MediBuddy seizes US$20 million in Series B funding round

The investment will be used by MediBuddy to strengthen its doctor & hospital base, product, patient reach, technology, and brand

Indian health-tech company, MediBuddy has successfully secured US$20 million (around Rs 145 crore) from investors India Life Sciences Fund III, LLC and others. In a statement, the company said that the recent investment comes line to an initial funding of US$20 million raised under a Series B round in June 2020.

Sources close to the development state that the latest US$20 million funding was led by India Life Sciences Fund III, with involvement of other investors. The round incited new financing from JAFCO Asia Fund, TEAMFund LP, FinSight Ventures, ALES Global Japan, and Beyond Next Ventures. The round also included involvement of existing investors like Bessemer Venture Partners, Rebright Partners and Milliways Ventures.

So far, MediBuddy has raised over USD 50 million, claim reports. Established by Enbasekar Dinadayalane and Satish Kannan, the MediBuddy platform entails a partner network of over 7,000 hospitals, 90,000 doctors, 3,000 diagnostic centers and 2,500 pharmacies. The platform has around 1,000-member team working across 22 cities in India.

Commenting on plans in line, Satish Kannan, Co-founder & CEO, MediBuddy, said that their firm orchestrates the infusion of the recently raised funds to further strengthen their hospital and doctor base, and enhance their patient reach, technology, product, and brand, consequently moving a step closer to the vision of providing quality healthcare services and solutions to billions of people.

Over the past few months, MediBuddy has incorporated leading industry professionals to thrive in critical areas, bolstering an already-strong team. While recent, the company received a proposal of a debt fund of around Rs 25 crore from InnoVen Capital, said Mr. Kannan.

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AI software maker Mindtrace lands $3Mn in venture capital financing

Mindtrace, a Manchester-based AI software firm, has made headlines after picking up around $3 million as an investment from venture capital (VC) firms Bloc Ventures, Skylake Capital and current investor Mercia Asset Management. Sources indicate that Mindtrace might use these funds to boost its product roadmap and expand its go-to market capabilities such as strategic partnerships.

Speaking on the investment, Skylake Capital GM, Marcos Battisti said that Mindtrace has developed a platform that provides customers a unique blend of capabilities that include federated learning and few-shot learning. These capabilities are essential for democratization of AI. Furthermore, solutions developed by Mindtrace can help drive new AI capabilities at the edge.

Sir Hossein Yassaie, Chairman, Mindtrace, explained that in order to remain competitive in the digital era, enterprises can utilize solutions like deployment of persistent learning AI technology, learning on multiple platforms and sharing knowledge of new use case across other enterprises and partner networks, with low data labeling and AI model rebuilding requirement.

Meanwhile, Michael Dimelow, Chief Commercial Officer, Bloc Ventures, stated that major venture capital and technology firms have poured enormous funds into AI over the years incited by innovators that are dedicated on improving decision making capabilities or automating repetitive tasks.

He said that as the world is now entering into an era of AI, teaching computers new learning capabilities as well as cognitively process similar to human could be the next logical step in future technology roadmap.

Commenting on Mindtrace, Mr. Dimelow said that the company has been working on this challenge for over half a decade and their firm is excited to partner with the team at Mindtrace and see whether the goal of unsupervised learning could become a reality.

As per Ashwin Kumaraswamy, Investment Director, Mercia, said AI is of high significance to Mercia and Mindtrace is ideal for their firm as it aims at bringing a brain inspired AI platform that can make machines think more dynamically and learn continuously like humans.

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UMG & Big Hit Entertainment collaborate to launch a “Global” Boy Band in 2022

  • The Korean entertainment agency and the music giant will work together to announce a K-pop boy band in the United States
  • This partnership will prove beneficial for the future of K-pop and create new opportunities for artists around the world, possibly “rewriting global music history”

Universal Music Group (UMG) and Big Hit Entertainment, two of the most instrumental music companies in the world, have reportedly signed an extended partnership which will create new opportunities for musical technology, artists across the world and for K-pop.

For the record, Big Hit Entertainment is a Korean music agency that has global chart-topping artists like BTS, considered to be the ‘Beatles of the 21st century’, under their label. The company will work closely with Universal Music Group in assembling a K-pop boy band which will receive global exposure.

This move was initially announced in a private media show which was later reported as news to the public. Four important personnel from these companies, the CEO and Chairman of Big Hit Entertainment, Bang Si-Hyuk, Lenzo Yoon, CEO of Global & Business, Big Hit Entertainment, Sir Lucian Grainge, CEO & Chairman of Universal Music Group and the CEO & Chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M, John Janick, featured in an impactful video presentation to share the news.

The “global” K-pop boy band will make their debut alongside an American media partner in 2022. Big Hit Entertainment will collaborate with UMG’s Geffen Records, which boasts artists like Guns N’ Roses, Olivia Rodrigo and the late Avicii, to create a music label based in Los Angeles. This label will be used to release the new-artist project. The new boy band will follow the “K-pop system” that got global recognition to Big Hit clients like Tomorrow X Together, ENHYPEN and BTS.

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Time Manufacturing Co. buys Ruthmann to enhance product portfolio

The move will provide both the companies with complementary products and services that allow them to improve their offerings and meet escalating customer demand  

Texas-based- Time Manufacturing Company has reportedly announced the completion of the purchase of European manufacturer of aerial work platform- Ruthmann. Based in Gescher-Hochmoor, Germany, Ruthmann carries a long history of developing superior quality, truck-mounted aerial work platforms across Europe which are made available in the market under notable brand names like Ecoline, Steiger, Ruthmann, and Bluelift.

Similarly, Time is a leading manufacturer of aerial lifts mainly for the telecommunications, infrastructure, forestry, and electric utility industries. The company is operational in the market through various brands such as Aspen Aerials, Versalift, and BrandFX.

In a statement, Curt Howell, CEO, Time Manufacturing Company, said that Ruthmann stands for reliability and quality. Through the partnership, both the companies will provide complementary products and services that allow both the parties to improve their offerings and meet the escalating demand of their customers.

For the record, the acquisition of Ruthmann is an integral step for the American company to develop a strong product portfolio that supports the growing technological needs of the electric utility, telecommunications, and other essential customers worldwide. Time has a robust international operation that showcases a remarkable opportunity to increase and promote the brands of Ruthmann to a wider audience.

Rolf Kulawik, Managing Director of Ruthmann, was reportedly quoted stating that the transaction aims at integrating the two complementary work trucks along with high access equipment manufacturers, increasing the product line with improving customer service.

Notably, Time Manufacturing Company will showcase its product lines across all its brands at the APEX Show in Netherlands in June 2021, and The Utility Expo in Louisville in September 2021.

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Super! signs a multi-year deal with live-streaming platform DICE

Super! a Paris-based promoter, has reportedly signed a new multi-year deal with DICE, a London-based cellular ticketing and live-streaming platform.

The new partnership would see Super! events endorsed to audiences across the world through the live streaming DICE platform. The deal also covers both live as well as live streamed events all throughout the promoters list of artists, including Caribou, Bicep, Jungle, Bon Iver, Disclosure, and The xx.

The deal would also be including the ticketing for Pitchfork Music Festival Paris.

Super!, established 15 years ago, specializes in folk, electronic, alternative and rock artists. The platform also produces and promotes several French festivals such as French Riviera’s MIDI festival, Villette Sonique, and Pitchfork Music Festival Paris.

Apart from ticketing, both the firms would also be joining forces on several special events, including a project named THEOREM, a novel series of monthly performances from R&B and Hip-Hop artists at venues throughout Paris.

Additionally, a brand-new event from Super! named SPIRITUS SANCTI would also be launched later this year at the Saint-Eustache Church located in Paris and would be held twice a month. These shows would be filmed as well as streamed by Brut. Last April, Super! introduced top-quality live streaming to its platform.

Julien Catala, founder, Super! stated that the firm is thrilled to start this new partnership with live streaming platform DICE. Catala is also equally thrilled by the notion of developing new types of events with DICE over the coming years.

Country Manager for DICE, France, Alba Gautier, stated that the platform is excited to onboard the impressive portfolio of Super! onto the DICE app.

Gautier added that both firms are working together to bring top-quality, memorable music moments to followers, offering one of the best buying experiences, from discovering the show to seeing their beloved artist on stage.

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LVMH announces indefinite suspension of Rihanna’s Fenty Fashion House

Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE (LVMH), a French luxury conglomerate, has recently announced the indefinite suspension of Fenty Fashion House, Rihanna’s clothing line. The brand was launched less than 2 years ago with this French company, which is home to Dior, Louis Vuitton, and other high-end fashion houses.

