Put your city on the TC map — TechCrunch’s European Cities Survey 2021

TechCrunch is embarking on a major new project to survey European founders and investors in cities outside the larger European capitals.

Over the next few weeks, we will ask entrepreneurs in these cities to talk about their ecosystems, in their own words.

This is your chance to put your city on the Techcrunch Map!

This is the follow-up to the huge survey of investors (see also below) we’ve done over the last 6 or more months, largely in capital cities.

These formed part of a broader series of surveys we’re doing regularly for ExtraCrunch, our subscription service which unpacks key issues for startups and investors.

In the first wave of surveys (as you can see below) the cities we wrote about were largely capitals.

This time, we will be surveying founders and investors in Europe’s other cities to capture how European hubs are growing, from the perspective of the people on the ground.

We’d like to know how your city’s startup scene is evolving, how the tech sector is being impacted by COVID-19, and generally how your city will evolve.

We leave submissions mostly un-edited, and generally looking for at least one or two paragraphs in answers to the questions.

So if you are tech startup founder or investor in one of these cities please fill out our survey form here.

Austria: Graz, Linz
Belgium: Antwerp
Croatia: Zagreb, Osjek
Czech Republic: Brno, Ostrava, Plzen
England: Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester
Estonia: Tartu
France: Toulouse, Lyon, Lille
Germany: Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Bielefeld, Frankfurt
Greece: Thessaloniki
Ireland: Cork
Israel: Jerusalem
Italy: Trieste, Bologna, Turin, Florence, Milan
Netherlands: Delft, Eindhoven, Rotterdam, Utrecht
Northern Ireland: Belfast, Derry
Poland: Gdańsk, Wroclaw, Krakow, Poznan
Portugal: Porto, Braga
Romania: Cluj, Lasi, Timisoara, Oradea, Brasov
Scotland: Edinburgh, Glasgow
Spain: Valencia
Sweden: Malmo
Switzerland: Geneva, Lausanne

Thank you for participating. If you have questions you can email mike@techcrunch.com and/or reply on Twitter to @mikebutcher

Here are the cities that previously participated in The Great TechCrunch Survey of Europe’s VCs:

Amsterdam/Netherlands

Athens/Greece

Berlin/Germany

Brussels/Belgium

Bucharest/Romania

Copenhagen/Denmark

Dublin/Ireland

Helsinki/Finland

Lisbon/Portugal

London/UK

Madrid & Barcelona/Spain (Part 1 & Part 2)

Oslo/Norway

Paris/France

Prague/Czech Republic

Rome, Milan/Italy

Stockholm/Sweden

Tel Aviv/Israel

Vienna/Austria

Warsaw/Poland (Part 1 & Part 2)

Zurich/Switzerland

#articles, #austria, #bristol, #business, #cambridge, #cologne, #economy, #edinburgh, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #florence, #hamburg, #munich, #oxford, #startup-company, #tc, #techcrunch, #trieste, #verizon-media

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InBalance Research forecasts demand for energy suppliers to ensure they optimize distribution

From distributed homes in Cambridge, Mass. and Cambridge, England, inBalance Research is joining Y Combinator as it looks to accelerate its business as the oracle for independent energy providers, utilities, and market makers.

Selling a service it calls Delphi, the very early stage startup is hoping to provide analysis for power producers and utilities on the demand forecasts of energy markets.

The orchestration of energy load across the grid has become a more pressing issue for utilities around the country after witnessing the disastrous collapse of Texas’ power grid in response to its second “once-in-a-century” storm in the last decade.

 

“If we want to address the solution longterm, it’s a two part solution,” said inBalance co-founder and chief executive, Thomas Marge. “It’s a combination of hardware and software. You need the right assets online and you need the right software that can ensure that markets operate when there are extreme market shocks.”

Prices for electricity change every 15 minutes, and sometimes those pries can fluctuate wildly. In some places, even without the weather conditions that demolished the Texas grid and drove some companies out of business, prices can double in a matter of hours, according to inBalance.

That’s what makes forecasting tools important, the company said. As prices spike, asset managers of finite responsive resources such as hydro and storage need to decide if they will offer more value to the market now or later. Coming online too early or too late will decrease the revenue for their clean generation and increase peak prices for consumers.

The situation is even worse, according to the company, if storage and intermittent renewables come online at the same time. That can create downward price pressure for both the storage and renewable assets, which, in turn, can lead to increased fossil fuel generation later the same day, once cleaner sources are depleted.

