The Finalists for The Europas Awards for European tech startups is released

The The Europas Awards for European Tech Startups is coming, and today it releases its final shortlist after an intense round of public voting and judges’ delioberations. The awards will be held on 27 June 2019, in London, U.K. and TechCrunch is once more the exclusive media sponsor of the awards, alongside new “tech, culture & society” event creator The Pathfounder.

The awards cover 20 categories, including new additions such as cover AgTech / FoodTech, SpaceTech, GovTech and Mobility Tech. Attendees, nominees and winners will get discounts to TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin, later this year.

The Europas Awards results are based on voting by expert judges and the industry itself. But key to the event itself is that there are no “off-limits areas” at The Europas, so attendees can mingle easily with VIPs. Grab your tickets here before prices go up!

The awards this year will be in the setting of a garden lawn party, where you’ll be able to meet and mingle more easily, with free-flowing drinks and a wide-selection of street food (including vegetarian/vegan). If you’d like to talk about sponsoring or exhibiting, please contact [email protected]

Here are the finalists:

The Europas Awards — Hottest AgTech / FoodTech Startup
Agricool: grows and produces fruits and vegetables inside shipping containers
Allplants: Delicious, plant-based meals, delivered.
Breedr: a productivity and marketing platform transforming the livestock supply-chain
iFarm: Data-driven urban farming technology
Small Robot Company: Building small robots to transform farming
Ynsect: Designs, constructs and operates giant vertical farm of beetles (Molitors) to produce high grade proteins.

The Europas Awards — Hottest CleanTech Startup
Asperitas: a clean-tech company focused on greening the datacentre industry
Naefos: A fintech-IoT platform for enterprises to access off-grid households
Bulb: affordable renewable energy for homes and businesses
Orbital Systems: a Swedish clean-tech company that develops a water recycling technology to be used in domestic appliances
Solar Foods: Produces an entirely new kind of nutrient-rich protein using only air and electricity as the main resources
VoltStorage: Solar power storage for your home

The Europas Awards — Hottest CyberTech Startup
UK Barac: Using AI and behavioural analytics to detect malware hidden within encrypted traffic without the need for decryption
Cymulate: Breach and attack simulation
UK Immersive Labs: A fully interactive, on-demand, and gamified cyber skills platform
UK Panaseer: A continuous controls monitoring platform
Passbase: a digital identity platform to streamline the identity verification process and enable identity ownership and reuse across different services
PixelPin: a secure authentication system using pictures instead of passwords
uBirch: Securing IoT data using blockchain

The Europas Awards — Hottest EdTech Startup
Busuu: Online community for language learning
Get My Grades: online learning platform for English, Maths and Science
MyPocketSkill: Connecting teens to pocket money earning jobs
Perlego: Textbook subscription service
Pigzbe: Crypto-friendly, digital wallet for 6+
PitchMe: Skills-based talent marketplace
Robo Wunderkind: developing modular and programmable robots to teach children robotics and coding
Lirica: Learn languages with the power of music

The Europas Awards — Hottest FashTech Startup
Bump: making commerce social
Euveka: develops connected smart-mannequins, using custom software, to assist fashion, sports and medical professionals in the prototyping and sale of individual garments
Heuritech: anticipating brand and product desirability through the eyes of millions of fashion influencers and consumers
HUUB: a logistics and tech platform for Fashion brands
Little Black Door: intelligent inventory platform that captures the value of your wardrobe and opens it up to a premium managed marketplace
Metail: virtual fitting room service for fashion retailers that allows customers to create a 3D model of themselves and try on clothes
Finda: Professional model booking platform

The Europas Awards — Hottest FinTech Startup
Auquan: data science platform for financial services
Curve: a platform allowing consolidation of all bank cards into a single smart card and app
Cytora: Using AI to enable insurers to underwrite more efficiently
Divido: a retail finance platform that allows companies to offer instant customer finance
Holvi: digital banking for freelancers and entrepreneurs
Monese: an online banking platform that offers quick current account opening for all EU residents
Moonfare: a technology-enabled platform allowing individuals to invest in top-tier private equity funds
Nuggets: Login, pay and verify ID without ever sharing or storing your data with anyone
PremFina: White label software to manage insurance policies
Yobota: cloud-based platform allows financial services to design and deploy financial products

