The FrankOne is a simple and portable coffee brewing gadget

The FrankOne coffee maker, fresh off a successful crowdfunding campaign, is now available for purchase, and I got a chance to test out one of the first run of these funky little gadgets. While it won’t replace my normal pourover or a larger coffee machine, it’s a clever, quick and portable way to make a cup.

Designer Eduardo Umaña pitched me the device a little more than a year ago, and I was taken by the possibility of vacuum brewing — and the fact that, amazingly, until now no one from Colombia had made a coffee maker (it’s named after Frank de Paula Santander, who kicked off the coffee trade there). But would the thing actually work?

In a word, yes. I’ve tested the FrankOne a few times in my home, and, while I have a couple reservations, it’s a coffee making device that I can see myself actually using in a number of circumstances.

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The device works quite simply. Ground coffee goes in the top, and then you pour in the hot (not boiling!) water and stir it a bit — 30-50 seconds later, depending on how you like it, you hit the button and a pump draws the liquid down through a mesh filter and into the carafe below. It’s quick and almost impossible to mess up.

The resulting coffee is good — a little bit light, I’d say, but you can adjust the body with the size of the grounds and the steeping time. I tend to find a small amount of sediment at the bottom, but less than you’d get in a cup of French press.

Because it’s battery powered (it should last for ~200 cups and is easily recharged) and totally waterproof, cleaning it is a snap, especially if you have a garbage disposal. Just dump it and rinse it, give it a quick wipe and it’s good to go. It gets a bit more fussy if you don’t have a disposal, but what doesn’t?

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I can see this being a nice way to quickly and simply make coffee while camping — I usually do a French press, but sometimes drip, and both have their qualities and limitations. The FrankOne would be for making a single cup when I don’t want to have to stand by the pourover cone or deal with disassembling the French press for cleaning.

It’s also, I am told by Umaña, great for cold brew. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I don’t really like cold brew, but I know many do, and Umaña promises the FrankOne works wonders in a very short time — four minutes rather than an hour. I haven’t tested that, because cold brew tastes like bitter chocolate milk to me, but I sincerely doubt he would mention it as many times as he did if it didn’t do what he said.

There are, I feel, three downsides. First, you’re pretty much stuck with using the included glass carafe, because the device has to create a seal around the edge with its silicone ring. It didn’t fit in my biggest mug, but you might find an alternative should the carafe (which I have no complaints about — it’s attractive and sturdy) crack or get lost.

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Second, it doesn’t produce a lot of coffee. The top line as indicated in the reservoir is probably about 10-12 ounces — about the size of a “tall” at a coffee shop. Usually that’s a perfect amount for me, but it definitely means this is a single-serving device, not for making a pot to share.

And third, for the amount of coffee it produces, I feel like it uses a lot of grounds. Not a crazy amount, but maybe 1.5-2x what goes into my little Kalita dripper — which is admittedly pretty economical. But it’s just something to be aware of. Maybe I’m using too much, though.

I reviewed the Geesaa a little while back, and while it’s a cool device, it was really complex and takes up a lot of space. If I wanted to give it to a friend I’d have to make them download the app, teach them about what I’d learned worked best, share my “recipes” and so on. There was basically a whole social network attached to that thing.

This is much, much easier to use — and compact, to boot. It’s a good alternative to classic methods that doesn’t try to be more than a coffee maker. At $120 it’s a bit expensive, but hey, maybe you spend that on coffee in a month.

And by the way, you can use the discount code “TC” at checkout to get 10% off — this isn’t a paid post or anything, Umaña’s just a nice guy!

DoorDash opens a shared kitchen in Redwood City

DoorDash is opening its first shared commissary kitchen in Redwood City, Calif., bringing new delivery and pickup options to customers in Peninsula towns including Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto.

This is part of a broader trend of companies like Deliveroo opening shared kitchens that allow restaurant partners to expand their delivery footprint without dealing with all the expenses of opening a new location.

DoorDash says this first kitchen will be used by restaurants including Nation’s Giant Hamburgers, Rooster & Rice, Humphry Slocombe and the Halal Guys.

The company also says it designs the kitchen spaces in collaboration with its partners, and it argues that by putting all these restaurants together in one location, it can offer unique menu items and pairings — at launch, if you order from Rooster & Rice, you can add Humphry Slocombe ice cream pints to your order.

