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World on Edge: How Edge Computing Can Make Us More Resilient in Times of Crisis

“Edge computing” has been heralded as a way to increase access to real-time information and to analyze that information more efficiently. But in this moment of public health crisis, we should recognize a potentially significant opportunity that these technologies offer Read more…

The post World on Edge: How Edge Computing Can Make Us More Resilient in Times of Crisis appeared first on The Barefoot VC.

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“Edge computing” has been heralded as a way to increase access to real-time information and to analyze that information more efficiently. But in this moment of public health crisis, we should recognize a potentially significant opportunity that these technologies offer beyond efficiency: the ability of edge computing to weather massive disruption.

To see why, it’s worth remembering what edge computing involves. These technologies move computer workloads to “the edge” of networks, shifting the collection, processing, and storage of data from central locations (like servers or the cloud) to individual devices such as cell phones.

This is significant because of the massive increase of computing power seen in devices that live away from the center of networks. In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore famously observed that computer processing doubles every two years, while the cost of that processing power halves in the same time period. The effects of Moore’s Law mean our smartphones now have more processing capability than NASA’s computers when they sent a man to the Moon. This, combined with the associated proliferation of data, enables our devices to get “smarter,” as well as to make select information available to more centralized applications (such as Uber or Instacart) in a more efficient way.
Edge computing during COVID-19

What does this mean for emergency situations like the current pandemic? In times of crisis, the systems on which we depend are closely examined. Dangers test our preparedness, our ability to improvise and our capacity to act and think locally. Globalization through technology over the past few decades has led to an unprecedented level of interconnectivity, but with it has come a vast and complex chain of dependencies. The locus of control is unclear, and often too far from where the crisis occurs. A shock to the system puts pressure on the supply chain and reveals just how extensive and interwoven these dependencies are. Hidden vulnerabilities are revealed and there is no timely way to respond effectively.

The spread of COVID-19 epitomizes this kind of shock. While the virus continues to multiply in waves around the world, the effects are being felt across industries. Consumer-facing businesses like restaurants shut down, leading to millions losing jobs; the effects are rippling through the financial and real estate sectors and beyond. A majority of the workers still employed are forced to work from home, many with children whose schools are also shut down, putting stress on telecom networks and delivery services.
Interdependencies

Chains of dependencies in our economic, financial, and technological systems were undermined long before the pandemic had spread globally. Things quickly spiraled out of control as everyone scrambled to understand the effects at both the micro and macro levels.

To deal with a crisis you need information, tools to analyze that information in real-time, and autonomy to act quickly as well as proactively. Edge computing strengthens the local nodes of a global network by providing them with better quality information at higher speeds, in addition to more independence in the decision-making that affects their own ecosystem.

Imagine if every town in every country had access to environmental sensors and location data that, combined with diagnostic data gleaned from other regions, could pinpoint where the next cases had a high probability of community spread. With up-to-date information and reliable communication of likely next steps and best practices, our businesses, families, and essential services would be able better to adapt and offset stress on our entire infrastructure.
Crisis response

As a complement to the cloud, edge computing provides improved strength and security in local networks around the world. These local infrastructures can relieve the pressure on – and provide more visibility into – the existing complex dependencies, and in turn make the wider system more dynamic, flexible and resilient. In a world utilizing edge computing, crisis response can be quicker, more informed, and, hopefully, more effective.

Five years ago, I argued the applications of this tech would prepare us not just for a crisis, but for a more connected world, too. A system like this relies on “the participation of everyone, of all races, in all corners of the world, for the most optimal and efficient global network. It is not only about the algorithm, it’s about what the algorithm collectively allows us, and our hearts and minds, to do.” While many people have discussed the way forward as a tradeoff between efficiency and resiliency, I believe we do not have to choose thanks to new technologies.

This article was originally published on Coindesk on April 10, 2020.

Source: http://thebarefootvc.com/2020/04/30/world-on-edge-how-edge-computing-can-make-us-more-resilient-in-times-of-crisis/

Private Equity

Venture Capital: AgTech Startup Benson Hill Lands $150M

Benson Hill, an agtech startup based in St. Louis, announced Thursday its close of a $150 million Series D round led by Wheatsheaf and GV (formerly Google Ventures). It uses biotechnology and data science to enhance the nutritional qualities and sustainability of crops.

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Venture Capital: AgTech Startup Benson Hill Lands $150M

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Benson Hill uses biotechnology and data science to enhance the nutritional qualities and sustainability of crops.

Benson Hill, an agtech startup based in St. Louis, announced Thursday its close of a $150 million Series D round led by Wheatsheaf and GV (formerly Google Ventures).

