16 European tech startups to watch closely in 2021, who they’re hiring, and when to apply

HealthITcare is a startup with a telemedicine platform based on AI, aimed at health professionals.
HealthITcare is a startup with a telemedicine platform aimed at health professionals.

  • Insider spoke with 16 of Europe’s hottest tech startups to watch closely in 2021.
  • They confirmed whether or not they’d be hiring and when – as well as what they’ll be looking for.
  • The vast majority are recruiting for teams focused on product, business, or operations.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

To find out how much capital they’d raised and what they planned on using the money for, Insider spoke with 16 of the hottest new tech startups to watch in Europe 2021.

Among the objectives that came up time and again were product development, consolidation of growth, and international expansion. One, in particular, stood out: growing their respective workforces.

This is interesting given the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on companies, specifically where lay-offs and redundancy plans are concerned.

The economy is now waking up, gradually.

Activities that were stopped in their tracks due to lockdowns or mobility restrictions are resuming and it looks like emerging companies have decided it’s time to bolster their teams.

Of the 16 startups that Insider spoke with, only one MediQuo – a startup based on a platform that offers an online medical consultation service 24 hours a day – has said it has no plans to expand its workforce in the short or medium term.

The rest confirmed they’re hiring – they told Insider how many personnel they plan to add, over what period of time, and for which roles.

16. APlanet

Johanna Gallo, co-founder of APlanet.
Johanna Gallo, co-founder of APlanet.

Johanna Gallo, co-founder of APlanet — a startup created with the aim of helping SMEs and corporations to frame everything relating to corporate social responsibility (CSR) — says the company is planning to make new hires. 

Gallo says that since raising its seed round in August 2020, the company’s expanded their workforce by 80%, focusing on areas like customer success, product, and technology with the aim of “offering the best service” as they grow. 

The founder says the team is constantly looking for new hires for other key areas like user experience (UX) or business development, both in markets where they already have a foothold and in those where they have only recently landed, like the United Kingdom. 

15. Baluwo

Baluwo startup team, with Josep Arroyo in the center.
Baluwo startup team, with Josep Arroyo in the center.

Baluwo is a Spanish fintech startup with its business model focused on helping African migrants living in Europe make transfers to their home countries.

CEO Josep Arroyo says his intention is to recruit up to 15 new people by the end of 2023. 

The startup’s CEO adds that these positions will be focused on expanding the commercial network in France, the UK, and the US. 

14. Belvo

The co-founders of Belvo, Pablo Viguera and Oriol Tintoré.
The co-founders of Belvo, Pablo Viguera and Oriol Tintoré.

Belvo is an open banking API platform in Latin America that was founded in May 2019. 

It allows users to connect their bank accounts to a management application and is joining the list of companies that will be growing their team in coming months.

The company claims it has grown exponentially in the last year, going from 18 employees in May 2020 to 70 in May 2021. 

According to sources at the startup, they currently have around 15 positions open on their website for areas such as engineering, the legal department, and business development. 

In addition, the company is looking to continue making new hires in different segments and countries, mostly in Latin America.

 

13. Bipi

Bipi car rental team: from left to right, Alejandro Vigaray, co-founder and COO; José Luis Hernández, CSO, and Hans Christ, co-founder and CEO.
Bipi car rental team: from left to right, Alejandro Vigaray, co-founder and COO; José Luis Hernández, CSO, and Hans Christ, co-founder and CEO.

Bipi is a car subscription platform known as the Spotify of rental cars.

According to Hans Christ, CEO of the company, in the last year the number of employees has increased “significantly.”

Furthermore, there are now more than 100 people in the startup. 

“We are in full growth and our team will increase even more in the coming months,” says Christ. 

At present, the company has over 10 positions open across operations, sales, technology, marketing, product, logistics, and accounting.

“Our objective is that the internal growth policy should go hand in hand with the company’s own growth,” he says. 

12. Capchase

Capchase
Capchase helps Software-as-a-Service companies to finance the growth of their operations with immobilized cash in future monthly payments.

Capchase is a startup that helps software-as-a-service companies to finance the growth of their operations with cash tied up in future monthly payments.

One of the company’s founders Ignacio Moreno says his company is also in a “fairly accelerated” expansion phase. 

In the last nine months, he says the team has grown from eight people to more than 40. 

The company is now looking for new recruits for its product and technology teams in Europe, areas where they expect to double the team in the next six to nine months. 

Moreno says they are looking to add open up one  to two financial analyst positions to continue improving their SaaS risk model.

At the same time, Moreno says that, in the US, they are building a strong team in strategy, finance, and capital markets.

11. Criptan

Jorge Soriano, CEO de Criptan.
Jorge Soriano, CEO at Criptan.

Criptan is a Valencian cryptotrading startup.

Cofounder Jorge Soriano says he intends to expand the workforce “in the next two to three months.” 