“Given our founders’ Bay Area roots, we are always interested in how technology can change the way food is delivered and shared,” said Rooster & Rice CFO Min Park in a statement. “We were impressed by the overall partnership and scale DoorDash could reach with this concept, and we found the notion of a delivery-only kitchen in Redwood City very appealing as it helps us test out demand in new markets, reaching new customers and areas quickly.”

As part of the launch, the company says it will offer 0% delivery fees to its DoorDash Kitchens partners through the end of the year.

India’s Vahdam Teas raises $11M to grow its tea-commerce business in the US and Europe

Vahdam Teas, an India-based e-commerce startup that sells fresh tea in international markets, has closed a new financing round as it looks to expand its presence in the U.S. and Europe.

The three-year old startup said it has raised $11 million in its Series C financing round. The round, which according to a person familiar with the matter valued the startup at about $40 million, was led by Sixth Sense Ventures. Existing investor Fireside Ventures, which has put money in a number of consumer-facing brands, also participated in the round.

Mankind Group Family office, Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalkrishnan, SAR Group Family office, Zomato co-founder Pankaj Chaddah, and Urmin Group family office also participated in the new financing round. The startup, headquartered in New Delhi and New York, has raised about $16 million to date.

The startup was founded by 28-year-old Bala Sarda, who comes from a tea industry family. Vahdam Teas operates an eponymous e-commerce platform and also works with giants such as Amazon, to sell tea directly to consumers in the U.S., Europe, and other international markets.

Vahdam Teas cuts the middlemen suppliers to reduce the time it takes to ship tea to consumers. “If you look at the supply chain for exporting from India, it’s completely broken. The goods go through distributors, then sold to exporters. Somewhere in the middle, brokers show up, too. Then an importer imports the tea. It all takes months to get a supply cycle to reach consumers. Unlike wine or whiskey, tea is best when it is fresh. Its ingredients lose flavor with time,” he explained.

To address this, Vahdam Teas has built a supply chain network to source tea directly from hundreds of gardens in India. It stores all the goods in its warehouses in New Delhi and then exports directly to its entities in different markets. The faster delivery of tea and better control of the supply chain is one of the key differentiating factors for Vahdam Teas.

Today about 99% of its sales comes from outside of India, said Sarda, who noted that with the new capital the startup would explore expanding its business in India, too.

But much of the fresh capital would be invested in bulking up its supply chain network and set up additional offices in the U.S. and Europe, he said in an interview with TechCrunch earlier this week. The startup also plans to launch new products and enter new markets in South Asia and UAE.

Vahdam Teas also wants to have presence in the offline (brick and mortar) market, and bring its tea to 500-700 stores in the U.S. in the coming months. “We have aspirations to become an omni-channel brand,” he said.

India controls about 25% of tea production worldwide. But Indian brands almost have a “negligible presence” on the world map, said Nikhil Vora, founder and chief executive of Sixth Sense Ventures. “Vahdam is an interesting example of how a traditional business like tea can get disrupted. We’re impressed with the way Bala has sought to target the global markets first and create a brand salience and market innovative ethnic Indian tea flavours,” he added.

Tea is one of the biggest industries for laborers in India. Sarda said the startup donates 1% of its revenue to help these workers educate their children.

Why we’re still waiting on the Postmates S-1

In a wide-ranging conversation at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco last week, Postmates co-founder and chief executive officer Bastian Lehmann made light of the company’s lack of IPO documents.

The San Francisco-based on-demand delivery business was expected to publicly file its IPO prospectus in September in preparation for a fall exit, sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch this summer. September, however, has come and gone and we’re still waiting on Postmates to release the critical document.

“The reality is that we will IPO when we believe we find the right time for the business and the right time for the markets,” Lehmann told TechCrunch. “And if you look at the markets right now, I believe they are a little choppy. They are a little choppy when it comes to growth companies specifically … We are hopeful that we find a good window to get out there.”

Lehmann made reference to Uber and other companies to recently float, citing market conditions as an IPO deterrent. Uber, Lyft, Slack and other fast-growing unicorns have struggled since entering the public markets earlier this year despite sky-high private market valuations. WeWork, a money-losing endeavor, recently decided to delay its IPO after demand from Wall Street devalued the business by the billions. Whether Postmates will complete its debut by the end of the year is unclear.

Postmates confidentially filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for an IPO in February. Shortly after, Postmates held M&A talks with DoorDash, another food delivery unicorn, according to people familiar with the matter, but failed to come to mutually favorable terms. DoorDash has previously declined to comment on these reports. On stage last week, Lehmann declined to confirm the reports.