The software to predict those pressures is what inBalance claims to provide. Marge and his fellow co-founders, Rajan Troll and Edwin Fennell have always been interested in the problems associated with big data and energy.

For Marge, that began when he worked on a project to optimize operations for wind farms during a stint in Lexington, Mass.

“Fundamentally we’re a data science solution,” said Marge. “It’s a combination of knowing what factors influence every single asset on every single market in North America. We have a glimpse into how those assets are going to be working one day before to one hour before in order to do price forecasting.” 

So far, one utility using the company’s software in the Northeast has managed to curb its emissions by 0.2%. With a focus on renewables, inBalance is hoping to roll out larger reductions to the 3,000 market participants that are also using its forecasting tools for other services. Another application is in the work inBalance is conducting with a gas peaker plant to help offset the intermittency of renewable generation sources.

The reduction in emissions in New England is particularly impressive given that the company only began working with the utility there in December. Given its forecasting tools, the company is able to provide a window into which assets might be most valuable at what time — including, potentially, natural gas peaking plants, hydropower, pumped hydropower (basically an energy storage technology), battery or flywheel energy storage projects and demand response technologies that encourage businesses and consumers to reduce consumption in response to price signals, Marge said.

Already, six companies have taken a trip to see the Delphi software and come away as early users. They include a global renewable asset manager and one of the top ten largest utilities in the U.S., according to Marge.

“We use machine learning to accurately forecast electricity prices from terabytes of public and proprietary data. The solution required for daily power system stability is both hardware—like storage and electric vehicle charging—and the software required to optimally use it. inBalance exists to be that software solution,” the company said in a statement. 

 

#articles, #cambridge, #delphi, #early-stage-startup, #energy, #energy-storage, #machine-learning, #massachusetts, #natural-gas, #north-america, #renewable-energy, #smart-grid, #tc, #texas, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #y-combinator

0

ElevateBio raises $525M to advance its cell and gene therapy technologies

ElevateBio, one of the leading biotech companies focused on gene-based therapies has raised a massive $525 million Series C round of financing, more than doubling the company’s $193 million Series B funding which closed last year. This new funding comes from existing investor Matrix Capital Management, and also adds new investors SoftBank and Fidelity Management & Research Company, and will be used to help the company expand its R&D and manufacturing capabilities, as well as continue to spin out new companies and partnerships based on its research.

Cambridge, Mass-based ElevateBio was founded to bridge the world of academic research and development of cell and gene therapies with that of commercialization and production-scale manufacturing. The startup identified a need for more efficient means of brining to market the ample, promising science that was being done in developing therapeutics that leverage cellular and genetic editing, particularly in treatment of severe and chronic illness. Its business model focuses on both developing and commercializing its own therapies, and also working through long-term partnerships with academic research institutions and other therapeutics biotech companies to bring their own technologies to market.

To this end, ElevateBio is in the business of frequent spin-out company creation, with the new entities each focused on a specific therapeutic. The company has announced three such companies to date, including AlloVir (in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine), HighPassBio (a venture with gene-editing company Fred Hutchinson) and Life Edit Therapeutics (in partnership with AgBiome). There are additional spin-outs in the works, too, according to ElevateBio, but they are not being disclosed publicly yet.

As you might expect, ElevateBio seems to have benefited from the increased appetite for biotech investment stemming from the global pandemic and its impacts. ElevateBio’s AlloVir spin-out is actually working on a T cell therapy candidate for addressing COVID-19, which is potentially effective in eliminating cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 in a patient to slow the spread of the disease and reduce its severity.

#atlas-venture, #biotech, #cambridge, #companies, #disease, #elevatebio, #funding, #health, #life-sciences, #roivant-sciences, #softbank, #tc

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Immunai raises $60M as it expands from improving immune therapies to discovering new ones, too

Just three years after its founding, biotech startup Immunai has raised $60 million in Series A funding, bringing its total raised to over $80 million. Despite its youth, Immunai has already established the largest database in the world for single cell immunity characteristics, and it has already used its machine learning-powered immunity analysts platform to enhance the performance of existing immunotherapies, but aided by this new funding, it’s now ready to expand into the development of entirely new therapies based on the strength and breadth of its data and ML.

