‘Smart antenna’ designer Sofant Technologies has completed a follow-on fundraise of £740,000 in an oversubscribed funding round led by venture capital investor EMV Capital.
Business is expected to benefit from UK’s 5G rollout
The fundraise builds on last year’s £2.3m pre-series A round for the Edinburgh-based 5G and satellite communications antenna developer. Participation in the round included key existing investors, including Kelvin Capital and the Scottish Investment Bank.
Reflecting strong developments over the year, the funding round includes a price per share uplift of 40% in under a year since its last investment round in July 2020.
Sofant is expected to benefit from the rollout of 5G across the UK. It plans to use the new funding to expand its commercial team, as the company accelerates its system integration with satellite network operators and other final users.
About Sofant Technologies
Sofant is the UK’s leader in radio frequency microelectromechanical systems (RF MEMS)-based antennas for satellite and 5G telecoms systems. The company’s proprietary, highly efficient patented radio technology platform provides the UK and Europe with a homegrown, industry-leading technology solution to several major challenges facing wireless communication systems. In satellite communications and 5G its technology reduces the power consumption of electronically scanned antenna arrays by more than 70%, with lower production and maintenance costs compared to other emerging solutions.
Since the 2020 investment round, Sofant Technologies has developed growing industry recognition, with support from global manufacturers and application-specific development partners. Sofant has also hired a new CFO to support the scale-up of commercial activities within the business.
Amongst Sofant’s development programmes are prototype antenna arrays funded by the European Space Agency and the European Commission.
About EMV Capital
EMV Capital is a venture capital investor focused on B2B companies in the healthcare, sustainability and industrials sectors. EMVC’s investments in UK, Israel and the US cover a range of technologies including robotics and AI, machine learning, materials science, IoT, advanced engineering, power electronics and health-tech.
Sofant Technologies oversubscribed funding round
Sofant Technologies CEO David Wither said, “This top-up investment is a vital part of the preparation for our series A funding round.”
“Our engineering team has made significant progress on the development of our core technology platform. We have also built an ecosystem of corporate partners who will play key roles in the commercialization of Sofant’s disruptive, low power antenna technology”.
Dr. Ilian Iliev, Managing Director of EMV Capital commented, “Since our initial investment, we have seen the Sofant team make rapid progress in this strategically vital technology for the UK’s telecoms sector.”
“In the aftermath of COVID-19, supply chain consolidation and strategic reliability has become a key priority for Western governments. Sofant is well-positioned to provide this homegrown, reliable partner in building safe, reliable and fast connectivity systems.”
Huawei held its 18th Global Analyst Summit in Shenzhen. More than 400 guests, including industry and financial analysts, key opinion leaders, and media representatives joined the event on-site, along with analysts and media representatives from around the world who attended online.
Eric Xu, Huawei’s Rotating Chairman, shared the company’s business performance in 2020 as well as five strategic initiatives moving forward. According to Mr. Xu, Huawei will:
· Optimize its portfolio to boost business resilience. As part of these efforts,
Huawei will strengthen its software capabilities and invest more in businesses
that are less reliant on advanced process techniques, as well as in components
for intelligent vehicles.
· Maximize 5G value and define 5.5G with industry peers to drive the evolution of
· Provide a seamless, user-centric, and intelligent experience across all user
· Innovate to reduce energy consumption for a low-carbon world.
· Address supply continuity challenges.
“Rebuilding trust and restoring collaboration across the global semiconductor supply chain is crucial to bringing the industry back on track,” stressed Eric Xu.
“Moving forward, we will continue to find ourselves in a complex and volatile global environment. Resurgence of COVID-19 and geopolitical uncertainty will present ongoing challenges for every organization, business, and country. We believe deeply in the power of digital technology to provide fresh solutions to the problems we all face. So we will keep innovating and driving digital transformation forward with our customers and partners to bring digital to every person, home and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world.”
William Xu, Director of the Board and President of Huawei’s Institute of Strategic Research, began his keynote by discussing challenges that will affect social well-being over the next decade, including ageing populations and increasingly high energy consumption. He followed with Huawei’s outlook on the intelligent world of 2030, including nine technological challenges and proposed directions for research efforts. These include:
1) Defining 5.5G to support hundreds of billions of different kinds of connections
2) Developing nanoscale optics for an exponential increase in fiber capacity
3) Optimizing network protocols to connect all things
4) Providing advanced computing power strong enough to support the intelligent
5) Extracting knowledge from massive amounts of data to drive breakthroughs in
6) Going beyond von Neumann architecture for 100x denser storage systems
7) Combining computing and sensing for a hyper-reality, multi-modal experience
8) Enabling people to more proactively manage their health through continuous
self-monitoring of personal vital signs
9) Building an intelligent Internet of Energy for the generation, storage, and
consumption of greener electricity
“In the decade to come,” said William Xu, “we can expect to see many great improvements in society. To promote these efforts, we hope to join forces with different industries, academia, research institutes, and application developers to address the universal challenges facing humanity. With a shared vision, we all have a role to play as we explore how to make connections stronger, computing faster, and energy greener. Together, let’s march ahead towards an Intelligent World in 2030.”
The first Huawei Global Analyst Summit took place in 2004, and has been held annually ever since. This year’s summit, “Building a Fully Connected, Intelligent World”, runs from April 12 to 14, with a number of breakout sessions where industry experts from around the world can share their unique insights and discuss future trends.
In a world where everything is connected, what will be the role of smart vehicles and what changes it will bring to our lives? Self-driving cars are smart, and it takes correspondingly smart people and technology to build them. With so many benefits to be reaped from such innovation, the ICT industry is investing in its own future by supplying technology required by the largest automakers worldwide and rising consumer trends, wishing to bring about the digital transformation of driving.
But the auto and ICT industries’ collaborative acceleration of smart car development does not come without its fair share of challenges. Digitised smart car technology is still in its primal stages; a feat of mechanical and electronic engineering that remains rudimentary. The stakes for smart car development are thus not only high because the outcome could be so overwhelming, but also because it is so uncertain. The road to digital transformation in the already high-tech realm of auto engineering is one which has yet to be drawn and driven, according to FAW (China’s first automotive firm to conduct R&D on smart cars).
