Adarga closes £5M Series A funding for its Palantir-like AI platform – gpgmail


AI startup Adarga has closed a £5 million Series A fundraising by Allectus Capital. But this news rather cloaks the fact that it’s been building up a head of steam since it’s founding in 2016, building up – what they say – is a £30 million-plus sales pipeline through strategic collaborations with a number of global industrial partners and gradually building its management team.

The proceeds will be used to continue the expansion of Adarga’s data science and software engineering teams and roll out internationally.

Adarga, which comes from the word for an old Moorish shield, is a London and Bristol-based start-up. It uses AI to change the way financial institutions, intelligence agencies and defence companies tackle problems, helping crunch vast amounts of data to identify possible threats even before they occur. The start-up’s proposition sounds similar to that of Palantir, which is known for working with the US military.

What Adarga does is allow organizations to transform normally data-intensive, human knowledge processes by analyzing vast volumes of data more quickly and accurately. Adarga clients can build up a ‘Knowledge Graph’ about subjects, and targets.

The UK government is a client as well as the finance sector, where it’s used for financial analysis and by insurance companies. Founded in 2016, it now has 26 employees – including data scientists from some of the UK’s top universities.

The company has received support from Benevolent AI, one of the key players in the UK AI tech scene. Benevolent AI, which is worth $2bn after a $115m funding round, is a minority shareholder in Adarga. It has not provided financial backing, but support in kind and technical help.

Rob Bassett Cross, CEO of Adarga, commented: “With the completion of this round, Adarga is focused on consolidating its competitive position in the UK defence and security sector. We are positioning ourselves as the software platform of choice for organisations who cannot deal effectively with the scale and complexity of their enterprise data and are actively seeking an alternative to knowledge intensive human processes. Built by experienced sector specialists, the Company has rapidly progressed a real solution to address the challenges of an ever-growing volume of unstructured data.”

Bassett Cross is an interesting guy, to say the least. You won’t find much about him on LinkedIn, but in previous interviews, he has revealed that he is a former army officer and special operations expert who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was awarded military cross.

The company recently held a new annual event, the Adarga AI Symposium at the The Royal Institution, London, which featured futurist Mark Stevenson, Ranju Das of Amazon Web Services, and General Stanley A. McChrystal.

Matthew Gould, Head of Emerging Technology at Allectus Capital, said: “Adarga has developed a world-class analytics platform to support real-time critical decisioning by public sector and defence stakeholders. What Rob and the team have built in a short time is a hugely exciting example of the founder-led, disruptive businesses that we like to partner with – especially in an ever-increasing global threat landscape.”

Allectus Capital is based in Sydney, Australia and invests across Asia-Pacific, UK and US. It has previously invested in Cluey Learning (Series A, A$20M), Everproof, Switch Automation and Automio.


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There’s an ocean of opportunity for startups targeting the seafood industry – gpgmail


Seafood has blown past its iceberg lettuce stage and entered trendy greens territory, with eaters loading up on oceanic superfoods and falling in love with previously unknown species as fast as daters swipe right. Even inland-dwelling locavores can easily satisfy their seafood cravings. What once was waste is now a premium snack, or maybe a wallet. We get that farmed fish is good—in every sense of that word. Mystery fish are a thing of the past. Sustainability is a minimum standard, not a luxury.

Just two years ago, that’s what I thought the seafood world would look like in 2027. Back then, as I studied trends in consumer desires, seafood sustainability initiatives, technology and investment, I foresaw seven transformative changes happening within a decade.

At the time it seemed like I was surfing the edge of plausibility. But based on what I’ve learned from the 200 or so seafood innovators entering the Fish 2.0 network over this past year, it’s all happening—in many cases much faster than I expected. And it’s happening all over the world.

So what does the future of seafood look like today?

Our palates are getting schooled

I predicted more diverse seafood diets, and while lionfish is not (yet) the new kale, don’t be surprised to see it sitting atop a Caesar salad in a few years.

People are looking beyond the shrimp-salmon-tuna triumvirate and learning to love the less familiar. Barramundi and cobia are going mainstream in some markets. Sustainable seafood purveyors are turning species that used to get thrown away into high-end treats, and celebrity chefs are buying invasive species (like that lionfish) and overlooked delicacies (like scampi caviar). At the same time, it’s getting easier to grow healthful, great-tasting salmon and other popular species in land-based farms, thanks to better feeds, disease prevention and production systems.

It looks like we really will stop loving our favorite wild fish to death and become more adventurous seafood eaters.

