Portfolio October 21 2020
Syte, an e-commerce visual search platform, gets $30m Series C to expand in the US and Asia
Tel Aviv-based visual search and product discovery platform Syte, already used by brands like Farfetch and Fashion Nova, plans to expand in the United States and Asia-Pacific region after its latest funding. The startup announced today it has raised a $30 million Series C, with an additional $10 million in debt. The round was led by Viola Ventures, with participation from LG Tech Ventures, La Maison, MizMaa Ventures, Kreos Capital and returning investors Magma, Naver Corporation, Commerce Ventures, Storm Ventures, Axess Ventures, Remagine Media Ventures and KDC Media Fund. Syte’s last round of funding, a $21.5 million Series B, was announced in September 2019. The startup has now raised a total of $71 million. Launched in 2015 to focus on visual search for clothing, Syte’s technology now covers other verticals like jewelry and home decor, and is used by brands including Farfetch, Fashion Nova, Castorama and Signet Jewelers. Syte says that its solutions can increase conversion by 177% on average. The company’s platform includes three main products: Visual Discovery to let brands add camera search, recommendation engines and discovery buttons; “Searchendising,” which automatically generates tags based on visual AI to improve search and recommendation results; and a Discovery Marketplace used by publishers, smart devices manufacturers and social platforms to increase the reach of product advertisements. Since the beginning of 2020, Syte says its customer base has grown 38%, partly because of the increase in e-commerce traffic caused by COVID-19 movement restrictions. In the company’s press announcement, chief executive officer and co-founder Ofer Fryman said Syte will focus on developing or acquiring product discovery technology “spanning the full range of our senses—visual, text, voice, and more” to create types of personalized recommendations. A lot of Syte’s current customers are in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, so its new funding is also earmarked to increase its presence in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific markets. More social media platforms and e-commerce platforms — including Amazon, Target, IKEA, Walmart, eBay, Snap and Pinterest — are using visual search and recognition technology to give users an alternative to keyword searches. By simplifying the search process or automatically generating tags, visual recognition technology can help improve search results and product recommendations, resulting in more conversions. There is a roster of other companies that are also working on AI-based visual recognition and search technology for e-commerce. Other startups in the same space that have raised venture capital funding include Donde Search, ViSenze and Slyce. Gal Fontyn, Syte’s vice president of marketing, told TechCrunch that it differentiates with visual AI algorithms developed by co-founder and chief technology officer Helge Voss, who previously worked as a physicist at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research). Voss’ background in neural networks and machine learning allowed Syte to build a visual search solution that can produce results with more than 95% accuracy in object-matching within less than a second, Fontyn said. Its algorithms have also been trained on millions of products from vendors around the world, which Syte claims gives it the “largest vertical-specific lexicon in the industry.” This is what allows it to recognize several objects within an image, and assign them detailed tags. Brands that use Syte see a 423% increase on average on ROI, Fontyn added.
Portfolio October 20 2020
Neuromod successfully closes €10.5m Series B financing for tinnitus treatment device Lenire
Neuromod Devices Limited (“Neuromod”), the Irish medical device company specialising in the treatment of tinnitus, a chronic condition that affects 10-15% of the global population and commonly described as ‘ringing in the ears’, announces it has raised €10.5 million in an oversubscribed Series B financing. The investment was led by majority investor Fountain Healthcare Partners, with participation from existing investors Moffett Investment Holdings and Medical Device Resources, with venture-debt provided by Kreos Capital and Silicon Valley Bank. Proceeds from the financing will be used to expand European commercialisation of the Company’s Lenire® tinnitus treatment device; to scale-up manufacturing, progress the Company’s U.S. FDA strategy, and pursue opportunities with the United States Department of Veteran Affairs. It is estimated that roughly 20 million Americans struggle with burdensome chronic tinnitus, while over 2 million U.S. Veterans receive disability payments for service-connected tinnitus, according to the 2019 USVA Annual Benefits Report. Neuromod’s European expansion began in April 2020 with the opening of the Company’s German office in Bavaria, Germany. Neuromod plans to invest significantly in sales and marketing and will recruit 40 employees over the next 12 months, with roles based initially in Ireland and Germany. Clinical Trial Results The Series B financing follows the publication of results of