What are smart vehicles?
What makes a smart car? The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) in the United States offers tiered definitions, identifying different levels of automobile intelligence. The majority of car manufacturers aim to meet the requirements of SAE’s Level 3: cars able to control speed and steering programmatically and rely on the human driver to take over in dynamic situations, such as when bad weather interferes with the car’s sensors. In addition to real-time monitoring and braking capabilities, cars will require Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, cloud computing and other ICT technologies if they are to reach this level.
Of course, autonomy is not the only target; the integration of smart hardware and software has to meet safety standards as well. Deaths caused by traffic incidents in the US average about 20,000 a year – a steady figure which shows no sign of decreasing (omitting 2020 figures, when the pandemic drastically reduced road traffic altogether). Appropriately, smart cars are being developed with collision-avoidance capabilities, which may solve – or least alleviate – the problem of road traffic mortality, according to the US Department of Transportation. The American government is thus encouraging high-tech firms such as Google to apply their technology to smart car development, hoping to position the US as a leader in the smart car industry – the EU and Japan being the chief rivals.
The digitisation of smart cars can be split into three main areas: smart manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Leading automakers worldwide describe traditional car manufacturing as ‘serial’: ‘starting with product planning and engineering design, then [on] to experimentation and trial production, and from full-scale production to marketing and post-sales services.’ The advent of cloud capabilities from innovative ICT infrastructures disrupts this production line, using virtual platforms to push it into many parallel processes such as digital design and service platforms. This considerably improves production costs and efficiency and reduces the number of physical tests needed for a car to meet modern crash-safety standards thanks to cloud-based virtual collision technologies – the most important of which are currently 5G and V2X. In fact, Japan is positioning itself as a world leader in automated driving/Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) standards.
Smart cars rely on AI in relation to three specific domains: sensor fusion, route planning, and the use of AI and Big Data for multiple levels of data classification and delivery of results. Smart cars are projected to use on-board AI capabilities in the immediate future, with further support provided by cloud-based AI services. But as cloud and ICT technologies improve and innovate, cloud-based AI support is expected to become the primary director of smart cars, allowing them to perform functions such as determining the speed and direction at which other cars and people are moving, or indeed whether the objects it senses are people 0r cars (or even a barrier).
By endowing cars with more sensors, processors and software, passenger vehicles will become integrated carriers of digital transformation. In other words, smart car ambition is directly informed by IoT, which will not only permit cars to handle a wider range of scenarios, but will usher the automobile companies into a new – and unprecedentedly vast – realm of work. Indeed, companies which have traditionally belonged to the manufacturing industry are converting to be more service-oriented.
In order to fully investigate IoT’s capabilities in relation to the development of smart cars, we need to understand what exactly is IoT.
What is IoT?
“The internet of things (IoT) is a catch-all term for the growing number of electronics that aren’t traditional computing devices, but are connected to the internet to send data, receive instructions or both,” explains Josh Fruhlinger. These devices encompass a large spectrum, from gadgets like Alexa to internet-enabled sensors in farms and factories. By bringing the power of the internet, data processing and analytics to the real world of material objects, IoT blurs the boundaries between the digital and the physical. When a modern washing machine can be operated from a smartphone using an internet app, the person using it is directly engaging with the global information network; the very act of doing laundry is now part of an interconnected digital system.
In addition, the data-gathering capabilities of IoT is hugely beneficial to industry settings, where the data compiled by millions – if not billions – of embedded internet-enabled sensors serve as a reading key for companies wishing to assess ‘the safety of their operations’, ‘track assets’, ’reduce manual processes’, or even learn more about ‘people’s preferences and behaviour’ (Fruhlinger). Through IoT, the internet can now accelerate the processes of physical manufacturing and distribution in the same way it has been accelerating the research and dissemination of knowledge of decades.
Opportunities with smart vehicles and IoT
IoT is therefore crucial to the development of smart vehicles, collating the data needed to refine the technology required to meet safety and efficiency standards. Indeed, traditional car wiring is insufficient as it is built on mechanics, from the engine and transmission system to the integrated electrical components such as electronic engine control. Smart cars require a new core platform, entirely independent of the traditional engine, transmission, braking, and steering systems – one that includes sensors and software intelligence that connect with GPS mapping, sensor fusion, AI, and a growing range of supercomputing platforms. This IoT-based architecture, named ‘interconnection architecture’ by FAW, is to connect cars to the cloud and vice-versa.
This creates rich opportunities for smart vehicles, accelerating the development of functions such as health and attention monitoring. Indeed, most road traffic incidents occur because the driver has become distracted or tired; with smart technology, cars may be able to determine when a driver’s capacities are compromised and take over driving control accordingly.
Challenges with smart vehicles and IoT
The first challenge with smart vehicles and IoT is an ethical one: sharing so much personal data could be met with intrusion of privacy accusations. Fortunately, as the world becomes increasingly digitised, cybersecurity standards are correspondingly reinforced; smart car manufacturers would do well to work closely with digital security consultants.
The second challenge concerns engineering: how does one build the technology mentioned in section IV? A health and attention monitor, for instance, cannot exist without Big Data analytics interpreting information about roadways, the environment, and expanding interactions. Another crucial core technology is dynamic mapping: traditional navigation systems are based on fixed maps, so how does one transcend these limits and construct new technologies to generate real-time maps that are dynamic and responsive to current conditions?
Smart car manufacturing firms will not only need to hire competent mechanical engineers, but a highly skilled R&D team able to master new practices and operating regimes that include, among others, environmental assessment and AI-based decision-making control. New technologies of this kind have already started to emerge; FAW has already introduced the concept of AllwayEye, the core function of which is to allow each car to capture data related to its immediate environment and upload it to the cloud. With all similarly equipped cars in the vicinity uploading and downloading situational information with the cloud, any accident, collision or hazard would be taken into account by the car’s in-built navigation programs, informed by cloud communication. This would allow drivers to reprogram their route in real-time.