“I don’t think it does any good to speculate on M&A,” he said. “I think you have four well-funded players here in the U.S. in this space. I think everyone is well aware of the strengths and the weaknesses of each other and you know at some point down the line, if we take Europe for example, you will see consolidation in the market. People have conversations all the time but I wouldn’t read too much into it.”

Postmates operates its on-demand delivery platform, powered by a network of local gig economy workers, in more than 3,500 cities across all 50 states. The company does not yet operate in any international markets aside from Mexico City, however, Lehmann’s comments suggest the business could be plotting a foray into Europe, where Deliveroo, Just Eat and others dominate the market.

Postmates has raised about $900 million to date, including a $225 million round announced last month that valued the company at $2.4 billion. DoorDash, on the other hand, reached a $12.6 billion valuation in May with a $600 million Series G and has raised more than double that of Postmates. When asked why DoorDash, a similar and competing business, needed that much more capital, Lehmann joked “Maybe [DoorDash CEO Tony Xu] needs a jet, I don’t know.”

Postmates, founded in 2011 by Lehmann, is backed by Spark Capital, Founders Fund, Uncork Capital, Slow Ventures, Tiger Global, Blackrock and others. In our interview with Lehmann, the long-time CEO discussed the ‘choppy’ public markets, competitors, the company’s autonomous robotics delivery efforts and more.

Google-backed Dunzo raises $45M to expand its hyperlocal delivery startup in India

An Indian startup that is increasingly posing a threat to established food and grocery delivery businesses and e-commerce giants just closed a new financing round to expand its business in the nation.

Bangalore-based Dunzo said today it has raised $45 million from Google, Lightbox, STIC Ventures, and 3L Capital. The new financing round — dubbed Series D — valued the four-year-old startup at about $200 million, three people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. The startup has raised $81 million to date.

Dunzo operates an eponymous hyper-local delivery service. Users get access to a wide-range of items from grocery, perishables, pet supplies, medicines to dinner from their neighborhood stores and restaurants.

But that’s not all. You can have Dunzo pick up and deliver anything in a city. Forgot your laptop charger at home? Dunzo can take care of it. Part of the service’s charm is that its delivery is fast (most of its deliveries take under 25 minutes) and as long as the store is not very far away, it’s not going to cost you more than a $1.

Dunzo is currently operational in eight Indian cities: Bangalore, Delhi, Noida, Pune, Gurgaon, Powai, Hyderabad, and Chennai. The startup said it will use the fresh capital to expand its technology infrastructure and develop partnerships with small and medium businesses.

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Dunzo founders told TechCrunch that food category already accounts for a quarter of all deliveries the service processes. As the service scales, it is increasingly becoming a competitor to food delivery startups such as BigBasket, Swiggy, and Zomato.

In recent months, Dunzo has also started to test delivery of smartphones and other products. The startup recently quietly began to deliver Xiaomi smartphones to users in select parts of India. Unlike Amazon or Flipkart, that take a day or two to deliver an item, Dunzo was getting the new phones to users in 30 minutes. Dunzo has tested a similar partnership with Puma, executives told TechCrunch.

In an interesting turn of events, last month Swiggy announced Go, a service that allows users in select cities in India to deliver any kind of product — not just food, thereby entering Dunzo’s territory.

More to follow shortly…

Meal replacement company Soylent adds mint chocolate flavor

The meal replacement company Soylent Nutrition, Inc. has added a mint chocolate flavor to its line of drinks and snacks.

“Our new Mint Chocolate Drink requested by our fans was engineered by Soylent’s hard-working team, with the complex tastes of humanity in mind,” said Andrew Thomas, Soylent’s VP of Brand Marketing, in a statement.

In concert with its new flavor launch, the company is also releasing an assessment of the environmental footprint of its products.

Without releasing the full life cycle analysis report, Soylent revealed that its packaging and logistics operations were the biggest contributor to its carbon emissions. The company also said that its decision to use soy protein rather than rice or another vegetable or grain for its main ingredient actually resulted in a lower environmental footprint for the company.

“It’s a crucial time in our existence, with an ever-increasing population and a need for more bioavailable, sustainable sources of nutrition,” said Julie Daoust, PhD, VP Product Development & Innovation, in a self-congratulatory statement. “Many companies talk about their sustainability impact, but very few actually make the investment to get the independent data to prove or disprove their assumptions.”

