Tech News Feb. 12: Grammarly Lays Off 230 Employees, Estonian Autonomous Delivery Startup Raised $90M

📝 Grammarly Lays Off 230 Employees, Unveils New Look

San Francisco-based company Grammarly, a unicorn founded by three Ukrainian-born co-founders in 2009, said it is letting go 230 employees globally as a part of a restructuring. In a memo, the CEO said the company grew from 200 to 1,000 employees over the past five years and has witnessed technological and geopolitical changes, like the war in Ukraine and the “new age of AI.” The company also unveiled the service’s new look last week, as a part of its effort to double down on “the AI-enabled workplace of the future.”  [Source: Tech Crunch, LinkedIn]


🇪🇺 European 3TS Capital Partners Closed Fund IV at $119M

3TS Capital Partners, a European growth capital investor, closed its new Fund IV at around $119 million (€111 million), continuing to support technology companies primarily across the Technology & Internet, Media & Communications, and Technology-Enabled Service (TMT) sectors with roots in Engineering Europe. With investments in five companies already, including TosiBox and Autenti, the firm focuses on ICT and tech-enabled services, with $5.3 to $21.5 million (€5 to 20 million) per investment. [Source:]

🍐Silkroad Innovation Hub Hosted Pear VC in Silicon Valley

Last week, Silkroad Innovation Hub hosted Mar Hershenson, Managing Partner at Pear VC. Silkroad’s office in Palo Alto was once Pear VC’s very first office, where founders of Dropbox, DoorDash, and other unicorns received their first round of funding. [Source: LinkedIn]

💰MOST Ventures to Issue Short-term Loans for Startups

MOST Ventures, a private venture fund, has introduced Venture Debt, offering convertible loans up to around $33,000 (15 million tenge) to startups and IT companies for up to six months, providing an alternative funding option with repayment options. The financial product is available to individual entrepreneurs and legal entities in the IT and creative industries, with interest rates starting from 30% in tenge and 20% in US dollars. [Source:]


🇪🇪 Startup and VC Ecosystem in 2023: Estonia

Estonia’s startup ecosystem boasts over 1400 startups, with a total enterprise value of around $39.1 billion (€36.3 billion). It has the highest number of unicorns in Central and Eastern Europe, totaling 10. According to Vestbee’s report, in 2023, the country saw 108 transactions. However, total funding decreased to around $431.1 million (€400.05 million), with top sectors being fintech, business software & HR, cyber tech, and consumer products & services. [Source:]


🎮 Estonian VC Provided $1.18M to Malta-based I-Gaming Studio

Yolo Investments, an Estonian VC firm,  provided around $1.18 million (€1.1 million) to Malta-based Just Slots, a B2B i-gaming studio. Founded in 2023, the company plans to use the investment to develop its first gambling games, expand its team, and forge B2B partnerships while receiving strategic assistance in game development. Yolo Investments announced in 2023 the launch of Yolo Fund II L.P., a $107 million (€100 million) fund aimed at investing in online gaming, blockchain, fintech, and renewable energies. [Source: BalticVC]

🇳🇴 Estonian Investment Firm Co-led $1.34M Round for Norwegian Automation Platform

Superangel, an Estonian early-stage funding firm in the Baltics and Nordics, co-led a $1.34 million (€1.25 million) round for Oslo-based industrial automation platform OTee alongside Norwegian VC RunwayFBU and other investors. OTee’s B2B SaaS platform enables real-time setup, testing, and operation of industrial control systems, supported by solutions like Architecture Builder, which helps to manage data flow and access. [Source: BalticVC]

🚘 Estonian Autonomous Delivery Vehicles Startup Raised $90M

Starship Technologies, an Estonian autonomous delivery vehicle designer, secured around $89.7 million (€83.3 million) from previous investors, including Estonian-founded Plural platform and London-based VC Iconical. Founded in 2014, Starship Technologies plans to use the funds for global expansion, increasing robot manufacturing, and enhancing logistics services. It has already completed over 6 million deliveries in 80 locations across the US and Europe. [Source: BalticsVC]

