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Main article: Articles

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Innovaccer wants to be the service that unifies all healthcare data

05:30 | 14 February

The holy grail for technology companies working in the healthcare industry is becoming the gateway for all healthcare data.

Big legacy providers like Epic and Cerner are trying to reach out to hospital networks to hoover up all of their data. Google is interested in it. Salesforce is interested in it. Everyone wants to be the resource that organizes and manages healthcare data for physicians and hospital providers — everyone including the San Francisco-based startup Innovaccer, which has raised $70 million in new financing to finance its mission.

The new investment from firms including Steadview Capital, Tiger Global, Dragoneer, Westbridge Capital, the Abu Dhabi investment firm Mubadala Capital, and Microsoft’s corporate investment arm, M12.

These are deep-pocketed investors for whom money is no object, but Innovaccer has shown a fair bit of traction among hospitals and health systems with its data analysis and management platform.

The company’s software pulls from datasets including those generated by Cerner and Epic’s healthcare records, as well as insurance companies and pharmacies to create a more holistic view of a patient, the company says.

Since its launch in 2014, Innovaccer has provided a single source or healthcare information for 3.8 million patients and saved healthcare systems more than $400 million, the company said.

“Healthcare still needs a lot of work to become patient-centered and connected by organizing information and making it more accessible. It is really important to make patient data seamlessly available to all providers along the patient’s care journey,” said Abhinav Shashank, the co-founder and chief executive at Innovaccer, in a statement. “We have been fortunate to work with transformational healthcare initiatives that our amazing customers are engaged in. The vision of helping healthcare work as one needs a connected and open technology framework. We are excited to be at the forefront of providing the tech platform for our customers to drive that change.”

Its technology relies on over 200 APIs to take data from health plans, primary care providers, pharmacies, labs and hospitals and serves that data to 25,000 care providers. The company hopes to take that number ot over 100 million healthcare records and 500,000 caregivers over the next several years.

It’s a lofty goal, but one that appeals to the Ravi Mehta, the founder of the $2.5 billion hedge fund Steadview Capital.

“By using their connected care framework coupled with their leading-edge data aggregation and analytics platform, they are unifying patient records and enabling care teams to coordinate patient care at a new level,” said Mehta. “We believe this will achieve greater efficiencies, enable better care and reduce overall healthcare spend in the years to come.” 

 


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Fiddler Labs, SRI and Berkeley experts open up the black box of machine learning at TC Sessions: Robotics+AI

04:13 | 13 February

As AI permeates the home, work, and public life, it’s increasingly important to be able to understand why and how it makes its decisions. Explainable AI isn’t just a matter of hitting a switch, though; Experts from UC Berkeley, SRI, and Fiddler Labs will discuss how we should go about it on stage at TC Sessions: Robotics+AI on March 3.

What does explainability really mean? Do we need to start from scratch? How do we avoid exposing proprietary data and methods? Will there be a performance hit? Whose responsibility will it be, and who will ensure it is done properly?

On our panel addressing these questions and more will be two experts, one each from academia and private industry.

Trevor Darrell is a professor at Berkeley’s Computer Science department who helps lead many of the university’s AI-related labs and projects, especially those concerned with the next generation of smart transportation. His research group focuses on perception and human-AI interaction, and he previously led a computer vision group at MIT.

Krishna Gade has passed in his time through Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Microsoft, and has seen firsthand how AI is developed privately — and how biases and flawed processes can lead to troubling results. He co-founded Fiddler as an effort to address problems of fairness and transparency by providing an explainable AI framework for enterprise.

Moderating and taking part in the discussion will be SRI International’s Karen Myers, director of the research outfit’s Artificial Intelligence Center and an AI developer herself focused on collaboration, automation, and multi-agent systems.

Save $50 on tickets when you book today. Ticket prices go up at the door and are selling fast. We have two (yes two) Startup Demo Packages Left – book your package now and get your startup in front of 1000+ of today’s leading industry minds. Packages come with 4 tickets – book here.

