Category: News (Page 2 of 15)

Genki Instruments just launched an Indiegogo campaign for their first device, Wave

Genki Instruments officially launched an Indiegogo campaign for its new device, Wave, today. Wave is a ring that lets musicians control sound, shape effects and send commands with the motion of their hands. Genki Instruments, who are on a mission to make technology and music feel more natura, was founded by electrical engineers Ólafur Bjarki Bogason and Daníel Grétarsson, with designer Jón Helgi Hólmgeirsson and COO Haraldur Hugosson joining later. Genki went through the Startup Reykjavik accelerator in 2015

“Wave adds a new dimension to musical creativity,” says Bergur Þórisson, recording engineer and producer for musicians like Björk, Sigur Rós, Damian Rice and Jóhann Jóhannsson. “It took me a while to realize that the best thing about Wave is not only that it can replace some of the tools you already have to control stuff when you are making music, but that it can make you control stuff in a completely different way, therefore making decisions that you would have never made without it.”

Bergur is one of the musicians that the Genki team has collaborated with closely during the development of their product. “It’s a cool tool for all creatives and I can definitely recommend adding it to your workflow, whether you use it to replace your old techniques or invent new ones.”

Another is David Mash, a former Senior Vice President at Berklee College of Music, who commented: “Wave is an innovative new way to add expression and nuance to electronic performances! Wave is simple to use, and gives me powerful control right from my fingers without having to take them away from my instrument.”

You can read more about their device, the Wave, at their Indiegogo campaign page.

Three new employees at NSA Ventures

NSA Ventures, the government owned evergreen venture fund, has hired three new people – a director of finance and two investment managers. These hires follow big changes at the fund, when Helga Valfells (then CEO), Hekla Arnardóttir and Jenný Ruth Hrafnsdóttir (investment managers), left NSA Ventures to found Crowberry Capital. Following their departure, the board hired Huld Magnúsdóttir as the new CEO of the fund, who has now built up her team.

Ólöf Vigdís Ragnarsdóttir

Ólöf Vigdís Ragnarsdóttir joins NSA Ventures as an investment manager. She graduated with a law degree in 2001 and since then added a MS degree in marketing and international business. She worked at the Icelandic Patent Office for eight years, and since 2012 she’s been at the University of Iceland as a lawyer at the science and innovation department, chairing the Intellectual Property committee and taking part in the forming of startups coming out of the University.

Örn Viðar Skúlason

Örn Viðar Skúlason also joins NSA Ventures as an investment manager. For the last nine years he’s been the CEO of Proact, a wholesale company in Iceland. Before that he was a director at the corporate banking department of SPRON bank, and held various management positions at SÍF and Icelandic Seafood.

Friðrik Friðriksson

Friðrik Friðriksson joins the fund as director of finance. He has a long history in the telecom industry, as a director at Síminn between 1997-2005, and then director and later CEO of Skjárinn, which merged into Síminn in 2015. He’s served on various borads, including as chairman of the board at CCP in 2001-2002, Matís from 2007, and recently joined the board of Vaðlaheiðargöng hf.

Florealis closes $3.8m funding round led by NSA Ventures

Pharmaceutical company Florealis just announced it had closes a $3.9m funding round, led by NSA Ventures. Former investors, Einvala, and other private investors also took part in the funding round.

“Exciting times ahead for us, following the addition to our investor group,” said Kolbrún Hrafnkelsdóttir, CEO of Florealis, in a statement. “Our first products have been received very well in Iceland, and we’re ramping up marketing and sales efforts in the Nordics.”

The company, which produces herbal medicines, recently closed a deal with leading pharmaceutical chains in Sweden, that will carry Florealis’ products. The funding will be used to support marketing and sales efforts, as well as developing more products later in the year.

Huld Magnúsdóttir, CEO of NSA Ventures, said in a statement: “Florealis falls well in line with the fund’s investment strategy and are excited to lead a group of investors to this deal.”

Solid Clouds raises $2.5m from Kjölur fjárfestingarfélag

Solid Clouds, the game developer working on Space MMO game Starborne, just announced a $2.5m (270m ISK) funding round led by Kjölur fjárfestingarfélag. Other previous investors also participated in the round. In addition, the company received a $475.000 (50m ISK) growth grant from the Technology Development Fund.

“We’re happy to have closed this financing, and being joined by as experienced an investor as Kjölur,” CEO and co-founder Stefán Gunnarsson said in a statement. “The investment will be used to fund marketing and growth, as well as a mobile version of the game.”

Starborne is a real-time, massively multiplayer strategy game played by thousands of players at a time. “We’ve been watching Solid Clouds for some time because of their revolutionary game that looks very promising,” says Guðmundur Ingi Jónsson Manager of Kjölur fjárfestingafélag. “We’re excited to share our experience with the team on building a tech company.” Guðmundur takes a seat on the board of directors following the funding.