The Europas Awards — Hottest GovTech, CivTech, PubTech, RegTech
Adzuna: digital service that connects jobseekers with employers online and through job centres around the UK
Apolitical Apolitical is a global policy insights platform and network helping governments and companies advance their work and business
Clause Match: end-to-end solution for fully automating regulatory compliance
Luminance: document analysis software to secure big data systems
New Vector: decentralised, secure communication for governments, businesses and individuals
novoville – novoville is a Citizen Engagement Platform, that bridges the gap between local governments and their citizens
Safened: Digital KYC Solution
SafeTeam: NHS community lone worker app

The Europas Awards — Hottest HealthTech Startup
Ada Health: an AI-powered health platform
BIOS, creating the open standard hardware and software interface between the human nervous system and AI
eQuoo: evidence based mental health game for young adults
Lumeon: providing care pathway management solutions to the healthcare industry
Natural Cycles: a digital contraceptive app
Pregenerate: “cartilage-on-a- chip” to accelerate drug development for arthritis
Siilo: secure messenger app for medical teams
Straight Teeth Direct: Direct to consumer teledentistry platform that connects users to online dentists globally enabling low cost at home teeth straightening

The Europas Awards — Hottest MadTech (MarTech or AdTech) Startup
Codec: AI-powered audience intelligence for brands
MeasureMatch: find, book, pay & rate independent consultants or consultancies to accelerate marketing, commerce & customer experience capabilities
Ometria: a customer insight and marketing automation platform
PlanSnap: a social planning platform that gets friends together
StreetBees: Connecting brands with real people on the ground to gather real time insights
Uberall: location marketing cloud
Vidsy: helps brands create original mobile video ads at scale
Waive: an intelligent trend spotting platform

The Europas Awards — Hottest Mobility Travel Tech Startup
Culture Trip: inspiring people to explore the world’s culture and creativity
daytrip: platform connecting independent travelers with local drivers
Dott: scooter startup
minicabit: an online minicab and taxi price comparison and booking service
Snap Travel: on-demand coach service
Trafi: Mobility solutions for connected cities
Voi Scooters: owns, operates, and manages electric scooters for urban commuters
Wejo: unlocks the value in car data to help create smarter, safer, better and greener journeys for drivers globally

The Europas Awards — Hottest PropTech Startup
Casavo: market maker within the residential real estate market
Good Monday: a digital office management system
Habito: digital mortgage broker
Home Made: property tech rental agent
Hubble: online marketplace for office space
Mews Systems: property management software for hospitality operations
NPlan: machine learning – based risk analysis for construction projects
Planner 5D: 3D home design tool using AI, VR & AR to create floorplans and interior design
Reposit: tenancy deposit alternative
Urban Jungle: A fully digital insurer, for a new generation of customers

The Europas Awards — Hottest Retail / ECommerce Tech Startup
Festicket: marketplace to discover and book music festival tickets, accommodation, transfers and extras
Keep Warranty: app that saves the warranties and purchase slips of your appliances
NearSt: building the world’s source of real-time local inventory
Picnic: online supermarket, that delivers groceries for the lowest price to people’s home
Pimcore: digital experience platform to manage product information
Spryker Systems: a commerce technology company
store2be: Online marketplace for short-term retail and promotion space
Trouva: curated marketplace for bricks and mortar independent shops

The Europas Awards — Hottest B2B / SaaS Startup
Chattermill: Using deep learning to help organizations make sense of their customer experience
Dixa: conversational customer engagement software that connects brands with customers through real-time communication
Infobip: Full-stack Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS)
Meero: On demand photography service combined with image processing artificial intelligence
Paddle: platform for all software companies to run and grow their business
Peakon: a platform for measuring and improving employee engagement
ProoV: a PoC platform that enables businesses to test new technologies
SeedLegals: platform for all the legals startups need to grow and get funded
TravelPerk: business travel booking & management platform for companies
Unbabel: a ‘translation-as-a-service’ platform, powered by AI and a worldwide community of translators

