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News

Five, a UK-based self-driving company,  has raised $41 million in a Series B round of equity funding.

 

The new investors are Trustbridge Partners, Direct Line Group and Sistema VC. Existing investors Lakestar, Amadeus Capital Partners, Kindred Capital and Notion Capital also participated in the round, which makes Five one of Europe’s best-funded self-driving startups, with $77 million raised to date.

 

Stan Boland, Five’s CEO, said: “This funding round is validation of the work we are doing and the role our technology is set to contribute to developing and assuring self-driving. We’re excited to be able to accelerate development and engagements with partners."

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As ‘authentic’ link-ups with bodies focused on conservation projects become more and more popular, Procter & Gamble has forged a partnership with London's Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

 

The consumer products giant has linked with Kew via the global Herbal Essences brand and said this week that the partnership between the two is designed to “help save 20 endangered US plant species from extinction in 2020”. 

 

P&G added that some plants are becoming extinct faster than animal species are but that they get less attention. The plants under threat that the new partnership wants to save include the Venus Fly Trap, Blue Ridge Huckleberry and Douglas Clover. Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank is working with partners like the Center for Plant Conservation in Escondido, California, to help conserve seeds from these species. 

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Selfridges have been recognised for its commitment to sustainability at the inaugural Positive Luxury awards, which celebrate companies and individuals that are working towards affecting positive change in businesses and the world.

 

Selfridges was presented with the Retailer of the Year award at a ceremony held in London, with Positive Luxury highlighting the department store’s leadership in removing single-use plastics in packaging and products. Selfridges has also developed science-based targets to ensure it achieves net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and in June it launched a Beauty Booth to offer shoppers refillable, packaging-free cosmetics.

 

Other winners included Nadja Swarovski, CEO of Swarovski, who received Business Leader of the Year; Weleda, which was honoured with the Better World Initiative of the Year; and Stay Wild Swim, which received the Breakthrough Brand of the Year title.

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Retailers in Hong Kong have launched themselves into a rare battle with the city’s notoriously unflinching landlords for deeper and longer-term rental cuts, as they reel from the double whammy of the coronavirus epidemic and months of political unrest.

 

Hong Kong’s economy contracted for the first time in a decade in 2019 after anti-government protests scared tourists away and emptied shops and restaurants. Now, many retailers fear the coronavirus crisis is threatening their survival.

 

Last week, around 50 brands took part in an unprecedented strike, shutting 200 shops across prime shopping malls for a day to demand their landlords reduce rent. Now they’re staging a second strike.


The striking retailers want base rent to be waived and only turnover rent to be charged, as foot traffic has dropped dramatically in recent weeks. Commercial leases vary across sectors and locations but these retailers are mostly on terms that pay either base rent or a percentage of turnover.


Mall landlords — major property developers, such as Henderson Land and Sun Hung Kai Properties — have slashed February base rents and some have extended the cuts to March. But retailers say this is still too much to bear.

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Minute Media, a global technology and digital publishing platform, has announced it has raised $40 million in venture capital, bringing its total funding to $160 million.

 

This latest round of funding was led by Dawn Capital with participation from existing investors.

 

The new funds will be used to support global expansion and enhancements to its tech publishing platform, further invest in the recently acquired The Players’ Tribune athlete-focused content and prepare for future acquisitions.

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In response to the demands of clients and the rapidly growing industry of investing in loans, Mintos is expanding its range of services by launching a mobile application for Android and iOS. Mintos mobile app was developed with a deep focus on the research of existing client approach to investing and the possibilities of the smartphone as an access tool.

 

Having gone through extensive community consultations with over 3500 mobile app beta version testers – a group of investors on Mintos, the app development focused on enhancing existing features of Mintos service, with added capabilities that would increase investor accessibility, engagement and security.

 

Current Mintos mobile app version offers a starting base – easy and quick access to investors’ accounts and investment monitoring in a few swipes on their phones. Upcoming mobile app releases will offer additional functionalities adjusted for smartphones, including the majority of investing experience already accessible on the Mintos marketplace. Mintos is working to provide investors’ with essential insights for smart investment decisions via its app.

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Speedinvest, a European venture capital fund with offices in London, Berlin, Vienna, Munich and San Francisco, has raised €190 million for its third flagship fund, surpassing its original target ahead of schedule due to high investor demand.

 

The oversubscribed round increases Speedinvest’s total AUM to more than €400M.

 

Unlike typical European venture capital funds managed by small partnerships or teams, Speedinvest has 40 investment professionals working across five, sector-focused investment teams, along with 20 operational experts providing portfolio companies with full-service HR, growth marketing, business development, and U.S. expansion support.

 

Working from five cities across Europe, and writing initial tickets from €50K up to €1.5M, the sector-focused investment teams will invest in Fintech, Deep Tech, Marketplaces, Industrial Tech, Digital Health and Consumer Tech startups, supplying the early-stage businesses with the time, sector expertise and value-adding operational resources they need to scale.

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Gymshark, a sportswear ecommerce brand, is the UK’s fastest-growing fashion firm abroad with an average increase of 115.7% in international sales over the past two years. According to The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200, the seven-year-old sports brand achieved international sales of an impressive £143.5m in the year to July 2019, while total sales were £176.2m.

 

Premium handbag brand Radley was the next fashion name on the list at number 40, with 79.11% average growth in international sales, while Yours Clothing secured a place in the ranking for the first time, at number 81, with a 53.22% increase.


Other private fashion companies performing well abroad included Lyle & Scott, which posted international sales of £23.1m in 2019, helping it achieve a 44.55% two-year average international sales growth. Lyle & Scott was ranked 115th overall.

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Fenton & Co., a digital-first fine jewellery brand, has raised over £1.7m in a funding round led by angel investors including Elizabeth Spaulding, president of StitchFix, and Alex Chesterman, founder of Zoopla. Camilla Dolan, whose previous investments include global businesses Gousto, Bloom & Wild and Heist, was also among the participants.

 

Founded in 2018 by Laura Lambert, the business rebels against the traditional methods by which engagement rings are shopped for. Instead, it offers customers the option to create their own designs with ethically mined gemstones and recycled metals through a made-to-order service.
 

 

With a strong presence on Instagram (the social media app accounts for up to 25% of its web traffic), Fenton & Co. is leveraging the power of digital channels to boost its direct-to-consumer business.

 


The funds will be used to invest in new technology, amplify the company’s marketing efforts and expand the growing product line. 

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UK digital bank Starling Bank has raised £60m from its existing investors, Merian Global Investors and JTC. The investment will bring the total raised by Starling to £323m and follows two funding rounds of £105m in aggregate led by Merian in 2019.

 

Starling has opened 1.25m accounts for consumers and small businesses, since launching its banking app in May 2017. It now holds more than £1.25bn on deposit.

 

The new funding will enable the bank to continue its rapid expansion as it disrupts the banking industry and provides genuine competition to the legacy banks.

 

Starling will also award shares to all 800 employees, allowing everyone in the company to share directly in its success.

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