventures, DCVC, Sequoia Capital China and InQTel. 

The latest funding will support hiring staff and enable new data-as-a-service markets powered by quantum sensing, founder and CEO of Q-CTRL Michael Biercuk said. It also will continue to invest in developing its quantum control for quantum computing and quantum sensing for acceleration, gravity and magnetic fields, Biercuk added. To date, the company has raised more than $43 million (60 million AUD) in total capital. 

“Q-CTRL’s vision has always been to enable all applications of quantum technology. This new fundraising is critical in realizing our mission to deliver real value to the space, defense, and commercial sectors,” said Biercuk. 

Q-CTRL provides infrastructure software that improves quantum computing performance by addressing the most pressing challenge in the field – hardware error and instability, Biercuk told TechCrunch. 

The Series B financing event comes on the heels of major technical and product development recently announced by Q-CTRL. It includes technical demonstrations using core Q-CTRL technology, known as quantum logic gates, to improve the performance of quantum algorithms executed on real quantum computers by 2680%.

The company is also developing space-qualified quantum sensors and exploration technologies for Earth, the Moon and Mars with a consortium of Australian firms led by Fleet Space Technologies. Its quantum sensing clients include Advanced Navigation, the Australian Department of Defense, Air Force Research Lab, and the Australian Space Agency. 

“The team’s impressive quantum control software suite enables speed and agility at a moment of rapid acceleration for the entire quantum industry,” said Lewis Pinault, Partner of Airbus Ventures based in Tokyo. “We’re particularly excited about Q-CTRL’s widening span of advanced applications and solutions, including lunar development, geospatial intelligence and Earth observation, all increasingly critical in the global effort to address the accelerating planetary system crises we now face.”

Its revenue in FY2020/2021 was up 3X year on year, and the company generated over $9 million in sales and booking for its new quantum sensor business, which only commenced in late 2020, Biercuk said. 

Like most companies, the pandemic caused a substantial pause in growth, which resulted in significant losses in its planned international sales and marketing engagement, Biercuk said. Despite this, the company has grown from about 20 to 60 on its team since January 2020, Biercuk continued. 

He added that the company operates a large team of quantum control specialists with over 30 PhD-level researchers driving its research and product development in quantum computing and quantum sensing.  

The company recently launched Black Opal, an interactive and accessible online learning platform that enables anyone to learn quantum computing. Biercuk said that it surpassed its ten days sales target in 2.5 days. 

In 2017, Q-CTRL was spun off from the University of Sydney, where Biercuk works as a Quantum Physics and Quantum Technology professor. 

Professor Michael Biercuk. Photo: Jessica Hromas

Q-CTRL currently operates offices in Sydney and Los Angeles. It will open an office in Berlin with the first employees starting next month, Biercuk noted. 

The quantum computing industry is estimated to be worth more than $850 billion in annual value by 2040, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group. The global quantum sensors market is projected to increase to $299.9 million by 2024 from $161 million in 2019, based on a report by BCC Research.

Source: Tech

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Paack pulls in a $225M Series D led by SoftBank to scale its E-commerce delivery platform

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By now, many of us are familiar with the warehouse robots which populate those vast spaces occupied by the likes of Amazon and others. In particular, Amazon was very much a pioneer of the technology. But it’s 2021 now, and allying warehouse robots with a software logistics platform is no longer the monopoly of one company.

One late-stage startup which has been ‘making hay’ with the whole idea is Paack, an e-commerce delivery platform which a sophisticated software platform that integrates with the robotics which are essential to modern-day logistics operations.

It’s now raised €200m ($225m) in a Series D funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The capital will be used for product development and European expansion.

New participants for this round also include Infravia Capital Partners, First Bridge Ventures, and Endeavor Catalyst. Returning investors include Unbound, Kibo Ventures, Big Sur Ventures, RPS Ventures, Fuse Partners, Rider Global, Castel Capital, and Iñaki Berenguer.

This funding round comes after the creation of a profitable position in its home market of Spain, but Paack claims it’s on track to achieve similar across its European operations, Such as in the UK, France, and Portugal.

Founded by Fernando Benito, Xavier Rosales and Suraj Shirvankar, Paack now says it’s delivering several million orders per month from 150 international clients, processing 10,000 parcels per hour, per site. Some 17 of them are amongst the largest e-commerce retailers in Spain.

The startup’s systems integrate with e-commerce sites. This means consumers are able to customize their delivery schedule at checkout, says the company.

Benito, CEO and Co-founder, said: “Demand for convenient, timely, and more sustainable methods of delivery is going to explode over the next few years and Paack is providing the solution. We use technology to provide consumers with control and choice over their deliveries, and reduce the carbon footprint of our distribution.” 

Max Ohrstrand, Investment Director at SoftBank Investment Advisers said: “As the e-commerce sector continues to flourish and same-day delivery is increasingly the norm for consumers, we believe Paack is well-positioned to become the category leader both in terms of its technology and commitment to sustainability.”

According to research from the World Economic Forum (WEF), the last-mile delivery business is expected to grow 78% by 2030, causing a rise in CO2 emissions of nearly one-third.

