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News

London-based asset manager and active fintech investor Fasanara Capital has secured $200m (£169.4m) from a Canadian pension fund.

Fasanara, which has previously invested in UK-based fintechs like PlayterTwig, and Storfund, holds around $3.5bn (£2.96bn) in assets.

The new funds will be deployed through its alternative credit strategy to provide loan investments to fintech firms.

“This capital will help bolster our portfolio companies, by providing them with the certainty that they can access a range of financial products, should they need them,” Fasanara Capital CEO, Francesco Filia, said.

“At a time when the wider capital market is experiencing such uncertainty, Fasanara’s portfolio companies know that they belong to an ecosystem which is strongly supported by some of the largest institutional investors in Europe and North America.”

Filia described the investment as “another major milestone for Fasanara”.

The asset manager did not disclose the name of the fund that provided the financial backing. It is understood to be one of Canada’s largest pension funds.

In May, Fasanara Capital launched a $350m (£296.5m) investment fund to target early-stage fintech and cryptoasset startups in Europe.

While the bulk of the firm’s assets is based in Europe, including the Italian buy now pay later unicorn Scalapay, the firm has ambitions to expand its position in the US.

Oxford Medical Simulation, a London, UK-based provider of realistic virtual reality healthcare training, raised £2.1M in funding.

Backers included ACF Investors, and Dr Nicolaus Henke.

The company intends to use the funds to expand its product offering, and to grow into US.

Founded by Jack Pottle and Michael Wallace in 2017, Oxford Medical Simulation delivers virtual reality medical simulation – training healthcare professionals to provide patient management without risking lives. The focus is on clinical decision-making under pressure, crisis resource management, team interaction and patient engagement. Clients include a wide range of NHS Trusts and universities as well as US universities, including John Hopkins University and Duke University, and several US health systems.

Authentic Brands is officially the new owner of Ted Baker. The US-based giant has completed the deal tabled this summer for £211 million, planning to convert the fashion retailer to a licensed business model. 
The company has been delisted from the London Stock Exchange.

Authentic Brands, whose holdings include various apparel, athletics, and entertainment brands, including Forever 21NauticaJuicy Couture and, most recently, Reebok and the David Beckham brand, said it plans to leverage its network of experts and operating partners to convert the business model.

This includes conversations “with leading operators in key regions to manage the manufacturing, physical retail, e-commerce and wholesale operations of the Ted Baker business”.

Also among the big changes ahead for Ted Baker will be a major push into the North American market.

Authentic Brands also said it aims to build up Ted Baker’s brand image in tandem with the current management team. The New York-based company also opened its London-based European office earlier this year.

Authentic Brands' chief executive and founder Jamie Salter said: “This uniquely British brand enhances our fashion portfolio and further reinforces ABG’s brand presence in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. The purchase of Ted Baker is in line with our strategic focus on growing and diversifying the portfolio through the acquisitions of brands that originate from outside of the US.”
 
While the negotiations with Authentic Brands were ongoing throughout the summer, Ted Baker continued to open new key stores in Basingstoke and Merry Hill and has added to its management team, appointing James Waller as Head of Sales for Menswear in September.
 
Latest trading figures published in September for the 14 weeks to 29 July showed revenues grew 3.4% for the period compared with Q2 a year ago. But it was down over 28% compared with the second quarter in the pre-pandemic period.

However, it noted the performance was “encouraging” saying the gains were led by stronger sales in physical stores across both its own shops and those of its partners, partially offset by continued disruption from re-platforming that adversely affected its e-commerce sales.

Feel, a London, UK-based provider of digital health and wellness subscription brand, raised £10M in Series A funding.

The round was led by Velocity Capital Advisors, with participation from Btomorrow Ventures, Fuel Ventures, TMT Investments and ITV AdVentures.

The company intends to use the funds to continue to strengthen its position in existing markets and bring their products and strong brand to new international territories.

Feel has an expanding product range across supplements, functional food and beauty

Led by Boris Hodakel, Founder and CEO, Feel is a digital health company that provides clean label nutrition products such as vitamin supplements and functional food with innovative formulas backed by research and science.

Stability AI, a London, UK-based community-driven, open-source artificial intelligence (AI) company, raised $101M in funding.

The round was led by Coatue, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and O’Shaughnessy Ventures.

The company intends to use the funds to accelerate the development of open AI models for image, language, audio, video, 3D, and more, for consumer and enterprise use cases globally.

Led by Founder and CEO Emad Mostaque, Stability AI is the company behind Stable Diffusion, a free and open-source text-to-image generator that launched in August. Since launching, the product has been downloaded and licensed by more than 200,000 developers globally. Its consumer-facing product DreamStudio, an open-sourced image generation model that cultivates autonomous freedom to produce incredible imagery, grew to over a million registered users from more than 50 countries who collectively have created more than 170 million images.

Cybersecurity company OutThink has landed $10m (£8.8m) in seed funding for its software that identifies risky cybersecurity behaviours among employees.

Founded in 2015, OutThink’s software provides businesses with an analytics dashboard to monitor and identify weak areas in security that stem from human activity, such as forgetting to lock a computer.

Chief information security officers can view a risk rating of specific departments to raise awareness and implement preventative measures.

Flavius Plesu, founder and CEO of OutThink, said: “The idea for OutThink was born out of frustration that existing solutions on the market were failing, yet it also came from a passionate belief that if we engaged people beyond traditional security awareness training into human risk management, we could make them the organisation’s strongest defence mechanism.”