Soriano also says the company is looking for technical, financial, and operations profiles, but with a particular focus on the technical team. 

He also says that, as their intention is to expand their business focus to other countries such as Mexico, they plan to form small teams in each of the regions where they are located. 

Although the technical part would be handled by the parent company, Soriano says the company would need to incorporate people for customer service, operations and marketing.

 

10. Devo

Devo's platform analyzes a large number of datasets (logs) in real time.
Devo’s platform analyzes a large number of datasets (logs) in real time.

Devo is a startup that uses its software platform to analyze large amounts of datasets (logs) in real time.

Pedro Castillo, founder and CTO (chief technology officer) of the company, says the company’s intends to increase its workforce by more than 50% by the end of the year. 

“We are currently looking for professionals to fill different positions in all areas of the company, especially in our engineering team in Madrid,” he says. 

Devo has opened job offers for positions such as security engineer, cloud engineer, and DevOps engineer.

 

9. ECOncrete

ECOncrete
ECOncrete develops infrastructures that promote the regeneration of marine biodiversity.

ECOncrete is a platform that develops infrastructures that promote the regeneration of marine biodiversity. 

Paolo Tedone, regional sales manager of the platform, said the company’s intention is to grow “more than 200% in the next two years.” 

The hope is to add between three and four people to sales, two to marketing, two to research and development, and one to design over the next year.

The company has already doubled to four employees recently.

8. Goin

Goin CEO David Riudor.
Goin CEO David Riudor.

Goin is a Spanish mobile app — it provides sensible saving and investment opportunities for people who aren’t financially literate.

The firm intends to hire more staff in the coming months. 

According to CEO of the startup David Riudor,, they are looking for 30 people to fill various positions. 

Some of the roles they want to fill cover developers, product managers, business developers, customer success and other profiles to lead the expansion. 

7. Holded

Javi Fondevila and Bernat Ripoll, co-founders of Holded.
Javi Fondevila and Bernat Ripoll, co-founders of Holded.

People manager at Holded — a company whose software helps small businesses control all aspects of a business from a single platform — says the startup wants to focus on growth “both in Barcelona and Paris.”

Forment says it expects  to add around 45 more people to its team by the end of the year — their job offers are available on their website. 

It already has 80,000 users and more than $22 million in funding rounds.

Its objective in Barcelona is to strengthen the technical and product team — it’s looking for tech leads, senior backend and frontend developers, and senior mobile developers.

It also wants to hire a vice president of product to lead the department, designers, and various profiles related to data such as data analyst, data scientist, and data engineer.

In Paris, the company is aiming to create a customer success, marketing and product team for its French market. Consequently, it’s looking for a customer success specialist, amarketing manager, and product manager profiles.

After being acquired by leading European software company Visma, the company said it intended to hire more than 300 people, with the aim of improving its product and consolidating its position as the “fastest growing company in the ERP market.” 

 

6. HumanITcare

HealthITcare is a startup with a telemedicine platform based on AI, aimed at health professionals.
HealthITcare is a startup with a telemedicine platform based on AI, aimed at health professionals.

HumanITcare is a Spanish startup with an artificial intelligence-based remote medicine platform aimed at healthcare professionals, is also looking for new staff. 

CEO Nuria Pastor says her company is growing exponentially and that she expects to double the workforce to more than 30 people by the end of 2021. 

She says they’re looking for software developers, mobile developers, and data scientists. 

 

5. Kokoro Kids

Kokoro Kids
Kokoro Kids is focused on its mobile app, which promotes kids’ cognitive and emotional skills.

Kokoro Kids is a Spanish startup.

It consists of a mobile app to enhance the development of cognitive and emotional skills of children aged between two and six.

It does so through activities and games and offering tailor-made experiences. It is one of the companies that is not planning to hire in the short term. 

However the company says it’s planning a round of funding for the beginning of next year — with the funding, the company intends to expand its team with technical and artistic profiles, as well as marketing and sales. 

 

4. Meetoptics

Meetoptics is a metasearch engine with artificial intelligence specialized in photonics.
Meetoptics is a metasearch engine with artificial intelligence specialized in photonics.

Bárbara Buades, CEO and co-founder of Meetoptics — an artificial intelligence meta-search engine specializing in photonics — says it’s looking to hire eight new employees by the end of the year. 

According to the startup’s CEO, there are now six people on the team and they want to add two to sales for customer acquisition, market analysis and risk analysis, a product owner, a UX/UI product designer, three software engineers, as well as a frontend and full stack developer.

3. Mox

The co-founders of Mox, Gregorio López and Antonio Valenzuela.Mox
The co-founders of Mox, Gregorio López and Antonio Valenzuela.

Mox is a startup dedicated to last mile logistics — it covers everything from goods delivery and staff recruitment to the development of technology systems.

It plans on hiring in logistics and parcels (warehouse workers, forklift drivers and delivery drivers).

