The UK has been ranked fourth in Europe for green tech innovation, according to a study of the European clean energy sector.

The research placed the UK behind Germany, which topped the list, followed by Sweden. France and the Netherlands were placed in joint third according to the model, which analysed investments and patents.

The study, conducted by sustainable consumer goods firm Bower Collective, found that just under four in 10 green startups in the UK are working towards affordable and clean energy.

It also noted that the UK has issued the third most green technology patents in Europe at 1,066.

Bower Collective reported an average of around €1.3bn per country having been invested into green tech startups since 2018.

However, the top nations for green tech investments were significantly higher. Sweden has seen the most funding, raising a total of €7.6bn.

“Overall, it is heartening to see significant capital coming in to support businesses focused on creating a more sustainable future,” said Nick Torday, co-founder of Bower Collective.

“The UK is in the top five and we certainly see lots of opportunity and innovation happening in our space, with increasing appetite from investors to prioritise impact as one of their key investment criteria.”

The UK has been working towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy published the plan last year, which included investments into non-carbon energy tech.

Since then, more and more startups in the UK have been working towards innovative methods of decarbonisation.

However, data shows that UK energy tech startups are struggling to scale and attract later-stage investment compared to other areas, such as fintech and AI.

Instanda, a company that provides no-code software tools for the insurance industry, has raised $45m (£36.7m) to fund expansion in Europe, the US, Japan and the UAE.

The London-headquartered company will also develop new capabilities for its platform, which lets insurance companies create products without specialist coding knowledge.

It does so with a combination of pre-built product libraries that can be adapted for specific insurance providers.

Instanda claims this means operators in the insurance space can take products to market “within days and weeks”.

The company’s cloud-based software is used by more than 70 businesses to build insurance products in areas including property, life and health.

Its clients include Atlanta, Standard Bank and Hamilton Fraser.

The insurtech’s Series B funding round was led by growth equity investment firm Toscafund, with additional funds coming from previous backer Dale Ventures.

It follows Instanda’s $19.5m Series A round in March 2020 and brings the company’s total funding to $72.5m.

“The funding from Toscafund is a significant milestone and will provide added impetus to aim higher in delivering exceptional client and user interactions,” said Tim Hardcastle, CEO and co-founder of Instanda. “Being able to digitise all aspects of the insurance value chain will allow insurance providers to transform the customer experience even further, whilst dramatically reducing processing costs, thus enabling them to bring a better insurance experience to more people and businesses around the world.”

George Koulouris, partner at Toscafund, said: “There is widespread belief that the insurance industry is ripe for change and disruption, yet very few companies prove they can really deliver significant improvements with a compelling value proposition. Instanda is one of those, so the potential is unlimited.”

Online UK retail continued to struggle last month as comparisons with the boom of the pandemic and immediate-post-pandemic period remained tough. But fashion stayed strong and was described as a category “making up for lost time”.

It’s interesting that the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index (which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers) showed sales falling but some surprising results. As mentioned, fashion did well and the one price category we’d expect to benefit actually declined, with discounters dropping in double-digits. Luxury also dropped but by a smaller percentage, while the mid-market — which is seen as the most likely price level to suffer in tough economic times — actually saw growth.

Budget retailer sales plunged by 15% last month with luxury retailers down 3.6%. Mid-market retailers were up 0.5%.

Overall, e-tail sales fell 8.7% year-on-year and month-on-month, they were also down, albeit by only 0.6% against April. However, the longer-term trend is that May sales are usually higher than those in April. 

The Average Basket Value (ABV) reached a new record high of £151, up £6 on April’s previous peak. It shows just how big an impact inflation is having, but could also be reflective of customers ordering multiple items at once in order to avoid repeat delivery fees, as well as a general preference for higher-quality items in order to avoid having to buy again in the near future. The report said website traffic was also up 8% on the year, though retailers reported “lengthy purchase cycles as consumers sit in the consideration stage for longer”.

The index showed that overall trading conditions continued to be very tough, and in the first week of the month, the performance was particularly bad with a 10.9% fall against May 2021. But spending improved as the month wore on, and in week three it almost reached positive territory at only a 0.3% drop. 

This “may have been a Jubilee boost — with people purchasing patriotic clothing and other items in advance of the bank holiday — without that, performance might have been even worse”, the report said.

Of course, not everyone was buying clothing emblazoned with flags or pictures of the Queen, but the clothing category in general was strong with a 14% sales rise. This divided down into an 18% jump for womenswear and a 12% rise for menswear. 

But health and beauty did much worse with a massive 28% drop. This is perhaps reflective of shoppers doing more of their spending in physical stores now. A year ago, shops may have been open but consumers remained nervous about going into potentially crowded retail locations. 

