Ocean Solutions Accelerator’s third wave tackles a new set of aquatic challenges

The Sustainable Ocean Alliance and its Ocean Solutions Accelerator take on the problems facing our planet’s waters, and the latest cohort of companies in the latter show a fresh slate of issues to address and resources to utilize. From reef rehabilitation to a “Fitbit for fishing boats,” they’re trying to fix things up in the oceans or at least mitigate the damage we’re doing down there.

The accelerator’s four week, all-virtual (like all of them these days) program focuses on the unique challenges faced by social good companies in this space.

“Startups in the sector are still struggling to find adequate funding during the early phases of operations,” the accelerator’s co-founder Craig Dudenhoffer told TechCrunch in an email. “Many of the solutions (especially hardware) are costly to produce and take a heavy upfront cash investment. We found that out of the hundreds of applicants, only a fraction had received substantial investments. We believe more investors need to educate themselves on opportunities in the ocean sector.”

The SOA team selected nine companies for this wave, only three of which are U.S.-based. “This year, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw our largest and most diverse applicant pool to date,” said Dudenhoffer in the release announcing the companies. “I was particularly encouraged by this year’s applicant pool to see the varying types of solutions, as well as an increase in the number of entrepreneurs that are actively building technologies to address the critical challenges that face the ocean.”

SOA founder Daniela Fernandez recently noted that their area of operation is especially international, so keeping things virtual actually opens up a lot of possibilities, especially for smaller companies that can’t afford to temporarily relocate. “It gives you so many options and makes it far more inclusive,” she told me. “Everybody just has more flexibility and tranquility. So I believe we were headed in that direction anyway.”

'Reefcubes' to help rebuild reefs.

Image Credits: ARC Marine

Here are the nine lucky companies:

  • AquaAI (Norway): Developed a fishlike autonomous underwater vehicle for unobtrusive observation and inspection.
  • AKUA (U.S.): Makes super-healthy kelp-based foods, starting with jerky and soon burgers.
  • ARC Marine (U.K.): Helps protect and rehabilitate reefs with sustainable “Reef Cube” habitat and nursery.
  • Desolenator (The Netherlands): Solar-powered desalination for communities facing fresh water shortages.
  • FlyWire (U.S.): Digital catch monitoring for compliance with regulations and connected commerce.
  • microTERRA (Mexico): Sustainable, aquafarm-grown protein for animal feed.
  • Oceanworks (U.S.): Marketplace for recycled ocean-sourced plastic.
  • PlanetCare (Slovenia): Filter for catching microfibers in washing machine drains before they enter the water system.
  • Trademodo (Canada): New, comprehensive platform for ethical seafood businesses and supply chains.

The companies will get the tender loving care lavished on all the new accelerator’s participants, but possibly also a bit of harsh reality as they learn the difficulties of being an ethics-focused company with long-term goals in a capitalist system that demands almost immediate returns. One of the most important steps in building one of these companies seems to be getting over this demoralizing hump and seeing the possibilities in spite of the difficulties.

A demo day is scheduled for November 5, which is good timing because probably nothing else will be happening around then.

#accelerator, #daniela-fernandez, #gadgets, #greentech, #ocean-solutions-accelerator, #startups, #sustainable-ocean-alliance, #tc

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#StartupTicker – Gleich 10 Startups gehen bei xdeck an Bord


Der Kölner Accelerator xdeck geht in die zweite Runde! “Nach dem spannenden ersten Durchgang haben wir jetzt weitere herausragende Startups für das xdeck gefunden. Zusammen mit unseren starken Partnern werden wir auch die neuen Gründer bei ihrer Wachstumsreise unterstützen und ihnen kreative Lösungen für den Umgang mit den aktuellen Herausforderungen aufzeigen”, sagt Initiator Nils Eiteneyer. 