Fish and boat, Saint Louis, Senegal, West Africa, Africa (Photo: Godong / robertharding/Getty Images)

We’re buying direct

Local seafood still isn’t easy to come by for many of us, but options for buying direct from fishers—near or far—are proliferating. The number of community-supported fisheries (seafood’s take on the farm-to-table model) on Local Catch has quadrupled since 2017, and some fishers are looking to copy Seattle’s Pike’s Place fish market model. Even more are selling direct to restaurants and fishmongers in their home markets and overseas.

Fishers are finding that quality and diversity earn a premium. By selling boat- or farm-fresh seafood direct to chefs and market owners, they can earn three to six times the price distributors pay. And mobile apps are making it fast and easy for those who provide top-notch seafood to connect with those who want it. This trend is likely to grow as food packaging and preservation technologies continue to improve, making shipping cheaper. Big picture: sustainable seafood is reaching a broader market than ever, at prices that reflect its value.

Mystery fish are so yesterday

So many startups are working on traceability and transparency challenges that there’s little doubt we’ll soon know who caught a fish, where they caught it, how cold they kept it and more. Mystery fish is well on its way to no longer being a thing, at least in regions where regulations are enforced.

The rise of seatech is speeding efforts to clear up seafood’s notoriously murky supply chain. Sensors, robotics, networked cameras and other technologies that operate in and out of the water are helping fishers and farmers collect and analyze real-time data, so they can catch and grow seafood in the best possible way. Labor practices are getting a dose of daylight too.

The questions today are not about whether we can collect essential data, but about who owns the data, how public it should be and which datasets are most important. This is a huge leap forward.

Courtesy of Mikael Damkier/Shutterstock

Fish feed solutions accelerate

Right now, most farmed fish eat food made from wild forage fish. That’s not sustainable, which is why two years ago we were thrilled by the mere existence of alternative fish feed ingredients. Now more sophisticated thinking about the problem is fueling surprisingly fast progress.

Today it’s all about optimizing and scaling production. Many companies are turning black soldier flies into fish feed, and now they’re working on genetics that make flies richer in omega 3s and function better as feeds. Others have turned algae, grains and even industrial methane emissions into nutritious fish feed ingredients, and they’re figuring out the best mix of ingredients to grow each species.

This confluence of creative thinking means the fish feed problem is likely to get solved sooner than we thought possible, and make an even bigger impact on the aquaculture industry.

Farmed fish are big—and that’s a good thing

Speaking of aquaculture, I said farmed fish would fill out more of our seafood plate, and they are. Aquaculture is growing at a clip of 5.8 percent a year and accounts for more than half the fish we eat.

Not all farmed fish are raised right, but they can be. Solutions to aquaculture’s sustainability challenges are heading to market. In addition to the fish feed problem, innovators are working on escape-proof ocean farms, resource-efficient land farms, natural remedies for healthier fish, capturing and upcycling fish farm waste, and more productive hatcheries. This is all good—we need sustainable fish farming to take the pressure off wild fisheries and meet global demand for clean protein.

Photo courtesy of GettyImages/Johanna Parkin

There’s a war on waste

Turning waste into value was a niche in 2017. Now it’s one part of a broader campaign to crack down on waste at every point in the seafood supply chain. Does throwing out heads, tails and bones really make sense? Increasingly, the answer is no. New processing and preservation technologies allow higher yield from each fish, and people are taking a fresh look at “trash.”

Fish jerky from California whitefish offcuts is making a splash, as are bone broths made from seafood. In Australia, new products like scampi caviar, honey bugs and GT shrimp (named by Aussies after the car)—all recently discarded as bycatch—are yielding higher profits than the traditional deep-water scampi catch. The challenge now shifts from reducing waste in these supply chains to making sure the full fisheries remain sustainable.

Sustainability is the table stake

Over 90 percent of large-scale, U.S.-based seafood buyers have committed to selling only sustainable products. They’re trying to pluck the junk from their supply chains—and they have plenty of work yet to do—so there’s no way they’re buying something new that’s not sustainable. And the seafood itself is just the start of the conversation. Buyers want to know what a supplier is doing about labor, packaging and resource use, and new products must beat the status quo to gain space on shelves and screens. Introducing an unsustainable seafood product to today’s marketplace would be like introducing a petroleum-powered Hummer to the current car market. We can’t claim victory on sustainability yet, but the tide truly has turned.

Change goes deeper and faster

What most surprises me about all this progress is not just how fast it’s happening, but how people are redefining the problems. Instead of simply creating different fish feeds, innovators are asking how we can cut the amount of feed needed to grow each fish, make feeds more nutritious and breed fish that are light eaters or thrive on vegetarian diets. Instead of wondering whether aquaculture can advance, they’re working on clearing bottlenecks around hatcheries, disease and genetics. Packaging waste was barely on the seafood world’s radar two years ago; now it’s a prime target.