Andy Mulcahy, Strategy and Insight Director, IMRG said: “There’s no dressing it up, May’s performance was pretty awful online. April’s results suggested growth might be flat, but it is clear now that the economic situation is having a deep impact on demand; if it wasn’t for the Jubilee, which produced a slightly better week than the others, the decline might have been double-digit against negative growth for the same month last year. The one bright area is clothing, where growth was strong this month against +13.5% in May 2021. It seems to be a category making up for lost time, following almost flat growth in 2020. [It] could be that it is now simply benefiting from the increased number of people shopping online, combined with a general sense among the UK public that the pandemic is over and they can go out as they please again.”

London-based VC firm Felix Capital has launched a $600m (£478m) fund to invest in 20 to 25 European and North American early-stage companies focusing on Web3 and sustainability.

Founded in 2015, Felix’s fourth fundraise brings its total funds under management to $1.2bn (£957m).

The oversubscribed raise, which exceeded its goal of $500m (£399m), will see the company make investments of $5m to $10m per startup.

As with its previous bets, which include crypto hardware wallet Ledger, Deliveroo, Oatly, Peloton and TravelPerk, Felix Capital is focusing on consumer-facing startups.

“Felix was established with the vision that the rapid transformation of consumers’ behaviour represented a massive opportunity and needed focus,” said Frederic Court, founder and managing partner, Felix Capital.

“Since then, we have built a portfolio in line with that strategy, backing emerging and culturally relevant consumer brands, as well as related enabling technologies that support them,” added Court.

David Marcus, previously Meta and Paypal co-founder and CEO, Lightspark said: “Felix Capital brings an innovative approach to capital investment, and for over a decade I have valued their focus, commitment, and partnership.”

Alongside the closing of the fund, Felix Capital is adding María Auersperg de Lera and Sophie Luck to its team of investors.

Depop CEO Maria Raga, senior marketeer Musa Tariq – who previously worked for the likes of Apple, Nike and Airbnb – and Nordeus founder and CEO Branko Milutinović will also join as advisors.

Felix Capital isn’t the only VC to raise a new fund recently. It joins the likes of All Iron Ventures, which this week launched its £26m European fund to invest in other funds, and fellow Web3 investment fund Fabric Ventures, which closed its £112m investment fund last week.

Multiverse, the apprenticeship startup founded by Euan Blair, son of former British prime minister Tony Blair, has become the UK’s first edtech unicorn after its latest funding round gave it a $1.7bn (£1.36bn) valuation.

London-based Multiverse said it will use the proceeds of its $220m (£175.9m) Series D round to “accelerate” its US expansion, where it already has a headquarters in New York.

Founded in 2016 and previously known as WhiteHat, Multiverse matches young people without degrees with salaried apprenticeship opportunities.

The company says it has trained over 8,000 apprentices through partnerships with 500 companies. It focuses on “skills of the future”, such as data science and software engineering.

“Mandating degrees, and making admissions officers the gatekeepers for great careers, means leaving out thousands of talented individuals,” said Euan Blair, CEO and founder of Multiverse.

“There has never been a more pressing time to create an alternative to university education that is equitable and inclusive and there is an incredible opportunity before us to change the status quo with apprenticeships.”

The $1.7bn post-money valuation gives Blair a paper fortune in the hundreds of millions.

Multiverse’s latest round was co-led by StepStone Group, and previous backers Lightspeed Venture Partners and General Catalyst.

In January 2021, Multiverse’s £32m Series B round became the largest UK edtech raise.

Its latest capital boost brings Multiverse’s total funding to date to over $400m.

“Apprenticeships can help thousands of companies better train workers for the jobs needed to thrive in the age of digital transformation,“ said Hunter Somerville, partner at StepStone Group. “Multiverse has a demonstrated track record of success, building an unparalleled global platform to find, train and develop talent.”

When Multiverse raised $130m in its previous round the company was nearing the billion-dollar unicorn milestone.

It also demonstrates the growing strength of the edtech sector, coming one year after Vienna-based GoStudent became Europe’s first edtech unicorn.

Away from edtech, Multiverse follows payments firm Paddle, game studio Tripledot and fintech GoCardless in becoming UK-based unicorns this year.

It follows a strong 2021 for UK tech valuations, with British firms making up 38% of the combined valuation of European unicorns – the highest percentage across the continent.

Bud, an open banking fintech startup used by the likes of HSBC and Credit Karma, has banked $80m (£63.8m) in a Series B funding round.

Bud said it will use the capital to continue developing its platform, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to let financial organisations offer customised products and automate lending decisions.

It will also use the cash to fuel international expansion.

“Bud’s transactional intelligence services allow applications to become truly personalised for the first time. For example, our lending customers can expect to see an increase of about 85% in capacity by combining open banking data with our AI capabilities in their affordability assessments,” said Ed Maslaveckas, CEO and co-founder, Bud.