Kjölur is known in tech circles for being one of the lead investors in Greenqloud, that was sold to NetApp last year.

 

Medical fish skin company Kerecis closes $3m convertible note

Ísafjörður based Kerecis, that creates fish skin based products to help with healing of wounds, recently announced it had sold a $3m convertible note to its current investors. All the largest investors in the company participated, and the note was oversubscribed.

Kerecis was in NSA Ventures portfolio until 2014 when the fund sold its 26% stake to a group of investors that included the founder. The purchase price was undisclosed.

Oculis raises $20.3m Series B round to advance treatment for Ophthalmic Diseases

Oculis, an Icelandic life sciences company, just announced a $20.3m (20m CHF) series B round led by a syndicate of leading life science venture funds including Bay City Capital, Novartis Venture Fund and Pivotal bioVenture Partners. Existing investors, including Brunnur Ventures and Silfurberg, also participated in the financing.

“I am extremely pleased to be joining such a great team to develop what could be the next generation of ophthalmic treatments,” said Dr. Riad Sherif, who has been appointed CEO of the company. “Oculis founders have meticulously developed the novel SNP technology that improves both the ability to formulate drugs as eye drops and their bioavailability in eye tissues including the posterior segment.”

The funds will be used to advance the clinical development of the Company’s lead program OC-118, a proprietary topical product currently in a clinical trial for the treatment of Diabetic Macular Edema (DME), the leading cause of blindness in young adults in developed countries.

Following the financing, the company will relocate its headquarters to Switzerland, while its R&D will remain in Iceland.

The company previously raised an undisclosed round from Brunnur Ventures and Silfurberg.

Travel tech startup Travelade raises $1.6m led by Crowberry Capital

Travelade, a travel platform that helps millennials discover and book travel activities tailored to their tastes, just announced a $1.6m financing round led by Iceland’s newest venture capital fund, Crowberry Capital. Other participating investors are angel group Investa and several individuals. Hekla Arnardóttir from Crowberry and Hjálmar Gíslason from Investa will join the company’s board of directors.

“Our mission is to make it as easy to find activities for your dream vacation as it is to listen to music on Spotify,” says Andri Heiðar Kristinsson, CEO and co-founder of Travelade. “Flights and hotels are already easy to find, compare and book online, but finding unique experiences tailored to your personal taste is hard. We help people collect ideas and design their dream vacation.”

Travelade wants to provide users with a beautiful and easy to use interface, to help them plan their vacation. On Travelade, users can plan activities, both based on tips from travel bloggers and professional tour operators. The company recently received a grant from the Technology Development Fund to develop AI that will tailor suggestions based on each individual’s travel style. The technology will be developed with Cadia, the AI research center at the University of Reykjavik.

“We at Crowberry Capital are thrilled to announce Travelade as the fund’s first investment,” says Hekla Arnardóttir of Crowberry Capital. “Travelade has an experienced, driven and ambitious founding team and it’s great to see that the tourist boom in Iceland is begetting born-global travel tech companies. We believe that Travelade is well timed to participate in the phenomenal growth in international travel and Travelade is set to lead the way when it comes to helping independent travelers plan and dream their next adventure.”

Travelade has launched it’s product in Iceland and Bosnia and plans on growing further in the coming months.

Startup Guide Reykjavik launched on December 6th

The independent, Berlin-based publishing company Startup Guide is releasing its first guide in Reykjavik. Filled with inspiration, how-to’s, case studies and tips for starting up, the book highlights how to start up a business​ ​in​ ​the​ ​thriving​ ​startup​ ​scene​ ​of​ ​Reykjavik​ ​with​ ​stories​ ​from​ ​local​ ​entrepreneurs.

“Central to Reykjavík’s strategy is a focus on quality of life for our citizens, and embracing a welcoming, personal and warm atmosphere for newcomers, immigrants and our guests,” says Mayor of Reykjavik, Dagur B. Eggertsson. “We want to provide world-class education, an interesting and vibrant cultural scene and a safe city. In short, a place to make things happen, and a place to be. Startup Guide Reykjavik is an excellent overview of the Reykjavik’s startup scene, and we welcome you to use it to explore what our beautiful city has to offer.”

Startup Guide, a creative content and self-publishing company, was founded in 2014 by Sissel Hansen. The company wants to inspire and empower entrepreneurs through creating in-depth guides of startup ecosystems around the world. Other cities they’ve covered include Berlin, Lisbon, London and Tel Aviv.

Small but buzzing Reykjavik has seen a massive increase in the amount of tourists visiting the city in recent years. Its compact but very well-connected startup network enables the startup community to flourish, and this has been captured in the Startup Guide Reykjavik book.