The company’s new mint chocolate flavor is available through the company’s website now and will be sold through Amazon beginning in October.

Target Global is firming up its bet on Barcelona’s entrepreneurs

VC firm Target Global has just announced it’s expanding its European network by adding a local office in Barcelona, Spain — building on its existing presence in Berlin and London, plus Tel Aviv and Moscow.

The firm has €700 million under management and a broad investment range that covers SaaS, marketplaces, fintech and insurtech, as well as a big focus on mobility.

TechCrunch sat down with general partner Shmuel Chafets and investor director Lina Chong, who will be heading the firm’s push into Spain, to talk about its decision to set up shop in Barcelona — discussing how they see the local and national ecosystem, as well as picking their brains on wider investments trends and regulation in Europe.

Want to know what it takes to get a meeting with Target Global and factors they weigh when they’re deciding whether to cut a check or not? Read on…

The interview has been lightly edited for clarity. 


TechCrunch: Why choose Barcelona and why now? Why not Spain’s capital, Madrid — or even a city like Paris?

Shmuel Chafets: First of all have you been outside!?

I started coming to Barcelona four or five years ago just to see things and we had some angel investments here and it feels to me today — or when Lina and I started getting more serious about Barcelona it seemed to us that Barcelona has the attributes of Berlin eight or nine years ago. When I at least started coming to Berlin and Lina moved to Berlin, it has the same attributes. It looks like it’s just about to happen

I think it has a few factors. The first one is that it’s a great place to live and you can’t ignore that. In Europe, if you’re a team and you’re an international team there are very few places that you can live in. So London is the original ex-pat city of Europe and it still is amazing but very, very expensive. Berlin is the second one. And I think a lot of Berlin’s early success was fuelled by people who were not necessary German and definitely not Berliners coming and starting a company there.

It’s a good place to live, it’s also a cheap place to live, and it’s a cheap place to do business. Salaries here are quite low but the quality of living is quite high and that makes it very good for startups. Particularly when you need young people, developers, creative people to move. It’s an easy place to convince people to move to.

It doesn’t have a dominant industry. And that is very similar to Berlin — Berlin is not where Germany economically is, and that means that the smartest people around want to go in for startups. That’s the best employment option. There is no banking industry sucking people in with high salaries. And also driving costs up. It is in its culture a very creative city, a very open, very creative city and that I think is also very important.

And lastly, there are these early success stories that fuel the idea of entrepreneurship and also fuel financial entrepreneurship. So one of the interesting things about entrepreneurship is that people who start need to know where it ends or where it’s going to. And the early success stories — first of all they make the smartest kid graduating — who has a McKinsey job offer and a Goldman Sachs job offer and a startup idea — he needs to know that the startup idea has a future. That there’s a future in being an entrepreneur and he needs to look up to people around him. It’s not enough to know that Mark Zuckerberg dropped out — that’s fine but that’s very far and very large.

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Image via Getty Images / Pol Albarrán

But to look at Carlos [Pierre, founder and CEO] from Badi and say okay there’s a guy, he’s a few years older than me, he started a company, he’s doing very well — this is the path that I want to take.

Also, there are more and more mentors. People who’ve done it before. And they can help you figure things out. You have to be able to call someone up and say hey let’s have breakfast and explain how they do it.

And there’s more money — for seed. Because you look at a lot of people starting funds, and we were just talking on the way about the Ticketbis guys. They’re starting a fund. And that’s a great example of one of these early success stories and now they’re putting it back into the ecosystem and helping it grow.

Rocket Internet did a lot of that in Germany. They had early exits and then they went and plowed it all back into the ecosystem in their own particular way. People like [serial entrepreneur] Lukasz Gadowski — who we work with a lot. He built Spreadshirts… [then later] he founded Delivery Hero. So through Team Europe. So people who were early, early entrepreneurs — and then in the second wave helped build an ecosystem. So I think there are more and more people like that that we see here.

That usually fuels the ecosystem. Also as companies here start to scale and as more of these European startups start to build hubs here there’s more experience. You can find people who’ve been through a couple of rounds.

And the last thing which is not about Barcelona it’s about Spain in general. There’s a decent local domestic market and there is a natural second market in South America. And actually in the US too — because Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language in America so when you start a company here you have that second market built-in. Which is very important — you can scale it.

