Welcome to The Week in Tech, your roundup of the week’s top technology news. This week, we have over £94m in UK tech investment, Uber’s u-turn on sick pay and a car that changes colour depending on the driver’s mood.
HealthTech startup Babylon raised $60m in funding, adding to the $25m the firm raised in 2016.
A statement from the London-based company said it plans to use the funds to “build the world’s most advanced artificial intelligence (AI) platform in healthcare”.
LoveCrafts, which builds online social marketplaces for the crafts sector, raised £26m in a round led by Scottish Equity Partners. Existing investors Balderton Capital and Highland Europe also participated in the round.
Founded in 2012, the London-based firm operates LoveKnitting and LoveCrochet. These sites not only feature a marketplace for products such as yarn and knitting needles, they also feature a social network element, with users able to follow other crafters, upload images of their projects and gain inspiration.
London-based HR platform Hibob closed a $17.5m Series A led by US-based VC Battery Ventures.
The startup also drew support from Eight Road Ventures, Arbor Ventures and Bessemer Ventures, who led the firm’s $7.5m Seed last year.
Online grocery platform Farmdrop secured £7m in a Series A round led by London-based venture capital firm Atomico.
Farmdrop, founded in 2014, uses a mobile app to link producers and customers directly, claiming to “cut out the middleman” and paying producers 75% of a product’s final retail price.
Further rounds this week
Other companies to raise funding this week include West Berkshire-based Exonar, with its £1.25m round, and online property management platform No Agent, with its £584,000, which it raised via a crowdfunding campaign.
For all the latest UK tech investments, visit the Tech City News Investment Tracker.
UK FinTech funding on the rise
The report found 22 UK FinTech firms raised funding in the first quarter of the year, with the total amount representing a 171% increase on the amount raised during Q4 2016 ($121m).
Ve Interactive ‘rescue’
Ve Interactive was reportedly rescued from administration through a management buyout.
The news follows a Financial Times report claiming the firm, whose valuation was reportedly slashed from £1.5bn to £300m, had gone into administration after struggling to pay its workers on time.
‘Most secure’ smartphone
Cybersecurity pioneer John McAfee revealed plans to create the “world’s first truly private smartphone”. The man behind the McAfee antivirus program claims the device will be the most hack-proof smartphone ever manufactured.
He said the John McAfee Privacy Phone will be produced later in the year via cybersecurity firm MGT, which he heads.
Uber u-turn on sick pay
Uber announced its drivers in the UK will now have access to a number of benefits including sick pay and injury cover.
To be eligible for the benefits, drivers have to pay £2 a week to join an Association of Independent Professionals & the Self-Employed scheme, gaining benefits worth £8 a week in exchange.
Download of the Week
Our download of the week is Rubric. The app uses artificial intelligence and visual recognition software to create the ‘perfect’ captions for your Instagram photos.
The app analyses your pictures then presents you with ‘relevant’ trending phrases, lyrics and quotes. Users have had varying success, and some pretty amusing results, with the app, though!
BMW is testing a Mini concept car that recognises its owner and automatically adjusts its seats, colour and driving style as they approach.
According to the car firm, Minis will one day not be owned by individuals and will instead be shared.
“The Mini of the future no longer waits all day for its owner, but is always on the move as a mobility partner for a Mini community,” BMW claims on its site.
The new vehicles will also be able to change colour depending on the driver’s mood, so it could soon become easier to spot those suffering from a spot of road rage!