Immunai’s approach to developing new insights around the human immune system uses a ‘multi-omic’ approach – essentially layering analysis of different types of biological data, including a cell’s genome, microbiome, epigenome (a genome’s chemical instruction set) and more. The startup’s unique edge is in combining the largest and richest data set of its type available, formed in partnership with world-leading immunological research organizations, with its own machine learning technology to deliver analytics at unprecedented scale.

“I hope it doesn’t sound corny, but we don’t have the luxury to move more slowly,” explained Immunai co-founder and CEO Noam Solomon in an interview. “Because I think that we are in kind of a perfect storm, where a lot of advances in machine learning and compute computations have led us to the point where we can actually leverage those methods to mine important insights. You have a limit or ceiling to how fast you can go by the number of people that you have – so I think with the vision that we have, and thanks to our very think large network between MIT, and Cambridge to Stanford in the Bay Area, and Tel Aviv, we just moved very quickly to harness people to say, let’s solve this problem together.”

Solomon and his co-founder and CTO Luis Voloch both have extensive computer science and machine learning backgrounds, and they initially connected and identified a need for the application of this kind of technology in immunology. Scientific co-founder and SVP of Strategic Research Danny Wells then helped them refine their approach to focus on improving efficacy of immunotherapies designed to treat cancerous tumors.

Immunai has already demonstrated that its platform can help identify optimal targets for existing therapies, including in a partnership with the Baylor College of Medicine where it assisted with a cell therapy product for use in treating neuroblastoma (a type of cancer that develops from immune cells, often in the adrenal glands). The company is now also moving into new territory with therapies, using its machine learning platform and industry-leading cell database to new therapy discovery – not only identifying and validating targets for existing therapies, but helping to create entirely new ones.

“We’re moving from just observing cells, but actually to going and perturbing them, and seeing what the outcome is,” explained Voloch. This, from the computational side, later allows us to move from correlative assessments to actually causal assessments, which makes our models a lot more powerful. Both on the computational side and on the on the lab side, this is really bleeding edge technologies that I think we will be the first to really put together at any kind of real scale.”

“The next step is to say ‘Okay, now that we understand the human immune profile, can we develop new drugs?’,” said Solomon. “You can think about it like we’ve been building a Google Maps for the immune system of a few years – so we are mapping different roads and paths in the in the immune system. But at some point, we figured out that there are certain roads or bridges that haven’t been built yet. And we will be able to support building new roads and new and new bridges, and hopefully leading from current states of disease or cities of disease, to building cities of health.”

#artificial-intelligence, #biotech, #biotechnology, #cambridge, #cancer-immunotherapy, #funding, #health, #life-sciences, #machine-learning, #machine-learning-technology, #mit, #recent-funding, #science, #stanford, #startups, #tc, #tel-aviv

0

Bristol entrepreneur who exited for $800M doubles-down on the city with deep-tech incubator and VC fund

Harry Destecroix co-founded Ziylo while studying for his PhD at the University of Bristol. Ziylo, a university spin-out company, developed a synthetic molecule allowing glucose to bind with the bloodstream more effectively. Four years later, and by then a Phd, Destecroix sold the company to Danish firm Novo Nordisk, one of the biggest manufacturers of diabetes medicines, which had realized it could use Ziylo’s molecule to develop a new type of insulin to help diabetics. He walked away with an estimated $800m.

Destecroix is now embarking on a project, “Science Creates”, to repeat the exercise of creating deep-tech, science-based startups, and it will once more be based out of Bristol.

To foster this deep tech ecosystem it will offer a specialized incubator space able to house Wet Labs, a £15 million investment fund and a network of strategic partners to nurture science and engineering start-ups and spin-outs.

The Science Creates hub, in partnership with the University of Bristol and located in the heart of the city, is aspiring to become a sort of ‘West Coast’ for England, and the similarities, at least with an earlier version of Silicon Valley, are striking.

The Bay Area of old was cheaper than the East Coast of the US, had a cornerstone university, access to capital, and plenty of talent. Bristol has all that and for capital, it can access London, less than 90 minutes by train. But what it’s lacked until now is a greater level of “clustering” and startup-focused organization, which is clearly what Destecroix is planning to fix.

In a statement for the launch, he explained: “Where a discovery is made has a huge bearing on whether it’s successfully commercialized. While founding my own start-up, Ziylo, I became aware of just how many discoveries failed to emerge from the lab in Bristol alone. No matter the quality of the research and discovery, the right ecosystem is fundamental if we are going to challenge the global 90% failure rate of science start-ups, and create many more successful ventures.”