The Europas Awards — Hottest SpaceTech Startup
Aerial & Maritime: A Danish nanosatellite-based solution for monitoring aircrafts and maritime vessels
Aerospacelab: Develops a constellation of micro-satellites for earth observation and imagery
aXenic: Design, development and production of optical modulators for communications and sensing
Global Surface Intelligence: Environmental data service
Hawa Dawa: Combines proprietary IoT smart sensor data with other sources of data (including satellite data) to give highly accurate data on air quality
Monolith: Machine Learning Platform that helps engineers to predict the outcome of unknown, new tests or simulations by reusing historical data
Open Cosmos: Simple and affordable space missions
Trik: Enterprise drone 3D mapping software for structural inspection
Unseenlabs – Unseenlabs designs and develops a spectrum surveillance payload
Xonaspace: Uses an XPS and LEO satellite constellation for extremely precise GPS systems

The Europas Awards — Hottest Tech for Good Startup
Beam: help a homeless person for the long-term by funding their employment training
eWaterpay: Using mobile technology for the accountable collection of user fees to pay for the maintenance of water supply systems forever
Idka: a platform for private groups and organizations, where they can connect, communicate, share and store anything – while their privacy remains intact
OmoLab: develops tools that make easier for people with dyslexia to read
SafetoNet: an app that protects children online by using AI to detect harmful content, whilst respecting children’s privacy
Tick. Done.: a micro-video platform for instant knowledge sharing
Winnow: digital tools to help chefs run more profitable, sustainable kitchen

The Europas Awards — Hottest Blockchain Project
Aeternity: a scalable blockchain platform that enables high-speed transacting, purely-functional smart contracts
Argent: a smart wallet for cryptocurrencies and blockchain applications
AZTEC Protocol: building privacy technology for public blockchain infrastructures
Colendi: decentralized credit scoring protocol and microcredit platform with blockchain and machine learning technologies
Edge ESports: blockchain-based platform for professional gamers
FilmChain: blockchain enabled platform that collects data, verifies revenues and executes stakeholder payment splits for film, TV etc
Orbs: a blockchain Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) for large scale consumer applications
Veratrak: a shared workspace for collaborating with your supply chain partners

The Europas Awards — Hottest Blockchain Investor
BlueYard Capital
Catagonia Capital
Earlybird Venture Capital
Fabric Ventures: A venture capital firm that invests in scalable decentralized networks
FinLab
KR1: crypto token Investment company supporting early stage decentralised and open source blockchain projects
Mosaic Ventures
Outlier Ventures: invests and partners with tokenised communities that will create the new decentralised economy

The Europas Awards — Hottest A/A+ Investors
Accel
Anthemis Group
Atomico
Balderton Capital
DN Capital
EQT Ventures
Index Ventures
Northzone
Project A Ventures
Ventech Capital

The Europas Awards — Hottest Early Stage / Accelerator Investors
Founders Factory
Seedcamp
Forward Partners
Generation S
Entrepreneur First
Techstars London
The Family
7percent Ventures
Backed VC
Firstminute Capital
LocalGlobe
Episode 1 Ventures

Robust.AI launches to build an industrial-grade cognitive platform for robots

Despite the seemingly fantastical demonstration of walking and jumping robots, today’s robots are often stupid, brittle and inflexible, only capable of working in carefully-engineered environments, and unable to respond dynamically and sensibly in unexpected circumstances.

Deep learning has been spectacularly successful in certain problems (facial recognition, object recognition, etc) but the “smart robots” that we have promised still haven’t arrived. The promised robotic future is still a long way off.

New Silicon Valley robotics startup Robust.AI aims, firstly, to build the world’s first industrial-grade cognitive platform for robots. Secondly, it will aim to help companies in a wide range of areas, from construction to eldercare and domestic robots, towards the goal of making robots that are smarter, safer, more robust, more context-aware, and more collaborative.

Initially located in Palo Alto, California, Robust.AI has secured a “substantial” undisclosed seed round from Playground Global, among other undisclosed investors.