Latin America is a fascinating market right now, a fascinating time. So in a way, it’s a way for us to make a side bet on Latin America in a way without going out of Europe and insetting far. My first boss told me never to do business in a place where there’s no direct flight from where I live and I adhere to that. If things go belly up you don’t want to be stuck in transfer in some airport sitting there waiting for a transfer.

TechCrunch: So in a way being in a second city — this isn’t Madrid, Spain’s capital — is a more interesting proposition for startups because there’s less competition for talent?

Chong: It’s a bit of an underdog here. There are not these big dominant industries. It’s not cosmopolitan like how Madrid is perceived. There’s a lot of creativity, a lot of people who are more entrepreneurial in spirit.

Impossible Foods will debut in SoCal grocery stores on Friday as first step in phased national rollout

Congratulations Southern California Gelsons store shoppers, you’re getting Impossible Foods on your grocery shelves.

The meatless ground meat substitute will be appearing in stores across the Southern California as the first step in a phased nationwide rollout on Friday.

With the step into groceries, Impossible Foods moves into direct competition with its bigger, publicly traded rival Beyond Meat, which is already selling its patties and sausages in major stores nationwide.

Impossible Foods, which has had some supply chain hiccups as it began to increase its production in the wake of large deals with fast food chains, will be taking a phased approach to its national expansion. Expect it to begin appearing on store shelves in other parts of the country throughout the end of the year. Its next stop is going to be another store chain on the East Coast later this month, the company said.

To celebrate the debut, Impossible Foods has tapped Chrissy Teigen’s grandmother for a VIP event on Thursday night and will be handing out samples at a Los Angeles-area Gelsons on Friday.

“Our first step into retail is a watershed moment in Impossible Foods’ history,” said Impossible Foods’ Senior Vice President Nick Halla, who oversees the company’s retail expansion. “We’re thrilled and humbled that our launch partners for this limited release are homegrown, beloved grocery stores with cult followings in their regions.”

Gelsons and Los Angeles are something of a natural first stop for the company, given LA’s place in the nation’s food, environmental, and entertainment cultures.

Indeed, celebrities are some of the backers of Impossible Foods. In the company’s last, $300 million round, Jay-Z, Katy Perry, Serena Williams, Jaden Smith, Trevor Noah and Zedd all invested.

The Impossible Burger is made to have as much iron and protein as a traditional burger and contains 14 grams of total fat, 8 grams of saturated fat and comes in at 240 calories per 4-ounce servicing. It’s not better for a person than eating a traditional burger patty, but it is better for the environment. (The company says that a conventional 4-ounce patty has 80 milligrams of cholesterol, 23 grams of total fat, 9 grams of saturated fat and 290 calories.)

Founded in 2011 by chief executive officer and former Stanford biochemistry professor Pat Brown, Impossible Foods has raised nearly $700 million from investors including Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures, the slew of celebrities, the Singaporean government’s investment fund, and Hong Kong billionaire Li Kashing (along with his venture capital fund).

The company has set itself the goal of eliminating the need for animals in the food chain by 2035.

Already selling in White Castle, Burger King and Qdoba and is, according to a GrubHub survey, the  most popular . late-night delivery item in the U.S.

Ten questions for 2020 presidential candidate John Delaney

In November 2020, America will go to the polls to vote in perhaps the most consequential election in a generation. The winner will lead the country amid great social, economic and ecological unrest. The 2020 election will be a referendum on both the current White House and the direction of the country at large.

Nearly 20 years into the young century, technology has become a pervasive element in all of our lives, and will continue to only grow more important. Whoever takes the oath of office in January 2021 will have to answer some difficult questions, raging from an impending climate disaster to concerns about job loss at the hands of robotics and automation.

Many of these questions are overlooked in day to day coverage of candidates and during debates. In order to better address the issues, TechCrunch staff has compiled a 10-part questionnaire across a wide range of tech-centric topics. The questions have been sent to national candidates, regardless of party. We will be publishing the answers as we receive them. Candidates are not required to answer all 10 in order for us to publish, but we will be noting which answers have been left blank.

First up is former Congressman John Delaney. Prior to being elected to Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, Delaney co-founded and led healthcare loan service Health Care Financial Partners (HCFP) and  commercial lender CapitalSource. He was elected to Congress in 2013, beating out a 10-term Republican incumbent. Rumored to be running against Maryland governor Larry Hogan for a 2018 bid, Delaney instead announced plans to run for president in 2020.