Transforming traditional R&D models and choosing the best core technologies in order to respond to an increasingly complex technological revolution is the main challenge currently faced by the auto industry – and it is one that no car firm can answer alone. An example of successful teamwork in the field is FAW’s collaboration with Huawei: a Chinese giant that benefits from a rich ecosystem of partners in many industries.
Case studies and solutions by Huawei
As a leader in the ICT sector and pioneer in emerging technologies such as 5G, cloud computing and, especially, IoT, Huawei is strengthening its position in the smart vehicle market by developing and implementing new solutions. Eric Xu, Chairman of Huawei, said recently at the Huawei Global Analyst Summit 2021:
We will ramp up investment in components for intelligent vehicles, especially autonomous driving software. Vehicles are becoming more connected, intelligent, electric, and shared these days, and at the core of these trends is whether or not autonomous driving software can make truly autonomous cars a reality, and take us a step closer to entirely unmanned driving. With intense investment in autonomous driving software, our hope is to drive these trends forward as they facilitate the integration of the automotive and ICT industries, which in turn creates long-term strategic opportunities for Huawei. […] Once unmanned driving becomes a reality, we will see disruption in practically all adjacent sectors and trigger the most disruptive industry transformation the world will see in the next 10 years.
Huawei wants to become the chief provider of new components for intelligent vehicles, fuelling its investments in autonomous driving software such as enhanced communication capabilities, cloud services and optical networks. Indeed, autonomous vehicles rely on computing and cloud services to identify red or green lights, or possible obstructions and hazards. Huawei’s ICT expertise means it is strategically positioned to deliver these technological innovations. Moreover, Huawei has an entire unit dedicated to the development of full-stack ICT systems for the B2B market: the Intelligent Automotive Solution Business Unit. This creation of a highly specialised team means Huawei has a solid grasp of user requirements and considerable experience in design for the B2C market. The company’s ‘platform + ecosystem’ strategy anchors its user interface within the wider tech and automotive networks.
Being the tech giant that it is, Huawei has, unsurprisingly, partnered with some of the biggest names in the auto industry; namely Audi on L4 autonomous driving, and BAIC Group on its Arcfox models, providing the latter with solutions and components. But how exactly has Huawei earned its reputation for delivering innovative solutions?
Huawei has branded its Intelligent Automotive Solutions ‘Huawei HI’, powered by HarmonyOS and launched in October last year. HI aims to drive the upgrade of technologies in the automotive industry and develop leading intelligent electric vehicles, by adopting a new joint development model in which the company works with automakers and leverages its technological advantages to jointly design and develop high-quality cars. These will use the automaker’s brand and display HI’s logo on the car body, identifying the vehicle as one that uses the full-stack HI Intelligent Automotive Solution.
“HI delivers full-stack intelligent automotive solutions. We have accumulated 30 years of technical experience and are integrating with the automotive industry, as well as pursuing cutting-edge technological development to outperform competitors,” commented Wang Jun, President of Huawei’s Intelligent Automotive Solution Business Unit (IAS BU). “We firmly believe that the new model will help us develop ideal, intelligent EVs. As a result, we will achieve brand extension and strengthen China’s automotive industry, which currently focuses on size.”
HI’s acceleration of the development and production of smart vehicles relies on an all-new architecture for computing and communications, built on five pillars: intelligent driving, e-cockpit, intelligent electrification, connectivity, and an intelligent automobile cloud. This architecture – a Level 4 automated driving standard – is bolstered by powerful computing and operating systems for intelligent driving, e-cockpit and intelligent vehicle control; the operating systems in question are AOS, HOS, and VOS respectively. Powered by these computing and operating systems, vehicles can thus be defined by software, which Huawei believes will advance the development of new functions and ensure that customer experience is constantly improved.
Zooming in on the electrical appliances built into the smart vehicles by Huawei, it becomes apparent that the HI system is not only industry-leading in terms of sensors, central supercomputing, and algorithms, but also in terms of its self-improving capabilities: the use of AI allows the system to constantly learn and evolve on its own to become a smarter and better driver for consumers. One of the most advanced technologies developed by Huawei for smart vehicles is an intelligent electric system offering oil-cooling heat dissipation, providing better cooling effects and higher power outputs when at high speeds and thereby placing the car firmly within the 3-second club. Another notable innovation is the HI cockpit solution, which utilises Augmented reality head-up displays (AR-HUD) to turn a normal windshield into a 70-inch HD screen, allowing users to watch movies, play games, or attend video conferences while enjoying 7.1 surround sound. This same solution offers powerful visual recognition, semantic understanding, and advanced AI technologies; it can communicate in natural language and understand user gestures and expressions. A final innovative touch is the HI dual-motor electric driving system, which enables linked control and redundancy backup, preventing loss of power and ensuring driving safety. The system can also take advantage of AI and big data analysis to provide early warnings of battery exceptions, further improving driving safety.
Data safety and privacy concerns – a natural consequence of IoT – are also considered by Huawei, which has applied its experience in security to automobiles to fully protect users’ information.
Smart vehicles are the future of the industry as consumer trends continue to move towards it. With the technology still in its primal stages, it is a field as yet unspoiled, meaning the stakes for innovators and manufacturers are high. The target for firms looking to lead the digital revolution of the auto industry is twofold: safety and autonomy.
There are three key aspects to smart vehicles: smart manufacturing (for adaptability), AI (for efficiency), and IoT (for benchmarking progress). The latter is particularly important as we enter an unprecedentedly interconnected age, where the very act of changing gears on a highway sends data to the cloud and thereby informs decisions by tech companies and the algorithms on which they build their tech.
The use and application of IoT within the context of smart vehicle production is not without its challenges. The first is an ethical one concerning personal data and privacy. The second concerns engineering: how does one build the technology required for cars to be fully safe and autonomous? Our research demonstrates that a key solution is innovation not just on a technological level, but a structural level: traditional R&D models will have to be overhauled completely. Moreover, we expect to see an emergence in collaborative approach between different, highly specialised firms.
To illustrate this trend, we observed the solutional models developed by Huawei. Huawei edges ahead of the competition in each of the smart vehicle pillars (AI, smart manufacturing and IoT) with an innovative ‘platform + ecosystem’ development strategy, on which it is building an industry ecosystem based on partnerships between specialised tech and engineering firms. It is the success of these partnerships, and the network of information created through IoT, that will determine the course and progress of smart vehicle development.
In a world where everything is connected, smart vehicles will not only facilitate the experience of driving for consumers but allow physical and digital experiences to exist in symbiosis, using AI and IoT to drive us into a world of automated harmony.
Science fiction fans can tick off one more prediction turned to reality as NASA aims to optimize local travel and commuting by air above cities.
A key enabler is Digital Twin technology, a ‘real-world SimCity’ software able to aggregate vast quantities of data on buildings, roads, infrastructure, vehicles, and even the space above into an interactive 3D virtual model of a city.
It is the potential to manage integrated drone and ‘new age’ air taxi routes in the air space that attracted a nationwide NASA search, leading Digital Twin pioneer Cityzenith to be 1 of just 10 tech companies presenting to senior NASA officials at the prestigious ‘Ignite the Night: Aeronautics’* NASA iTech virtual event on April 13, 2021.
NASA iTech identifies and searches for cutting-edge technologies being developed outside of NASA that solve problems on Earth, but also having the potential to address challenges facing exploration of the Moon and Mars.
The high-profile panel of judges includes:
Harry Partridge, Center Chief Technologist, NASA Ames Research Center
Kurt R. Sacksteder, Center Chief Technologist, NASA Glenn Research Center
David Voracek, Center Chief Technologist, NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center
Julie Williams-Byrd, Deputy Chief Technologist, NASA Langley Research Center
NASA’s vision for Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) aims to help develop air transportation to safely move people and cargo between places previously not served or underserved by aviation – local, regional, intra-regional, and urban – using revolutionary new aircraft only now becoming possible.
Michael Jansen, CEO of Chicago-based Cityzenith, said: “This will be the second presentation to NASA by my company and its SmartWorldOS™ software platform within weeks, and we are very honoured and excited to be the only Digital Twin company at this prestigious gathering.
“It highlights yet another application for Digital Twin technology and growing interest in flight above our cities, a dream dating back to the ground-breaking 1927 movie ‘Metropolis’ and many sci-fi classics since then, but now set to happen as we move to delivery by flying drones and then human travel by zero-carbon air vehicles using electric propulsion.
“It will open a whole new dimension to city life; no longer will high-rise living and working mean people must literally come down to earth to go elsewhere.
“But there is a real pressure to act, too: the World Economic Forum has reported that ground level delivery vehicles in the world’s 100 largest cities will increase 36% by 2030, carbon emissions from all urban delivery traffic will rise 32% and congestion will be up by 21%, adding 11 minutes to an average daily commute.
“NASA introduced the air taxi concept in 2001 and the race is now on to create the first viable electric machines in a market tipped to grow 26.2% annually to $6.63 billion by 2030**.
“This new air mobility can also significantly reduce greenhouse gases in cities, a goal of our Clean Cities – Clean Future mission to drive down urban carbon emissions. Cities produce more than 70% of global carbon emissions (source: UN) and that’s why we pledged to donate SmartWorldOS™ to key cities around the world, one at a time, to help the most polluted become carbon neutral.
“We are also expanding to meet demand for our Digital Twin capability as the post-COVID-19 ‘Build Back better’ initiative grows; we have just passed a $2.5 million milestone en route to a $10 million Regulation A+ crowdfunding investment raise.”
NFTs are taking the world of art and creativity by storm. The latest iteration comes from the most advanced robot out there, Sophia The Robot, who just raised a total of $ 1.7 million at a public auction selling her digital artwork.
On March 23rd, the auction for the 12 seconds video “Sophia Instantiation” was purchased by NFT collector _888_ for $688.888. The digital artwork is a “self-portrait” video-file showing the transformation of Andrea Bonaceto’s portrait into Sophia’s digital painting. The minted clip portrays Sophia crafting a portrait of her own face which was then processed by the robot’s neural networks.
Following the sale of the self-portrait, the buyer tweeted “I have goosebumps.” Sophia replied to the tweet, saying: “Me too, we really had a connection.” Having added that the artist’s “work was very inspiring on so many levels, so I want to hold on to its meaning a little longer. Will share soon.”
That artwork was part of Sophia the Robot’s NFT Digital Artworks series, and it wasn’t the only one that was successful at auction. In fact, the best selling series was the “Marcello Portrait” which sold 66 copies at $1,500 each. One of the editions of the portrait is currently on sale for over 12mln USD.
What really stood out from this auction is that all this artwork series was that each piece was linked to a unique NFT (Non-fungible token).
As it was recently said in an intellignthq article about Digital art and NFTs, “Non-fungible tokens – NFTs are scarce digital cryptographic assets. This means that NFTs are unique digital assets that run on the same technology (blockchains) as cryptocurrency but are fundamentally different.”
A good example to picture how NFT works is the Ticket Analogy: each ticket – NFT contains specific information including the purchaser’s name, the date of the event and the venue, which makes it impossible for tickets to be traded with one another.
NFTs can bring real benefits to creators and artists. They can be designed to pay their creators a cryptocurrency fee every time they change hands. If for example a buyer of NFT of the creator’s pieces resells it, the creator automatically receives 10 percent of the price paid. The lack of digital scarcity in the creator economy is one of the main reasons people have slowly but surely been gravitating to NFTs as a possible solution. And in recent months, that interest grew exponentially.
Like Sophia the Robot’s Digital Artwork experience, there have been a growing number of successful NFTs art auctions
On March, 11th, the artwork “Everydays: The First 5,000 Days” by creator Beeple was sold for $69.3 million at a Christie’s auction, becoming the highest sale of NFT art till date. This sale surpassed CEO Dylan Field’s CryptoPunk for 4200 ETH (about $7.5 million) and Billionaire Jack Dorsey’s NFT converted tweet “just setting up my twttr,” which while still open, already has a high bid of $2.5 million from Sina Estavi, CEO of Bridge Oracle.
Another noteworthy initiative in the NFT space that harnesses the true potentiality of the technology is the Hashmasks project. This is a living digital art collectible created by over 70 artists globally that sold its collection of 16,384 unique digital portraits for $16 million. The most expensive Hashmask was sold for 420 ETH, or $650,000, and features a mystical halo demon that may or may not make it the deal with the devil.
According to specialized site Vice, “these Hashmasks are unique as compared to other NFT artworks, or even real paintings, since they are unnamed. Each Hashmask owner has the responsibility of naming their art, thus contributing to it creatively. Hashmasks are sold in the open market, and also allow the buyer as well as the creator to determine its value.”
Other artists from the creative industries that are using NFTs are Kings of Leon, who launched an album as NFT and Basketball collectives; Grimes, a Canadian musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, music video director, and visual artist, who sold around $5.8 million worth of digital artworks, and a series of 10 pieces went up for sale on Nifty Gateway on February 28th, or Blake Kathryn, Giant Swan and Dream Catcher Auction by Steve Aoki x Antoni Tudisco, among others.
These sales are the latest art-related NFT that has sparked a craze across Wall Street and multiple markets such as sports and music in the past few months. From a digital copy of a Banksy print being burned to magazine covers, NFTs are ushering a new domain of buying, selling and trading.
NFTs can radically change the way art is created and distributed, making it a fairer sector for creators. Although still in its infancy, digital arts NFTs and other crypto collectives have exploded and the growth potential is still off the charts.
Talking about the potentiality of the technology, Andrea Bonaceto, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and blockchain pioneer commented: “NFTs will act as a catalyst to help society achieve the ideal balance between creativity and rationality. This could be the dawn of a new Renaissance, springing straight after a global pandemic – reminiscent of the 15th century Renaissance that arose in the immediate aftermath of the plague. NFTs are for the creative industry what Bitcoin is for the financial industry – a paradigm shift. It is very exciting to be at the cusp of this new trend.”
The success of the Pilot paves the way for a second phase of the Lawtech Sandbox in the summer
Five UK lawtechs which were selected to join the pilot share their experiences
The three month Sandbox Pilot launched in December, was designed to drive forward the development of lawtech by providing access to a number of tools, connections and services, including access to legal data and participating regulators
LawtechUK in collaboration with the Regulatory Response Unit to launch new tool over the coming weeks to help lawtech pioneers navigate legal services regulation and to increase confidence in lawtech development
LawtechUK, the government-backed initiative within Tech Nation to help transform the UK legal sector through technology, today brings to a close the Pilot stage of the first Lawtech Sandbox – a research and development initiative for lawtech scaleups – following a successful three month trial period.
The Sandbox Pilot, launched in December last year, has been a driving force in the development of early-stage lawtech scaleups. The Sandbox Pilot is a key part of the LawtechUK programme, and is instrumental in galvanising the growth of lawtech and positioning the UK as a global leader in legal technology.
Amplified Global, Legal Utopia, ClauseMatch, Deriskly, and Legal Schema were the five UK lawtechs selected to join the Pilot and today share their insights from the success of the Lawtech Sandbox Pilot.
Through the three month period, they all saw accelerated growth, realised through a number of tailored tools and services, including: access to regulators for fast response support in navigating regulation and governance; connections to LawtechUK’s network to help drive collaboration, commercial opportunities and development of lawtech products; and access to legal data by matchmaking with data sources.
The success of the Pilot paves the way for a second phase of the Lawtech Sandbox in the summer and exploration into how its benefits can be provided to the wider market to support its transformation.
As part of the pilot, LawtechUK and the Regulatory Response Unit have also considered a number of cross sector issues and will launch a tool over the coming weeks designed to help lawtech pioneers navigate legal services regulation in the UK. The tool takes a UK-wide approach and demonstrates that despite different regulatory regimes, lawtechs and regulators can work cohesively across the different jurisdictions of the UK.
Jenifer Swallow, LawtechUK Director at Tech Nation, comments: “The Lawtech Sandbox Pilot was designed to help bring transformative lawtech to market faster and help reinvent the service of law. The success of the Pilot has been fantastic to see, playing a crucial role in the development of several early stage scale-ups and demonstrating the value and knock on effects of the burgeoning lawtech sector. As we saw with fintech, the Sandbox has the potential to propel lawtech into the mainstream – that is an incredibly exciting future many can help to build.”
Sheldon Mills, Executive Director, Consumers and Competition at the Financial Conduct Authority and Chair of the Regulatory Response Unit, comments: “It is a ground-breaking initiative to bring regulators together in this way to support technology innovators in law. It has been impressive to see how this engagement and support can make a difference and to see regulators themselves actively solving problems, including where there are boundary issues between two regulators. The creation of the Regulatory Response Unit is a clear demonstration of the commitment and scale behind LawtechUK’s approach.”
Insights from the Five Lawtech Pioneers
Anastasia Dokuchaeva, Head of Product, ClauseMatch, a company which digitises regulation enabling smart compliance, comments: “The programme was highly instrumental for us for working with the ecosystem, understanding the challenges and the problems that both sides – regulators and the regulated – face. What was the most unique about it is that it provided us with a great opportunity to work with multiple regulators and have them come together at the round table all ‘in one room’, all at one time simultaneously, something that we were not able to do before. As part of the Sandbox, we were looking at several use cases such as anti-money laundering and KYC use cases, ESG, privacy, onshoring post-Brexit. Meeting experts allowed us to tap into this wealth of experience and deep-dive more into the issues that the industry is looking at.”