OutThink says that 91% of data breaches are due to human behaviour. Its software is used by the likes of NatWest, Rothschild, Danske Bank and Whirlpool.

The OutThink seed round was led by AlbionVC along with TriplePoint Capital, Forward Partners, Gapminder and Innovate UK.

Headquartered in London, OutThink’s latest raise brings its total funding to $11.4m (£10m) and comes after its £1.2m seed round in 2020.

“Flavius’s vision for OutThink and his ambition to overturn outdated and conventional thinking around cybersecurity are rapidly being realised because his team understand implicitly what their customers need,” said Cat McDonald, investment director, AlbionVC.

Venture capital firm AlbionVC also led low-code software startup Toqio’s £17.8m raise last month.

Insurtech Lukango has closed a £275,000 pre-seed investment round for its insurance policies aimed at small businesses.

Lukango offers two products: “Fix” a set price plan and “Flex,” which charges based on the size of a business for a range of policies such as public liability, employers’ liability and product liability.

Joanne Safo, CEO and founder, said: “We set out to champion the underserved micro business community and change the face of the insurance industry and are incredibly proud to have the backing of experienced investors that truly believe in our vision.”

Backers in the Lukango pre-seed include the previous CEO of Bupa and board member of Admiral Group Evelyn Bourke, the founder and ex-CEO of Digital Partners Andrew Rear, and former senior advisor to the Nasdaq, Mark Hunt.

The London-based insurtech was founded last year by Safo. Before this, she previously worked as a director for Orisa Consultancy an insurance and technology consulting firm and at Digital Partners.

Safo added: “Our skills in the use of technology in the insurance industry and innate strategic, scaling and execution capabilities are significant assets on our journey to better serve today’s microbusiness owners.”

Health insurtech Peachy last month raised £1.5m for its app that gives access to private health services.

London’s West End is best known for its restaurants, bars, and historic theatre district. Thanks to a growing number of high-growth artificial intelligence startups locating in the area, the West End may soon be considered the UK’s latest AI cluster and a global hub for the industry.

At first glance, the area within western central London is unlikely to be thought of as the centre of a movement for UK-based AI startups. Historically, digital startups in AI and beyond have been drawn to East London, which from the late 2000s and early 2010s became one of the most prominent centres for UK tech.

But a cluster of high-growth AI firms entering stage right into London’s West End may now be giving the East a run for its money.

“What you’ve got in London, is a nexus of a capital city with governance and legislation and world-class universities within a short ride, like Imperial [College London],” says Alex Burton, director at Rebellion Defence, an AI company working in the defence sector that was recently valued at $1bn.

Founded in 2019, Rebellion Defence has become a major player in the AI business, becoming a unicorn on the back of its $150m funding round in September 2021. The AI startup is by no being alone in locating in the tourist hub around the West End.

Based just off Soho, Synthesia – currently estimated by Dealroom to be valued at $286m – has developed an automated technology that converts written text into a video presented by a synthetic avatar.

And just two minutes from Synthesia’s London headquarters is Encord, an AI computer vision labelling firm and Y Combinator alumni.

Whether consciously on the part of the companies or not, a pattern appears to be forming of promising AI startups basing their operations in the West End.

“I think it’s because the talent is here, it’s very well positioned with respect to good universities and being able to get good European talent and also just global talent, people around the world come here,” says Encord co-founder and CEO Eric Landau.

“And the VCs are now recognising that, so the money is following. The talent was always here, but now the money is following. And as the money is coming, this tech hub is really blossoming and burgeoning.”

Read the full article here.

Disperse, a London, UK-based artificial intelligence construction startup, raised $16M in funding.

The round was led by 2150 with participation from Northzone and Kindred Capital.

The company intends to use the funds to expand operations and accelerate growth.

Led by CEO Felix Neufeld, Disperse provides a platform that enables construction project managers to get things done with actionable insights in a digestible format. Companies can track progress across projects and identify inefficiencies through capturing imagery and using computer vision to spot issues as they happen.

The company’s team is distributed across London, New York, Sarajevo, Mostar and Islamabad. 

Optellum, an Oxford, UK-based medtech company that provides an AI platform to diagnose and treat early-stage lung cancer, raised $14M in Series A funding.

The round was led by Mercia, with participation from Intuitive Ventures, Black Opal Ventures, St John’s College in the University of Oxford, IQ Capital, and the family office of Sir Martin & Lady Audrey Wood.

The company intends to use the funds to scale its base, operations, and commercial launches in the UK and USA; accelerate research and development; and expand its platform into personalized therapy decisions by integrating imaging data with molecular data, robotics, and liquid biopsies.

Led by CEO Jason Pesterfield and Founder Tara Bishop, MD, Optellum is the leader in AI-enabled lung cancer diagnosis, attaining FDA clearance, CE-MDR in the EU, and UKCA in the UK for its software platform Virtual Nodule Clinic. This platform can help physicians identify and track at-risk patients, and optimally diagnose the signs of lung cancer early, so treatment can be started sooner for patients with tumors, and invasive procedures such as biopsies on benign lesions can be minimized.

The company also has strategic collaborations with GE Healthcare and the Lung Cancer Initiative at Johnson & Johnson to accelerate clinical deployments and continue the advancement of the platform. In the UK, Optellum’s solution is being used to predict at-risk lung nodules in a multi-center study with NHS Trusts as part of a major investment in AI for healthcare.

The company also has a U.S. office at the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas.