May 19, 2020

Corporate innovation weekly: medical nudges

From sustainable fuelling stations to telemedical support in hotel rooms, this is what Europe's largest corporations have been investing in this week.

Maija Palmer

4 min read


Sustainable refuelling — electric and biogas

Iberdrola believes sustainable mobility will be one of the key sectors in the post-Covid recovery. This is why the Spanish electric company is participating in the €23m Series A funding round for Wallbox, the electric vehicle charging company based in Barcelona. The funding will be used to push Wallbox further in the US and China.

Meanwhile, Spain’s Enagas, through its Enagas Emprende corporate venturing vehicle, has become one of the shareholders in Hygen, a startup that provides refuelling stations for cars running on natural gas and biomethane.


ABHH takes majority stake in ANNA

ABHH Group, The Luxembourg-based banking group that owns Alfa Bank in Russia and the Netherlands-based Amsterdam Trade Bank, has become the majority shareholder in ANNA Money, the SME-focused business account and tax app. ANNA (which stands for Absolutely No Nonsense Admin) raised £17.5m in the deal, which it plans to use to take the service beyond the UK market into the rest of Europe.



Nudge nudge, wink wink

Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and AXA Venture Partners were among the investors in the $10m Series A funding round for Wellth, a behavioural “nudge” startup that offers patients financial rewards if they follow their medical care plan. Typical check-ins involve sending in a picture of medications in your hand or a blood pressure reading.


German temps

Axa Venture Partners was part of the €27m Series C funding round into Zenjob, the digital staffing company. Zenjob provides a platform where students can find temporary work and companies can hire part-time staff by the hour. The company, which operates in 14 German cities, says it has seen increased demand for staff in the retail and logistics sectors during the coronavirus crisis.

Axa Venture Partners is having a busy year so far — this is the investment group’s 7th investment since the start of the year. Axa Venture Partners closed a new $200m fund earlier this month.


Bring! it on

Swisscom Ventures, Swiss Post Ventures and G+J Digital Ventures, the venture capital arm of the Gruner + Jahr publishing group, were among the investors in the €3.8m funding round for shopping app Bring!.

Bring!, which wants to become a “personal shopping companion” rather than just an app, is currently available in Switzerland and Germany, but plans to enter the French and Italian markets next. For publishers like Gruner + Jahr, this is a chance to explore advertising opportunities outside traditional media.


Fighting fraud

Featurespace, the Cambridge-based company that develops software to help enterprises combat fraud, raised a £30m funding round, but interestingly existing investor Worldpay decided to sit out this round. 


Pool, room service, telemedicine?

What is going to be on your checklist when making a hotel booking in the future? Accor Hotels is betting that medical support could be something that guests check for in the future. As it prepares for a post-Covid-19 rebound in travel, Accor has signed a strategic partnership with AXA to provide telehealth services to all guests at its 5,000 hotels across the world.

Boeing tests drones

Boeing is joining the UK Civil Aviation authority’s innovation sandbox programme with the aim of testing unmanned aircraft. Boeing said that future mobility ecosystems would involve both manned and unmanned aircraft sharing the skies.

Good Reads:

Supermarkets after the pandemic

Spoiler alert: This Atlantic article doesn’t think they will change for the better. Online shopping is booming, with order volumes at Instacart up 150% and up 50-fold at Walmart. But a rise of internet shopping is likely to simply consolidate the stranglehold that a few retailers have over the market, hurting smaller providers and limiting choice. And that’s not good news for people on limited incomes, either.

Flying will go from unpleasant to unbearable

Another excellent article in the Atlantic’s series on how industries will change after the pandemic. This one is pessimistic too. Remember how the 9/11 ushered in the whole “security theatre” routine that involves removing shoes and throwing away any bottles with more than 100ml of liquid? If we ever start flying again, it will be with an excess of “hygiene theatre”, masks, temperature checks and endlessly wiping everything down. It will be slow and far more expensive than anything we’ve known in recent years.


How the airline industry will try to avoid that

An extremely interesting aviation industry webinar, written up here by Future Travel Experience, discussed whether digital health passports — which would indicate whether someone is Covid-19 free or not — would be feasible. Other ideas include a lot of robot cleaners and disinfecting UV light. Probably the most fun idea would be “Bingo Boarding”, a new way to get passengers onto the plane in small groups in individual time slots.