The company said other strategic and ESG focused investors also participated. These included Argonautic Ventures, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Emart, GS Group, Louis Dreyfus Company, iSelect Fund, Fall Line Capital, Mercury Fund, Prelude Ventures, Prolog Ventures, S2G Ventures, and additional strategic and family office investors.  (FOOD navigator-USA.com)

Benson Hill technology

Benson Hill uses biotechnology, data science, and AI to enhance the nutritional qualities, flavor, and sustainability of crops and vegetables.

The firm’s “Cloud Biology” is the fusion of data, machine learning, and AI techniques with biology. Its “CropOS” is a proprietary platform that facilitates the accessibility and actionability of Cloud Biology.

The CropOs platform uses plant phenotyping, predictive breeding, and environmental modeling algorithms to better control the plant breeding process and realize these advantages:

  • Produces plants that are highly productive, highly nutritious, and better tasting
  • Better texture
  • Reduce the number of processing steps
  • Reduce the need for additives
  • Grow plants that “do more with less,” thus boosting sustainability

The company’s work so far has been concentrated around soybeans.

Its new, ultra-high-protein (UHP) soy products spiked the interest of investors. They come from a highly productive non-GMO soybean that is rich in oleic oil content.

Use of funds

Benson Hill plans the commercial launch of the first Ultra-High Protein soybean varieties in 2021, among other product launches.

It also plans to expand its team by adding top talent and continue the development of Cloud Biology and CropOS.

“As a society, we’re at a crossroads made more evident as the pandemic has revealed strengths and vulnerabilities in our food system,” said Matt Crisp, Benson Hill CEO. “Food choices that create enjoyment, make us stronger, and help preserve our environment need to be accessible to everyone, and the power of plant diversity and technology innovation can help fuel that evolution.

Related Story:   Smart Farm Technology To Take The Drudge Out of Plant Breeding

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Source: https://dailyalts.com/agtech-startup-benson-hill-lands-150m/

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Private Equity

FinTech: Alliance Data Buys BNPL Fintech Bread For $450M

Alliance Data Systems (NYSE: ADS) said Thursday that it will acquire Bread and its digital platform for $450 million of which $100 will be paid through Alliance stock. The transaction would expand Alliance Data’s own digital offerings by including buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) products.

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FinTech: Alliance Data Buys BNPL Fintech Bread For $450M

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Alliance Data will pay in cash and stock for the acquisition.

Alliance Data Systems (NYSE: ADS) said Thursday that it will acquire Bread and its digital buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) platform for $450 million of which $100 will be paid through Alliance stock.

The transaction would expand Alliance Data’s own digital offerings by including BNPL products. BNPL is a major trend now that consumers have embraced the interest-free, zero-fee facility to pay in installments. Alliance is a provider of data-driven marketing, loyalty, and payment solutions. (Alliance)

Digital BNPL is particularly popular with millennials and the younger set. They prefer not to run up credit card debt and like the speed and convenience. The technology and products acquired from Bread will address this segment of the population.

Bread already has tie-ups with merchants such as online jewelry seller Noémie, the luxury watch seller Hublot and Newton Baby, the crib mattress provider.

BNPL customer experience

“Bread’s flexible, easily-integrated payment solutions, coupled with Alliance Data’s Enhanced Digital Suite, will improve the digital customer experience and support increased acquisition and checkout rates, offering the best payment product to the right consumer at pivotal moments in the customer’s online shopping journey,” Alliance said in a statement.

Alliance intends to leverage Bread’s solutions along with its own existing private label, general-purpose and commercial products.

COVID-19

Its brand partners will therefore get another advantage in the eCommerce channel, with online businesses already getting a boost from COVID-19.

“With the timing of the holiday season upon us, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies, and perhaps nowhere as significantly as in financial services and payments,” said Val Greer, chief commercial officer, Alliance Data.

BNPL is now crowded with cash-rich players

Payments giant PayPal (NASDAQ: PYPL) announced in August that it would begin offering BNPL services, recognizing that COVID-19 had triggered a dramatic increase in their popularity.

Other players in the BNPL field include Klarna, Affirm, Afterpay, and Quadpay.

In a recent study, Tech Crunch found that PayPal had the highest retailer coverage with a presence of 65% retailers. Afterpay was a distant second at 10%, then Affirm 6%, Klarna 5%, and QuadPay 2%.

The study concluded that PayPal was primed to dominate the BNPL wars.

Related Story:   PayPal Challenges Klarna In U.K. BNPL Tussle                                                

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Source: https://dailyalts.com/alliance-data-buys-bnpl-fintech-bread-for-450m/

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Private Equity

Morgan Stanley Capital Partners completes investment into US Healthconnect

Morgan Stanley Capital Partners has completed an investment into US HealthConnect, a digital education strategies and engagement data solutions provider for the healthcare industry.

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 Morgan Stanley Capital Partners has completed an investment into US HealthConnect, a digital education strategies and

Source: https://www.altassets.net/private-equity-news/by-news-type/deal-news/morgan-stanley-capital-partners-completes-investment-into-us-healthconnect.html

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