LVMH has reportedly cited that the company and Rihanna jointly made the decision to temporarily put the Fenty Fashion House business on hold. Following this suspension, it will still continue to concentrate on the long-term development and growth of other business lines such as Fenty Beauty, Fenty Skin, and Savage X Fenty. Additional details of the latest business suspension have not been revealed.

The fashion industry across the globe has been hard hit by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with fashion sales recording a dramatic drop in 2020. The recent announcement happened along the heels of a successful fundraising activity of the lingerie brand, Savage X Fenty. Through this funding round, the business line raised $115 million to boost its investment into customer acquisition as well as expansion into the retail sector, with Jay-Z as an investor via Marcy Venture Partners. This business, like other Fenty brands, has gained widespread recognition and adoption over the past years owing to its inclusive practices and body-positivity. The brand also has witnessed an exponential revenue growth of nearly 200%.

After the launch of Fenty Fashion House in 2019, Rihanna became the 1st Black woman to lead an original brand with the support of LVMH, despite it not being her 1st clothing venture. Moreover, she also became Puma’s creative director in 2014, and has created multiple collections for River Island, a British store.

The recent business suspension of the Fenty clothing brand will favorably enable it to reposition and refine its offerings to make a significant return to business, perhaps after the COVID-19 crisis.

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Kerala’s high-speed train project- Silverline to cover 530km in 5 hours

The Government of India has recently extended a green signal to Silverline, Kerala’s INR 63,941 crore semi high-speed rail projects that will help reduce pollution levels, accidents, and congestion.

In a statement by Ajith Kumar, Managing Director at Kerala Railway Development Corporation Limited, the proposed project carries the potential to take away nearly 457 lorries off the state’s accident-prone and congested highways daily, since many roll on-roll off trains, each capable of carrying 40 lorries.

Moreover, Silverline will cover Kasaragod-Thiruvananthapuram, a 530-km long track in five hours, he added, stating that such high-speed trains operate in nations like Germany and the UK at the speed of 140 kmph.

Silverline can touch up to 130 kmph, for which rakes may either be imported or built by Indian companies that have expertise. The ro-ro train in Kerala will mostly operate at night and during off-peak hours, he mentioned.

It is worth noting that the operational cost of a lorry will be restricted to Rs 26 per km, which is much lesser than the expense in a road-route. Moreover, the state route will be covered in 5 hours through Silverline as opposed to a 14-hour road journey.

Citing reports, Nirmala Sitharaman, the Hon’ble Finance Minister of India, has sent a letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala- Pinarayi Vijayan requesting the state government to accelerate the land acquisition process after receiving the necessary clearances.

Apparently, the letter dated January 5, 2021, also directed the project implementation agency to engage with Japanese International Cooperative Agency to chart out the funding particulars.

Notably, the ro-ro train will reduce greenhouse gas emission by 2.87 lakh tons from 2025 to 2026. These figures could increase to 5.94 lakh tons in 2052 to 2053 as a high number of passengers and cargo are expected to use this novel services.

According to the suggested scheme, passenger trains along the route will operate between 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. While the per passenger fare is expected at Rs 2.75 per km.

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Syngenta Crop Protection to ink AI partnership with Insilico Medicine

Global agriculture frontrunner, Syngenta Crop Protection has reportedly collaborated with AI and deep learning provider, Insilico Medicine to speed up the launch and development of advanced crop protection solutions to guard crops against diseases, weeds, and pests, in a bid to protect the ecosystems. With this move, the agriculture-based firm plans to offer farmers faster and efficient solutions through innovations to focus on their ongoing challenges for affordable, quality food as well as to enhance their productivity.

For those uninitiated, Insilico Medicine has shown significant advances in pharmaceutical research for the use of AI and deep learning in designing, synthesizing, and validating new ingredients with a proven track record. These processes also have the potential to bring transformation in order to develop new crop protection solutions to keep the plants safe during planting and harvesting.

Through this collaboration, Insilico Medicine would deploy its AI-based small molecule generative chemistry technology to quickly create molecules for active ingredients, as well as to actively design sustainable and environmentally friendly molecules.