Gründerteams, die am Brutkasten der Fond of-Macher teilnehmen, müssen kein Eigenkapital abgeben, um am xdeck-Programm teilnehmen zu können. Dreh- und Angelpunkt von xdeck ist der Kölner Bürokomplex The Ship. Zu den Partnern von xdeck zählen unter anderem die Unternehmensberatung McKinsey und der Frühphaseninvestor High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF). Über einen Zeitraum von vier Monaten erhalten die Startups “operative und strategische Unterstützung bei der beschleunigten Entwicklung ihrer Firmen, auf Basis gemeinsam identifizierter Themenfelder”. Dabei setzt das xdeck auf den Austausch mit Mentoren sowie Fachexperten von Partnerunternehmen.

Diese 10 Startups gehen bei xdeck an Bord

Datazeit
Datazeit vereint öffentlich-verfügbare Webdaten, die eigenen Daten potenzieller Kunden und künstliche Intelligenz in einem einzigen leistungsstarken Dienst, um Insights rund um Unternehmenswachstum zu generieren. Diese Insights sollen die Entscheidungsfindung unterstützen und Innovationen fördern.

FarmInsect
FarmInsect ist ein Agritech-Startup, das Landwirte in die Lage versetzt, ihr eigenes nachhaltiges Proteinfuttermittel auf Insektenbasis zu produzieren. FarmInsect spart Landwirten nicht nur Kosten, sondern ermöglicht auch einen geringeren ökologischen Fußabdruck.

Forenamics
KI bringt neues Potenzial in die Geschäftswelt, aber dieses Potenzial ist oftmals an Spezialwissen von Datenwissenschaftlern und anderen Experten gebunden. Forenamics will KI für jeden zugänglich machen, unabhängig davon, ob bereits Vorkenntnisse bestehen.

Mimica
Mimica stellt temperatursensitive Etiketten und Verschlüsse her, die als Alternative zum herkömmlichen Verfallsdatensystem die wahre Frische von Lebensmitteln anzeigen. Mimica reduziert so die stetig wachsende Lebensmittelverschwendung in Supermärkten.

Mirrads
Das Unternehmen entwickelt spezielle Spiegel (Smart Mirrors), die einen Hologramm-Effekt im Spiegelbild erzeugen, um darin beliebige Inhalte anzeigen zu können, sowie die für das Verwalten und Ausspielen der Inhalte notwendige Software. Das ist besonders für Werbung relevant, beispielsweise im Einzelhandel, in der Gastronomie oder in Hotels.

Olav
Olav ist die erste europäische DTC-Marke für Kochgeschirr-Produkte. Olav spart den Zwischenhändler aus und ist dadurch in der Lage, höchste Qualität zu erschwinglichen Preisen mit einem einzigartigen Design und Kundenerlebnis anzubieten. Das erste Produkt von Olav ist eine Kupferkernpfanne, welche regelmäßig von Profiköchen genutzt wird.

Rebolet
Im Durchschnitt werden 15% der online verkauften Artikel zurückgegeben oder nie verkauft, was hohe finanzielle Verluste und Tonnen von Abfall verursacht. Rebolet bietet einen All-in-One-Wiederverkaufsservice, der dem E-Commerce zu mehr Rentabilität und Nachhaltigkeit verhilft, indem Retouren und Überbestände bearbeitet, analysiert und wiederverkauft werden. So wird ein 380 Milliarden Euro-Problem angegangen.

TONI CORE
TONI CORE ist die erste Modemarke für alle Frauen (schwanger oder nicht schwanger, stillend oder nicht). Das Label entwickelt vielseitige, zeitlose Produkte in nachhaltigem Design, die nicht nur während der Schwangerschaft, sondern auch in den darauffolgenden Lebensphasen getragen werden können.

VRxs
VRxs ist eine schlüsselfertige Softwarelösung, die es jedem Online-Shop ermöglicht, 3D und Augmented Reality zur Präsentation und Erklärung seiner Produkte zu nutzen.

evelop_me
evelop_me ist eine durch Kienbaum gegründete Online-Coaching-Plattform. Sie vereint jahrzehntelange HR- und Management-Expertise mit einem digitalen Vorgehen, um die spezifischen Stärken v

Tipp: So wollen die Fond of-Macher anderen Gründern helfen

Durchstarten in Köln – #Koelnbusiness

In unserem Themenschwerpunkt Köln berichten wir gezielt über die Digitalaktivitäten in der Rheinmetropole. Mit circa 400 Startups, über 60 Coworking Spaces, Acceleratoren und Inkubatoren sowie attraktiven Investoren, zahlreichen Veranstaltungen und Netzwerken bieten Köln und das Umland ein spannendes Ökosystem für Gründerinnen und Gründer. Diese Rubrik wird unterstützt von der KölnBusiness Wirtschaftsförderungs-GmbH#Koelnbusiness auf LinkedInFacebook und Instagram.