As for the timescales, company leaders say these will be linked to the growth in demand and the volume of merchandise, although it will be “an increase in the short and medium term.” 

2. Submer

Pol Valls and Daniel Pope, founders of Submer.
Pol Valls and Daniel Pope, founders of Submer.

Poll Valls, co-founder and COO (Chief Operating Officer) at Submer says the start-up is seeking to reduce the cost of electricity for cooling computers. 

Thanks to consistent growth they are experiencing, they are doubling their workforce “year after year.” 

They currently have 70 employees and, over the next year, they plan to add 60 extra people. 

Valls says the 60 new staff members will be mainly in front-office (B2B sales, solution architects and marketing) and technical profiles of different types (mechanical engineering, software, robotics, thermodynamics, chemistry, industrial). 

 

1. Trucksters

The founders of Trucksters, Luis Bardají, Gabor Balogh and Ramón Castro.
The founders of Trucksters, Luis Bardají, Gabor Balogh and Ramón Castro.

Trucksters is a Spanish startup that’s looking to optimize the world of logistics and the long-distance freight transport industry with an innovative service based on a relay system. 

One of its founders, Gabor Balogh, says they are in “full growth” and that they plan to incorporate more new profiles to the company, which they’ve already succeeded in doing this year. 

Balogh explains that the company currently employs more than 30 people in its offices in Madrid and Valencia, as well as associates in Greece, the Netherlands, Belgium and Hungary. And he anticipates that they will soon be opening a new international branch office. 

“We are now very focused on our international expansion and we are mainly looking for different profiles for positions in operations, technology and sales,” he says.

The company’s co-founder says its work model, which combines on-site and remote work, has allowed them to recruit staff from different parts of the world: “We startups have to lead this transformation of the work system, which is more technological and efficient than ever.” 

Read the original article on Business Insider

A startup that can ‘translate’ baby cries is now exploring early detection of autism in newborns

baby crying
Laguna was looking for a way to know what her baby was telling her so she decided to found Zoundream.

  • Founded two years ago, Zoundream specializes in cataloging and translating baby cries.
  • In its first round of funding last October, Zoundream raised just under $1 million.
  • The company now wants to expand into early-stage detection of atypical developments in newborns.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

We all know children don’t come into the world with a “how-to” guide.

During the first months of a newborn’s life, it’s often a struggle for parents not just to meet their baby’s needs but simply to know what they are.

However much a new parent may want to soothe their baby’s endless desperate crying, it can be challenging without knowing what they want.

Many resign themselves to one of their first lessons as parents: they won’t always understand their children.

In the age of the Internet of Things, smartphones, and tablets, however, some are using tech to explore modern ways of working around age-old problems.

Ana Laguna, a 33-year-old scientist and expert in data management, gave birth to her first child in 2016.

crying baby
Zoundream was born out of a single idea: the way newborn babies express their needs is universal.

After a few hours of crying, she had a thought – there had to be a way of translating a newborn’s cries.

The idea seemed such an obvious one that she assumed there must already have been a company that had successfully developed some kind of device or app, but the only thing she could find was a Korean application that was just about functioning.

Taken aback by what seemed somewhat of a technological oversight, her intuition soon turned into a project: she would record her own baby’s cry to look for patterns.

“Many projects come about by mistake or by necessity. Mine is one of the latter,” Laguna told Insider.

Over the years, Laguna’s project transformed into a fully-fledged company, Zoundream.

The company specializes in developing software to translate newborn babies’ cries, particularly those up to the age of six months.

After raising just under $1 million in its first round of funding in October 2020, Zoundream now wants its studies to help detect atypical developments in newborns at an early stage.

There have been several stages in Zoundream’s development to get it to where it is now.

baby sleeping next to baby monitor
The company specializes in developing software to translate newborn babies’ cries, particularly those up to the age of six months.

Laguna’s first major concern was to find out whether babies from different countries cry differently.

If, for instance, the cry of a German baby were different from that of a Spanish baby, that would have significantly reduced the software’s potential audience – as well as the viability of the whole project.

After many hours of gathering information through scientific publications on the subject and analysis of sound samples, Zoundream came to a conclusion – although there were notable differences in the prosody of the cry, the content is always the same across languages.

In other words, though German and Spanish babies may sound different, they’re essentially trying to say the same thing.

The only thing left to do was to get the business going – that’s where Roberto Iannone, the company’s current CEO, comes in.

Hundreds of kilometers away from Laguna, almost at the same time as her, Iannone, an entrepreneur, had already had a similar idea. So, when a colleague told him about Laguna and her studies on crying patterns in newborns, which were already beginning to gain some traction in the press, Iannone knew what he needed to do.

Zoundream was born out of a single idea – while there are more than 7,000 languages in the world, the way newborn babies express their needs is universal.

Now the company translates babies’ cries into five types: hunger, sleep, pain, gas, and attachment or the desire to be held.

breastfeeding
The company translates babies’ cries into five types: hunger, sleep, pain, gas, and attachment.