The market for intelligent robots is worth potentially several hundred billion dollars a year, once robots can enter new markets (e.g., construction, eldercare, to-the-door delivery) that historically have been too challenging for traditional robotics.

Robust.AI plans to make money by licensing its cognitive platform, and by helping companies solve robotics problems that would otherwise be out of reach of current technology.

To create this vision, the company has two stellar founders: Rodney Brooks, co-founder of iRobot and Rethink Robotics, co-inventor of Roomba, the best-selling consumer robot of all time, and former chair of the MIT AI lab (CSAIL); and Gary Marcus (CEO co-founder of Geometric Intelligence, acquired by Uber, bestselling author and cognitive scientist at NYU). Brooks will be CTO, Marcus will be the CEO.

Coming from different perspectives, Marcus (cognitive science) and Brooks (robotics) have been writing for the last several years about the perils of deep learning, and why it had been overhyped; they also independently reached similar conclusions about the need for developing machine-interpretable common sense as a prerequisite for reaching the next level of AI.

When Marcus decided to take the plunge into robotics, he says he realized immediately that Brooks, a legend in robotics, would be the perfect collaborator, and Marcus spent months recruiting him. The two say they are excited by the mission and the commercial potential.

“We are building an industrial-strength cognitive platform — the first of its kind — to enable robots to be smart, collaborative, robust, safe and genuinely autonomous, with applications in a very broad range of verticals from construction and delivery to warehouses and domestic robots,” Marcus told me.

“We will be synthesizing a wide range of advances in AI, including both deep learning and classical approaches, with a focus on building machines with a toolbox for common sense,” he continued.

As for competitors, Marcus seems to think there aren’t many: “We don’t know anyone else trying to do this. Most often what happens nowadays is that when one wants to build a robot, one hacks together a mixture of ROS [Robot Operating System] and TensorFlow or PyTorch, tailored to a very specific problem. We don’t know of anyone building the kind of general-purpose cognitive tools we have in mind. There is no extant tool that can deliver the kind of complex, flexible cognition that we are focusing on.”

PropTech startup Kodit.io raises $13M to automate house buying and selling

As anyone who has ever tried to buy or sell a home knows, the entire process can be the most stressful of one’s life. Traditional real estate agents rarely make the process any less stressful, leaving the industry ripe for disruption by tech companies which can automate many of the existing processes.

Startups like Offerpad in the US have done just this by becoming an on-demand, tech-enabled direct home buyer and seller, and raising as much as $155M in VC to achieve this. The market in Europe is less well developed, which is why it’s clearly interesting that Kodit.io, a Finnish Proptech company that gives homeowners a “stress-free way to quickly sell their homes for a fair price”, has announced the close of a €12M ($13.4M) venture round to fund expansion in Europe.

Investors include New York-based FJ Labs, Austrian Speedinvest and Spanish All Iron Ventures, as well as Norwegian Adevinta (formerly Schibsted Marketplaces) that owns leading marketplaces in 16 different countries. Kodit.io previously raised €2M in seed capital and is planning to use its new funding to strengthen its expansion to new markets.

Kodit.io is a so-called iBuyer that offers home sellers ‘fair cash offers’ for their properties within 24 hours based on market assessments using machine learning. After purchase, Kodit.io renovates the properties to offer home buyers move-in ready and risk-free homes to buy, they say.

The idea is to disrupt the outdated and time consuming process of selling residential real estate on the retail side, while bringing more transparency and liquidity to housing markets on the B2B side.

Kodit.io launched in Madrid two years ago, and is also operating in Tallinn and six cities in Finland. Later this year, the startup expects to expand to Paris, Barcelona and Warsaw.

Hugo Mardomingo, Principal of All Iron Ventures, commented: “The real estate market is undergoing a strong transformation. Kodit.io brings a transparent and disruptive model to the table to eliminate the friction experienced by home buyers and sellers.”

MMC Ventures launches fresh £52M seed fund aimed at London startups

Synthesia is a London-based startup which recently achieved notoriety after powering the technology behind the recent global campaign showing Malaria survivors speaking through David Beckham to help raise awareness around the Malaria Must Die initiative.