KoelnBusiness

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#accelerator, #aktuell, #datazeit, #evelop_me, #farminsect, #forenamics, #koln, #mimica, #mirrads, #olav, #rebolet, #startupticker, #toni-core, #vrxs, #xdeck

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Facebook launches commerce and connectivity-focused accelerator programs

Facebook launched two 12-week accelerator programs for startups on Monday as the social juggernaut looks for new ideas and solutions to expand its commerce and connectivity efforts.

Facebook’s Commerce Accelerator will select 60 startups from the EMEA and LATAM regions for the program, the company said. The startups that make the cut will explore building shopping solutions to drive commerce inside Facebook’s family of apps.

“Our goal is to make shopping seamless and empower anyone from an entrepreneur to the largest brand to use our apps to connect with customers,” wrote Michael Huang, Head of Startup Programs at Facebook, in a blog post.

The company said a recent global survey it conducted in partnership with the OECD and World Bank found that at least a third of small to medium-sized businesses on Facebook reported 25% or more of their sales being made digitally in the past month.

“With so many sales being made online, the importance of intuitive and positive e-commerce experiences for customers has become even greater,” the company said in a statement.

The other accelerator program, called Connectivity, will feature 30 startups from the LATAM and North America (Americas) regions. These startups will be tasked with developing affordable connectivity solutions that make internet access available in more places and to at least 100,000 additional people.

Facebook said through these accelerator programs it aims to provide local development opportunities for entrepreneurs. The company holds one or two similar accelerator programs each year in some markets. In total, the company has launched accelerator programs in 11 countries to date.

The coronavirus pandemic, which has forced Facebook to conduct the accelerator programs virtually this year, has “exposed the hard truth of the digital divide and the critical need for reliable, affordable internet connectivity,” wrote Huang.

Participating startups will gain access to cost-free training, 1:1 mentorship, and access to Facebook products, its expertise and access to a global network of startup peers and successful founders. But the company is not offering monetary benefits to startups —  something it has in some of its previous accelerator programs — at accelerators announced on Monday.

Startups interested in either of the accelerator programs can submit their application.

“At Facebook, we strongly believe that by connecting, training, and growing entrepreneurs and startups through our programs, we can empower people to solve relevant, meaningful problems. We aim to build products that billions of people can use and benefit from,” Huang wrote.

Facebook has long focused on connectivity efforts, but its interest in commerce is relatively new. In May, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Facebook Shops to make it easier for companies to list their products on Facebook and Instagram.

#accelerator, #apps, #asia, #commerce, #connectivity, #ecommerce, #facebook, #social, #startups

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#StartupTicker – xdeck setzt zum Start auf sechs Startups


+++ Mitten in der Corona-Krise ging xdeck, ein Accelerator von Gründern für Gründer, an den Start. “Um in der aktuellen – und in zukünftigen – Krisen erfolgreich zu sein, müssen Unternehmen in die Offensive gehen und heraus kommen aus dem reinen Krisenmanagement. Sie müssen ihr Nutzenversprechen immer wieder hinterfragen und anpassen. Wenn wir jetzt kreative Lösungen finden, schaffen wir das auch in künftigen Krisen. Einfach auf Besserung zu hoffen, ist keine Option. Aufzugeben auch nicht”, sagt xdeck-Mitgründer Nils Eiteneyer.