This classification method works best on infants up to the age of three months, when crying is more genuine. From this point on, according to Laguna, the baby’s brain synapses become more complex – they start to be able to learn at full speed.

As a result, babies start using certain strategies to get what they want.

In other words, human beings learn to lie before they learn to speak.

After the birth of her second child, Laguna decided she didn’t just want to record her own child’s cries; she wanted for other parents to be able to contribute to the project.

A newborn cries an average of two to three hours a day. Over time, Zoundream managed to collect thousands and thousands of hours of cries analyzed using spectrograms, from Europe, Asia, and the entire American continent.

This means tZoundream is already working on refining translations through devices that are still just prototypes.

Zoundream is building partnerships with companies that, in the coming years, will make it possible to integrate this technology in prams, bracelets, or even in surveillance cameras.

The one condition is that the system has to be automatic.

Autism awareness
Zoundream wants to move towards detecting atypical developments through the way babies cry.

“When a child cries, their parents will go to attend to them and entirely forget about the mobile phone and everything,” says Laguna.

In addition to the audio, the company started to receive feedback.

“I remember, for example, a mother who said that her son wouldn’t stop crying. The recordings told us that he was hungry,” says Laguna. “It didn’t make sense to her, because she kept breastfeeding him. Eventually, she told us that we were right, that the doctor had detected a problem with his lingual frenulum and that he wasn’t feeding well.”

Cases like these have inspired Zoundream’s team to try to take the next leap and detect atypical developments through the way babies cry.

Some cases, she says, are obvious: “The cry of a child on the autistic spectrum is very characteristic, very hoarse. You can see it quite clearly on the spectrogram.”

By doing this, Laguna explains, the company hopes to help improve the early diagnosis possibilities, which can greatly improve quality of life.

“In cases of early diagnosis,” she says, “autism is detected at around the age of two. Imagine the improvement if it could be done before the age of six months.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Payments firm Stripe, valued at $95 billion, takes its first step towards a stock market debut by hiring a law firm, sources say

Stripe Co-founder and CEO Patrick Collison
Stripe Co-founder and CEO Patrick Collison.

  • Stripe is inching towards a stock market debut, sources told Reuters.
  • The payments company has tapped a law firm to help prepare it for a listing, the sources said.
  • Stripe is the most valuable private company in Silicon Valley, valued at $95 billion.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Digital payments processor Stripe has taken its first major step toward a stock market debut by hiring a law firm to help with preparations, people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.

The most valuable private company in Silicon Valley, valued at $95 billion, has sat out this year’s red-hot market for initial public offerings (IPOs), using private tender offers to allow some of its existing investors and employees to cash out their holdings.

Remaining private has enabled Stripe to keep financial details such as revenue and profitability under wraps. Yet this has also deprived it of using its shares as a publicly traded currency to help finance acquisitions and to incentivize employees.

Stripe has tapped Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP as a legal adviser on its early-stage listing preparations, the sources told Reuters. There has been no decision on the timing of the stock market debut, and the next step would be the hiring of investment banks later this year, the sources added. The listing would be unlikely to happen this year, two of the sources told Reuters.

Stripe is considering going public through a direct listing, rather than a traditional IPO, because it does not need to raise money, said two of the sources, cautioning that those plans could change.

The sources requested anonymity because the deliberations are confidential. Stripe and Cleary Gottlieb declined to comment to Reuters.

Irish brothers Patrick and John Collison formed the company in 2010. Stripe processes hundreds of billions of dollars in transactions every year for millions of businesses worldwide. Its list of clients includes Alphabet’s Google, Uber, Amazon.com, and Zoom Video Communications. Early investors include Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and Google’s venture capital arm.

Stripe’s breakneck growth could result in it challenging Chinese technology giants Ant Group and ByteDance, whose valuations are close to $200 billion, for the title of world’s most valuable startup by the time it goes public.

John Collison told Bloomberg Television in an interview last month that Stripe, which has headquarters in both Dublin and San Francisco, may go public one day but that there were no current plans for a listing.

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Amazon and Google are being investigated by a UK regulator over fake reviews on their sites

Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

  • A UK regulator is investigating whether Amazon and Google have done enough to stop fake reviews.
  • The CMA said it’s looking into whether Amazon and Google have failed to protect shoppers.
  • Amazon recently urged social-media firms to help it prevent fake reviews on its site.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Britain’s competition regulator has opened a formal investigation into Amazon and Google over concerns the tech giants have not done enough to combat fake reviews on their sites.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said Friday that it would now gather further information to determine whether the firms may have broken consumer law by taking insufficient action to protect shoppers from fake reviews.

The move comes after an initial CMA investigation, which opened in May 2020, and assessed several platforms’ internal systems and processes for identifying and dealing with fake reviews.

Read more: Amazon hunger games: retail giant forces employees to decide whether or not their colleagues on a last-chance performance plan get fired

The regulator said it was also concerned that Amazon’s systems had failed adequately to prevent and deter some sellers from manipulating product listings, through for example co-opting positive reviews from other products.

Some merchants are also buying fake reviews “in bulk” online, according to a February report by Which. One fake-review site offered 1,000 reviews for $11,000, while another said it could help Amazon sellers achieve the coveted Amazon’s Choice status within just two weeks. Some sites asked for free or discounted products in exchange for reviews.

Groups selling Amazon reviews have also popped up on social-media sites such as Facebook and Telegram. In a blog post last week, Amazon said that social-media firms needed to spend more money helping it root out “bad actors” who use their platforms to gather fake reviews.

Insider spoke to some of the fake reviewers in February, including one who had a product refunded after deleting a negative review she had left. Another compared the fake-review phenomenon to mystery shopping.

“Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews and then spending their money based on those recommendations,” Andrea Coscelli, CEO of the CMA, said.

“Equally, it’s simply not fair if some businesses can fake 5-star reviews to give their products or services the most prominence, while law-abiding businesses lose out.”

Amazon said in February that it prohibited the abuse of its review features by both sellers and reviewers. It suspends, bans, and takes legal action against accounts that violate these policies, it said, and it analyzes more than 10 million reviews each week.

It reportedly removed 20,000 product reviews in September after a Financial Times investigation suggested that some of the site’s top UK reviewers may have profited from leaving positive ratings.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The world’s first blood test that reveals in 24 hours if targeted cancer treatment is working has been launched

Blood sample
A blood test that can track the success or failure of cancer treatment in real-time has been launched.

  • A blood test that can track the success of cancer treatment in real-time has been launched.
  • The test can reveal in 24 hours if therapy against specific molecules is impacting tumor growth.
  • This means cancer treatment can be modified or adapted to a patient’s response.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A blood test that can track the success or failure of cancer treatment in real-time has been launched, scientists at the University of Singapore (NUS) have announced. The study has been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

The test is the first of its kind in the world. The way the blood is analyzed can reveal in as little as 24 hours whether targeted therapy against specific molecules is having an effect on tumor growth.

This means cancer treatment can be modified or adapted to a patient’s response, thereby increasing its effectiveness.

The test is called ExoSCOPE and will enable healthcare professionals to accurately classify disease status and determine the outcome of treatment within 24 hours of starting treatment.

It is a giant leap forward for medical professionals and cancer patients: the pioneering blood test will make adjustments easier, significantly speed up cancer treatment assessment and improve chances of recovery.

The test is intended to measure how targeted therapies work, which, unlike conventional chemotherapy, attack specific molecules responsible for enabling cancer cells to grow and spread.

cancer chemotherapy
This new technology and is precise, faster, and more comfortable for the patient.

These drugs also block abnormal cancer growth at the same time.

In other words, these therapies attack cancer cells without harming normal cells, according to Cancer.org.

Currently, volumetric tumor imaging – which is insensitive and delayed – or tissue biopsies – which are much more invasive – are used to clinically evaluate therapies targeting solid tumors.

This new technology works like a liquid biopsy, is precise, and is much faster and more comfortable for the patient.

Assistant professor Shao Huilin and her research team from the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Institute of Health Innovation and Technology (iHealthtech) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) are the minds behind this development.

This is their project, which has finally seen the light of day after two years of platform development.

Success rate available within 24 hours of starting cancer treatment

The technique behind this blood test is extracellular vesicle monitoring of small molecule chemical occupancy and protein expression (ExoSCOPE).

It harnesses extracellular vesicles (EVs) secreted by cancer cells circulating in the blood as reflective indicators that reveal whether the drug is being effective in targeting solid tumors.

“With ExoSCOPE, we can directly measure the results of therapy effectiveness within 24 hours of starting treatment,” says Shao Huilin. “It significantly reduces the time and cost for monitoring cancer treatment,” Conventional procedures are more expensive, time-consuming and difficult.

They explain that only a tiny amount of blood sample is needed for the method, which takes less than an hour to complete.

ExoSCOPE functions as an integrated nano-technology platform, measuring these membrane vesicles in the blood, which are at least 100 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair and invisible to a conventional light microscope.

If the targeted cancer treatment works, as the drug interferes with tumor growth, the treated cell releases the electrical vehicles containing the drug into the bloodstream.

cancer cells
A tray containing cancer cells sits on an optical microscope.

And this innovative technology combines chemical biology and sensor development to measure these delicate changes in the blood.

“The ExoSCOPE sensor contains millions of gold nano-rings to capture the electric vehicles and amplify their drug-labeling signals to induce strong light signals. These light signals are then processed into a readout which indicates the effectiveness of the drug,” says Zhang Yan, a PhD student in the NUS Department of Biomedical Engineering and iHealthtech and co-author of the study.

So far, the clinical study has yielded encouraging results.

