June 30, 2020

Corporate innovation weekly: speedy unicorns and monitoring methane

This is what Europe's largest companies have been investing in: used car marketplaces, methane monitoring, tech to speed up hiring and renting.

Maija Palmer

4 min read

Satellite picture of an island and the ocean


UK’s fastest unicorn

Cazoo, the UK used car marketplace, reached a valuation of more than $1bn just 18 months after being founded, a record-breaking sprint to unicorn status. DMG Ventures, the investment arm of the Daily Mail and General Trust, was among the backers.

Assisted driving

Robert Bosch Venture Fund was one of the investors backing the $20m series C extension round for AImotive, the Hungarian automated driving software startup. As the dream of fully self-driving cars recedes a bit and shifts to assisted driving systems, software providers like AImotive could be in a good position.


Monitoring methane

Satelytics, a startup that uses spectral imagery to monitor environmental changes, such as methane emissions, received a $5m investment from bp ventures.


Financial services

Equity capital markets

A host of big banks, including Barclays, Citi, Fidelity Investments, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley took part in the $25m investment in Capital Markets Gateway, a US fintech focused on equity capital markets.


Gut instinct

Nestlé Health Sciences and Takeda Pharmaceutical were among the investors in the €46.3m Series E funding round for Enterome. The French biotech company is developing new drugs based on an understanding of the interaction between gut health and the body’s immune system. 

Second time lucky?

Novartis-backed biotech Poseida is taking advantage of the stock market appetite for healthtech listings and is taking a second stab at launching the IPO it had to shelve last April. While waiting to list it has raised a $110m Series D funding round.

The San Diego-based company is developing car-T therapies, where a patient’s own immune cells are reprogrammed to attack cancer.

Big noise

Akouos, the biotech developing gene therapies for hearing loss, raised $213m in its Nasdaq debut, nearly 70% more than expected. Novartis is one of the backers.

Sifted Newsletters

Sifted Newsletter

3x a week

We tell you what's happening across startup Europe — and why it matters.

Premature birth

Banco Santander invested €600,000 in Innitius, a Spanish company developing technology to detect false signals of premature birth.


Down round

Bertelsmann was one of the investors in Treebo Hotels, the Indian budget hotel chain, which has raised a Series D round that appears to have resulted in a €11.7m drop on valuation.


Factory data

Element Analytics, a San Francisco-based company that makes a platform to help organise the data generated by industrial companies, raised an $18m series B round, from investors including ABB Technology Ventures and Schneider Electric.

Real estate

Rental tech

Foxton’s and Countrywide are the backers of a new proptech company, Propoly, which helps reduce some of the admin around setting up a new tenancy.


Smart hires

Tempo, a UK hiring startup, secured £5m in a series A funding round led by recruitment company Adecco. Tempo claims to save businesses 65% of hiring costs by using machine learning to match job seekers to potential employers.


Who's hiring?

Director, product marketing, Workplace, London, United Kingdom
Digital strategy manager, AstraZeneca,  Milan, Italy
Innovation adviser, Newable, London, UK
Digital innovation analyst, AXA, Weybridge, UK
Principal - permitting innovation and integration, Anglo American, London, UK
Data Scientist,  L'Oréal, Saint-Ouen, France

Good reads

CVC overtakes VC (except in Europe)

A truly amazing analysis by Eze Vidra, former general partner at Google Ventures, on why corporate venturing should no longer be dismissed as “tourist capital” that comes and goes. In the US in 2018 it accounted for 52% of all VC investments, overtaking non-corporate VC money for the first time.

Europe has been slower to grow CVC – it accounted for just 38.7% of all VC funding in 2018. And of course we will have to see what happens now following the Covid crisis — but this is certainly a category of money that needs to be taken very seriously.

It is not an innovation problem, it is a scaleup problem

This is a very astute analysis of the corporate innovation problem by Ralph-Christian Ohr at Dual Innovation. Barely 10% of companies manage to grow revenue from a digital initiative to more than 5% of group revenue.

How can companies improve? Ohr suggests companies need to be more honest about the kind of innovation project they need. Is it just a lab focused on ideation, a competency centre that makes prototypes, a solution provider or a full-fledged company builder? The latter two will need much bigger resources.