+++ Gründerteams, die am Brutkasten der Fond of-Macher teilnehmen, müssen kein Eigenkapital abgeben, um am xdeck-Programm teilnehmen zu können. Dreh- und Angelpunkt von xdeck ist der Kölner Bürokomplex The Ship. Zu den Partnern von xdeck zählen unter anderem die Unternehmensberatung McKinsey und der Frühphaseninvestor High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF). Daneben arbeitet das xdeck mit Partnern aus der Hochschullandschaft zusammen, insbesondere der Universität zu Köln und ihrem Exzellenz Start-up Center Gateway.

+++ Im ersten xdeck-Batch sind sechs Startups. Behamics bietet eine KI-basierte Software as a Service-Lösung, die Kundenerlebnis und Retourenquoten in Onlineshops durch verhaltensökonomische Ansätze verbessert. RefresherBoxx entwickelt ein patentiertes Hardware-Produkt, das Kleidung in kurzer Zeit reinigt und desinfiziert. Die umweltfreundliche Technologie verzichtet auf den Einsatz von Wasser und Chemikalien. Retraced bietet eine Blockchain-basierte Software as a Service-Lösung, die die Daten der Lieferketten von Kleidungsherstellern sammelt, verifiziert und transparent an Endkunden kommuniziert. Roamlike ist eine digitale Plattform zur physischen Platzierung von Markenartikeln in Ferienwohnungen, um in natürlicher Umgebung Kundenfeedback zu sammeln und Markenbekanntheit zu erhöhen. SWARM produziert gesunde Proteinnahrung (z.B. Kakaoriegel) auf Basis von Insekten-Proteinen und verändert mit einem nachhaltigen Produktionsansatz die Lebensmittelindustrie. vytal bietet ein digital-basiertes Packaging as a Service-System für Lebensmittel zum Mitnehmen aus Gastronomie oder Supermärkten, um den Verpackungsmüll in Deutschland und Europa drastisch zu reduzieren.

Tipp: So wollen die Fond of-Macher anderen Gründern helfen

Durchstarten in Köln – #Koelnbusiness

In unserem Themenschwerpunkt Köln berichten wir gezielt über die Digitalaktivitäten in der Rheinmetropole. Mit circa 400 Startups, über 60 Coworking Spaces, Acceleratoren und Inkubatoren sowie attraktiven Investoren, zahlreichen Veranstaltungen und Netzwerken bieten Köln und das Umland ein spannendes Ökosystem für Gründerinnen und Gründer. Diese Rubrik wird unterstützt von der KölnBusiness Wirtschaftsförderungs-GmbH#Koelnbusiness auf LinkedInFacebook und Instagram.

KoelnBusiness

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#accelerator, #aktuell, #behamics, #koln, #refresherboxx, #retraced, #startupticker, #swarm-protein, #the-ship, #vytal, #xdeck

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Mozilla goes full incubator with ‘Fix The Internet’ startup lab and early stage investments

After testing the waters this spring with its incubator-esque MVP Lab, Mozilla is doubling down on the effort with a formal program dangling $75,000 investments in front of early stage companies. The focus on “a better society” and the company’s open-source clout should help differentiate it from the other options out there.

Spurred on by the success of a college hackathon using a whole four Apple Watches in February, Mozilla decided to try a more structured program in the spring. The first test batch of companies is underway, having started in April an 8-week program offering $2,500 per team member and $40,000 in prizes to give away at the end. Developers in a variety of domains were invited to apply, as long as they fit the themes of empowerment, privacy, decentralization, community, and so on.

It drew the interest of some 1,500 people in 520 projects, and 25 were chosen to receive the full package and stipend during the development of their MVP. The rest were invited to an “Open Lab” with access to some of Mozilla’s resources.

One example of what they were looking for is Ameelio, a startup whose members are hoping to render paid video calls in prisons obsolete with a free system, and provide free letter delivery to inmates as well. I wrote about the company here.

“The mission of this incubator is to catalyze a new generation of internet products and services where the people are in control of how the internet is used to shape society,” said Bart Decrem, a Mozilla veteran (think Firefox 1.0) and one of the principals at the Builders Studio. “And where business models should be sustainable and valuable, but do not need to squeeze every last dollar (or ounce of attention) from the user.”