 


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Orbital debris startup Astroscale chosen by JAXA for its first space junk removal mission

17:42 | 12 February

Japanese orbital debris removal technology startup Astroscale is going to be working with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on the agency’s first mission to remove some of the junk that currently exists on orbit. They’ve been selected by the age y to participate in its Commercial Removal of Debris Demonstration project (CRD2) which includes two separate mission phases that together will aim to accomplish the removal of a large body currently on orbit, the spent upper stage of a Japanese rocket.

Astroscale, which was founded in 2013, is focused entirely on cleaning up orbital space, which it sees as a necessary step for long-term sustainable activity on orbit. Space debris has become a hot-button topic in the space industry, with current projections anticipating massive increases in the number of active satellites orbiting the planet, thanks to the uptick in satellite constellation projects in the works from commercial operators including SpaceX, Amazon and OneWeb.

The JAXA mission aims to complete its first phase by the end of 2022, and Astroscale will support that phase by building, launching and operating a satellite that will observe and acquire data on the rocket upper stage that the second phase will seek to de-orbit. The goal is to find out more about its movement and the surrounding debris environment in order to set up a safe and successful removal.

“The data obtained in Phase I of CRD2 is expected to reinforce the dangers of existing debris and the necessity to remove them,” said Astroscale founder and CEO Nobu Okada in a press release. “Debris removal is still a new market and our mission has always been to establish routine debris removal services in space in order to secure orbital sustainability for the benefit of future generations. The international community is growing more aware of the risks of space debris and we are committed more than ever to turning this potential market into a reality.”

Astroscale is also already involved in other orbital debris removal projects, and plans to launch a demonstration mission of its ‘End-of-Life Services’ offering sometime in the second half of this year. This mission will be a world-first demo of commercial orbital debris removal is all goes to plan, a key step in proving that its technology can meet the needs of this growing opportunity.

Earlier this year, a near-miss of two defunct orbital spacecraft made headlines, and observers noted that had a collision occurred, it would’ve resulted in a new debris cloud with “at least hundreds” of new pieces of trackable debris. Astroscale and others like it could, combined with other initiatives like more granular tracking and information sharing among satellite operators, provide a much more sustainable in-space operating environment for the range of commercial activities either planned or in progress for orbital space.

 


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Show off your startup at TC Sessions: Mobility 2020

00:00 | 12 February

Remember when “mobility” meant laptops and cell phones? Those were quaint times. Now the category encompasses the future of transportation — everything from flying cars and autonomous vehicles to delivery bots and beyond. There’s no better place to explore this rapidly moving industry than TC Sessions: Mobility 2020, our day-long conference in San Jose on May 14.

And there’s no better place to showcase your early-stage mobility startup. Consider this: more than 1,000 of mobility’s brightest technologists, engineers, founders and investors will be on hand to explore the future of this rapidly evolving technology. So why not buy an Early-Stage Startup Exhibitor Package and plant your business squarely in the path of this group of enthusiastic influencers?

Your exhibitor package includes a 30-inch high-boy table, power, linen, signage — and four tickets to the event. You and your team can strut your startup stuff, take advantage of hyper-focused networking and still enjoy the event’s presentations and workshops.

We’re building our agenda, and we just started announcing speakers on a rolling basis. If you know someone who should be onstage at this event? Hit us up and nominate a speaker here.

We already told you that Waymo’s Boris Sofman and Ike Robotics’ Nancy Sun will join us. And we’re thrilled that Reilly Brennan, founding general partner of Trucks VC, a seed-stage venture capital fund for entrepreneurs, will also grace our stage. Brennan’s many investments include May Mobility, Nauto, nuTonomy, Joby Aviation, Skip and Roadster.

Will your startup be his next investment? Stranger things have happened.