the Company’s first major clinical trial as the cover story in Science Translational Medicine magazine. The trial, which was conducted over 12 weeks, with 326 patients, delivered dramatic improvements in patients’ tinnitus symptoms. More than 80% of those who complied with the prescribed regimen saw an average improvement of about 14 points on a tinnitus severity score of 1 to 100. When the team followed up 12 months post treatment, 80% of the participants had sustained the improvements. The study represents the largest and longest followed-up clinical trial ever conducted in the tinnitus field, and 78% of trial participants said they would recommend the Lenire® treatment to others with tinnitus1. Lenire® Tinnitus Treatment Lenire® is the first non-invasive bimodal neuromodulation tinnitus treatment shown to soothe and relieve tinnitus. Lenire® has CE-mark certification for the treatment of tinnitus under the supervision of an appropriately qualified healthcare professional in Europe. Dr Ross O’Neill, Founding CEO of Neuromod commented: “We are delighted to announce the successful completion of Series B financing, which will ramp up manufacturing of our Lenire® tinnitus treatment device to meet demand across Europe. The financing will also help us progress market entry into the United States, where there is a significant unmet need, particularly among U.S. veterans for whom tinnitus is the largest and fastest growing cause of service-connected disability. It is fantastic to have the continued support of our lead investors, Fountain Healthcare Partners, as well as Moffett Investments, Medical Device Resources, Kreos Capital and Silicon Valley Bank.” Dr. Manus Rogan, Chairman of Neuromod and Managing Partner of Fountain Healthcare Partners commented: “We are proud to continue to support Neuromod’s mission to improve the quality of life of millions of patients around the world who suffer from tinnitus. This is an exciting time for the Company, and we are confident that it has an effective and safe technology, as proven by the recently published clinical trial results in the prestigious journal Science Translational Medicine. Neuromod has a very bright future and we are excited to play our part in making that happen.” Cian O’Driscoll from Kreos Capital commented: “We are delighted to be able to support Neuromod further with an additional investment which will help bring Lenire® to more patients suffering from tinnitus. Treatment options for tinnitus patients in the past have been limited and we strongly believe that Lenire® has enormous potential to improve patient outcomes. We are also excited about the prospect of U.S. market entry where there is a substantial need to find new and innovative ways to treat patients whose lives are severely impacted by tinnitus.”
Portfolio October 13 2020
Abivax secures €15m non-dilutive financing from Kreos Capital
Abivax, a clinical-stage biotechnology company harnessing the immune system to develop treatments for inflammatory diseases, viral diseases and cancer, has obtained a €15 million non-dilutive debt financing from Kreos Capital, with an additional €5 million to be decided before 2020 year-end. This financing comprises two tranches of €10 million and €5 million respectively, with the first tranche to be fully drawn immediately, and a second tranche to be drawn before 1 November, 2020. The loan is expected to extend Abivax’s cash runway until Q2 2021, before any potential revenues from corporate partnering or any future additional funding, preferably non-dilutive. Professor Hartmut Ehrlich, MD, CEO of Abivax, says: “We are very happy about the decision of Kreos Capital to provide us with this non-dilutive loan, as it allows Abivax to keep executing on its priority clinical programs in chronic inflammatory diseases according to plan. We continue to focus on the ABX464 Phase 2b ulcerative colitis trial, with top-line results expected in Q2 2021, while the ABX464 Phase 2a study in rheumatoid arthritis is also progressing well. Furthermore, the financing will be used to advance the projects that are crucial for the future development of the Company, such as the preparation of the clinical Phase 3 in UC and the initiation of a pivotal Phase 2b/3 study in Crohn’s disease. In parallel, Abivax is taking all necessary steps to ramp-up manufacturing and to get ready for a potential commercialisation of ABX464 in Covid-19, subject to a positive outcome of the ongoing Phase 2b/3 trial, anticipated for early 2021. Abivax is focusing on the achievement of the upcoming clinical milestones in its core program in inflammation, while further assessing partnering opportunities.” Didier Blondel, CFO of Abivax, says: “This non-dilutive €15 million loan from Kreos Capital, together with an additional €5 million loan option to be decided before the end of 2020, is an important step and in line with our plans to secure Abivax’s funding. Abivax’s cash runway is herewith extended from early 2021 until Q2 2021.We carry on exploring further financing opportunities that protect and further build shareholder value by respecting the following two principles: no dilution for existing shareholders as well as favourable financial conditions, as we just did with Kreos Capital.”