“We think we are tapping into the energy in the student and professional ‘builder communities’ around wanting to work on ideas that matter. That clarion call really resonates,” he said. Not only that, but students with canceled internships are showing up in droves, it seems — mostly computer science, but design and other disciplines as well. There are no restrictions on applicants, like country of origin, previous funding, or anything like that.

The new incubator will be divided into three tiers.

First is the “Startup Studio,” which involves a $75,000 investment, “a post-money SAFE for 3.5% of the company when the SAFE converts (or we will participate in an already active funding round),” Decrem clarified.

Below that, as far as pecuniary commitment goes, is the “MVP Lab,” similar to the spring program but offering a total of $16,000 per team. And below that is the Open Lab again, but with ten $10,000 prizes rather than a top 3.

There are no hard numbers on how many teams will make up the two subsidized tiers, but think 20-30 total as opposed to 50 or 100. Meanwhile, collaboration, cross-pollination, and open source code is encouraged, as you might expect in a Mozilla project. And the social good aspect is strong as well, as a sampling of the companies in the spring batch shows.

Neutral is a browser plugin that shows the carbon footprint of your Amazon purchases, adding some crucial guilt to transactions we forget are powered by footsore humans and gas-guzzling long-distance goods transport. Meething, Cabal, and Oasis are taking on video conferencing, team chat, and social feeds from a decentralized standpoint, using the miracles of modern internet architecture to accomplish with distributed systems what once took centralized servers.

This summer will see the program inaugurated, but it’s only “the beginning of a multiyear effort,” Decrem said.

#accelerator, #funding, #incubator, #incubators, #mozilla, #open-source, #privacy, #startups, #venture-capital

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WeWork and SoftBank unveil the first 14 startups in their Emerge accelerator for underrepresented founders

SoftBank Investment Fund and WeWork Labs say they’ve officially kicked off the first session of Emerge, an accelerator program designed for underrepresented founders.

In their press release, the companies describe Emerge as “launched by SoftBank with support from WeWork Labs” (that’s the co-working company’s global accelerator program), with a goal of bringing more equality to tech and venture capital.

It’s an equity-free, eight-week program that includes workshops, access to mentors from SoftBank and the WeWork community and sessions with SoftBank executives. It all culminates in a showcase event for investors and SoftBank partners.

The Emerge website describes the program as based in San Mateo, Calif. — but given COVID-19, the sessions and programming are all virtual.

“Supporting underrepresented founders is a top priority for us, ensuring we see more diverse startups across the tech ecosystem,” said Catherine Lenson, managing partner and chief human resources officer at SoftBank Investment Advisers, in a statement. “There is a lack of diversity in the sector as a whole, and we need to do more to address it. That is why we’re excited to launch this program and to see the positive impact that these inspiring founders will have.”

This is also a reminder that while the larger corporate entities are currently embroiled in a legal and financial dispute, WeWork and its largest investor remain closely intertwined.

Here are the 14 startups in the initial program:

  • Aquagenuity, which allows users to take any smart device and track water quality and monitor their environment in real time from any smart device
  • Bridge to College, which helps students choose colleges wisely by matching and providing data
  • Caldo uses flexible automation and mobile designs to power satellite eateries for restaurants
  • GameJolt, a platform for gamers to follow 100K+ games while they’re still in development
  • Koniku, which is diagnosing disease using breath
  • Mogul, which helps employers find diverse talent
  • Moment AI, which uses AI to understand the driver and improve safety
  • Node, which builds houses through a proprietary assembly kit
  • OjaExpress, a marketplace connecting immigrants and foodies to local ethnic mom and pop grocery stores
  • Proven, which offers personalized skin care products powered by The Skin Genome Project, winner of MIT’s 2018 Artificial Intelligence Award
  • Rebellyous Foods, a production stack for plant-based meat
  • ScriptHealth, which provides easy access to prescription medications
  • Shyft, which builds IoT hardware and integrated software to connect and intelligently manage distributed energy resources
  • SPS, a cross-border payments provider operating across all major U.S. states and Canada

 

#accelerator, #diversity, #softbank, #startups, #techcrunch-include, #wework-labs

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