After including 163 blood samples from 106 lung cancer patients, ExoSCOPE achieved an accuracy rate of 95% but within 24 hours of treatment initiation, compared to volumetric tumor imaging.

The team’s next steps are to expand its platform to explore the efficacy of different therapies, as well as to apply the technology to diseases beyond cancer, such as cardiovascular and neurological problems.

This is not the first technology to harness the potential of blood to detect cancer: other studies have used this form of analysis to detect tumors, used machine learning to diagnose up to 50 types of cancer, and discovered lung cancer several years earlier than would be possible with current means.

A patent has already been filed for ExoSCOPE and the NUS team hopes to get this technology on the market within the next three years, contributing to personalized treatments, improved clinical decision-making, and optimized cancer outcomes.

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Google agrees to change its ad practices after France’s antitrust watchdog fined the tech giant $267 million

Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies at a House Judiciary Committee hearing "examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 11, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Young
Google chief executive Sundar Pichai. The tech giant was fined €220 million as part of a settlement with France’s competition watchdog.

  • Google is making changes to its ad services after France’s antitrust watchdog fined it $267 million.
  • The watchdog found Google abused its market power, putting other companies at a disadvantage.
  • Google said it would improve its ad services with third-party ad server and ad space sales platform.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Alphabet’s Google has agreed to make changes to some of its widely-used online advertising services as part of an unprecedented settlement with France’s antitrust watchdog.

The California-based tech giant was also fined €220 million ($267.48 million) by the authority in the agreement that was revealed on Monday. The probe found Google had abused its market power in the intricate ad business online, where some of its tools have become almost essential for large publishers.

The watchdog’s decision is an attempt to rebalance the power struggle over online ads in favour of publishers, which held sway in the business in the pre-internet era, but lost considerable ground with the rise of Google and Facebook.

The French Competition Authority (FCA) said the decision opens the way for publishers who felt disadvantaged to seek damages from Google. Many publishers globally have expressed unhappiness over ad practices employed by the tech giants.

“The decision to sanction Google is of particular significance because it’s the first decision in the world focusing on the complex algorithmic auction processes on which the online ad business relies,” said France’s antitrust chief Isabelle de Silva.

De Silva said the fine was reduced because of the settlement, but she did not give specifics.

A Google spokesperson didn’t immediately reply to a request seeking comment. The watchdog said Google will not seek to appeal the authority’s decision in court.

The FCA’s investigation focused on the tools Google offers publishers online to sell and manage online ads.

The settlement with Google shows the firm is ready bend to antitrust pressure and make operational changes to some of its most popular ad business tools, whose success relies on the trove of data it has amassed over the years.

The watchdog found that Google Ad Manager, the firm’s ad management platform for large publishers favoured AdX, its own online ad marketplace, where publishers sell space to advertisers in real-time. It did so notably by providing AdX strategic data such as the winning bidding prices.

The watchdog also said Google AdX offered Google Ad Manager superior interoperability features than for rival so-called sell-side platforms (SSP), the crucial technology that allows publishers to manage advertising spaces available for purchase, fill them with ads and receive revenue.

Under the terms of the settlement, Google offered commitments to improve the interoperability of Google Ad Manager services with third-party ad server and ad space sales platform, the watchdog said.

The watchdog said it had accepted these commitments and that they were binding in its decision. The case follows a complaint by News Corp, French news publishing group Le Figaro, and Belgian press group Rossel.

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Chinese phone maker Xiaomi is now off the US trade ban list that Trump put it on, and its shares are soaring

Biden and Xi Jinping
Then Vice President Biden met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a California meeting aimed at strengthening Chinese investment in the state. China has now the lead in 5G infrastructure, but experts say don’t count Silicon Valley out yet.

  • The US is taking China’s Xiaomi Corp off its trade ban list, a court filing showed.
  • This means Americans will be able to invest in Xiaomi – shares have already risen 6% since the news broke.
  • The US government placed it on a trade-ban list for allegedly having ties to the Chinese military.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Department of Defense (DoD) will remove China’s Xiaomi Corp from a government trade-ban list, a court filing on Tuesday showed, allowing Americans to invest in the smartphone maker in the future.

The filing stated that the two parties had reached an agreement to resolve their ongoing litigation after Xiaomi sued the US government earlier this year.

A Xiaomi spokeswoman said the company was watching the latest developments closely, but did not elaborate. Shares in the company rocketed over 6% in Hong Kong as news of the decision spread.

DoD officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment after US business hours on Tuesday.

In January, the DoD, under the Trump administration, accused the Beijing-based firm of having ties to China’s military and placed it on a trade ban list, meaning Americans couldn’t invest in it. The government labeled Xiaomi a “communist Chinese military company.”

The same restrictions were placed on seven other Chinese companies, including state-owned Chinese plane maker Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China and the airline Grand China Air.