1. Which initiatives will you prioritize to limit humankind’s impact on climate and avoid potential climate catastrophe?

My $4 trillion Climate Plan will enable us to reach the goal of net zero emissions by 2050, which the IPCC says is the necessary target to avoid the worst effects of climate change. The centerpiece of my plan is a carbon-fee-and-dividend that will put a price on carbon emissions and return the money to the American people through a dividend. My plan also includes increased federal funding for renewable energy research, advanced nuclear technologies, direct air capture, a new Climate Corps program, and the construction of the Carbon Throughway, which would transport captured carbon from all over the country to the Permian Basin for reuse and permanent sequestration.

2. What is your plan to increase black and Latinx startup founders’ access to funding?

As a former entrepreneur who started two companies that went on to be publicly traded, I am a firm believer in the importance of entrepreneurship. To ensure people from all backgrounds have the support they need to start a new business, I will create nonprofit banks to serve economically distressed communities, launch a new SBIC program to help provide access to capital to minority entrepreneurs, and create a grant program to fund business incubators and accelerators at HBCUs. Additionally, I pledge to appoint an Entrepreneurship Czar who will be responsible for promoting entrepreneurship-friendly policies at all levels of government and encouraging entrepreneurship in rural and urban communities that have been left behind by venture capital investment.

3. Why do you think low-income students are underrepresented in STEM fields and how do you think the government can help fix that problem?

I think a major part of the problem is that schools serving low-income communities don’t have the resources they need to provide a quality STEM education to every student. To fix that, I have an education plan that will increase investment in STEM education and use Title I funding to eliminate the $23 billion annual funding gap between predominantly white and predominantly black school districts. To encourage students to continue their education after they graduate from high school and ensure every student learns the skills they need, my plan also provides two years of free in-state tuition and fees at a public university, community college, or technical school to everyone who completes one year of my mandatory national service program.

4. Do you plan on backing and rolling out paper-only ballots or paper-verified election machines? With many stakeholders in the private sector and the government, how do you aim to coordinate and achieve that?

Making sure that our elections are secure is vital, and I think using voting machines that create a voter-verified paper record could improve security and increase voters’ confidence in the integrity of our elections. To address other facets of the election security issue, I have proposed creating a Department of Cybersecurity to help protect our election systems, and while in Congress I introduced election security legislation to ensure that election vendors are solely owned and controlled by American citizens.

5. What, if any, federal regulation should be enacted for autonomous vehicles?

I was proud to be the founder of the Congressional Artificial Intelligence Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers dedicated to understanding the impacts of advances in AI technology and educating other legislators so they have the knowledge they need to enact policies that ensure these innovations benefit Americans. We need to use the legislative process to have a real conversation involving experts and other stakeholders in order to develop a comprehensive set of regulations regarding autonomous vehicles, which should include standards that address data collection practices and other privacy issues as well as more fundamental questions about public safety.

6. How do you plan to achieve and maintain U.S. superiority in space, both in government programs and private industry?

Space exploration is tremendously important to me as a former Congressman from Maryland, the home of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, major space research centers at the University of Maryland, and many companies that develop crucial aerospace technologies. As president, I will support the NASA budget and will continue to encourage innovation in the private sector.

7. Increased capital in startups founded by American entrepreneurs is a net positive, but should the U.S. allow its businesses to be part-owned by foreign governments, particularly the government of Saudi Arabia?

I am concerned that joint ventures between U.S. businesses and foreign governments, including state-owned enterprises, could facilitate the theft of intellectual property, potentially allowing foreign governments to benefit from taxpayer-funded research. We need to put in place greater protections that defend American innovation from theft.

8. Will U.S.-China technology decoupling harm or benefit U.S. innovation and why?

In general, I am in favor of international technology cooperation but in the case of China, it engages in predatory economic behavior and disregards international rules. Intellectual property theft has become a big problem for American businesses as China allows its companies to steal IP through joint ventures. In theory, U.S.-China collaboration could advance technology and innovation but without proper IP and economic protections, U.S.-China joint ventures and partnerships can be detrimental to the U.S.

9. How large a threat does automation represent to American jobs? Do you have a plan to help train low-skilled workers and otherwise offset job loss?

Automation could lead to the disruption of up to 54 million American jobs if we aren’t prepared and we don’t have the right policies. To help American workers transition to the high-tech, high-skill future economy, I am calling for a national AI strategy that will support public/private AI partnerships, develop a social contract with the communities that are negatively impacted by technology and globalization, and create updated education and job training programs that will help students and those currently in the workforce learn the skills they need.