That is, at least now, well known. What was less well known until today was that to achieve this, Synthesia was backed by the (also) London-based VC MMC Ventures, via its new fund, announced today by the Mayor of London. The new £100m Greater London Investment Fund — of which MMC Ventures has been appointed to manage £52m ($65.6M) — is aimed at enabling investment into high-potential tech companies in London.

As well as investing in 170 companies, the fund will seek to secure at least another £103 million in private sector investment, with the aim of creating 3,500 new jobs in the capital.

The bulk of the money for the new fund comes from European Union sources, which the Government is yet to give any assurances about replacing post-Brexit: £35 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programme, overseen by City Hall and the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP); and £50 million is from the European Investment Bank (EIB). But the ERDF cash has long since been banked by the city, prior to the UK’s moves towards Brexit, and the fund has already started drawing down funds from the EIB.

MMC will invest from the GLF at Seed and Series A, creating a portfolio in which MMC can deploy capital, utilising MMC Ventures’ other funds, over multiple rounds as they scale.

The new fund has to be seen partly thought the optics of Brexit. Not only is Mayor Sadiq Khan a staunch opponent of Brexit, and a potential Prime Ministerial candidate, but the new fund will boost his image as a business-friendly politician in an era where most politicians seem to have replaced their business credentials with ‘Brexit credentials’. Furthermore — and somewhat ironically — London is finally having to shout about itself, having rested on the laurels of being the EU’s financial heart for 40+ years.

The new fund will primarily back companies already based in London, but will also seek investments in businesses either relocating to London or opening or expanding an office in London, providing local support to the business and any co-investors. Clearly this may be tempting to some European startups which were previously put off by the UK’s strange Brexit optics.

What’s to be welcomed is that it will also target investments in businesses founded or run by individuals from under-represented groups – including female entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs of minority ethnic groups, and those with disabilities, in partnership with the Mayor’s team.

Plus, it will invest in sectors that align with the Mayor’s Economic Development Strategy including; Advanced Urban Services, Cultural and Creative Industries, Financial and Business and the Circular Economy.

Simon Menashy, partner, MMC Ventures said: “MMC has been investing in London’s start-ups and scale-ups for the past twenty years, supporting some of Europe’s most successful growth stories. Over that time, we’ve proven that you can generate growth and financial value while creating well-paying jobs and supporting sustainable business – something close to our hearts.”

MMC has already made its first investments through the fund – backing the afore-mentioned AI video synthesis platform, Synthesia, as part of a $3.1 million funding round, and yulife – the life insurance business – in a $12.6m Series A.

MMC has also created a pre-seed programme – the MMC Greater London Lab – that will write cheques alongside angels, seed funds, incubators and programmes of different types.

MMC has a bit of a track-record in this respect, The MMC London Fund, launched in 2013, managed in partnership with City Hall, that is now entering its 8th year. That leveraged £14m of initial investment to raise more than £120m of co-investment from private partners, and invested in startups like Gousto, Appear Here, Love Home Swap, and Masabi.

Move over Ready Player One — the future of AR might be in furniture

Last week Modsy, a San Francisco-based startup raised a large amount of funding – $37 million in C-round funding to be precise. And that followed a $23 million series B round in December 2017.

Why the large amounts I hear you ask? Well, Modsy is developing a platform that lets property owners create virtual renderings of rooms and restyle them in real time. So that means 3D automation, plus virtually positioning furniture items, combined with a marketplace where you can buy the items. Modsy’s tech replicates rooms in 360 degrees, with furniture from dozens of well-known brands. It’s a powerful combination.

The move shows that AR/VR technologies are now finding their place, not in a ‘Ready Player One’ style future but in the more mundane, but lucrative area of interior design.

But there’s another company out there that claims to have reached 40 million users with far more modest funding.

Planner 5D is a design tool that lets you create floor plans and interior designs using VR and AR. But its approach is different.

It first learns about how the house is used and then automatically creates a design. The startup claims its users have already designed more than 80 million projects without requiring any special design or software skills.