Xiaomi filed a lawsuit against the US government, calling its placement “unlawful and unconstitutional” and denying any connections to Chinese military.

Under the new Biden administration in March, a federal judge temporarily blocked enforcement of the trade ban, citing the government’s “deeply flawed” process for including it in the ban.

Reuters reported that other Chinese firms placed on the same blacklist were considering similar lawsuits.

Xiaomi was one of the more high-profile Chinese tech companies that former President Donald Trump targeted for alleged ties to China’s military.

Xiaomi’s local smartphone rival Huawei Technologies Co Ltd was also put on an export ban list in 2019 and barred from accessing critical technology of US origin, affecting its ability to design its own chips and source components from outside vendors.

The export ban put in place by the government brought the company’s smartphone division to its knees.

Later, the DoD placed similar restrictions on China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, a company which is key to China’s domestic chip sector.

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Toshiba’s CEO has stepped down but board members planned to oust him before the controversy over a $20 billion buyout bid, sources say

Toshiba Corp Chief Executive Nobuaki Kurumatani
Toshiba Corp chief executive Nobuaki Kurumatani.

  • Toshiba board members planned to replace Nobuaki Kurumatani before the buyout bid, sources said.
  • Kurumatani resigned from Toshiba on Wednesday. Chairman Satoshi Tsunakawa will replace him.
  • The board chairman Osamu Nagayama went to a meeting “to fire” him, one of the sources told Reuters.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Toshiba board members planned to oust CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani before CVC Capital Partners launched a $20 billion buyout bid last week, sources told Reuters.

Kurumatani on Wednesday resigned from Toshiba. Chairman Satoshi Tsunakawa, who led the company beforehand, will replace him.

The board told Kurumatani the day before the offer was announced that they would replace him, sources who didn’t want to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue told Reuters.

On the subject of Kurumatani stepping down, Toshiba told Insider: “It is a resignation in the middle of the CEO’s term of office, which is unusual, but the resignation is decided by Mr. Kurumatani himself and should be respected.”

Two members of Toshiba Corp’s nomination committee, including board chairman Osamu Nagayama, met Kurumatani, himself a former CVC executive, before the buyout bid and told him they were looking for a new CEO, sources told Reuters.

Although the board hadn’t formally started the process of replacing Kurumatani, the plan was already in motion, Reuters reported. Nagayama, who also heads the nomination committee, went to the meeting “to fire” him, one of the sources said.

Reuters reported that Kurumatani then informed them of the European private equity firm’s plan to take Toshiba private. A day later, the Japanese conglomerate announced it had received the offer, two sources added.

The events of the meeting show how Kurumatani’s tenure was undone by his flagging popularity even before the offer was announced. It marked the culmination of deepening discord between Kurumatani and activist shareholders, who had raised concern over what they said were governance issues.

The plan to remove him appears to have accelerated after the meeting on April 6 at Toshiba’s headquarters in Tokyo. Toshiba on Wednesday said Kurumatani was stepping down after some three years as CEO.

Support for him both within the company and among investors had eroded, a person briefed on the matter said.

“A survey of managers at Toshiba showed low support for Kurumatani,” the person who was briefed said. There was “deep distrust” of him among shareholders, they added.

Toshiba said Kurumatani was stepping down to “recharge” after achieving his plan to revive the conglomerate that had been weakened by an accounting scandal.

Reuters was not immediately able to reach Kurumatani for comment about plans to have him replaced. Toshiba said it couldn’t comment on speculation. Nagayama declined to comment. A representative for CVC Japan declined to comment.

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Amazon is hiring 5,000 new employees in Germany, with some roles paying up to $82,000 per year

This picture shows the logo of US online retail giant Amazon at the distribution center in Moenchengladbach, western Germany, on December 17, 2019.
The company recently expanded its logistics empire to cope with rising demand over the holiday season.

  • Amazon will hire 5,000 more permanent employees in Germany in areas from shipping to marketing.
  • In a press release, the company said it encouraged applications from those seeking job security.
  • Entry-level Amazon logistics wages range from $13.25 to $14.90 per hour but are location-dependent.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Amazon already has 23,000 employees in Germany but is now looking to add more people to its workforce.

The delivery giant said in a press release on Friday that it would hire another 5,000 staff in areas from shipping to marketing.

Most Amazon employees work in logistics, where entry-level wages range from $13.25 to $14.90 gross per hour depending on the location. Germany’s current minimum wage is $11.14 per hour but will rise to $12.26 by July 2022.

At its logistics center in Sülzetal near Magdeburg, the minimum is $13.92 per hour; in Koblenz, it is $14.19; at the air freight handling facility in Leipzig it’s $15.83. Wages automatically rise after 12 and 24 months.

After two years, employees earned an average of around $3,500 gross per month including restricted employee shares, according to Amazon. There were bonus payments and other benefits.