Science Creates is be grown out of the original incubator, Unit DX, that Destecroix set up in collaboration with the University of Bristol in 2017 to commercialize companies like his own.

The Science Creates team

The Science Creates team

The ‘Science Creates ecosystem’ will comprise of:

Science Creates Incubators: Unit DX houses 37 scientific and engineering companies working on healthtech, the environment and quality of life. The opening of a second incubator, Unit DY, close to Bristol Temple Meads train station, will mean it can support 100 companies and an estimated 450 jobs. The Science Creates’ physical footprint across the two units will reach 45,000 sq ft.

Science Creates Ventures: This £15 million EIS venture capital fund is backed by the Bristol-based entrepreneurs behind some of the South-West’s biggest deep tech exits.

Science Creates Network: This will be a portfolio of strategic partners, mentors and advisors tailored to the needs of science and engineering start-ups.

Destecroix is keen that the startups nurtured there will have more than “Wi-Fi and strong coffee” but also well-equipped lab space as well as sector-specific business support.

He’s betting that Bristol, with its long history of academic and industrial research, world-class research base around the University of Bristol, will be able to overcome the traditional challenges towards the commercialization of deep tech and science-based startups.

Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor and President at the University of Bristol, commented: “We are delighted to support the vision and help Science Creates to build a thriving deep tech ecosystem in our home city. Great scientists don’t always know how to be great entrepreneurs, but we’ve seen the impact specialist support can have in helping them access the finance, networks, skills, and investment opportunities they need. Working with Science Creates, we aim to support even more ground-breaking discoveries to progress outside the university walls, and thrive as successful commercial ventures that change our world for the better.”

Ventures in Unit DX so far include:
– Imophoron (a vaccine tech start-up that is reinventing how vaccines are made and work – currently working on a COVID vaccine)
– Cytoseek (a discovery-stage biotech working on cell therapy cancer treatment)
– Anaphite (graphine-based science for next gen battery technology).

In an exclusive interview with TechCrunch, Destecroix went on to say: “After my startup exited I just got really interested in this idea that, where discovery is actually founded has a huge bearing on whether something is actually commercialized or not. The pandemic has really taught us there is a hell of a lot more – especially in the life sciences, and environmental sciences – that has still yet to be discovered. Vaccines are based on very old technology and take a while to develop.”

“Through this whole journey, I started trying to understand it from an economic perspective. How do we get more startups to emerge? To lower those barriers? I think first of all there’s a cultural problem, especially with academically-focused universities whereby entrepreneurship a dirty word. I had to go against many of my colleagues in the early days to spin out, then obviously universities own all the IP. And so you’ve got to go through the tech transfer office etc and depending on what university you are at, whether it’s Imperial, Cambridge or Oxford, they’re all different. So, and I put the reason why there were no deep terch startups in Bristol down to the fact that there was no incubator space, and not enough investment.”

“I’ve now made about 14 angel investments. Bristol has now catapulted from 20th in the league tables for life sciences to six in the country in the last three years and this is largely due to the activities that we’ve been helping to encourage. So we’ve helped streamline licensing processes for the university, and I’ve helped cornerstone a lot of these deals which has resulted in a wave of these technology startups coming in.”

“I thought, now’s the time to professionalize this and launch a respectable Bristol-based venture capital firm that specializes in deep technologies.”

#advisors, #articles, #bristol, #business, #cambridge, #cancer-treatment, #deep-tech, #east-coast, #economy, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #finance, #london, #oxford, #private-equity, #start-up, #start-ups, #startup-company, #tc, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #venture-capital, #west-coast, #wi-fi

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Quantum photonics startup Nu Quantum raises £2.1M from Amadeus Capital Partners

For Quantum cryptography and simulation to become real, the technology requires high-performance light-emitting and light-detecting components that operate at the single-photon level and at ambient temperature. One of the few companies operating in this rarified arena is Nu Quantum, the quantum photonics company, is a spin-out from the University of Cambridge.

It’s now raised a £2.1 million in Seed funding in a round led by Amadeus Capital Partners . Ahren Innovation Capital, IQ Capital, Cambridge Enterprise and Martlet Capital also followed-on from the company’s pre-Seed investment round last September, with Seraphim Capital joining as a new investor. Last year it raised a £650,000 pre-seed investment round, also led by Amadeus.