The software allows users to add rooms and floors in 3D, choose furniture and other objects from a catalog of over 4,500 items, and customize the materials, colors, and dimensions of the interior items and rooms. The AR aspect is used for capturing the dimensions of real rooms, while switching to VR lets you walk through the interiors virtually.

But homes are just the start. Founded in 2011 by Alexey Sheremetyev and Sergey Nosyrev in Lithuania, with backing from investor Igor Matsanyuk and Farminers Academy, Planner 5D plans to apply its AI features to home planning, robotics, scene-understanding, and more.

In the meantime, it’s easy to see why apps like this are taking off. The average interior design costs for a US homeowner are between $2000 and $8300, so using these apps can be a huge cost saving.

While Modsy and Planner 5D battle it out in this space, they are not the only apps available.

Users have a bewildering range to try. Pottery Barn’s 3D Room View app lets you put new furniture items in your home, while companies like Wayfair, IKEA and Houzz also have augmented reality solutions to allow customers to try out furniture in situ.

But while retailers try to lift sales with these apps, the likelihood is that the average consumer will not want several branded apps on their phone, when one app can do most of the heavy lifting and give direct access to furniture brands or retailers.

Then there is also the different approaches taken by these apps. Typically, retailer apps will just place an item of furniture in a room. Modsy will render an entire room, but take a couple of days to do it, though it’s latest funding will help speed that up. Planner 3D doesn’t render the room, but builds a scene based on dimensions, in a faster process.

Whatever methodology a tech company uses, all of these apps are sure to benefit. A survey Modsy took of its customers found that 80% plan to buy based on the rendered design.

When apps are connected with marketplaces, as Planner 3D and Modsy are, this means potentially huge revenues for these startups, and of course, the large rounds of venture funding we’ve seen to date.

Out of stealth, Stratio emerges with predictive AI to stop your bus breaking down

Remember that future we were promised where our vehicle magically tells us that we’re about to break down? Or actually never does? Or that the pick-up truck arrives before the driver even knows something wrong? That future is arriving. But like many things, the practical reality is that this technology starts to arrive in the fleet management industry before it arrives for consumers.

The market for maintenance of fleets of buses and trucks is worth $200B in annual expenditure, so as you can imagine, it’s a juicy sector to get into. Down in Portugal, a tea of entrepreneurs and scientists assembled to look into this and came up with a fascinating startup that is now attracting the attention of investors.

Today, Stratio is emerging from stealth to help OEMs, Distributors and Fleets benefit from AI-driven predictive intelligence.

The idea is to apply machine learning models that retrieve and analyze millions of data points per vehicle per day to vehicles both in development and on the road. It turns out that if you compare the real vs. the expected behaviour of the actual vehicle components themselves, you can improve automated testing and predictive intelligence that can assess the vehicle’s condition. Then you can detect early anomalies and failure. This is exactly what Stratio does.

It does this by putting a sensor box-of-tricks under a vehicle, like a bus. This box connects with existing sensors in the vehicle using the existing API – something crucial for OEMs. Using proprietary machine learning it can predict when something will break, days ahead of time. Most existing boxes like this only track location, not analytics.

Stratio also works with OEMs during the vehicle testing phase to identify issues and their root cause to get more reliable vehicles to market faster, lower the potential for warranty claim fraud costs and expand the aftersales revenues. It’s a triple whammy in cost savings.

Stratio has now attracted a $3.5m VC round from London-based Crane VC, with participation from fellow London VC, Localglobe.

The round is one of the largest ever seed deals in Portugal and potentially the largest enterprise/deep tech first investment in the country.

It has a proprietary AI engine, Stratio CortexTM, and technology support from the European Space Agency. Ultimately the aim is to apply machine learning models and enable the so-called “zero downtime” future.

Rui Sales and Ricardo Margalho, co-founders of Stratio say the idea for Stratio came to them when their bus broke down and they missed what could have been a career-changing meeting in New York: “Knowing that today’s existing vehicles produce a massive amount of data, we set out to build a machine learning product suite that analyses high-density vehicle data in real time to predict and prevent vehicles from breaking down.”