🖼️ Estonian MarTech Raised $754K from Investors

Analytical Alley, an Estonian AI martech firm, raised around $754,000 (€700,000) from local investors, including Indrek Soom of Initiative Estonia. Founded in Tallinn in 2022, Analytical Alley provides AI-driven marketing insights, serving clients like PHH Group and Norsk Tipping, with plans to expand across Europe in 2024. [Source: BalticVC]

🏦 Estonian FinTech Platform Raised $26.9M in Series-B Round 

Tuum, an Estonian fintech platform, raised around $26.9 million (€25 million) in Series B funding led by German investor CommerzVentures, with participation from Austrian VC Speedinvest and others. Founded in 2019, Tuum enables financial institutions to introduce new products and banking cores swiftly; with plans to expand into Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Southern Europe, and the Middle East, it aims to enhance its product suite and market presence. [Source: BalticVC]

🛡️Estonian VC Invested in Defence Industry Startup

Tallinn-based Specialist VC invested in the Estonian defense industry startup SensusQ, which specializes in software synthesizing diverse data sources for military units. SensusQ’s technology, leveraging AI and Machine Learning, aggregates data from various sources like social media and sensors, enabling faster information exchange and fewer intelligence cycle failures. The startup plans to expand into civilian sectors and new markets and further develop its product. [Source: BalticVC]


🚀 Lithuanian Tokenized Securities Platform Raised $2.1M in Funding

Axiology, a Lithuania-based tokenized securities platform, secured approximately $2.1 million (€2 million) in funding from CoinvestVC, Baltic Sandbox VC, and private investors. Founded in 2018, Axiology aims to develop a regulatory-compliant alternative capital market infrastructure for tokenized sustainable securities using distributed ledger technologies. The investment will fuel the development of a regulatory-compliant alternative capital market infrastructure. [Source: BalticVC]

📚Lithuanian EdTech Raised $1.07M of Investment

Leya AI, a Vilnius-based edtech, raised around $1.07 million (€1 million) in pre-seed funding from Czech V-Sharp Venture Studio, Finnish Inventure, Latvian Bad Ideas Fund, and business angels. Founded in 2020, Leya AI offers real-time English language practice, transitioning from language analytics to life coaching, with plans to enhance its AI tutor and expand beyond English tutoring. With the new funding, the startup aims to scale its platform. [Source: BalticVC]

🔬Lithuanian VC Invested in Estonian BioTech Company

Orion Ventures, a Lithuanian venture capital fund, has invested in Vectiopep, an Estonian biotech company specializing in therapeutic mRNA delivery technology for cancer treatment. The firm’s innovative technology enables the immune system to target and eliminate cancer cells by delivering previously inaccessible molecular messages, marking a significant advancement in cancer therapy. [Source: BalticVC]


🌐 IT Company Acquired American Developer Infogen

Ciklum, a global IT outsourcing company with roots in Ukraine, has acquired Infogen, an American developer of digital solutions, aiming to increase its presence in the North American market and enhance expertise in leading digital product development. With over 4,000 developers, Ciklum’s acquisition of Infogen, with about 350 employees, signals a strategic move to expand its geographical reach and tap into Infogen’s experience in retail and financial solutions. [Source:]

🍎 Silpo Acquired Fruit and Vegetables Service OVO

Silpo, a Ukrainian supermarket chain, acquired fruit and vegetable delivery service OVO, potentially for around $500,000, leveraging its potential to enhance its fresh produce category and delivery services. With OVO, Silpo aims to improve its delivery capabilities, particularly in the fresh produce category, amidst challenging market conditions caused by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. [Source:]