Headquartered in London, Bud’s Series B round was led by Bellis Phantom Holdco Ltd, with participation from SEI investments and Outward Venture Capital, amongst others.

Founded in 2015 by Ed Maslaveckas and George Dunning, Bud’s automated lending decision platform is used by ANZ, Street UK and TotallyMoney. Banking giant HSBC and Credit Karma use Bud to provide customers with financial data analytics.

Competitors to Bud include fellow London-based embedded finance firm Liberis, which earlier this week partnered with Barclaycard.

“We are hugely excited by the potential of Bud, not only in the ability of its platform to truly harness the opportunities from open banking but also in its far-reaching potential to help power other businesses we are invested in,” said Gary Lindsay, managing partner, TDR Capital.

The latest funding boost follows on from the firm’s $20m (£15.9m) Series A round in 2019.

TDR Capital LLP is a London-based private equity company that invests in European companies and manages investment funds with more than €10bn (£7.9bn) in committed capital.

Earlier this month HSBC announced plans to invest £500m in UK tech small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) as part of its 2022 £15bn SMEs lending fund.

Footfall was strong as expected in the seven days from 30 May up to 5 June in the UK as many Britons celebrated the Queen's platinum jubilee. The country also hosted a large number of visitors from abroad for the first time since before the pandemic.

The latest figures for retail footfall from Ipsos show that UK-wide visitor traffic was down only 5.9% compared to 2019 in the non-food sector. That's the narrowest deficit that has been seen since the beginning of the pandemic saw consumers less willing to visit physical stores even before the first lockdown was imposed in late March 2020.

Ipsos also said that towns outperformed cities by 15.3% points and the best-performing region was Northern England where store visits were down by only 2.2%.

As mentioned, across the country footfall was down only 5.9% against three years ago and compared to the previous week it was up 9.8%. Cities were down 14.6% against 2019 but up 9.6% on the week. And towns were actually up — albeit by only 0.7% — against the pre-pandemic period and rose 10.9% compared to the previous week. 

Of course, this was an unusual week given that it included the half-term school holiday and two days at the end of the week that were public holidays, although many businesses (and especially retailers) continued to operate.

During the week, visits to high streets declined 8.3% compared to 2019 but rose 6.7% against the previous week. And shopping centres fell 12.3% against 2019 and rose 7.4% compared to the week before.

Retail parks were the clear winners across the period and were up a buoyant 6% against the same pre-pandemic week and rose as much as 15.7% against the previous seven days.

A report from Opinium and Vouchercodes had predicted that the four-day Jubilee weekend would deliver a boost of more than £6 billion to retail and hospitality businesses. And while the footfall figures hint that the optimism wasn't misplaced, we'll see from retail reports  in the next few days and weeks whether the heavy spend actually happened.

British cybersecurity company CybSafe has raised $28m (£22.4m) for its platform that uses behavioural science to provide tailored security awareness training for employees.

The London-headquartered firm’s technology is used by financial powerhouses such as Barclays Bank, Credit Suisse and HSBC.

The company will use the capital injection to hire more behavioural scientists, data scientists and software engineers as it expands into new markets, including the US.

“For too long, cybersecurity training has forgotten people, lacked any scientific basis, and provided no data to evidence its effectiveness,” said Oz Alashe MBE and the CEO and founder of CybSafe. “We are here to revolutionise this by helping businesses reduce risk by positively influencing behaviours in a way that can be measured.”

Alashe is also a former UK special forces lieutenant colonel and was the first Black officer to serve in the parachute regiment. CybSafe’s Series B round bucks the trend of just 0.24% of venture capital going to UK-based Black founders between 2009 and 2019.

Founded in 2017, CybSafe’s cloud-based platform integrates with existing software solutions, such as Okta and Microsoft 365.

Using machine learning, CybSafe gathers and crunches data on an employee’s cyber habits at work to create a personalised dashboard with advice, risk analysis and social engineering simulations.

CybSafe’s Series B round was led by Evolution Equity Partners, with participation from Emerald Development Managers and previous backers IQ Capital and Hannover Digital Investments (HDI) GmbH.

“CybSafe’s disruptive approach tackles a complex problem with a simple solution,” said Karthik Subramanian, partner at Evolution Equity Partners. “They design their products with the user in mind, ensuring they are tackling the cause rather than simply treating the symptoms of cyber risk.”

It brings CybSafe’s total funding to $40m (£32m), following its Series A round in January 2021 in which it raised £5.6m.

CybSafe is used by more than 350 organisations across 15 countries. It recently hired Munyaradzi Hoto as chief marketing officer as part of its expansion plans.