The funding will go towards a state-of-the-art photonics lab in Cambridge and a major recruitment drive for scientists, product team members and business functions as the company approaches the launch of its first commercial technology demonstration.

Nu Quantum brings together a portfolio of intellectual property combining quantum optics, semiconductor photonics, and information theory, spun out of the University of Cambridge after eight years of research at the Cavendish Laboratory. Nu Quantum is one of a handful of companies in the world developing this photonics technology.

The company’s first commercial deliverable will use quantum photonic technology and proprietary algorithms to generate random numbers extracted from quantum-level effects, giving the highest confidence in the quality of these numbers which are ubiquitously used as cryptographic keys to secure data. Nu Quantum is a partner in the consortium led by the National Physical Laboratory, developing the UK standard for quantum random number generation, a project which was awarded £2.8m from the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. 

Dr Carmen Palacios-Berraquero, CEO, Nu Quantum, said in a statement: “Our aim is to enable the potential of quantum mechanics using quantum photonics hardware. This funding will allow us to do just that – a world-class multidisciplinary team and our new laboratories will give Nu Quantum the ability to deliver meaningful demonstrations of our technology into the hands of customers and partners for the first time.”

Alex van Someren, Managing Partner, Amadeus Capital Partners, said: 
“Quantum photonics has the potential to transform cybersecurity through digital cryptography. We’re making another investment in Nu Quantum because we believe in the team and its ability to take its solutions to market. Cambridge is leading the world on developing and commercializing quantum computing hardware and applications, and Amadeus is excited to be backing great entrepreneurs here.”

Nu Quantum is a partner in the consortium led by the National Physical Laboratory, developing the UK standard for quantum random number generation, a project which was awarded £2.8m from the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

#amadeus-capital-partners, #cambridge, #cambridge-enterprise, #ceo, #cryptography, #emerging-technologies, #europe, #managing-partner, #partner, #photon, #physics, #quantum-computing, #quantum-cryptography, #quantum-mechanics, #semiconductor, #seraphim-capital, #simulation, #tc, #uk-government, #united-kingdom, #university-of-cambridge

0

Higher Steaks brings home the bacon, revealing lab-grown pork belly and bacon strips

In what could be a starting gun for the commercialization of the cell-based meat business, upstart cultivated meat company Higher Steaks said it has managed to produce samples of its first products — bacon strips and pork belly made in a lab from cellular material.

With the revelation, Higher Steaks, a bootstrapped Cambridge, UK-based company, leapfrogs into a competitive position with a number of far larger companies that have raised far more capital.

“There’s still a lot of work until it’s commercial,” said Higher Steaks chief executive Benjamina Bollag, but the revelation of a pork belly product that’s made from 50 percent cultivated cells and a bacon product which contains 70 percent meat grown from a cell material in a laboratory is something of a milestone for the industry.  

The remaining ingredients in Higher Steaks bacon and pork belly are a mixture of plant based, proteins, fats, and starches to bind the cellular material together. To achieve this first step on its road to commercialization, HIgher Steaks tapped the expertise of an undisclosed chef to formulate the meat into an approximation of the pork belly and bacon.

Higher Steaks head of research and development, Ruth Helen Faram and chief executive Benjamina Bollag Image Credits: Higher Steaks (opens in a new window)

At this stage, the pilot was more to show what Higher Steaks can do rather than what the company will do, said Bollag.

“In the future it will be scaffolding,” said Bollag. “It’s more showing what our meat can do and what we’re working on. In the future it will be with scaffolding.”

A number of companies including Tantti Laboratories, Matrix Meats, and Prellis Biologics all make the kind of biomaterial nano-scale scaffolding that could be used as a frame on which to grow structures equivalent to the fibrous textures of muscle.

The commercial viability of products from companies like Higher Steaks, Memphis Meats, Aleph Farms, Meatable, Integriculture, Mosa Meat and Supermeat, depends on more than just companies like Tantti and Matrix. but also on the ability of Thermo Fisher, Future Fields, and Merck to bring down the cost of the cell cultures that are required to grow the animal cells.

In all, some thirty cell-based meat startups have launched globally since 2014 and they’re all looking for a slice of the $1.4 trillion meat market.

Meanwhile demand for pork continues to rise even as supplies have been decimated by an outbreak of African Swine Fever that could have killed as much as 40 percent of China’s population of pigs in 2019.

