China officially opened the world’s longest sea-crossing bridge this week, which connects Hong Kong with mainland China via Macau. The bridge, which spans 55 kilometers and took nearly a decade to construct, is part of the Chinese government’s efforts to build a “Greater Bay Area” around the Pearl River Delta, similar to San Francisco. Expected to be a major boon for the logistics industry, the route cuts travel time between Hong Kong and Zuhai from 3.5 hours to just 75 minutes. Not only will cargo companies be able to save costs on fuel, the shorter distance means more trips per day. The bridge’s importance to shipping is underscored by the fact it is currently only open to private shuttle buses and freight transport.
Want to know more about exporting to China? Read our dedicated Country Guide.
While e-bikes are increasingly popular to rent in urban centers these days, their high cost and bulky design has prevented them from becoming a popular method of transportation to purchase outright. Belgian startup Cowboy is aiming to change that trend, however, with a specially designed e-bike it says solves the cost and efficiency issues that often plague its competitors. Cowboy’s lightweight bikes have special sensors that apply extra power from an electronic motor when riders need it most, such as leaving a stoplight or moving uphill. What’s more, it’s app can track your journey and provide key “ride stats” and technical feedback. At just under €1,800 per bike, Investors are buying the idea. This week Cowboy announced €10 million in new funding it says will help it expand around mainland Europe.
The internet of things is often described as the future of technology, but connectivity requires one key element: power. Silicon Valley firm Atmosic Technology this week debuted a Bluetooth 5 chip it says lowers power consumption by 10 times the rate of its competitors. Atmosic didn’t get into the specifics of its innovation, but says it completely redesigned the modern Bluetooth chip to “enable forever battery life” and added software that lets it “sleep” as much as possible, thus reducing overall power usage. The chip is initially being aimed at products such as wireless keyboards, remotes and wearable tech. But if successful, it clearly has far-reaching implications across the industry. Reduced power consumption means increased battery life for a whole host of devices - an important asset in an increasingly connected, mobile-driven world.
We take a deep dive into the Internet of Things here.
Cutting out the middleman is a popular business model for many startups, and Missouri-based fashion label Summersalt applies it to its unique swimwear by selling directly to their customers. Instead of focusing on sex appeal and sparsely cut items, Summersalt’s product range puts inclusivity first, offering bathing suits that range in size from 2 to 22 to fit a wide range of body types. As Reshma Chattaram Chamberlin, co-founder and chief brand officer puts it, "We wanted a brand to appeal to women like us so we could feel sexy on our own terms. We wanted to appeal to women across the country, whether that’s a mom in Missouri or a stylish girl in Brooklyn.” On top of that, all its products are made from recycled textiles. This week, Summersalt scored $6 million in funding to expand their business.
Take a look at another interesting swimwear brand, Kulani Kinis.
Machines may drive factory production, but too often they are limited in what they can do. A new startup is creating a buzz in the world of manufacturing by taking a software-driven approach to robotics. San Francisco-based Bright Machines this week raised $179 million to develop “micro-factories” that are capable of producing a whole range of products. Instead of being tailor-made to a certain task, Bright Machines’ smart software allows its robots to be adaptable - building not just smartphones, but computer chips as well, for example. Ultimately, the company envisions a center where individual designers can upload their plans for a certain product that can be produced on a large scale. The technology has the potential to transform manufacturing from a centralized process to something that is accessible to any individual with the right idea.