Category: Funding Rounds

Japanese startup Ambient Intelligence raises funding to develop submersible underwater drone

From aerial exploration used in construction sites to the commercial use of taking high-ground selfies, drones have been cited for its many applications up in the air until the arrival of this Japanese startup enter the drone scene.

Ambient Intelligence Technology, a startup developing and manufacturing submersible underwater drones, said that it has secured 190 million yen (about US$1.7 million) in its latest round led by Beyond Next Ventures.

The round which was intended to accelerate the company’s plan in developing business-use drones for maintaining and managing underwater infrastructure also saw participation from Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Venture Capital, SMBC Venture Capital, and Freebit Investment.

Established in 2014 by Shohei Ito and Yasushi Nakauchi, Ambient Intelligence is focused on developing underwater drones, to solve the limitations for a human diving professional which can only reach the maximum depth of 40 meters. Any depths more than 40 meters and it will be required to use the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) which can be complex and expensive.

To solve this, Ambient Intelligence looks to release Spider – an underwater drone product from the company next spring. It has eight thrusters and can be connected to a terminal on a mother vessel by a single tether cable.

Users can simply operate a gamepad for the drone to go down to a maximum depth of 300 meters. Its battery life last 4 hours and it has altitude control and computer vision-based position holding functions for the drone body which will allow users to easily monitor and research environment even in a strong water current area.

Despite there being little petroleum production in the country, the technology will become useful in Japan for the maintenance and management of underwater infrastructures such as dams and harbors.

It will also be easier to conduct surveys in environments where there is are tidal currents which have been difficult until now.

“Currently we are concentrating on expanding the underwater drone submerging to a depth of 300 meters with high market needs,” said Ambient Intelligence. “But in the future, we will develop products that can withstand the water depth of 1000 meters which will allow further exploration of the deep sea.”

GliaCloud is raising US$500K seed funding to create video from text

GliaCloud, an AI video creation startup based in Taiwan said it has secured a US$500,000 seed funding. The round was led by Infinity Venture Partners (IVP) with participation from several unnamed angel investors.

The startup’s product, GliaStudio uses natural language processing, data analytics, and artificial intelligence to automatically create video via text.

Users simply need to provide their content in text, and the platform will automatically edit relevant images and video clips, as well as dubbing over it to create a video.

GliaStudio is available in English, Chinese, and Japanese as it targets e-commerce platforms and merchants as well as media companies in Greater China and Japan.

So far, the startup has partnered with 10 media companies in the Greater China region including Toutiao, the Chinese news curating app and BusinessNext, the Taiwanese leading tech news media to generate more than 1000 video clips each day.

Founded in July 2015 by Taiwanese Canadian entrepreneur David Chen, GliaCloud aims to corner the market on the new necessity in media and content development which uses video.

With video content being prevalent to dominate mobile and social media traffic, GliaStudio plays a significant role in helping online publishers to reach their audiences without making huge investments.

Moreover, with this funding having Japan-based IVP participate in as an investor, further massive expansion into the Japanese market is to be expected.

Last year, the company won the Aliyun Award at the Tech in Asia Singapore startup competition.

Singaporean Game Studio BattleBrew Productions secures undisclosed angel funding

BattleBrew Productions, a new game developer based in Singapore announced that it has raised its first angel funding from Emerio’s CEO Harish Nim.

Similarly based in Singapore, Emerio Corp is an IT service provider that is a subsidiary company of NTT-Docomo, one of Japan’s largest telco operator.

The funding amount was undisclosed but BattleBrew will use the newly-raised capital to fund the development of its first game under the working title Wyldeweavers. It is said to be a free-to-play mobile strategy game for the iOS and Android platforms.

Launched earlier in February 2017, BattleBrew is made up by a team of 12 veteran game developers from Singapore, including Benjamin Chua, Louis Cua, and Greyson He who have previously worked at Ubisoft, developing triple AAA titles such as the Assassin’s Creed series.

Meanwhile, other members of the team have also worked in big-name gaming companies such as Gameloft and Sea (previously known as Garena).

Leading the team is CEO Shawn Toh who has worked as the game designer for Nubee and Gumi Asia, as well as being the associated producer at the Game Lab of the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

“The industry is pretty close-knit, so once we had an idea for a game we really wanted to work on, it was an easy decision. We have a lot more ownership in what we make, especially for the guys or girls who came from triple-A studios,” Toh explained.