“Our mission is to provide meat that is healthy and sustainable without the consumer making any sacrifices on taste,” said Bollag in a statement. “The production of the first ever cultivated bacon and pork belly is proof that new techniques can help meet overwhelming demand for pork products globally.”

Given the highly capitalized competitors that Higher Steaks faces off against, the company is looking for industry partners to help commercialize its technology.

To improve its competitive position, Higher Steaks recently hired Dr. James Clark, the former chief technology officer of PredictImmune.

“I was always quite intrigued by cultured meat production, a mix of both science and food production. In 2013 I watched the first cultured meat burger from Mark Post costing £250k, cooked on the BBC,” said Clark. “I was approached about joining Higher Steaks earlier this year and was attracted to joining primarily by the science along with the ambition and energy of the Higher Steaks founder Benjamina Bollag. I believe Higher Steaks is a company with a technology to be disruptive in the cultured meat area and at my career stage I was looking for a challenge.”

Brought in to scale the cultivated meat process at Higher Steaks, Clark has led the development of biotech and pharma products at early stage and publicly traded companies.

“The addition of Dr James Clark to the team gives Higher Steaks a significant advantage,” said Dr. Ruth Helen Faram, Head of R&D. “Cultivated pork belly and bacon have never been demonstrated before and Higher Steaks is the first to develop a prototype containing over 70% cultivated pork muscle, without the use of bovine serum.”

Consumers shouldn’t expect to see Higher Steaks’ pork belly on store shelves or in restaurants anytime soon, Bollag cautioned. “We’re still in the thousands of pounds per kilogram.”

The company does expect to have a larger tasting event later this year.

#bacon, #cambridge, #cellular-agriculture, #chief-technology-officer, #china, #cultured-meat, #energy, #food-and-drink, #food-production, #head, #matrix, #meat, #meatable, #memphis-meats, #merck, #steak, #supermeat, #tc, #thermo-fisher, #united-kingdom

0

R&D Roundup: Automated peach sniffers, orbital opportunity and AI accessibility

I see far more research articles than I could possibly write up. This column collects the most interesting of those papers and advances, along with notes on why they may prove important in the world of tech and startups.

In this week’s roundup: a prototype electronic nose, AI-assisted accessibility, ocean monitoring, surveying of economic conditions through aerial imagery and more.

Accessible speech via AI

People with disabilities that affect their voice, hearing or motor function must use alternative means to communicate, but those means tend to be too slow and cumbersome to speak at anywhere near average rates of speech. A new system could change that by context-sensitive prediction of keystrokes and phrases.

Someone who must type using gaze detection and an on-screen keyboard may only be able to produce between five and 20 words per minute — one every few seconds, a fraction of average speaking rates, which are generally over 100.

A person uses a brain-computer interface to type in a Stanford study. Image Credits: Stanford University

But like everyone else, these people reach for common phrases constantly depending on whom they are speaking to and the situation they’re in. For example, every morning such a person may have to laboriously type out “Good morning, Anne!” and “Yes, I’d like some coffee.” But later in the day, at work, the person may frequently ask or answer questions about lunch or a daily meeting.

#artificial-intelligence, #astronomy, #cambridge, #clear-applications, #extra-crunch, #gps, #lab-wrap, #market-analysis, #mit, #new-horizons, #rd-roundup, #science, #space, #surveillance, #tc, #wolf

0

In a potential big win for renewable energy, Form Energy gets its first grid-scale battery installation

Form Energy, which is developing what it calls ultra-low-cost, long-duration energy storage for the grid, has signed a contract with the Minnesota-based Great River Energy to develop a 1 megawatt, 150 megawatt hour pilot project.

The second-largest electric utility in the U.S., Great River Energy’s installation in Cambridge, Minn. will be the first commercial deployment of the venture-backed battery technology developer’s long-duration energy storage technology.

From Energy’s battery system is significant for its ability to deliver 1 megawatt of power for 150 hours — a huge leap over the lithium ion batteries currently in use for most grid-scale storage projects. Those battery systems can last for two- to four-hours.

The step change in the duration of energy delivery should allow energy storage projects to replace the peaking power plants that rely on coal and natural gas to smooth demand on the grid.