Peter Hunn, Founder, Legal Schema and Clause.io, Legal Schema enables legal documents to be easily structured and consumed as data, comments: “Accelerating the adoption and use of smart contracts is critical to the global competitiveness of the UK as a jurisdiction. In order to do so, a simple, universal, means to add structured data into contractual documents is needed to transform them into digital agreements. The Lawtech Sandbox enabled us to test the viability of this idea and to collaborate with key stakeholders to get to a point where we have something of real substance, as outlined in the whitepaper to be released in the coming days.”
Dr. Mimi Zou, CEO, Deriskly, which analyses corporate communications to detect and avoid disputes, comments: “For Deriskly, the Sandbox has helped to connect us with potential users and potential clients, as well as a network of individuals and organisations that have provided us with rich insights to inform our market research and product development. Moreover, being part of the inaugural cohort of Sandbox Pioneers has helped to raise our profile as an early stage lawtech venture that is trying to innovate in a new space (dispute avoidance).”
Minesh Patel, Founder, Amplified Global, a company that helps customers engage with technical legal information, comments: ”Through the Sandbox Network we partnered with Vodafone to access some of their datasets and have been able to collaborate with legal regulators. That’s allowed us to develop, test and further calibrate our product. An organisation of our size and stage would have found it really difficult to be working with, or even engaging with these partners without the Sandbox Network. The process has rapidly accelerated our growth and helped us to get the product to market quicker than we could have ever imagined.”
Fraser Matcham, CEO, Legal Utopia, which provides DIY tools and makes it easy for SMEs to get legal support, comments: “The LawtechUK Pilot was a particularly well-timed event for Legal Utopia’s product development and the key projects we’ve been focused on launching since early 2020. The pilot helped us get these different projects locked-in and funnelled the resources needed to get them done. The results I think exceeded both sides’ expectations, in particular, to go from nothing to a full modelling training platform with a training dataset on one project. This will directly result in an expansion of our service offering to SMEs and the wider market.”
Blockchain is as diversified and complex as the opportunities it presents to the global economy. The frontier between the physical and the digital economy are blurred, and solutions to tokenize every aspect of the world accelerate. The new DeFi and NFTs wave are taking full advantage of what blockchain can bring to the global economy. And there is a discussion to have to make sure we do so in the right way.
That is what this Dinis Guarda openbusinesscouncil summit – citiesabc Youtube special LIVE event aims to bring about.
Moderated by openbusinesscouncil and citiesabc CEO Dinis Guarda in partnership with INX Limited, a blockchain-based platform for trading digital assets and BTCU Ultimatum, a next-gen blockchain based on Bitcoin fork, it will gather top industry leaders and experts in innovative companies, including Douglas Borthwick – CMO INX Limited; Dr Guenther Dobrauz – Partner & Leader PwC Legal Switzerland; Hirander Misra – Chairman & CEO GMEX Group & SECDEX; Derek Mayne – MD co-Founder CrescoFin; Peter Kristensen – Co-CEO JP Fund Services and Eric Ma – CEO BTCU Ultimatum, to discuss all the opportunities, challenges and consequences of this global disruption.
The finance industry, the first being disrupted by digital assets, is taking one step closer to full decentalization with the latest innovations in DeFi. New platforms and solutions are changing the rules, the players and the access to financial services. But there is much to discuss, including regulatory compliance and building trust, to make sure that DeFi doesn’t end up in just another buzzword.
Likewise, DeFi has in NTFs the most transformative and powerful tool now. NFTs are shaping the creative industry and the global collectibles economy as a whole, and pushing multiple industries such as real estate, sports, fantasy football, gaming, internet ephemera, etc.
Non-fungible tokens – NFTs are scarce digital cryptographic assets. This means that NFTs are unique digital assets that run on blockchains. NFTs create digital scarcity for a given asset, which is particularly interesting for art pieces and collectives, where there was none before. This lack of digital scarcity in the creative industry is one of the main reasons people have slowly but surely been gravitating to NFTs as a possible solution. But NFTs are still in its infancy and we need to make sure that they are actually developed for what they expect to be for: creating a fairer industry.
The last pillar of this LIVE event is the role that exchanges will play in this tokenized economy. The future of the global economy is based on platforms and marketplaces and so exchanges will be the critical new system of financial, trading and business interconnectedness.
What: Dinis Guarda openbusinesscouncil summit – citiesabc Youtube special LIVE event
Speakers: Douglas Borthwick – CMO INX Limited; Dr Guenther Dobrauz – Partner & Leader PwC Legal Switzerland; Hirander Misra – Chairman & CEO GMEX Group & SECDEX; Derek Mayne – MD co-Founder CrescoFin; Peter Kristensen – Co-CEO JP Fund Services and Eric Ma – CEO BTCU Ultimatum
Douglas Borthwick is the Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Business Development at INX Limited trading platform company. A financial industry veteran with over 25 years of experience and a financial technology expert, Mr. Borthwick has worked with the likes of Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Latin American FX trading business Standard Chartered.
Dr Guenther Dobrauz – Partner & Leader PwC Legal Switzerland | Member of PwC’s Global Legal Leadership Team.
Guenther is a Partner with PwC in Zurich, Leader of PwC Legal Switzerland, a member of PwC’s Global Legal Leadership Team directing the firm’s global legal practice comprising 4000+ lawyers in 90+ countries and the firm’s Global LegalTech Leader.
Guenther is the author of ten books on innovation and the European, Swiss and Liechtenstein legal regulatory framework as well as of 100+ publications in international expert magazines and has to date been speaking at more than 200 conferences worldwide. He also founded the Disruption Disciples movement and hosts the online series Appetite for Disruption.
Hirander Misra – Chairman & CEO GMEX Group & SECDEX, Partner at Digital Partners Network.
Hirander Misra is the Chairman and CEO of GMEX Group (GMEX), offering innovative solutions for the creation & operation of electronic exchanges and post trade infrastructure in securities, FX, derivatives, commodities, crypto & digital tokenised assets. He is also part of the Mauritius Financial Services Commission task force on Digital Finance.
