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News

Featurespace, an anti-fraud and risk management firm, has raised £25 million from a funding round led by US-based venture capital firms Insight Venture Partners and MissionOG.

The round also included further funding from existing investors IP Group, Highland Europe, TTV Capital, Robert Sansom and Invoke Capital.

The funding will be used to support Featurespace’s international expansion and development of the company’s software capabilities.

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TaxScouts, a UK startup that helps people complete their tax applications, has successfully raised £1.2 million in seed funding. The round was led by SpeedInvest, and they were joined by Finch Capital and SeedCamp.

The company combines automation as well as humans to help facilitate the tasking process of gathering the necessary information and then submitting a tax application. For the first stage the web app helps guide customers through their tax status, income and expenses. The general assumption is that the customer does not have much prior knowledge and thus will benefit from the guidance. Once this part is done the gathered information is sent to an accountant to be processed. 

Benefits for customers include a flat fee of £99 if paid in advance, as well as quick turnarounds of 1-2 days. The benefits for accountants are that smaller firms can take on more clients with TaxScounts assisting with management of clients and thereby grow their business. This benefits TaxScouts through expanding their network of accountant partners, which they are aiming to quadruple by the end of 2019. 

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Just Eat, a takeout marketplace and food delivery service, has manged to acquire Flyt, a startup that offers software for restaurants and restaurant suppliers, for £22million. 

Before the acquisition Just Eat owned an 8% stake in Flyt. Following the acquisition other investors, including Time Out and Entree Capital, have exited and Just Eat is now a majority owner. Flyt will still operate as a standalone brand and platform. 

The acquisition will enable Just Eat to accelerate the development of Flyt’s technology and offer Flyt’s services to more of its restaurant partners globally. 

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Diabetes Digital Media, a tech company which offers digital health solutions for people with diabetes, is trying to solve the growing problem. It is estimated that in Britain there are 3.7 million people aged over 17 affected.

Diabetes Digital Media offers various digital solutions including a community platform via diabetes.co.uk. It’s on a bold mission to reverse type 2 diabetes in 10 million patients by 2022 and to help the NHS save £50 million through de-prescriptions. 

Using information taken from its community platform, DDM develops innovative AI systems that facilitate patient engagement and learning. One such solution is the Low Carb Program, a behavior change platform that tackles type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and obesity. Available on iOS, Android, Apple Watch and desktops, it offers clinically validated and peer-reviewed outcomes.

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The Open Up Challenge, created by Nesta in 2017, has just announced their six winners of 2019. The competition was created to promote the development of innovative fintech products and services for small businesses, with the winners being awarded £200,000 each to help accelerate their growth.

 

The winners for 2019 are:

 

- Coconut - a current account with accounting and tax capabilities built in. It is designed specifically for people who are freelancers, self-employed or small business owners. 

 

- Fluidly - provide technology which plugs into accounting packages and bank accounts, and uses machine learning to predict and optimise business finances.

 

- Funding Circle - a global small business loans platform, matching businesses that want to borrow with investors who want to lend in the UK.

 

- Funding Options - Europe's leading online marketplace for business finance that scans the market to find the best financing options for small businesses' needs.

 

- OpenWrks - builds the technology that makes Open Banking work. Their comparison service provides SMEs with a personalised comparison of banking products based on how they run their business.

 

- Swoop - a one-stop shop for businesses looking to raise and save money by simplifying and speeding up access to loans, investment, grants and financial savings through a single automated process.

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Marks & Spencer has launched a photo search feature to help online shoppers easily find similar products and filter through thousands of menswear and womenswear items.

The ‘Style Finder’, powered by artificial intelligence, is part of the British retailer’s digital-first strategy and underlines the growing role of mobile commerce for the company, as it is available only on mobile devices.

Users can take a photo of an outfit or style they like on social media, a magazine or in a store and use the app to search for similar items available at M&S.

This forms part of the Marks & Spencer's strategy to digitise its operations with the aim of achieving a third of all its clothing revenue from online sales by 2022.

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MarketInvoice, an online invoice financing platform, has successfully raised £26 million in a Series B funding round led by Barclays and Santander InnoVentures. Other investors include Northzone and Israeli technology credit fund Viola Credit, which will also provide MarketInvoice a debt facility of up to £30 million.

Since 2011 the London-based tech firm has funded invoices and business loans to UK companies worth more than £2 billion, making it Europe’s largest online invoice finance platform.

MarketInvoice's co-founder and CEO Anil Stocker has said the new capital will be used to boost its business in the UK, through investing in technology and data, increasing the size of the team and forging more partnerships with banks.

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SimplyCook, a recipe kit service, has managed to reach £4.5 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Octopus Investments.

The company differentiates from its competitors, such as Mindful Chef and HelloFresh, by not delivering all the ingredients needed to create the meal but only the key flavour components. This provides the subscription service provider with better margins whilst also allowing them to charge lower prices per delivery and endearing them to a broader market base.

The funding will be used by SimplyCook to invest in technology and sales & marketing, with the focus on driving continued growth across the UK as well as expanding into new markets abroad.

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Nike, the major sports retailer, is set to offer its first yoga-tailored sportswear line later this month. Although they have previously offered yoga-related products, this is their first true foray into the area. 

Unlike Lululemon, which already dominates this niche area of sports fashion, Nike is taking an entirely different approach. They are highlighting yoga as a supplement to other workouts and thereby emphasising how it can help professional athletes from different sports compete better in their respective areas, and simultaneously focusing on men and women's attire. 

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Monzo, the unicorn UK challenger bank, has secretly begun work on expanding into the US. 

Growing at a strong rate in the UK, with more than a million customers and a second round of funding of £20million completed in December 2018, the fintech company has now set its sights on North America and is potentially planning to launch a "lite" version, where customers can use a pre-paid dedit card. This would be a similar strategy to the one Monzo used when in launched in the UK in 2015.

Although Monzo will need to partner with a US bank whilst it works towards the necessary regulatory licenses to operate without a partner, this could see its customer base grow rapidly as it strives to expand globally and reach a billion customers. 

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