Stratio launched in 2017, after receiving technological support from the European Space Agency and earning recognition from the EU Commission.

Alongside the co-founders is Rune Prytz, a former Volvo Trucks Research Engineer in machine learning and big data, who now leads all of Stratio’s efforts in AI. Stratio now counts MAN, DAF Trucks and VECTIA as customers, among others.

Krishna Visvanathan, Partner at Crane Venture Partners, commented “Stratio Automotive is one of the most exciting companies in our portfolio of data-driven enterprise software businesses. It has the trifecta of a super product, a deep data moat coupled with AI expertise and great customer traction.”

So far, Stratio has attracted customers and operations in over 10 key markets
across Europe, the UK, US, India and Singapore.

Seedlegals closes $4M Series A, led by Index Ventures, to automate startup fundraisings

When SeedLegals launched in 2017 in the UK, I’d say many of us thought “why has that not been done before?”. After all, two things have happened which make this an obvious idea for a startup: startup funding rounds are now so common that there is no reason large amounts of automation could be done. If you can buy a divorce online, surely you can organise funding rounds?

The second trend is the sheer level of automation happening in legal software today. After all, we now have “Uber for Lawyers” (Lexoo, Linkilaw, Lawbite) and AI-driven legaltech (KIRA, Luminance, ThoughtRiver). (Eventually, we will have blockchain smart contracts do ALL the work, but that’s for another time…).

So it’s not unsurprising that today SeedLegals announces it has closed a $4 million Series A led by venture capital firm Index Ventures (London/SF/etc) with participation from Kima Ventures (Paris/TelAviv), The Family (Paris) and existing investor Seedcamp (London).

SeedLegals says it now has 7,000 startups — capturing, it claims, 8% of all early-stage UK funding rounds — using its platform to manage the entire fundraising process and all related legal documents. The platform helps companies build and negotiate terms sheets, shareholder agreements, cap tables, stock option allocations, EIS approvals, hiring agreements, NDAs and more.

It also have two new products: SeedFAST and Instant Investment, which enable startups to quickly top up investment between funding rounds.

If UK companies created over 27,000 contracts on SeedLegals last year, the start-up reckons that saved them an estimated £4.5M in legal costs. Normally, lawyers create custom documents for each transaction. That means 18 weeks, on average, to complete a funding round, with legal fees starting at £3,000 for a simple seed round to £20,000 and up for each side for later-stage rounds.

The platform replaces spreadsheets and Word docs with a database-driven platform. You enter data once and the system uses pre-built knowledge, deal data and document automation to dynamically build all the outputs.

Anthony Rose, co-founder and CEO at SeedLegals, says they have removed the “complexity, unnecessary middlemen, standardized and automated the processes, and that has really resonated with both founders and investors.”

Hannah Seal from Index Ventures who joins the board with this round commented: “SeedLegals
is making the complex process of fundraising straightforward for everyone involved.

“We closed this round on SeedLegals and have been impressed with the speed and ease of use. For startups who spend thousands on legal fees on agreements that vary little from company to company, this is an absolute no-brainer.

SeedLegals was created by serial entrepreneur Anthony Rose, known in the tech industry for his work launching BBC iPlayer, and VC and angel investor Laurent Laffy, whose own portfolio includes consumer brands such as Graze and Secret Escapes .

HolodeckVR raises €3M from Germany’s ProSiebenSat1 to put VR onto dodgems

Consumer VR might not have taken off in the mainstream but it’s still fun to use, and it’s even more fun to use in groups. There is more of an arcade renaissance for VR going on right now, as well as location-based multi-user VR experiences.

That’s the premise behind Munich-based HolodeckVR which is using proprietary tech to blend radio frequency, IR tracking and on-device IMUs to bring multi-user positionally tracked VR to mobile headsets.

How would you like to do VR in a big group, and on fairground dodgems/bumper cars? That’s the kind of this startup is cooking up.

As a spin-off from the prestigious Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Ciruits IIS, it uses its own technology which allows its visitors to experience virtual reality in groups of up to 20 people and move around in an empty space of 10x20m, all just wearing VR goggles.