The cybersecurity company’s competitors include KnowBe4 and Wombat Security.

How is Superdry’s goal to become the most sustainable listed global fashion brand on the planet coming along? Making “huge progress”, according to the UK-based retailer.

That’s based on its latest eco campaign, which sees Superdry team up “with female forces for good, to shine a light on all the amazing initiatives happening behind the scenes to truly deliver style in a more sustainable way”.
It’s the brand’s first female-led sustainability campaign, with five “strong ambassadors at the helm”, who will “champion and ignite conversations surrounding our three core sustainable initiatives: Organic Cotton, Net Zero & Circularity”. 

Superdry said it will focus its efforts on creating conversation among an under-25- female audience, “on our mission to be the number one sustainable style destination”. 
The cast includes Top Boy stars Jasmine Jobson and Saffron Hocking, German/American actor Emma Schweiger and digital creator Zoé Tondut. They will feature alongside the brand’s current face of sustainability, Filipino-British singer-songwriter, Beabadoobee.
Jobson and Hocking are advocates against domestic violence and for children in care; Schweiger is known for living an environmentally conscious life and ensures shopping sustainably plays an important part in that; and Tondut also promotes a more sustainable lifestyle on social media to her 1.4 million followers, “further supporting our sustainability messaging of shopping responsibly”.
The women “will help to educate their audiences on how to shop for the season responsibly, allowing them to look good while doing good and without having to compromise on style”, Superdry said. 
To follow the retailer’s main Sustainability Campaign, there will be a subsequent chapter with its existing global brand ambassador, footballer Neymar Jr, on the topic of organic cotton. 

WHP Global announced on Tuesday it has entered into an agreement with Xcel Brands, which will see ​the brand management firm acquire a 70% stake in fashion brand Isaac Mizrahi from the media and consumer products firm.

The transaction, valued at $68 million, includes $46.2 million in cash proceeds to Xcel, which will retain a 30% minority interest in the Isaac Mizrahi brand - Isaac Mizrahi

The transaction, valued at $68 million, includes $46.2 million in cash proceeds to Xcel, which will retain a 30% minority interest in the Isaac Mizrahi brand. Under the terms of a services agreement with WHP Global, Xcel will continue to manage the Isaac Mizrahi's QVC (a U.S. television network and shopping channel owned by Qurate Retail Group) business with WHP Global and has entered into a new license agreement to design and distribute Isaac Mizrahi apparel in the U.S. and Canada.

Isaac Mizrahi, the eponymous women's fashion label founded in 1987 by American designer Isaac Mizrahi, has garnered a strong following among several celebrities including Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Audrey Hepburn, Meryl Streep, Rihanna, Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Kate Hudson, Selma Blair, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Carla Bruni. Since its inception, the brand has expanded into sportswear, footwear, handbags, watches, eyewear, tech accessories, home and other merchandise, which has seen it win ​four CFDA awards from the Council of Fashion Designers of America and generated more than $1 billion in retail sales.

Today, it is sold in Saks Fifth Avenue and Hudson’s Bay; interactive television, including QVC and The Shopping Channel; national specialty retailers; and internationally in Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom and Japan.

On the investment from WHP Global, Isaac Mizrahi, who will continue to serve as chief design officer of his namesake brand, said, “I’m very excited to harness the power of my brand. I couldn’t ask for better partners.”

Xcel Brands CEO and chairman Robert D’Loren said the Isaac Mizrahi brand has grown for more than a decade under its leadership, adding the new arrangement with WHP looks to take the label's growth global.

​“The Isaac Mizrahi business has grown for 12 years straight under Xcel’s stewardship and we’re pleased to now partner with WHP to continue the brand’s global momentum,” said D'Loren.

“Selling a majority interest in the Isaac Mizrahi brand is a transformative moment in Xcel’s history and represents the first time we have monetized one of our brands since Xcel was founded in 2011. Xcel is now debt-free, with over $17 million in cash and $22 million of working capital on our balance sheet, which will help fuel a number of our upcoming strategic initiatives as we concentrate our resources on growing our brands, new brand launches and investing in livestreaming technology platforms and partnerships.”

With the addition of Isaac Mizrahi, WHP Global now owns and manages over $4.2 billion in retail sales across its portfolio of brands, making it one of the largest and fastest-growing brand management firms in the world.

“We are excited to partner with Isaac and Xcel as we work together to architect and orchestrate the next phase of growth for the Isaac Mizrahi fashion house," said Yehuda Shmidman, chairman and chief executive officer at WHP Global.

"We see meaningful opportunities to expand the brand by leveraging WHP Global’s platform and the reach of our fashion vertical, which now includes Anne KleinJoseph AbboudJoe’s JeansWilliam Rast and Isaac Mizrahi.”