TC Sessions: Mobility 2020 takes place on May 14 in San Jose, Calif. Spend a full day of exploring the art and science of mobility, and don’t miss your chance to introduce your startup to influential movers and shakers. These are heady times in the mobility industry, and it’s moving faster than the race to market a viable flying car. Buy an Early-Stage Startup Exhibitor Package, and you might just transport your business to a whole new level.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: Mobility 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

 


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NVIDIA VP Claire Delaunay will discuss empowering robotics startups at TC Sessions: Robotics+AI

19:35 | 11 February

Robotics, AI and automation are the future of business. This much seemingly everyone can agree on. Finding the resources to implement these technologies, on the other hand, is a different question entirely. Resource strapped startups and even established companies with sufficient know-how may find it difficult to adapt to changing technologies.

NVIDIA’s VP of Engineering Claire Delaunay will be returning to TC Sessions: Robotics + AI at U.C. Berkeley on March 3 to discuss the component giant’s work in AI and robotics. After showing of NVIDIA’s Isaac platform at last year’s event, the former Google robotics lead will discuss how the company is working to create a platform to help accelerate robotics development.

Delaunay will be joined by Scott Phoenix, the cofounder and CEO of Vicarious, which works to develop AI and general intelligence for robotics and Joshua Wilson, cofounder and CEO of Freedom Robotics, which works to help companies launch and scale robotics systems.

Tickets are on sale now for $345 and you’ll save $50 when you book now as prices go up at the door.

We have two Startup Demo Packages left for $2200. Each package comes with a demo space and 4 tickets to the show. Grab yours here.

Student tickets, are still available at the super discounted $50 rate when you book here.

 


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Alpha Foods raises $28 million for its vegetarian prepared foods

19:01 | 11 February

Alpha Foods, the vegetarian prepared food manufacturer, has raised $28 million in financing for its portfolio of vegetarian burritos, tamales, nuggets, pizzas, burgers, patties, and sausages.

The Glendale, Calif.-based company was launched by Loren Wallis, the founder of the dairy substitute, Good Karma Foods, and Cole Orobetz, a former director with the agricultural debt lending firm Avrio Capital.

First launched in 2015, Alpha Foods previously raised $9.5 million in financing from investments firms like New Crop Capital and AccelFoods, whose other brands include Kite Hill, Good Catch, BRAMi, and Evoke Healthy Foods.

As more Americans move to supplement their diets with plant-based products, companies like Alpha Foods have found willing investors for new food brands. The company’s new round was led by AccelFoods with existing investors including New Crop Capital, Green Monday Ventures and Blue Horizon also participating.

Companies like Alpha compete with huge consumer packaged goods companies like Kelloggs (through its Morningstar Farms line of vegetarian products) and Nestle (through Sweet Earth Foods).

While the Morningstar Farms brand might seem a bit stale, the market has been reinvigorated through the marketing muscle and venture dollars supplied by companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods whose products have captured contracts from some of the world’s biggest fast food chains — including McDonalds, KFC, and Burger King.

Alpha Foods said it will use the latest money to launch new products, make new hires and expand its distribution channels nationally and internationally.

The company is already sold in well over 6,000 stores at chains including Wegmans, Walmart, Krogers, and Publix.

“As more and more people actively seek out plant-based options, whether for their health or the environment, we are looking to expand our innovations within the category and bring easy to prepare products to a wider audience,” said Cole Orobetz, Co-Founder and President of Alpha Foods, in a statement.

The sale of pre-prepared plant-based meals reached $387 million in 2019, up 6% over the past year, according to data from the Good Food Institute.

“We are in the early days of plant-based consumption. As a portable, functional food business geared towards the newly emergent flexitarian consumer, the Alpha platform meets all of its customers snack and mealtime needs,” said AccelFoods Managing Partner, Jordan Gaspar. “We couldn’t be prouder to lead this strong nexus of collaborative investors, who had the opportunity to organically build trust this past year allowing for an incredibly successful outcome in this financing.”

 


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Aptiv’s self-driving cars have given 100,000 paid rides on the Lyft app

14:00 | 11 February

What started out as a temporary pilot project to test a robotaxi service in Las Vegas has turned into a multi-year partnership between self-driving software company Aptiv and Lyft and a new milestone that suggests the operation is ramping up.

The companies announced Tuesday that they’ve given 100,000 paid rides in Aptiv’s self-driving vehicles via the Lyft app.