🚀 Vacuum Deep Tech Acceleration Program Launches for Ukrainian Entrepreneurs

Vacuum Deep Tech Acceleration, supported by the USAID Competitive Economy Program in Ukraine, is launching a project to mentor and assist students, scientists, and young entrepreneurs venturing into deep tech. Founders in Ukraine can apply until February 12, with the project beginning with a selection hackathon, “Innovations in the field of deep technologies,” on March 1-3, 2024, in Kyiv, leading to further acceleration programs for the 30 winners in collaboration with various entities including Kyiv Academic University and the Ukrainian Startup Fund. [Source:]


👧 Tech Girls Program Looks to Boost Female Representation in Tech

Girls aged 16 to 23 across Kazakhstan can apply for a free training program offered by Astana Hub, covering areas like No Code, Low Code, and Beta Career, with opportunities for internships at leading IT firms. The goal is to increase female representation in technology industries to 45%, providing participants with skills to create IT products efficiently and succeed in interviews at prestigious IT companies, as shared by managing director Daniya Akhmetova and Aziza Shuzheeva from TechnoWomen. The program lasts two months, and applications are accepted from Feb. 7 to March 1, 2024, here .[Source:]


💲IT Park to Extend Tax Breaks Until 2040

Uzbekistan announced initiatives to boost its tech industry, including subsidies for foreign IT companies to open regional offices, extension of tax breaks for exporters until 2040, and programs to support startups and increase digital exports. These efforts aim to leverage Uzbekistan’s growing talent pool and foster collaboration with global tech players. [Source:]


🧑‍🎓University Venture Funds Established in Russia

Russia has launched university venture funds totaling around $38.3 million (3.5 billion rubles) to support startups, announced Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko. These funds aim to provide clear pathways for student startups’ development, focusing on areas such as robotics, microelectronics, biotechnology, and artificial intelligence, with five funds already established under the project. [Source: Interfax]


💬 Text-to-Video Startup Closed $22M Series A Round

Colossyan, a Hungarian text-to-video startup, closed a $22 million Series A round led by Lakestar, joined by LAUNCHub, Day One Capital, and Emerge Education. Founded in 2022, the firm’s AI-powered platform enables users to create videos from text prompts, targeting Learning and Development creators; with clients including Porsche and BMW, the startup’s technology reduces video production time to under 30 minutes. The investment will go toward further development and expansion of its solutions. [Source:]

💼 Talent Acquisition Platform Raised $808K in Pre-seed Investment

Budapest-based Qneiform secured around $808,000 (€750,000) in funding from Samen Slimmer, formed by Slimmer AI, Dutch Founders Fund, and Keen Venture Partners, aiming to transform talent acquisition in finance and law sectors with its AI-driven platform. Qneiform’s tool enhances efficiency and accuracy in identifying ideal candidates while receiving support from a venture alliance focused on leveraging AI to revolutionize industries. [Source:]


⚡Autonomous Mobility Solution Closed $107M Series A Round

Zagreb-based Project 3 Mobility concluded a Series A round, securing around $107 million (€100 million) from private investors, including TASARU Mobility Investments and strategic partners like Kia and Rimac Group. The company aims to redefine urban mobility with its autonomous electric vehicle and specialized infrastructure. It plans to expand globally to revolutionize urban transportation. [Source:]


👩 Digital ID Provider Secured $3.5M of Investment

Sofia-based digital ID provider Evrotrust secured around $3.5 million (€3.3 million) in funding led by Silverline Capital to expand operations across Europe. Founded in 2018, Evrotrust’s identity-as-a-service platform facilitates remote identification and service provision for businesses and government institutions, serving over 1.3 million users and 150 enterprises across 58 and 11 countries, respectively. It plans to bolster its team and platform development. [Source:]


🛍️ E-Commerce Platform Secured $8M in Seed Round

Saleor, an open-source e-commerce platform, has secured $8 million in seed extension funding led by Target Global and supported by investors such as Zalando and Kevin Mahaffey’s SNR fund. Founded in Poland in 2020, Saleor aims to simplify multimarket commerce complexity. With this investment, it plans to drive growth, enhance its product, and expand its agency program, cementing its position as a leader in the field. [Source: Startup Rise]

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