As a result, Paack claim it aims to deliver all parcels at carbon net-zero by measuring its environmental impact, using electric last-mile delivery vehicles. It is now seeking certification with The Carbon Trust and United Nations.

In an interview Benito told me: “We have a very clear short term vision which is to lead sustainable e-commerce delivers in Europe… through technology via what we think is perhaps the most advanced tech delivery platform for last-mile delivery. Our CTO was the CTO and co-founder of Google Cloud, for instance.”

“We are developing everything from warehouse automation, time windows, routing integrations etc. in order to achieve the best delivery experience.”

Paack says it is able to work with more than one robotics partner, but presently it is using robots from Chinese firm GEEK.

The company hopes it can compete with the likes of DHL, Instabox, and La Poste in Europe, which are large incumbents.

Source: Tech

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Infermedica raises $30M to expand its AI-based medical guidance platform

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Infermedica, a Poland-founded digital health company that offers AI-powered solutions for symptom analysis and patient triage, has raised $30 million in Series B funding. The round was led by One Peak and included participation from previous investors Karma Ventures, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Heal Capital and Inovo Venture Partners. The new capital means the startup has raised $45 million in total to date.

Founded in 2012, Infermedica aims to make it easier for doctors to pre-diagnose, triage and direct their patients to appropriate medical services. The company’s mission is to make primary care more accessible and affordable by introducing automation into healthcare. Infermedica has created a B2B platform for health systems, payers and providers that automates patient triage, the intake process and follow-up after a visit. Since its launch, Infermedica is being used in more than 30 countries in 19 languages and has completed more than 10 million health checks.

The company offers a preliminary diagnosis symptom checker, an AI-driven software that supports call operators making timely triage recommendations and an application programming interface that allows users to build customized diagnostic solutions from scratch. Like a plethora of competitors, such as Ada Health and Babylon, Infermedica combines the expertise of physicians with its own algorithms to offer symptom triage and patient advice.

In terms of the new funding, Infermedica CEO Piotr Orzechowski told TechCrunch in an email that the investment will be used to further develop the company’s Medical Guidance Platform and add new modules to cover the full primary care journey. Last year, Infermedica’s team grew by 80% to 180 specialists, including physicians, data scientists and engineers. Orzechowski says Infermedica has an ambitious plan to nearly double its team in the next 12 months.

Image Credits: Infermedica

“We will invest heavily into our people and our products, rolling out new modules of our platform as well as expanding our underlying AI capabilities in terms of disease coverage and accuracy,” Orzechowski said. “From the commercial perspective, our goal is to strengthen our position in the US and DACH and we will focus the majority of our sales and marketing efforts there.”

Regarding the future, Orzechowski said he’s a firm believer that there will be fully automated self-care bots in 5-10 years that will be available 24/7 to help providers find solutions to low acuity health concerns, such as a cold or UTI.

“According to WHO, by 2030 we might see a shortage of almost 10 million doctors, nurses and midwives globally,” Orzechowski said. “Having certain constraints on how fast we can train healthcare professionals, our long-term plan assumes that AI will become a core element of every modern healthcare system by navigating patients and automating mundane tasks, saving the precious time of clinical staff and supporting them with clinically accurate technology.”

Infermedica’s Series B round follows its $10 million Series A investment announced in August 2020. The round was led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and digital health fund Heal Capital. Existing investors Karma Ventures, Inovo Venture Partners and Dreamit Ventures also participated in the round.

Source: Tech

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KKR invests $45M into GrowSari, a B2B platform for Filipino MSMEs

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A sari-sari store owner who uses GrowSari

GrowSari, the Manila-based startup that helps small shops grow and digitize, announced today that KKR will lead its Series C round with a $45 million investment. The funds will be used to enter new regions in the Philippines and expand its financial products. The Series C round is still ongoing and the startup says it is already oversubscribed, with the final composition currently being finalized. 

Before its Series C, GrowSari’s total raised was $30 million. TechCrunch last wrote about GrowSari in June 2021, when it announced its Series B. Since then, it has expanded the number of municipalities it serves from 100 to 220, and now has a customer base of 100,000 micro, small and mid-sized enterprise (MSME) store owners. 

Founded in 2016, GrowSari is a B2B platform that offers almost every kind of service that small- to medium-sized retailers, including neighborhood stores that carry daily necessities (called sari-saris), roadside and market shops and pharmacies, need.

For example, it has a wholesale marketplace with products from major fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands like Unilever, P&G and Nestle. It partners with over 200 providers, like telecoms, fintechs and subscription plans, so sari-saris can offer services like top-ups and bill payments to their customers. 

Sari-sari operators can also use GrowSari to launch e-commerce stores and access short-term working capital loans to buy inventory. The startup’s other financial products include digital wallets and cash-in services, and it is looking at adding remittance, insurance and loans in partnership with other providers. 

The new funding will be used to expand into the Visayas and Mindanao, the two other main geographical regions in the Philippines, with the goal of covering all 1.1 million “mom and pop” stores in the Philippines. 

Source: Tech

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