It hasn’t been an easy year for the German branch of Amazon, with workers striking in June over rising COVID-19 infections at the company and again in October after their COVID-19 bonus payments were scrapped.

German trade union Verdi called for a four-day strike at Easter to demand a pay rise for workers in the retail and mail-order sectors. Amazon has also been subjected to an antitrust investigation over relationships with its third-party sellers in Germany.

In its press release, Amazon said it was calling for applications from those worried about the future of their jobs and was recruiting from a wide range of sectors.

Amazon Logistics Center
Amazon has 15 logistics centers spread across Germany.

“This is a great opportunity for career changers because we are open to a wide range of talents and qualifications,” said Amazon Germany country manager Ralf Kleber.

The company’s German headquarters are located in Munch while its research and development center is in Berlin. There are also a total of 15 logistics centers spread across the country.

Amazon itself does not provide any information about the salaries offered to employees in other sectors. According to employer rating portal Kununu, customer service employees earn about the same as their colleagues in warehouse and shipping.

Kununu’s data showed an account manager at Amazon earned almost $67,000 per year while a marketing officer earned around $62,000 and a human resources officer around $60,000.

According to Glassdoor, software engineers earn significantly more with a salary of over $82,000.

The company recently expanded its logistics empire to cope with rising demand over the holiday season and its delivery service could be worth up to $230 billion by 2025, according to Bank of America estimates.

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The elusive oligarch making Russian COVID-19 vaccine ‘Sputnik V’ criticized the EU for vaccine nationalism

Sputnik V
Russia’s vaccine is now set to go global, with plans for Sputnik V to be used in one in 10 vaccinations worldwide.

  • Dmitry Morozov of pharmaceutical Biocad is the oligarch behind Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Sputnik V is now being rolled out worldwide, with plans to use it in one in 10 global vaccinations.
  • However, it faces hurdles in the EU and US as well as Russia with reluctance and supply bottlenecks.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In Russia, the name Sputnik is associated with innovation, progress, and one of the greatest successes in Soviet history.

When Sputnik 1 became the first human object to reach Earth’s orbit in 1957, Americans watched in amazement.

Over 60 years later, Sputnik is taking the world by storm again, this time as Russia’s flagship COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V.

Mass production started in September and, despite Russians initially being divided about its potential efficacy, it’s now been rolled out across the country.

Russia’s vaccine is set to go global, with plans for Sputnik V to be used in one in 10 vaccinations worldwide and particularly in Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

Vladimir Putin was vaccinated against Covid-19 with Sputnik V, partly to coax those Russians who remain hesitant to go and get the jab.

Dmitry Morozov, an elusive oligarch who heads pharmaceutical company Biocad, is the man behind Sputnik V.

The pharmaceutical company behind the vaccine

Sputnik V is still viewed with a fair degree of skepticism especially in the EU and the US.

Earlier this month, a top official of the European Medicines Agency said approving the vaccine too early would be “somewhat comparable to Russian roulette.”

The vaccine’s official Twitter account then demanded a public apology, saying the official’s comments “raise serious questions about possible political interference in the ongoing EMA review.”

However, Russia is also struggling with supply bottlenecks and according to information from an independent pollster reported by Reuters, over 60% of Russians are unwilling to be vaccinated with Sputnik V.

Biocad is a well-known and well-connected name in the pharmaceutical industry and has been producing drugs for HIV and cancer for years.

US-based Pfizer, which is producing its own vaccine together with BioNTech, was even interested in acquiring Biocad.

Morozov owns 30% of the company and, in September, the company established one of Russia’s most modern production facilities in Zelenograd, north of Moscow.

The company employs 2,500 employees and has 1,500 people working on Sputnik V alone.

The team is also developing a drug for COVID-19 lung disease.

A camera team from Spiegel TV got a rare glimpse into the production of the vaccine, which revealed high levels of security at the factory in St Petersburg.

Complexity inhibits production

According to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, 10 million doses of Sputnik V have been produced so far.

However, many more doses are needed to vaccinate Russia and meet global demand.

Vladimir Putin
Russia has approved two other homemade vaccines, CoviVac and EpiVacCorona.

Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Sputnik V is a vector-based vaccine.

This means fragments of the genetic material of the coronavirus are placed in attenuated viruses like adenoviruses.

The adenoviruses deliver genetic information from the coronavirus into the human body.

The body’s cells then respond and produce the virus’s protein, which the immune system can recognize and for which it can produce the body’s required defense substances.

With Sputnik V, however, two different adenoviruses are found in each of the required two doses, administered three weeks apart.

While this makes the vaccine more effective, it also increases the complexity of production.

According to data published in The Lancet, Sputnik V is just under 92% effective and so is roughly as effective as the mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

Morozov finds the EU countries’ hesitation baffling and has spoken about vaccine nationalism and bureaucracy in the EU, according to World Today News.

In addition to Sputnik V, Russia has approved two other homemade vaccines, CoviVac and EpiVacCorona.

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