This has a lot to do with the sheer number of talented entrepreneurs and investors entering the seafood sector. The more ideas and technologies we put in play, the more hits we’re going to have. It also has to do with connections. I’m struck by how eager people are to work together regionally and across oceans and borders, once they get out of their caves and meet each other. The entrepreneurs participating in Fish 2.0 are as interested in partnerships with other businesses as they are in investment. As these personal networks pull together pieces of innovation bubbling up around the world and more investors jump into the pool, the pace of change in seafood has moved from a simmer to a rolling boil.


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Disney+ comes to Canada and the Netherlands on Nov. 12, will support nearly all major platforms at launch – gpgmail


Disney+ will have an international launch that begins at the same time as its rollout in the U.S., Disney revealed. The company will be launching its digital streaming service on November 12 in Canada and The Netherlands on November 12, and will be coming to Australia and New Zealand the following week. The streaming service will also support virtually every device and operating system from day one.

Disney+ will be available on iOS, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Android, Android TV, PlayStation 4, Roku, and Xbox One at launch, which is pretty much an exhaustive list of everywhere someone might want to watch it, leaving aside some smaller proprietary smart TV systems. That, combined with the day-and-date global markets, should be a clear indicator that Disney wants its service to be available to as many customers as possible, as quickly as possible.

Through Apple’s iPhone, iPad and Apple TV devices, customers will be able to subscribe via in-app purchase. Disney+ will also be fully integrated with Apple’s TV app, which is getting an update in iOS 13 in hopes of becoming even more useful as a central hub for all a user’s video content. The one notable exception on the list of supported devices and platforms is Amazon’s Fire TV, which could change closer to launch depending on negotiations.

In terms of pricing, the service will run $8.99 per month or $89.99 per year in Canada, and €6.99 per month (or €69.99 per year) in the Netherlands. In Australia, it’ll be $8.99 per month or $89.99 per year, and in New Zealand, it’ll be $9.99 and $99.99 per year. All prices are in local currency.

That compares pretty well with the $6.99 per month (or $69.99 yearly) asking price in the U.S., and undercuts the Netflix pricing in those markets, too. This is just the Disney+ service on its own, however, not the combined bundle that includes ESPN Plus and Hulu for $12.99 per month, which is probably more comparable to Netflix in terms of breadth of content offering.

 


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TransferWise’s debit card launches in Australia and New Zealand, with Singapore to follow – gpgmail


International money transfer startup TransferWise’s debit card is now available in Australia and New Zealand, with a Singapore launch expected by the end of this year as the company expands its presence in the Asia-Pacific region. TransferWise’s debit card, which features low, transparent fees and exchange rates, first launched in the United Kingdom and Europe last year before arriving in the United States in June. Since its launch, the company claims the debit card has been used for 15 million transactions.

Australian and New Zealand customers will have access to the TransferWise Platinum debit Mastercard (a business debit card is also available). Cards are linked to TransferWise accounts, which give holders bank account numbers and details in multiple countries, making it easier and cheaper to send and receive multiple currencies. The company says that over the past year, customers have deposited more than $10 billion in their accounts.

TransferWise’s debit cards allow users to spend in more than 40 currencies at real exchange rates. In an email, co-founder and CEO Kristo Käärmann told gpgmail that TransferWise decided to launch its debit card in Australia and New Zealand because its business there has already been growing quickly. “In addition to responding to customer demand, launching the card in Australia and New Zealand was also driven by the fact that Aussies and Kiwis are being overcharged by banks for using their own money abroad. It is expensive to use debit, travel and credit cards for spending or withdrawals,” he said.

Käärmann added that “independent research conducted by Capital Economics showed that Australians lost $2.14 billion last year alone just for using their bank issued card abroad. This is because banks and other providers charge transaction fees every time someone uses their card abroad, plus an inflated exchange rate. Similarly, in New Zealand, Kiwis lost $1 billion simply for using their card abroad.”

One of TransferWise’s competitive advantages is that unlike most legacy banking and money transfer services, its accounts and cards were designed from the start to be used internationally. “While there are existing multi-currency cards that exist in Australia and New Zealand, they are prohibitively expensive to use. For example in Australia, the TransferWise Platinum debit Mastercard is on average 11 times cheaper than most travel, debit, prepaid and credit cards,” Käärmann said.

TransferWise cards don’t have transaction fees or exchange rate markups and cardholders are allowed to withdraw up to AUD $350 every 30 days for free at any ATM in the world.

The company is currently talking to regulators in several Asian countries, a process that can take up to two years, Käärmann said. It was recently granted a remittance license in Malaysia and plan to make its remittance service available there by end of this year.


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