“To our knowledge this is the largest open-to-the-public commercial pilot,” Aptiv Autonomous Mobility President Karl Iagnemma said in a recent interview. “To me this partnership is a great example of the next-generation ecosystem at work.”

The milestone has a few important caveats. Aptiv’s self-driving vehicles — which initially began with BMW 5 series — have a human safety driver behind the wheel to take over if needed. The human driver operates the vehicle manually in parking lots and hotel lobby areas. 

The program, even if with those human safety drivers behind the wheel, has proven invaluable to the companies, according to Iagnemma and Jody Kelman, who leads the self-driving platform team at Lyft.

“We’ve got something here,” Kelman said. “This is really a blueprint for what future mobility partnerships can look like.”

Companies in this so-called “race” to commercially deploy on-demand ride-hailing services using self-driving vehicles must master more than the technical bits. Fleet management, real-time routing, and designing an approachable user interface are just a few critical components needed to operate a profitable robotaxi service.

The program has taught Aptiv how to “get and keep a fleet of autonomous vehicles on the road and keep them highly utilized,” Iagnemma said, later adding that this project positions Lyft and Aptiv to be major winners in this space. The companies also learned how to work with various regulatory bodies, in this case, with the city of Las Vegas, Clark County and the region’s transit authority.

Lyft and Aptiv first launched the pilot in January 2018 as a one-week experiment and then announced plans to extend the program. The program surpassed 5,000 self-driving rides by August and jumped to more than 25,000 paid autonomous rides by December 2018, all while maintaining an average passenger rating of 4.95 out of five stars, Aptiv said at the time. 

By May 2019, the companies reported they had given more than 50,000 paid self-driving rides in Las Vegas.

Aptiv’s investment in Las Vegas expanded as those ridership numbers grew. The company opened in December 2018 a 130,000-square-foot technical center in the city to house its fleet of autonomous vehicles as well as an engineering team dedicated to research and development of software and hardware systems, validation and mapping.

 


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Students: Score $50 tickets to TC Sessions: Robotics + AI 2020

19:45 | 10 February

Are you a student enthralled by robots and the AI that powers them? Do you live within striking distance of UC Berkeley? Ready to learn from the greatest minds and makers in the field? Then we want you at TC Sessions: Robotics + AI 2020 on March 3 at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall.

We’re investing in the next generation of makers by making our day-long conference super-affordable. Buy your $50 student pass right here.

If you’re not familiar with our Robotics/AI session, listen up. It’s a full day of interviews, panel discussions, Q&As, workshops and demos. And it’s all dedicated to these two world-changing technologies. Last year, we hosted1,500 attendees. We’re talking the industries’ top leaders, founders, investors, technologists, executives and engineering students.

As a student, you’ll rub elbows with the greats. You’ll have ample time to learn and network. Who knows? You might impress the pants off the right person and land an internship, a prime job — or find the co-founder of your dreams.

If networking feels like a chore, never fear. CrunchMatch, our free business matching platform, removes the pain and adds efficiency. Win-win!

You’ll hear from our great slate of speakers, including VCs Eric Migicovsky (Y Combinator), Kelly Chen (DCVC) and Dror Berman (Innovation Endeavors). You’ll also hear from plenty of founders, including experts focused on agricultural, construction and human assistive robotics. And that’s just for starters.

Here are a few more examples of presentations you’ll find in our program agenda.

  • Fostering the Next Generation of Robotics Startups: Robotics and AI are the future of many or most industries, but the barrier of entry is still difficult to surmount for many startups. Joshua Wilson (co-founder & CEO, Freedom Robotics) and Scott Phoenix (co-founder & CEO, Vicarious) will discuss the challenges of serving robotics startups and companies that require robotics labor, from bootstrapped startups to large scale enterprises.
  • Live Demo from the Stanford Robotics Club: It just wouldn’t be a robotics conference without the opportunity to see robots in action. We’ve got you covered.
  • Pitch Night Pitch-off Finalists: Early-stage companies, hand-picked by TechCrunch editors, will take the stage and have five minutes to present their wares.
  • Saving Humanity from AI: UC Berkeley’s Stuart Russell argues in his acclaimed new book, “Human Compatible,” that AI will doom humanity unless technologists fundamentally reform how they build AI algorithms.