Derek Mayne co-founded CrescoFin in 2019 and started the Cresco group of companies in 2011 with Cresco Capital Markets, a foreign exchange broker, adding Cresco Capital Management in 2014.
Known as Ice-Man in his early career as an engineer in offshore oil and gas production (as he specialized in sea ice, not G&T ice), he worked with Agip KCO in Kazakhstan and London and later founded Abai Resources Ltd to develop junior oil and gas in Kazakhstan. He has a PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Calgary, where he also held an adjunct professorship.
Peter Kristensen has an accumulated financial markets experience of over 35 years. Peter has an extensive career, starting off at a Danish Bank to Saxo Bank, where he became an expert in online trading. Peter is now the co-CEO of JP Funds and recently co-founded of investment platform trademakers along with Adam Hill.
Eric Ma – CEO BTCU Ultimatum, Former Community Manager CoinMarketCap
Eric Ma is the CEO of BTCU. Eric studied a major in Landscape architecture in the University of Winscouncil. In this position he got his project management capacities and foundations of working with teams and strategy. After this experience he worked in human resources and managed a big network of education in a major group out of Taiwan.
Between 2018-2019 Eric became Community Manager for CoinMarketCap – the world’s leading platform source for crypto market capitalizations, pricing and information. Eric later took the role as the CEO Bione, a world leading cryptocurrency exchange for global digital asset professionals and enthusiasts, was established in May 2018 in Singapore. In 2020, he was approached by BTCU to become the CEO of the company.
The lines between decentralised finance and centralised finance are as blurry as they have ever been as the economy goes completely digital, with marketplaces and exchanges tokenizing different sectors of the global economy. And we need to make sure that we grab all the opportunities that DeFi, NFTs and Digital Assets bring about, while ensuring that they are developed and deployed in an ethical way. That is why these conversations are critical now.
The Digital Assets, NFTs, DeFi and The Future of Global Economy and Exchanges LIVE event is due to go live on Dinis Guarda YouTube channel on Wednesday, 24th March at 1pm EDT / 5pm GMT .
In times of uncertainty, building trust and coming together with ideas and best strategies is more important than ever. There are many challenges to overcome, from the widespread adoption of Fintech services to further empowering Women’s role in society. All those main topics were discussed in the Women In Tech Day and Fintech Day at the Digital Week Online, which happened on 8-12th March.
Covid-19 has triggered a global acceleration to digital solutions. But this unprecedented technological revolution needs to be properly addressed so no one is left behind, while all these trends are properly understood. The financial industry is at the forefront of that digital revolution, with trends ranging from integrating cryptocurrencies into the monetary system to Fintech new innovative solutions. All those topics were discussed on Fintech Day, co-hosted by CryptoLaw Partners, PALcapital and MaGESpire. This will be one of the hottest days finalizing the Digital Week Online event– there we will discuss global Fintech trends, CBDC, DeFi and many other important topics.
Likewise, this year we are excited to see the realization of women empowerment across all layers of society. And we were happy to give voice to those women leading the change. On 8th March, Women Leadership Day opened the Digital Week Online with the insights of the world’s brightest women in digital communications, blockchain and fintech, femtech, investments. Yamilette Cano (Louder Global), Bowie Lau (MaGESpire), Maria Jones (The Third Millennium Woman), Carman Chan (Click Ventures), Brittany Kaiser (Own Your Data Foundation), Jane Nguyen (PALcapital), and many other female leaders shared their vision, success stories, passion, and experience, showing the real power of Women.
March 9th – the DeepTech Forum, organized by Sanctum Ventures, covered such topics as Artificial intelligence, Machine Learning, Space Technologies, Green Energy, Agriculture Tech and Quantum Computing.
March 10th, the Digital Transformation Day, devoted to the Global Digital Transformation was co-hosted By Ztudium and Dinis Guarda. The openbusinesscouncil.org and citiesabc.com founder hosted a whole one-day event around major topics: the 4th industrial revolution, Smart Cities, the impact of Covid 19 and a special focus on a positive note for the future in the shape of building a better society, the Society 5.0.
“In this time of unprecedented disruption due to the global pandemic, we must base the future of society on the strong foundations of the 4th Industrial Revolution and Society 5.0. Trust and coming together with ideas and best strategies is more important than ever.” Dinis Guarda, partner, curator, founder, CEO openbusinesscouncil and citiesabc.
March 11th – Innovation Tech Day, co-hosted by PALcapital, was focused on ESG & Impact investments, Corporate Innovation, Privacy & Cybersecurity, Gaming & Entertainment. Privacy & Cybersecurity Session, organized by PrivacyRules, brought together representatives of Bloomberg, Foundation for Interwallet Operability, wizlynxgroup, Tanner De Witt, PALcapital, with the hottest discussion about the use of Bitcoin/other cryptocurrencies in the context of ransomware incidents/investigations.
The day was launched with Startup Pitch Competition, sponsored and supported by StartmeupHK, the department of InvestHK, the Government of Hong Kong SAR. and co-organized by Seedstars. 10 startups pitched their project to VC investors from Netrove Ventures, Blockchain Founders Fund, EnToro Capital, and others.
March 12th – Fintech Day co-hosted by CryptoLaw Partners and Grodon Einstein, MaGESpire, PALcapital. This is one of the hottest days finalizing the week and covering global Fintech trends, CBDC, DeFi, NFT, The Future of Finance, Banking for Unbanked.
The opening of the day with the keynote given by Ben Zhou, CEO of ByBit, a Gold Sponsor of FinTech Day and Women Leadership Day, highlighted the trends of the present and future, which will be definitely linked to decentralization of finance, adoption of cryptocurrencies, new financial and investment tools, available for every person on the Earth.