“After being hit by the financial crisis, Reykjavik has mainly regained its current economic power via tourism. The huge number of visitors, a growing housing market and decreasing unemployment are all good signs of a fast-developing country,”Sissel Hansen, CEO and founder of Startup Guide, writes in the introduction. “Reykjavik is often the stopover between Europe and the Americas, and I believe this could become a strong business connection point too.”

She adds: “It’s wonderful to see a small community working so closely together to develop a myriad of new initiatives and projects that reach outside their own country.”

Startup Guide Reykjavik features up-and-coming startups such as Jurt Hydroponics, Aldin Dynamics and Genki Instruments, interviews with local influential people and an overview of the city’s coworking spaces and programs.

The project is sponsored by Reykjavik​ ​City​,​ ​Promote​ ​Iceland​,​ ​NSA​ ​Ventures​ ​and​ ​Arion​ ​Bank​.

The book will be released at the Startup Guide Reykjavik launch event on December 6th, 2017 ​at 4pm ​which ​is open to the public and will take place at Bryggjan Brugghús ​with support from the NSA Ventures​. ​The event is co-hosted by ​the local community partner Icelandic Startups, Northstack and Women Tech Iceland.

The event registration page can be found on Eventbrite.

The book can be pre-ordered at startupguide.world/guide/reykjavik

 

NetApp paid $51m in cash for Greenqloud

Yesterday, NetApp released its quarterly results for the quarter ending on October 27th. Amongst other things, the report included a line on the Greenqloud acquisition:

On August 4, 2017, we acquired all of the outstanding shares of Greenqloud ehf., a privately-held provider of cloud management software based in Iceland, for $51 million in cash, of which we preliminarily allocated $10 million to developed technology, $38 million to goodwill, and the remainder to other assets. (src)

As a reminder, the largest shareholders of the company were the following:

  • Kjölur fjárfestingarfélag, 38.8%

  • NSA Ventures, 15.8%

  • Omega Iceland, s.á.r.l (Novator), 13.4%

  • KP ehf. (Birkir Kristinsson), 11.6%

  • Kelly Ireland, 7.5%

  • Meson Holding (Vilhjálmur Þorsteinsson), 1.1%

All investors made a profit on their investment, former CEO Jónsi Stefánsson said in a statement. (And we apologize for making it look like that was not the case before)

All in all, a decent sized exit (the biggest software exit in Iceland since WuXi’s $61m acquisition of NextCODE in Jan 2015).

(Read our longer analysis of the acquisition here)

Updated on Nov 30, 16:11 with correct information on the profit of investors.

Authenteq raises $1.3m seed round co-led by Initial Capital and Draper Associates

Icelandic startup Authenteq recently received seed funding from investors from three major tech hubs in the world. The company is working on distributing a blockchain based digital biometric ID to all internet users. The funding rounds, which totalled around $1.3m was co-led by London based Initial Capital and Silicon Valley based Draper Associates. Also investing in the round is Berlin based Cavalry Ventures.

“I see great opportunities in what Authenteq is doing. Their business model is sound, the market is huge and the problem of identity is only growing. For me that’s a sustainable investment project that was started by experienced founders” says investor Tim Draper on why Authenteq caught his eye.

“Getting such a well rounded team of seasoned and well known investors as well as former entrepreneurs is a great acknowledgement of what we’ve been working on”, says Kari Thor.

Authenteq describes its process as “a highly secure automatic process of verifying a person’s real identity without the need for human interaction offers a frictionless method for anyone that has a smartphone and a government issued identity document to verify their identity to a high degree of certainty and assurance.”

“Since every common data point currently used to establish an identity was hacked for almost half the US population we’ve received increased interest from US focused companies that have until the Equifax breach relied heavily on the Social Security Number system for online identity verification,” says CEO and co-founder Kári Thor Runarsson.

“Although that in itself is a very insecure and unreliable verification method, the US focused companies now have the incentive to adopt a more rigorous method for identity verification and we feel an increased interest from consumers that are demanding a method that can verify their identity without the need for them to hand over a whole range of personal information,” Kari adds.

Some of the features of the Authenteq ID is that it is a sovereign digital identity, which means that the user owns and controls the information that is collected and verified. Authenteq in fact does not have access to the user’s information which is heavily encrypted on both the user’s phone and on the blockchain.

The startup has so far been funded by the founders and grants.

“I’ve been extremely proud on how far we have taken Authenteq without taking in outside equity financing. So far we’ve built an amazing and talented team of dedicated people that share our vision and mission, but now was the time to shift up a couple of gears and increase our team size as well as benefit from the amazing experience and portfolio network of our investors.” continues Kari Thor.

The company is currently working on pilot projects with a selection of companies it plans to launch with early in 2018.

This funding round brings the total raised by the company to around $2m, the rest of which has been in mostly non-equity grants.

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Nortstack – Reporting and analysis of the Icelandic startup scene