TC Sessions: Robotics + AI 2020 takes place on March 3. We’re making the event affordable for students, because there’s no future tech without them. Invest $50 in your tomorrow — buy your student ticket today, and join us in Berkeley!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: Robotics & AI 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

 


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Alphabet’s Loon and SoftBank’s HAPSMobile turn solar-powered drones into flying cell towers

17:36 | 6 February

Alphabet-owned Loon, the company that had been focused on delivering internet communications to remote areas via stratospheric balloons, has completed development work on a new payload for partner HAPSMobile, a subsidiary of SoftBank that’s building high-altitude solar-powered uncrewed aircraft. The two companies jointly adapted the communications technology that enables Loon’s balloons to beam communications networks to Earth for use on HAPSMobile’s drones, effectively turning them into high-flying mobile cell towers.

This is the result of a strategic partnership that the two companies announced back in April of last year, but an important step because it means that Loon’s technology will get its first functional tests on vehicles other than its ballon-based platform. The HAWK30 aircraft that HAPSMobile developed is a solar-powered electric aircraft that flies at speeds of over 100 km/h (around 60 mph) in the stratosphere (with an operating altitude or around 65,000 feet) which is much faster than Loon’s balloons, which meant adapting the payload to perform at these speeds. Part of that customization included making the antenna used to beam the LTE connectivity to devices on the ground much more responsive, allowing them to rotate quickly to maintain the best possible connection.

Loon and HAPSMobile say the their communications technology can provide connections between devices as far as 700 km (435 miles) apart, with data transfer speeds reaching as high as 1Gpbs. HAPSMobile’s goal with the HAWK30 project is to expand the scope of coverage vs. terrestrial cell towers, since their high-altitude position can cover a much larger surface area vs. even the tallest cell towers. In fact, the company notes that just 40 of its aircraft could provide coverage to the entirety of Japan, vs. “tens of thousands of existing terrestrial base stations.” Plus, fewer areas would be considered out-of-range as a result of inhospitable terrain or difficult to reach areas in terms of infrastructure installation.

For Loon, this is a signifiant expansion of their current operating model, providing another path to revenue that includes adapting their communications technology for use on different types of aircraft and delivery models. It’s yet another example of the type of commercial partnerships available to the company, even as it ramps up its existing balloon-based deployment plans with partners including Telefonica and others.

 


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Medloop secures €6M from Kamet Ventures and AXA for self-service patient app

18:19 | 30 January

Medloop, which allows patients to manage healthcare needs and providers, has secured €6 million from Kamet Ventures and AXA.

The cash will be used to enhance its product offering and continue expansion across Germany and the UK. Medloop is also developing an evidence-based medical rule engine embedded on the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) of patients.

Medloop offers patients what it calls “intuitive” self-service features in an app that enables them to navigate their own healthcare including online appointment bookings, electronic medical results, prescription refills, as well as chatting in-app with healthcare providers.

Founded in 2018 by Berlin-based entrepreneur Shishir Singhee, some medical practices in Germany use the Medloop doctor system to run their entire practice, using it to give an overview of their patient population.

Singhee, said: “Healthcare today has become increasingly impersonalized as ever-growing patient registers have made it challenging for doctors to treat patients in a bespoke way. Medloop strives to bridge this critical gap, by employing technology to empower patients and help doctors deliver proactive and holistic care.“

Stephane Guinet, CEO of Kamet Ventures, said: “It is no secret how overstretched doctors are in terms of the time and care they can offer each patient. Medloop’s offering is a novel solution to this challenge and we are very excited to be part of Medloop’s growth story given how critical its offering is to the UK market and beyond.”

Medloop achieved compatibility with EMIS last summer, enabling its entry into the UK market.

In Germany, its main competitors are the incumbents that were built in the early 90s such as Medatix and Medistar. In the UK it is up against patient management tools such as QMasters.

 


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