Portfolio March 12 2020

Rockley Photonics gains new investor for optics-based silicon chipset

From artificial intelligence (AI) to 5G, several “trendy” markets need new, high-performance semiconductors to power their operations. That’s exactly the space that Rockley Photonics is gearing its business towards. The seven-year-old company just announced that its silicon photonics platform has received a boost thanks to a new investor—Ahren Innovation Capital. Both Rockley Photonics and Ahren Innovation Capital announced the latter’s investment on Thursday. The financial details remain unknown at this time. This latest investment comes just months after Rockley collected $52 million in Series E funding in July of last year. Founder and CEO Andrew Rickman said in a company press release, “Ahren’s Partners have exceptional credibility and their support for Rockley further validates our technology, strategy and our experienced team.” He goes on to note that the new funding will help Rockley continue to expand its operations and come up with innovative solutions to modern-day technology problems. He says, “Silicon photonics enables novel solutions that unlock extraordinary application capabilities. Our unique manufacturing processes, expertise and solutions put us several years ahead of the competition.” Ahren Innovation Capital focuses on building up transformational companies that work across four fields. These include genetics, AI, space and robotics, and efficient energy. Alice Newcombe-Ellis, founding and managing partner of Ahren, says, “Rockley’s platform aligns closely with our interests and spans very well across the application space of our target markets, especially as an enabling technology in new AI and healthcare opportunities.” She also says that, “By starting with a clean sheet and designing a bespoke fabrication process, Rockley has created a highly versatile platform solution. Importantly, the technology can be manufactured cheaply and at scale for high-volume markets.”

Portfolio March 11 2020

Kreditch rebrands as Monedo

International online direct lender and Point-of-Sale (POS) financing provider Kreditech today announced it is rebranding its name to Monedo, as it looks to further grow its position in the Indian, Polish, Russian and Spanish near-prime lending markets. While unveiling the rebrand, David Chan, the Chief Executive of Monedo, also announced that the company is on target to achieve a positive Adjusted Operating Cash Flow in the fourth quarter of 2020, while delivering revenues of EUR 43 million in the 2019 financial year. The company’s rebrand and improved financial position follows 24 months of strategic refocus at Monedo, which included the appointment of a new Chairman, Chief Executive, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Technology Officer. During the period, the company also raised more than EUR 45 million, led by leading tech investors HPE Growth and Runa Capital. David Chan, Chief Executive of Monedo, said: “Over the past two years we have been working tirelessly to put the new strategy in place. The name change marks the next stage in the fundamental transformation we have been undergoing, as the company moves from a start-up to scale-up fintech.” “Throughout 2019 we have been focused on successfully transitioning the company back to growth by focusing on improving operational efficiency, risk- and cost-management capabilities, and strengthening our products and services. This focus, combined with solid support from our investors, means we are perfectly positioned to achieve our goals”, he said. Having rebranded and put its new strategy in place, Monedo is now ready to scale globally in the near-prime customer segment. The company estimates that it has a global target market of approximately EUR 300 billion in consumer credit issuance and it aims to reach EUR 1 billion in revenue by 2025, which will be driven by growth in existing markets where Monedo is present, as well as expansion into new geographies. The company operates in India, Poland, Russia and Spain, where it has provided over two million loans to circa one million customers. Kreditech is one of the few examples of a successful, seasoned fintech, operating on an international scale. Founded in 2012, the company combines market-leading tech capabilities and data science, with sound insight into consumer borrowing needs and extensive experience in POS and e-commerce partnerships. It focuses on online lending to customers in the near-prime segment. Instalment loans - the key product - currently constitutes as much as two-thirds of its global portfolio. “We have a clear vision - to be one of the leading technology-enabled consumer-lending companies; a fintech platform of choice for both individuals and POS and e-commerce partners. The 2018 and 2019 financial results prove that we are well on track to achieve our goals, with profitability as one of the key objectives,” said Chan. The cornerstone of Monedo’s operations is a unique, differentiated, end-to-end fully automated underwriting process that combines alternative data sources with machine learning. Customers receive offers and payouts 24/7. “Monedo is able to effectively attract and serve customers with a variety of different risk profiles, enabling financial inclusion, while positioning the company at the forefront of development in artificial and decision intelligence” – underlines David Chan. Monedo employs more than 350 people from over 40 nations across seven countries and is developing its technology in its teams in Germany, Poland, and Thailand. Monedo lends to customers in India, Poland, Russia and Spain and holds a service center in Romania.

Portfolio March 2 2020

Novacyt inks distribution agreement with US healthcare group for COVID-19 test in Asia

Novacyt, an international specialist in clinical diagnostics, has provided an update regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) test developed by Primerdesign, its molecular diagnostics division, and announced it has signed a major distribution agreement in Asia and an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) agreement with a US healthcare group. As of 27 February 2020, Primerdesign has sold over £0.93m (€1.1m) of CE-Mark and research use only (RUO) tests. Since launching its CE-Mark test, the Company is experiencing high levels of interest in its product. The value of quotations has grown significantly as Novacyt is currently involved in active discussions with representatives from a number of countries which have an acute need for tests as part of their national screening programmes. Due to the high level of interest in the Primerdesign COVID-19 test and rapidly evolving nature of this outbreak, the Company cannot predict with any certainty the conversion rate of these ongoing enquiries into orders. Primerdesign has also signed its first major distribution agreement for the COVID-19 test with a global life sciences company to supply the test to two Asian territories outside mainland China. Initial sales, which are subject to local emergency use approval, are anticipated to be £2.1m (€2.5m) during the first six months of the agreement. It is expected that the first sales under this agreement will take place in March 2020. The Company also announces that it has signed an OEM agreement with a US healthcare group for the manufacture and sale of its RUO coronavirus tests. In addition, as previously announced, the Primerdesign test is currently under review by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Approval, which would allow the test to be used for clinical diagnosis of COVID-19 in the US. The FDA and the Company are in regular contact. Public health authorities around the world are pursuing a variety of strategies when it comes to testing for COVID-19. For example, Public Health England (PHE) has issued testing guidance to the NHS to be deployed across eight testing centres in the UK. PHE as part of its planning has also invited diagnostic manufacturers (including Primerdesign) to submit tests for a formal evaluation process, which is expected to conclude next month. It is not known at this time what conclusions or guidance the PHE will subsequently give to the NHS for COVID-19 testing. The current COVID-19 screening procedure in France involves directing all patient samples to the Institut Pasteur in Paris. It is not known at this time whether more widespread testing will be performed and what test methods will be approved for use in these hospitals and clinics. Other health authorities around the world have approved tests for emergency use from local manufacturers and many are also currently reviewing the Primerdesign test. The speed and processes to gain emergency approval for tests differs from country-to-country depending on their approval process and the perceived threat level of COVID-19. The Company has put in place a number of measures to significantly increase production capacity and continues to plan for greater throughput to ensure Primerdesign can meet all current and potential demand. These measures include, if necessary, using the company’s manufacturing capacity at both its UK sites. “I am extremely pleased with the commercial interest shown in our test to date and to be able to support the global response to monitor and contain the COVID-19 outbreak. The two contracts announced today reinforce how quickly the response to this virus is developing and shows our commitment to support these efforts anywhere in the world, said Graham Mullis, CEO of Novacyt. “We believe the Primerdesign test remains among the quickest and most accurate tests available for COVID-19, as well as being stable for long distance shipping without the need for specialist cold-chain shipping. It is also designed to run on multiple molecular testing platforms commonly used around the world. I am proud of the team who are working extremely hard to meet the regulatory and manufacturing challenges to make our test available to as many affected countries as possible.”