Portfolio October 8 2020
Neuromod tinnitus trial shows significant results for Lenire
A clinical trial of Irish medtech company Neuromod Devices’s treatment for tinnitus has shown a significant improvement in symptoms after 12 weeks. Some 86.2 per cent of treatment compliant participants said the severity of their symptoms improved after 12 weeks of treatment, with the company reporting that 80.1 per cent experienced sustained benefit 12 months after the treatment. The company, which offers non-invasive neuromodulation technologies, has developed a stimulation device that delivers sound to the ears and electrical stimulation to the tongue. It carried out the trial of the device, known as Lenire, between 2016 and 2019, the largest and longest followed up clinical trial into the hearing condition. Monitoring 326 participants, it tracked changes in tinnitus symptom severity, investigating the bimodal neuromodulation approach offered by Neuromod. The study was conducted at St James’s Hospital in Dublin, and the Tinnituszentrum of the University Regensburg, Germany. No serious adverse events were reported. The Lenire device delivers a sequences of audio tones layered with wideband noise to both ears through Bluetooth headphone, combined with electrical stimulation pulses delivered to 32 electrodes on the tip of the tongue by a proprietary device. “There is a globally recognised clinical need for evidence-based treatments for tinnitus, such as Lenire, due to the lack of effective options for this debilitating condition,” said Dr Ross O’Neill, chief executive of Neuromod. “Neuromod is proud to be at the cutting edge of efforts to research and develop new solutions that can contribute to solving this chronic condition that affects 10-15 per cent of the population worldwide. We are committed to continuing our research in the field and to advance our unique chronic tinnitus treatment technology.” Participants were assessed at three follow-up visits up to 12 months. Almost 78 per cent said they would recommend the treatment for other people with tinnitus. “I am truly proud of our company’s ability to perform such a large-scale randomised clinical trial in two countries, enrolling 326 participants to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of a new solution for tinnitus,” said Hubert Lim, chief scientific officer of Neuromod. “This study tracked the post-treatment therapeutic effects for 12 months, which is a first for the tinnitus field in evaluating the long-term outcomes of a medical device approach. The outcomes are very exciting and I look forward to continuing our work to develop a bimodal neuromodulation treatment to help as many tinnitus sufferers as possible.” Neuromod raised €8 million in capital last year from existing investors Fountain Healthcare Partners, with participation from Moffett Investment Holdings and venture debt investors Kreos Capital and Silicon Valley Bank.
Portfolio October 6 2020
Uberall and Nextdoor join forces to promote businesses and services “near me”
Uberall, the leading provider of ‘Near Me’ Brand Experience marketing solutions, announced a partnership with Nextdoor, the neighborhood app for trusted connections, to boost local business visibility and engagement with consumers. This will enable businesses linked to the Uberall and Nextdoor platforms to increase their points of contact with nearby customers and enhance their local visibility and reputations. “The growth of ‘Near Me’ online searches is a development that companies need to take into account when interacting with their local consumers,” said Florian Hübner, CEO and founder of Uberall. “The partnership between Uberall and Nextdoor will enable many companies to get closer to their local customers by providing them with accurate and up-to-date information in their search for products and services nearby.” Nextdoor connects neighbors to local businesses and services, which starts with a free profile called a Nextdoor Business Page. It distinguishes itself from other local search and directory sites with its neighborhood-based community of verified members who post recommendations, ensuring authentic and truly local content, as well as high-quality interactions. ‘Uberall Listings’ customers will now find Nextdoor in Uberall’s network of partner platforms. Thanks to a centralized platform, the information on their Nextdoor Business Page will be updated in real time, and will sync with all their online profiles. Claiming a Business Page on Nextdoor allows local businesses to establish an influential online presence and instantly reach thousands of neighbors with high buying intent and potential for conversion. More than 88% of Nextdoor members make local purchases at least once a week. The site provides businesses with an easy and efficient way to connect to nearby customers. “We know 2020 has been incredibly challenging for local businesses and want to provide them with as many tools as possible to be successful. Vibrant local businesses make vibrant communities,” said Adel Farahmand, Head of Partnerships at Nextdoor. “We’re excited to partner with Uberall to help more local businesses and reach the customers that matter the most to them — those right in the neighborhood.”
Portfolio October 6 2020
Rockley Photonics closes $50m growth round
Rockley Photonics, a leading integrated optics solutions provider, today announced that it has closed an additional $50m of growth funding from leading deep-tech VCs, strategic investors, and institutional funds including Credit Suisse backed SIG-i Capital and Applied Ventures, LLC, the venture capital arm of Applied Materials, Inc., as well as existing shareholders. To date, Rockley has raised over $225m of financing to develop its unique silicon photonics platform. “It is testament to the strength of our technology and emerging market opportunities that we have attracted such a preeminent list of new investors to join many of our existing shareholders in this funding round,” said Andrew Rickman, chief executive officer, Rockley Photonics. “This round provides the funding for Rockley as it moves into the next exciting growth phase and develops next generation disruptive silicon photonics powered healthcare and wellness sensors and communications products for its Tier-1 customers.” The Sunday Times recently recognized Rockley Photonics as one of the ‘top 10 British tech companies to watch’.