Holodeck says it can be used for different types of events (entertainment, birthday parties and corporate team building) and work through several thousands of guests per day.

It’s now raised €3 million from strategic partner ProSiebenSat.1, the leading German entertainment player. This will allow Holodeck to expand its open content platform and extend its network of locations.

The Munich-based media company owns a potential distribution channel for scaling Holodeck VR locations at leisure- and activity parks, while other synergies related to ProSiebenSat.1, including live broadcasting and VR content generation.

With 7Sports, the sports business units of ProSiebenSat.1, Holodeck VR plans eSports events leveraging the Holodeck VR platform.

Jonathan Nowak Delgado says: “With this investment, we’ll aim to become the VR touchpoint for the next generation by offering exciting new experiences that are simple, social, and fun.”

Holodeck VR’s experiences combine the real world and digital world so that you can take a ride in bumper cars or on a rollercoaster.

I hope they will have plenty of sick bags at the ready.

Seraphim Space Camp launches its latest mission, with 7 SpaceTech startups

U.K. space accelerator Seraphim Space Camp appeared last year as the first ever UK SpaceTech accelerator and being, frankly, the only accelerator of its type, it has quickly shored-up a number of partnership links and hoovered up many of the startups in the… space.

As is traditional with accelerators, it’s unveiled its latest cohort of startups.

The “Mission 3” accelerator programme, consists of seven new startups and will be a nine-week programme, culminating in an Investor Day. The first two cohorts (16 companies) have, says Seraphim, now collectively raised or had offers of around £20m in private investment and grants over the last nine months and have created 58 job opportunities since completing the programme.

The initiative has a number of high profile partners such as MoD’s Defence Science and Technology Lab (Dstl), unmanned aircraft systems company AeroVironment, ground station services provider Kongsberg Satellite Services and leading satellite provided Eutelsat. They join returning partnersAirbus, Rolls-Royce, Dentons, Cyient, Inmarsat, the European Space Agency and SA Catapult.

Here’s a run-down of the companies in their own words:

aXenic is a global leader in the design, development and production of optical modulators for communications and sensing. It has developed a revolutionary optical modulator which is a vital component to transfer high quantities of data through satellite links. Its strongly patented solution is a fraction of the weight and size of existing solutions whilst still providing greater bandwidth.

ConstelIR (Fellowship) is a spin-out from Fraunhofer University. It is the first company to map precise on-earth temperatures from a constellation of satellites it plans to launch. This orbital temperature monitoring system will be 3% of the cost of existing solutions without losing measurement accuracy.

Hawa Dawa combines its proprietary IoT smart sensor data with other sources of data (including satellite data) to give highly accurate data on air quality. Within two years’ traction with Siemens, IBM, SwissCom, Swiss Pos as well as 8 cities in Germany demonstrates that the company’s end-to-end solution is really needed by the market.

Methera Global plans to launch a constellation flexible and dynamic satellites, focusing all of its bandwidth to a small area of target regions from multiple satellites. Providing an increase in capacity which is 10 times greater than planned systems, initial customers are the likes of emergency response services helping communities who don’t currently have access to the internet – 4B of the world’s population.

Trik is an enterprise drone 3D mapping software for structural inspection with a unique platform. Its platform transforms the data into a customisable 3D model which can be updated on a regular basis.

Xonaspace (Fellowship) uses an XPS and LEO satellite constellation for extremely precise GPS systems, with early end applications including autonomous vehicles

Veoware’s vision is to industrialise the space sector so that hardware, software and data become easily accessible and rapidly available for the benefit of humankind. This is made possible due to its team of world renowned experts with 100+ years of experience

Pitch your startup at TechCrunch Berlin Office Hours, with Mike Butcher

Berlin!

TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin will be in December. Disrupt Berlin is where you’ll find the renowned Startup Battlefield competition, hundreds of startups in Startup Alley, Workshops and legendary networking at our After Parties…

As part of our tour to promote Disrupt, you can come and pitch your tech startup to TechCrunch Editor-at-large Mike Butcher, in this “office hours” style event for Founders.

Sign up here for the meetup this Wednesday evening.

See you there!