To help provide jobs to displaced workers and drive economic growth in communities that suffer negative effects from automation, I have proposed a $2 trillion infrastructure plan that would create an infrastructure bank to facilitate state and local government investment, increase the Highway Trust Fund, create a Climate Infrastructure Fund, and create five new matching funds to support water infrastructure, school infrastructure, deferred maintenance projects, rural broadband, and infrastructure projects in disadvantaged communities in urban and rural areas. In addition, my proposed national service program will create new opportunities that allow young adults to learn new skills and gain valuable work experience. For example, my proposal includes a new national infrastructure apprenticeship program that will award a professional certificate proving mastery of particular skill sets for those who complete the program.

10. What steps will you take to restore net neutrality and assure internet users that their traffic and data are safe from manipulation by broadband providers?

I support the Save Net Neutrality Act to restore net neutrality, and I will appoint FCC commissioners who are committed to maintaining a fair and open internet. Additionally, I would work with Congress to update our digital privacy laws and regulations to protect consumers, especially children, from their data being collected without consent.

Boston gets a new biotech accelerator with the launch of Petri

As biotechnology becomes more central to new innovations in healthcare, material science, and manufacturing, one of the nation’s research hubs is getting a new accelerator called Petri to launch companies focused on the commercialization of new technologies.

Backed by the Boston-based venture capital firm, Pillar, Petri has a three-year $15 million commitment to back companies developing new biotech applications in food, healthcare, industrial chemicals, and new materials — along with the enabling technologies to bring these products to market.

“We’re at the inflection point where these technologies will impact and continue to impact health but will also  impact food, agriculture, chemicals and materials,” says Petri co-founder, Tony Kulesa. “Everything we touch has some element of biology.”

Pillar has already invested in a couple of companies that show the potential promise of new biotech research coming from Boston-based universities like Boston University, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Asimov,io, a company that has set an ultimate goal of designing new genomes for industrial applications, was co-founded by graduates from Boston University and MIT, and is a part of the Pillar portfolio. PathAi, a company working on enabling technologies for computational biology, also counts an MIT grad as a co-founder. Meanwhile, Harvard’s George Church has been instrumental in the development of a number of biotech companies working at the frontier of genetic applications for healthcare and manufacturing.

Kulesa, an instructor at MIT spent seven years at MIT watching, in his words, how engineering has transformed biology. “It became clear to me that these technologies need to get out in the world,” says Kulesa.

Joining Kulesa as a managing director is Brian Baynes, a serial entrepreneur who founded Midori Health, an animal nutrition startup; Kaleido Biosciences, a microbiome control focused company; Celexion, a protein engineering and synthetic biology company; and Codon Devices, a synthetic biology toolkit company which was sold to Ginkgo Bioworks .

Over time, Kulesa and Baynes expect to have 10 to 20 companies in each cohort as the program expands. In addition to checks of at least $250,000 the Petri accelerator has lab space for each company and office space available.

The companies also could benefit from potential partnerships with companies like Gingko Bioworks, which happens to share office space in the same building, and with the accelerator’s clutch of big-name advisors and “co-founders” recruited from across the life sciences industry.

These co-founders who collectively hold a double-digit equity stake in Petri’s accelerator include Reshma Shetty, from Ginkgo Bioworks; Emily Leproust of Twist Bioscience; Stan Lapidus who was at Exact Sciences and Cytyc; Daphne Koller, the co-founder and chief executive of Insitro; Alec Nielsen the founder Asimov; and researchers Chris Voigt of MIT, and Pam Silver and George Church from Harvard’s Wyss Institute.

Genetically engineered organisms are finding their way into everything from food to fuel to chemistry. Companies like Impossible Foods, which uses genetically modified soy product, has raised hundreds of millions for its protein replacement, while Solugen, a manufacturer of chemicals using genetically modified organisms, has raised tens of millions to commercialize its technology. And Ginkgo Bioworks has raised nearly half a billion dollars to pursue applications for industrial biology.

“Engineering thinking has arrived in biology and the number of entrepreneurs that are interested in this area has grown dramatically,” says Pillar founding partner, Jamie Goldstein, in a statement. “Unlike classic biotech, these ideas don’t require tens or hundreds of millions of before you can demonstrate value–creating the opportunity for different funding models.”