Head of Crop Protection Research at Syngenta, Camilla Corsi, revealed that the collaboration would assist the company in harnessing the tremendous potential of AI, in order to come up with advanced sustainable crop protection solutions, given the firm’s $2 billion commitment towards innovation and sustainability. It would also lead to an agricultural transformation and provide farmers with the tools to efficiently produce healthy, nutritious, cost-friendly, and sustainably grown food, while simultaneously curbing the environmental impact.

As per founder and CEO of Insilico Medicine, Alex Zhavoronkov, the firm is excited to partner with Syngenta to deploy AI solutions for the benefit of agriculture, while addressing it as a progressive company with numerous brilliant scientists and throwing light on its dedication towards developing safe and sustainable solutions. The CEO further stated that their AI solutions are extremely valuable for crop sciences and have been designed for product safety-oriented businesses from the ground up, to create highly accurate chemistry to guard human health while rendering short-term and long-term protection.


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BP sells its 20% stake in Oman gas field to Thailand’s PTTEP

Leading British oil company- BP is reportedly selling 20% of its 60% share in a gas block in Oman to Thailand’s PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited (PTTEP) for USD 2.6 billion in a bid to gain USD 25 billion as divestment proceeds by 2025.

In a statement by BP, post the completion of the sale in Oman’s Block 61 to Thailand’s national oil company, projected to be completed this year, BP will continue to remain the operator of the block with a stake of 40%. Notably, the sale has to be approved by the Sultanate of Oman and their other partners in the block.

Bernard Looney, Chief Executive Officer, BP was reportedly quoted stating that the company is committed to its business in Oman, where the agreement allows the British oil giant to facilitate world-class development along with making notable progress in the divestment program.

It is worth mentioning that, BP aims at boosting its investment in low-carbon energy by ten times to USD 5 billion annually and reduce the oil and gas production by 40% by 2030. The company is also targeting proceeds of a total of USD 25 billion from divestments in the next five years.

As per recent news, BP announced the completion of the sale of its petrochemicals arm for USD 5 billion to INEOS in 2020.

Seemingly, the company is working towards changing its business to an integrated energy giant from an international oil company as it continues to develop resilient and focused hydrocarbon as it claimed in October 2020 after commencing the production from the Ghazeer gas field in Oman.

Apparently, owing to the prevailing coronavirus pandemic, the oil industry has been adversely affected, with BP recording losses of approximately USD 5.7 billion in 2020.

Citing sources, despite the weak business environment, the company is focusing on making a transition to a greener business model by ramping up the renewable power generation capacity to 50 GW by 2030 from the present 3.3 GW while reducing the output of the oil to reduce the GHG emissions.

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Sony Music acquires AWAL and Kobalt neighboring Rights in a $430M deal

Sony Music, a leading American global music firm under the Sony Corporation of America conglomerate, has reportedly inked a new definitive agreement to procure AWAL, the independent distribution as well as label division of Kobalt Music Group, and its neighboring rights unit, both companies announced the new deal on Monday, Feb 1, 2021.

According to reports, The proposed deal, which would still need to obtain regulatory approval to go through, would see Sony Music pay over $430 million to Kobalt Music Group. The deal would be subject to conventional working capital as well as other adjustments.

As per the announcement, AWAL as well as the neighboring rights unit would be working as an independent new division, which would be connected to Orchard, the indie distribution arm of Sony which has revenues of over $800 million.

In the financial year that ended March of 2019, AWAL clocked in revenues of over $106.2 million with its neighboring rights unit recording collections of approximately $65 million. If the proposed deal goes through, the indie operations of Sony could have revenues of over $1 billion.

However, because Sony counts these monies under the agency accounting, it only recognizes the distribution fees of Orchard it gathers as revenue under its own reporting. The company is highly likely do the exact same thing for the acquired Kobalt entities.

Rob Stringer, chairman, Sony Music Group stated that the company’s investment in the continued growth of AWAL gives it another service to make available to  the independent music community. Stringer further added that with AWAL’s flexible solutions, which help build the careers of artists, the two companies can together offer more thrilling choices to creators to connect with their respective global audience.

When this takeover deal closes, it would mean that Kobalt would still own its AMRA performing rights organization as well as its music publishing platform, while an independent entity, Kobalt Capital, would work as a Kobalt Music Copyrights Fund II investment adviser. Last November, Kobalt reportedly sold the company’s Music Copyrights Fund 1 for $323 million to Hipgnosis.

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