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22 December 2017


22 December 2017

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The cryptocurrency craze has seen one small firm’s value skyrocket, while an African agricultural startup is revolutionizing farm funding.


Cashing in on Cryptocurrency:

The Bitcoin-driven cryptocurrency craze has taken the financial world by storm and one small US company managed to make the most of the wave. Fintech firm Longfin started trading on NASDAQ last week for $5 a share. After it announced on Friday it had acquired blockchain company Ziddu, share prices quadrupled. By Monday, Longfin had seen its share price surge by more than 2,000 percent and, according to Bloomberg, its market worth hit $7 billion. The company’s value has since returned to earth somewhat, but the practically-overnight explosion is a prime example of the dramatic effect cryptocurrencies are having on the financial market.  

Innovating in Egypt:

The United Nations is hoping to drive technology development by launching a series of innovation labs around the world. The global body recently announced it was opening its latest such facility, the African Technology Innovation Lab (UNTIL), in Cairo this month. “Egypt has always been a key regional player in the area of information and communication technology and innovation,” said the UN’s Richard Dictus during the lab’s opening ceremony. The UN hopes UNTIL will be able to help develop sustainable solutions to global challenges, with a special focus on disability education, medicine and agriculture.

Dreaming Big:

People spend up to a third of their life in bed and one innovative startup is trying to make that time as pleasant as possible. London-based Simba manufactures memory foam mattresses that they sell online and ship in vacuum-sealed packaging. With their cheapest mattress starting at just 399 pounds, the company is aiming to make high-end sleep comfort available to the masses. They have even enlisted football star Gareth Bale to front their product. Investors have taken notice, and this week Simba broke the news that they had secured €45 million in fresh funding. The mammoth investment will help the company, which currently sells its mattresses in Europe, expand across the globe

The Future of Farming:

Nigerian startup Farmcrowdy is transforming agriculture through its innovative approach to the industry. The company’s app helps small farmers in Africa connect with sponsors abroad in the UK and US, who can finance crop cycles. The sponsorships provide everything from technical advice to logistical support, in order to help funders get a higher return on their investment. The everybody-wins approach to agriculture is proving popular, and this week Farmcrowdy announced it had secured $1 million in funding. With Nigeria set to become the world’s third-largest country by 2030, every bit of food-industry innovation will prove crucial to feeding a growing population.

Old Industry, New Approach:

Israeli entrepreneurs Shai Wininger and Daniel Schreiber have taken the latest innovation technology has to offer and applied it to one of the world’s oldest industries, insurance. Rather than relying on brokers, their company, Lemonade, uses artificial intelligence and behavioral economics to drive business. Much of its day-to-day operations are done through chatbots and enhanced management tools, keeping costs down. It’s a fresh approach that is drawing attention. This week, Lemonade announced Japanese financial giant Softbank had invested $120 million in the company. The new funds will help the home insurance innovator, which currently operates in the US, take its model worldwide.

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