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In the loop: the UK and France grow closer while Pony.ai raises an impressive $112m series A

Written by Eric Johansson on Friday, 19 January 2018. Posted in Insight, Analysis

This week has seen Britain and France announce a co-operation in AI and cybersecurity, a self-driving car startup raise a massive round and LinkedIn unveil the future of recruitment

In the loop: the UK and France grow closer while Pony.ai raises an impressive $112m series A

France and the UK to work closer together around AI and cybersecurity.

In the past, France has had a reputation of not doing enough to nurture entrepreneurs. However, the last few years have seen the nation across the English Channel change its tune to be more open and encouraging towards entrepreneurship. And now it’s taking another step along this path by announcing closer links with the UK to boost innovation in AI and cybersecurity.

The culmination of this collaboration will be the launching a digital conference later this year. It will aim to foster cross-Channel collaboration between academics, industry and government, as well as bringing together experts on data, cybersecurity, digital government and digital skills to share their knowledge. But this isn’t the only effort to bring the two nations closer together: earlier this week an Anglo-French alliance was launched to connect Imperial College London and the French National Centre for Scientific Research with the aim of strengthening relations in academic subjects underpinning AI.

Hopefully, this will hail the dawn of a new entente cordial between the two nations’ startup ecosystems.

Self-driving car startup Pony.ai raises $112m series A

If you’ve ever thought that autonomous cars were just a pipe dream, then you better reconsider. Not only are tech giants like Alphabet and Uber working on bringing about a driverless future but a slew of startups are also driving innovation in this space. Now one of them, Pony.ai, has raised a massive $112m series A.

The company – which only launched at the tail end of 2016 and is based in Silicon Valley and Beijing – aims to do things a little bit differently, according to TechCrunch. While other startups are focusing on creating hardware and software modules that fit into other platforms, Pony.ai will not only develop everything including the sensors mapping the area around the car and AI solutions but will also  bring all these different innovations into its own platform. In other words, the company plans to create the entire car by themselves.

And clearly there is a huge amount of faith in the founders’ ability to realise this ambition: the round includes investments from heavy hitters like Morningside Venture Capital, Legend Capital and Sequoia China. The money will be used to launch a trial fleet in the Chinese city Guangzhou.

With investments like this and other entrepreneurs developing solutions for everything from public transport to carpooling, it seems like the road is cleared for massive changes in traffic in the years to come.

Telegram announces an initial coin offering

It’s been a tumultuous week for cryptocurrencies with the value of bitcoin crashing to 50% of its peak value in 2017. However, that didn’t deter Telegram from announcing that it is also moving into the realm of virtual currencies with an initial coin offering (ICO) aimed at raising $1.2bn.

The private-messaging app’s token sale will be divided into two parts, according to documents seen by Business Insider. The first part will be  a private sale held in February and the second part will be a public sale in March. The raise, which would be one of the biggest ICOs ever, will be used to develop the company’s new blockchain platform.

Telegram is hardly alone in launching an ICO. In fact, over the past few years an increasing number of startups have launched their own cryptocurrencies to raise funds instead of using VCs, angel investors and other traditional ways of expanding their war chests. Nevertheless, given that the method is still in its infancy, it’s safe to say that investors and entrepreneurs alike will watch Telegram’s ICO very closely.

LinkedIn reveals how big data and AI will boost recruitment in 2018

Sourcing the right talent for your startup is always going to be a challenge. But while traditional hiring methods may result in a business opting for the wrong recruit, a new report from LinkedIn has revealed that technology is rapidly changing the way companies take on talent.

Having surveyed over 8,800 recruiters and hiring managers from 39 countries, LinkedIn revealed that many struggle to assess candidates’ soft skills and weaknesses as well as avoid interviewer bias.

Fortunately, innovations in tech may help solve these issues. For instance, some recruiters have already began to use artificial intelligence (AI) to achieve more balanced teams. This trend is due to continue in 2018 as over a quarter of UK respondents said that AI will be the most important trend for 2018 as it will help them remove human bias, screen and nurture candidates. Given how intimately linked AI is to big data, it’s hardly surprising that the number of recruiters using big data to evaluate skills is set to jump from 64% to 79% over the next two years. Additionally, 28% plan to use virtual reality assessments as part of their recruitment efforts.

From improving supply chains to their accounts, companies have clearly benefited from adopting new tech in years gone by. And it’s encouraging to see that HR managers and recruiters are also unafraid of taking advantage of this opportunity to make the best use of their talent pool.

About the Author

Eric Johansson

As feature writer and resident Viking, Johansson ensures EB is filled with engaging and eclectic entrepreneurial stories. While one of our most prolific tech writers, he has sharpened his editorial teeth by writing about entertainment and fitness.

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