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Two Canadians Hope To Change What’s Visible
AI Developer Migel Tissera was streaming an MMA match from an office in Adelaide, Australia, when the buffering started to annoy him. He got to thinking, what if there was a way to stream just the important parts clearly — the shots of the physical match, versus the audience and extra b-roll — in order to streamline the quality?
That question eventually led to the development of hyperspectral cameras capable of sending high quality footage from great distances. Applications could include sending crisp images from space, sorting plastics and scanning food, according to entrepreneur and engineer Francis Doumet, who told Times of E the story of the company’s beginning. Doumet and Tissera met in Vancouver, where Tissera went to attend an AI conference.
Their company is called Metaspectral, Early backers include Village Global, which advertises itself as a venture network and includes billionaire entrepreneurs Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Sara Blakely, to name a few. Village Global selects cohorts of about 20 companies for its program.
So far, Metaspectral has raised about $617,000 (or C$750,000) in funding.
One investor from the network includes Linkedin CEO Reid Hoffman, who is a limited partner with Village Global. Hoffman advised Doumet and Tissera to find their beachhead amidst the many industries the technology applies to, Doumet said.
Initially, the plan was to innovate the video industry, but that turned out to be difficult to penetrate, Doumet said. But the two founders noticed a gap in innovation in imagery that goes deep into the infrared range, which is very challenging to capture, manage and transmit, Doumet said.
“We developed technology that is capable of losslessly, and near losslessly, compressing the data down to a size that makes it manageable to transmit, over whatever limited bandwidth is available,” he said. “So we’re talking about areas that are remote because it’s an agricultural field in the middle of nowhere, or it’s defense applications in the middle of the ocean, or it could even be factories like this one where the internet is really bad,” Doumet said.
“This beachhead for us turned out to be recycling, where we’re applying our technology to sort between previously unsortable materials, increasing the reusability of plastics, and contributing to the circular economy,” Doumet said. “(Reid’s) advice proved to be true later on as well, as we began selling to the aerospace and defense industry. It turns out companies in these sectors love seeing/adopting technology that has applicability outside their own industries, given the long product and sales cycles.”
Recently, the startup was selected to be a part of the LA-based SCALE Space Accelerator, which was granted $1.4 million by the U.S. Economic Development Administration to develop aerospace ventures. It’s the only startup from Canada selected for the cohort, according to a news release. The two hope the program will give them the introductions they need to get their technology into space and get footing in the U.S.. About a quarter of the way into the program, Doumet said they’ve begun to make connections.
Back in British Columbia, it just received $300,000 to develop the technology to sort clear plastics, a task impossible to complete with the naked eye. Each needs to be melted at different temperatures, so knowing which is which will streamline the process. The grant is from CleanBC Plastics Action Fund, which is funded by the British Columbia government and administered by the province’s Alacrity Cleantech program.
He spoke with Times of E on location in British Columbia-based Merlin Plastics, the company Metaspectral is working with to develop the technology for plastic sorting.
Recent recycling policies in Canada have been very insync with Metaspectral’s recycling tech efforts, Doumet said. The government issued a ban of single use plastics last year, which is rolling out across the country though this year.
Beyond the factory, the startup also has the Canadian Military and a pesticides company as customers, too. Longterm, it hopes to grow relationships in the defense and aerospace industry, both in Canada and in the U.S. It also has plans for the agriculture industry– for 2022, it hopes to develop the technology to scan meat and instantly know its expiration date.
More Business Owners Plan Early Retirement, Study Finds
Many business owners say they plan to retire early, more than twice the number that did last year, a study out of Wilmington, Delaware firm Wilmington Trust, and its parent company M&T Bank, finds. During January and February, it surveyed more than 1,000 business owners with an annual revenue of $1 million or more, including 228 people of color, according to its methodology.
More owners are pessimistic about the U.S. economy than they were in March of last year, the survey found. Their confidence in achieving long term financial goals dropped to 34% from 57%.
The survey also examined divides between white and non-white founders. It found that people of color were 43% more likely to run into problems applying for Paycheck Protection Program funding than non-minority people.
You may have missed: Building Portland, Maine, as a Tech Hub
The city of 66,000 people is the center of one of the more audacious efforts in the United States to build a tech hub from scratch. In a heralded move in early 2020, a private equity magnate donated $100 million to establish a new research institute in the city; one of Maine’s big foundations has since joined with another $100 million commitment. Now the hope is that innovative companies will relocate to the city for the new accelerator, joining the slower-moving tide of people who may study in advanced life sciences and technology programs at the Institute.
Funding For Diverse Entrepreneurs
SoftBank’s New European Accelerator Focuses on Diverse Founders
Tokyo-based SoftBank is bringing its diversity-focused Emerge accelerator program to Europe, CNBC reports. It aims to invest up to $2.5 million in European startups led by diverse founders, such as women, people of color or disabled people, during the eight-week program.
The accelerator was started last year in the U.S. with WeWork Labs, and it invested $5 million into 13 startups. Emerge is run by SoftBank Investment Advisors, which manages the conglomerate’s Vision Fund, for tech investing. For the Europe program, it’s partnering with a number of venture capital investors in Europe, including Vienna, Austra-based Speedinvest.
SoftBank has only recently focused on minority entrepreneurs — last year it launched a $100 million Opportunity Fund and started Emerge.
Applications are due July 7.
$50 Million for Underrepresented VCs
Ten experienced venture capitalists are teaming up to create a $50 million fund for underrepresented venture capitalists, who often struggle to get their foot into the white male -dominated industry, according to an announcement. The program, called Screendoor, will back up to 15 investors raising their first fund. The ten partners behind the program include Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures; Eva Ho of Fika Ventures; Kirsten Green of Forerunner Ventures; Chris Howard and Leah Solivan of Fuel Capital; Patel and Walk at Homebrew; Kanyi Maqubela of Kindred Ventures; Charles Hudson of Precursor Ventures; and Shauntel Garvey of Reach Capital, the release outlines. It’s also received funding from groups such as Harvard Management Company, the University of Michigan and Princeton University, according to the release. Interested investors can apply on the program’s website.
A New Law in Nevada Opens Up The Investment Potential
New legislation in Nevada will remove some barriers startups have faced to raise funding in the state, the Las Vegas Review Journal reports. It exempts certain investment advisors with private funds from having to obtain a license as long as they are not required to file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
It’s a move stakeholders believe will help Nevada startups raise funding and encourage the creation of new funds in the state, according to the article. StartUpNV, a Las Vegas-based accelerator and incubator, estimates the new law will increase annual invested capital from $2 million to $25 million and create $500 million in economic activity by 2024, according to a news release cited in the article. The law goes into effect July 1, 2022.
Maryland Bolsters Soft Landing Program To Attract Foreign Founders
Maryland Department of Finance is bulking up a soft landing program for founders to expand into the U.S. It’s partnering with incubators around the state to do so, according to a news release. The partnership allows foreign companies to use lab and office space at the incubators and accelerators. The program is also offering to connect Maryland-based companies to the countries the department is working with, which offer similar expansion programs. More than a dozen incubators have signed up to provide space, including Maryland Innovation Center and the recently launched Quantum Startup Foundry.
Names to Know
Massachusetts-based Entrepreneurship for All recently opened a new program in Buffalo, New York and its leader is Juweria Dahir, Buffalo Business First reports. Dahir moved to Buffalo from East Africa in 2013 to attend the University of Buffalo’s masters program, according to her Linkedin profile, She stayed in the city, working as a city planner and external affairs manager for the city, and has worked to “mitigate economic, gender and racial inequalities on the development of communities, businesses and metropolitan areas,” she writes on her Linkedin.
Founder Institute’s New Pitch Competition
Founder Institute, the Palo Alto, California-based global incubator, is launching a new pitch competition for the Mountain West Region of the U.S., called Elevation Pitch, according to its website. The program is out of Founder Institute Colorado, who has partnered with Bold Legal, a Denver-based legal group focused on entrepreneurship and nearly a dozen other organizations. Anyone with a startup idea, or one with less than $10,000 of funding or revenue, is eligible to apply. The competition is free and online. Applications are due July 2.
Techstars in Tennessee
Organizations in the Knoxville-Oak Ridge corridor of Eastern Tennessee hope to make the area a tech hub. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the University of Tennessee System have partnered with Boulder, Colorado-based global accelerator Techstars to do so, Knox News reports. The program aims to grow 30 companies in the next three years, according to the article. The three organizations are sharing the $9 million cost of the accelerator, according to the article. The accelerator will be Techstars’ first in Tennessee, according to the article. Each accepted startup receives $20,000 from Techstars in exchange for 6% equity in the company, according to the article. Applications open in July.