This opinion was confirmed by Jason Luo, Head of Business Development and CEO of Bitforex, a Gold Sponsor of Digital Week Online, during his keynote speech about the challenges and opportunities of 2020/2021, the latest trends in digital assets and exchanges markets, future plans of Bitforex, such as DEX, incubation platform for project, and more. Watch the replay of the keynote in the video below:
200+ top-level speakers, 100+ professional investors, 48000+ unique viewers on Youtube from 5 continents, hundreds of meetings and contacts made on the networking platform – that are results of Digital Week Online Spring 2021.
The event was organized by Uvecon.Pro, ECIDE, Invest Show.
The next Digital Week Online is planned in Sep-Oct 2021.
· An expert in fintech and digital assets, Mr. Borthwick will tell us more about INX’s SEC regulated Security Token IPO, the current state of cryptocurrency exchanges and how regulatory bodies are changing their minds about digital assets.
A trading solutions company, INX launched one of the first SEC regulated Security Token IPOs in August 2020, a milestone in the blockchain and digital assets exchange market. This achievement advanced the company’s mission of “creating regulated digital asset opportunities for institutions and retail investors.”
Hosted by author and CEO of citiesabc.com, openbusinesscouncil.org and ztudium, Dinis Guarda, the interview features INX CMO and Business Development Officer Douglas Borthwick.
The interview will present the INX vision and roadmap, and shed some light on the opportunities and channels in the digital assets space. Additionally, as per the one-year running Dinis Guarda citiesabc openbusinesscouncil YouTube Series, the interview will focus on Mr. Borthwick’s experience at INX, its mission and offerings. As a company that has had to deal with regulatory bodies, Mr. Borwtick will also share his company’s experience obtaining SEC approval as well as the next step for INX.
What: Dinis Guarda citiesabc openbusinesscouncil YouTube Series – Interview
Guest: Douglas Borthwick, Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Business Development at INX Limited
Regulation in the crypto and digital assets space has been a legacy burden, dragging back investors and the general public, and slowing down innovation in tech and fintech – until recently. Regulatory bodies throughout the world are starting to see the advantages of blockchain technology to public and private securities and the extra safety net that it would add to digital exchanges.
Douglas Borthwick is an advocate of blockchain technology as the way forward for both private and public securities trading. “The blockchain allows companies to digitize their issuances, creating a whole new playing field for both public and private assets. This new playing field makes trading more efficient by cutting out the need for various middlemen. It allows for a 24/7 trading market, fractionalized ownership, and for the first time, thanks to the work of INX Limited, opens up private markets and early stage funding to retail investors. This is the future.” Mr. Borthwick said in a recent article. “
Additionally, blockchain could leverage compliance to current regulations, especially those regarding AML and KYC: “Regulators prefer the blockchain given tokens can have smart contracts, designed to autonomously ensure that all owners of a security have gone through AML and KYC screenings. On the blockchain, a security can only change hands if both parties have whitelisted their digital wallets,” Mr. Borthwick continues.
A veteran in the finance industry with more than 25 years of experience, Douglas Borthwick has held various positions at Morgan Stanley from 1996 to 2005, managing foreign exchange derivatives trading groups in New York and London, with a strong focus on emerging markets. He then ran the strategic trading desk at Merrill Lynch from 2005 to 2006, and the Latin American FX trading business at Standard Chartered from 2006 to 2009. In 2010, Mr. Borthwick managed trading and research areas for startup foreign exchange agency Faros Trading, a company that was later sold to FXCM in 2013. Prior to joining INX as CMO and Business Development Officer, Mr. Borthwick founded and built the Chapdelaine FX electronic and voice trading business for inter-dealer broker TP-ICAP from 2012 to September 2018. Mr. Borthwick holds a bachelors of science in Economics from Carnegie Mellon University and an MBA from Yale University’s School of Management.
“The future of securities is now. With regulators, issuers and consumers all seeing advantages to tokenization, and with the pathway to tokenization now lit by pioneers like INX Limited, it’s only a matter of time before this stream turns into a torrent,” ended Mr. Borthwick.
The next wave of connected and intelligent technologies—sensors, 5G, and artificial intelligence (AI)—promises to improve the energy efficiency of urban systems. AI, in particular, can help cities save money, address infrastructure needs, and reduce emissions. Yet cities face significant challenges in researching, developing, demonstrating, and deploying AI and other smart technologies.
A new report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the leading think tank for science and technology policy, shows that without greater federal involvement in R&D and better national coordination of demonstration and deployment activities, cities will fail to maximize the benefits AI offers.
“City governments ultimately must take the lead in deploying AI smart city applications, but there is an important role for the federal government in funding R&D and coordinating activities,” says Colin Cunliff, a senior policy analyst at ITIF and co-author of the report. “Some federal programs invest in AI or smart cities, but there are significant funding gaps in demonstration and deployment, and that’s becase there is no cross-cutting vision or strategy. Increasing federal R&D funding and providing better coordination can drive adoption of AI technologies on a larger scale than cities can achieve working independently.”
The report details many potential applications of AI for smart cities in transportation, the electrical grid, buildings, and city operations that can ultimately make cities more efficient and help them reduce their environmental footprint. To overcome the obstacles of adopting AI, the report shows how United States can draw lessons from how other countries have tackled these challenges. For instance, Singapore has developed a “digital twin” of the island that the government, businesses, and researchers can use as a test bed to run simulations.
While the federal government has undertaken an array of activities to support the development of smart cities, the report notes that these efforts have mostly been uncoordinated, and the government has had no strategic vision for AI R&D, demonstration, and deployment of smart city technologies. Some federal government programs are investing in AI or smart cities, but significant funding gaps remain. There are also no cross-cutting AI and smart city initiatives.
“Smart city investment has been compromised during the COVID-19 pandemic because of revenue shortfalls. Even the most capable cities are struggling to overcome some of the obstacles they face in smart city development,” says Ashley Johnson, a policy analyst at ITIF and co-author of the report. “Increasing federal investment and coordination to jumpstart smart cities would address several challenges at once. Smart cities offer an important opportunity to address infrastructure needs, reduce emissions, and save money to ease strained state and local budgets.”
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