The team is also supported by Elicia Lee, the founder of Singapore gaming convention GameStart Asia and Ian Gregory Tan, the creative director of Witching Hour Studios which became a crowdfunding sensation with its RPG title Masquerada: Songs and Shadows.

On the other hand, there has also been a rise of immersive VR entertainment in Southeast Asia’s gaming scene. In June, Havson group has introduced EXA Outpost, the first hyper-reality gaming theme park in Malaysia.

Julo raises seed round led by Skystar Capital to serve the underbanked consumers

Indonesian peer-to-peer (P2P) lending startup Julo has landed an undisclosed seed funding led by Skystar Capital, with participation from East Ventures, Convergence Ventures, and other undisclosed angel investors.

The capital will be used to accelerate financial inclusion in Indonesia, that is focusing on the 100 million underbanked people to obtain loans for their various personal use.

According to Julo’s Co-founder Adriansus Hitijahubessy, it will be primarily spent on product and business development, in addition to machines learning investments, team development and distribution.

“The idea for Julo started when I was building AI-based credit scoring solutions for emerging countries in my previous company,” said Hitijahubessy. “As successful as it was, I realized that instead of helping consumers in Latin America and African countries to gain access to credit, I should be helping people in my home country.”

Hitijahubessy also notes that Indonesia is a suitable seedbed for the fintech lending company, as the country has a large segment of the population at the base of the financial pyramid and low consumer credit liquidity equipped with information technology.

Along with Hans Sebastian and Victor Darmadi, Hitijahubessy set up Julo, a personal loan app for Android users. This allows loan applicants to apply for a small personal loan from their phones, where they are required to submit pictures of personal documents.

Successful applications can receive their loan within the next 24 hours, with a maximum permissible loan size of about US$600 and a payment period up to six months.

Besides, it is the startup’s credit scoring algorithm that allows users to manage loans, due dates, and cash back bonuses paired with alerts and reminders, which draw Skystar Capital to invest.

Edward Gunawan, the Partner of Skystar said, “We believe that having a strong credit scoring algorithm is a key differentiator for P2P lending startups. Driven by a technically strong founding team, Julo is one of the first locally grown P2P lending startups. ”

The startup generates revenue from a provision fee from borrowers and service fees from lenders. Since its launch in January 2017, Julo claims to have 50,000 app downloads and more than thousands lenders.

Julo hopes the company will reach a critical mass of 10,000 borrowers within the year, and accelerate the development of its credit scoring engine.

HoloEyes raises US$1.3 million Series A to help surgeons stimulate operations in VR

Japanese Virtual Reality (VR) startup HoloEyes, which develops surgical simulation content for doctors, announced recently that it has raised 150 million yen (about US$1.3 million) in a Series A round from Nissay Capital.

This follows a 10 million yen (about US$89K) seed round the company has secured from Japanese VR-focused acceleration program Tokyo VR Startups (TVS) after graduating from its 2nd batch. The investment proceeds from the round have been used for product and business development.

Founded in October 2016, HoloEyes was set up by app developer Naoji Taniguchi, surgeon and visiting associate professor Dr. Maki Sugimoto, and Kenichi Shinjo who has previously worked as the producer of AllAbout and COO of Appliya.

Developed for medical use, the startup’s VR content solution known as HoloEyes VR is designed to provide 3-dimensional images for surgeons and other medical staff to understand the surgical procedure more intuitively.

The technology is based on cloud services that can convert a specific patient’s medical diagnoses, such as CT scans, MRIs, and X-rays into polygons for the medical staffs to freely view then in 3D space using VR devices.

Collecting and accumulating the data from CT scans, HoloEyes eventually plans to form 3D human body models based on its medical VR database. Moving forward, the startup may assume a business model based on a search database to retrieve 3D images based on certain keywords.

For example, it could be possible to search “60s male prostate cancer” and retrieve the 3D images for a similar case which can be used by a doctor for diagnosis or surgery training. The possible use cases could also include sharing surgical plans and easier explanation for patients.

In December 2016, the team won the Tech Lab Paak award at the event’s 6th Demo Day, while in January 2017 they were awarded the Amazon AWS prize at the Demo Day of the 1st batch of Brave – the acceleration program by Tokyo-based life science-focused startup VC/ accelerator Beyond Next Ventures.

With the proceeds from Series A, HoloEyes plans to build the system and business base for HoloEyes VR and expand its staff.

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