“Long duration energy storage solutions will play an entirely different role in a clean electricity system than the conventional battery storage systems being deployed at scale today,” said Jesse Jenkins, an assistant professor at Princeton University who studies low-carbon energy systems engineering, in a statement. “Lithium-ion batteries are well suited to fast bursts of energy production, but they run out of energy after just a few hours. A true low-cost, long-duration energy storage solution that can sustain output for days, would fill gaps in wind and solar energy production that would otherwise require firing up a fossil-fueled power plant. A technology like that could make a reliable, affordable 100% renewable electricity system a real possibility,”

Backed with over $49 million in venture financing from investors including MIT’s The Engine investment vehicle; Eni Next, the corporate venture capital arm of the Italian energy firm Eni Spa, and the Bill Gates-backed sustainability focused investment firm, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Form Energy has developed a new storage technology called an “aqueous air” battery system.

“Our vision at Form Energy is to unlock the power of renewable energy to transform the grid with our proprietary long-duration storage. This project represents a bold step toward proving that vision of an affordable, renewable future is possible without sacrificing reliability,” said Mateo Jaramillo, the chief executive of Form Energy, in a statement.

Form’s pitch to utilities relies on more than just a groundbreaking energy storage technology, and includes an assessment of how best utilities can optimize their energy portfolios using a proprietary software analytics system. That software, was built to model high penetration renewables at a system level to figure out how storage can be combined with renewable energy to create a low-cost energy source that can deliver better returns to energy providers.

“Great River Energy is excited to partner with Form Energy on this important project. The electrical grid is increasingly supplied by renewable sources of energy. Commercially viable long-duration storage could increase reliability by ensuring that the power generated by renewable energy is available at all hours to serve our membership. Such storage could be particularly important during extreme weather conditions that last several days. Long-duration storage also provides an excellent hedge against volatile energy prices,” said Great River Energy Vice President and Chief Power Supply Officer Jon Brekke, in a statement.

Ultimately, this deployment is intended to be the first of many installations of Form Energy’s battery systems, according to the statement from both companies.

“Long duration energy storage solutions will play an entirely different role in a clean electricity system than the conventional battery storage systems being deployed at scale today,” said Jesse Jenkins, an assistant professor at Princeton University who studies low-carbon energy systems engineering, in a statement. “Lithium-ion batteries are well suited to fast bursts of energy production, but they run out of energy after just a few hours. A true low-cost, long-duration energy storage solution that can sustain output for days, would fill gaps in wind and solar energy production that would otherwise require firing up a fossil-fueled power plant. A technology like that could make a reliable, affordable 100% renewable electricity system a real possibility,”

#articles, #breakthrough-energy-ventures, #cambridge, #energy, #energy-storage, #minnesota, #mit, #natural-gas, #partner, #princeton-university, #renewable-energy, #tc, #united-states

0

Cell and gene therapy startup ElevateBio raises $170 million

While economic conditions and the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic may not make for the best atmosphere for raising funding, some companies are still announcing round closures with significant money committed. Cambridge-based ElevateBio, for instance, revealed a $170 million Series B funding on Monday, with participation from new investors The Invus Group, Surveyor Capital, EDBI, and Vertex Ventures, along with existing investors F2 Ventures, MPM Capital, EcoR1 Capital, Redmile Group and Samsara BioCapital.

ElevateBio, which was officially launched to the public less than a year ago, specializes in development of new types of cellular and genetic therapies, and operates by the creation of new companies under its portfolio each dedicated to the development and manufacturing of a specific type of therapeutic approach. This funding brings the total raised by ElevateBio to over $300 million, on top of a $150 million Series A round that the company announced last year, led by Swiss investment bank UBS’ Oncology Impact Fund.

The biotech company has ramped up quickly, nearing completion of a 140,000 square foot facilitating in Massachusetts to focus on R&D. It also launched a company called AlloVir that’s working on T-cell immunotherapy for combating viruses that specifically arise stem cell transplantations, and is already in the later stages of clinical trials. Finally, it launched another company called HighPassBio, which is also aimed at helping treat stem cell-related diseases using T-cell therapies, in this case specifically around the potential relapse of leukaemia following a transplant.

As you might expect, ElevateBio is also turning the attention of some of its efforts towards research focused on mitigating the impact of COVID-19; specifically, its AlloVir subsidiary has expanding an existing research agreement in place with the Baylor College of Medicine to work on developing a type of T-cell therapy that can help protect patients with conditions that compromise their immune systems and put them at increased risk for COVID-19.

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