Tech News March 18: inDrive Raises $150M, what EU’s New AI Law Means for Startups


🇪🇺EU’s New AI Act Spells New Hoops for Startups to Jump Through

The European Parliament has passed the world’s first comprehensive regulation of AI, making sure the companies comply with new rules before making their products public. Marianne Tordeux Bitker, public affairs chief at France Digitale, said the landmark act left a “bittersweet” taste. “While the AI Act responds to a major challenge in terms of transparency and ethics, it nonetheless creates substantial obligations for all companies using or developing artificial intelligence, despite a few adjustments planned for startups and SMEs, notably through regulatory sandboxes,” she noted.[Source: Euronews]

📈 Estonian Startup Sector Saw a Surge in Employment Taxes in 2023

Last year, Estonian startups and growth companies collectively paid around $351 million (€323 million) in employment taxes, marking an 18% increase from 2022. Notably, startups accounted for 65% of these taxes, with top contributors including Bolt, Wise, and Pipedrive, while also observing a slight rise in their combined GDP share and a decline in total employment, with 68% of employees possessing a university degree and a significant portion coming from outside the European Union. [Source: BalticVC]

🏆 Latitude59 Announces the Region’s Biggest Startup Competition Fund

Latitude59, Estonia’s prominent startup and technology conference, allocates around $1.08 million (€1 million) for its 2024 Pitch Competition, making it the largest in the Nordic and Baltic regions. Ukrainian entrepreneurs are invited to participate. Held annually in Tallinn, Latitude59 is expected to host nearly 3,000 attendees, including 800 startup representatives and 500 investors worldwide, and the Pitch Competition, organized by EstBAN and Specialist VC, aims to attract new talent. Applications are accepted until April 1. [Source:]

🏅Tech Conference IT Arena Is Open to Startup Pitches

IT Arena, a leading technical conference in Eastern Europe since 2014, attracting thousands of attendees from over 40 countries annually, launches its Startup Competition 2024, offering startups up to $15,000 in prize capital, mentoring, promotion to a global audience, and networking opportunities. Startups founded no earlier than 2021, with a demo version of their product and less than $1 million in investments, can apply until June 6. [Source:]


🌎 Negev Capital VC Announces Global Milestones

Negev Capital, a venture capital firm specializing in psychedelic-based medical R&D, touted milestones achieved by their portfolio companies, including Beckley Psytech, Filament Health, and MindBio Therapeutics. These advancements include investments, FDA acceptance, and depression treatment results. [Source: citybiz]

🌱 Investors Pour Funds into Startups Addressing Green Transition Workforce Needs

Startups like Smalt are addressing the green transition labor gap by providing training and employment opportunities for workers skilled in installing green energy systems. With millions of workers needed in the green energy installation market across Europe, Smalt, along with other similar startups, aims to train and deploy workers to fill this gap. Last spring, backed by €4.1 million in pre-seed funding from investors like La Famiglia, Owl Ventures, and Axel Springer, these startups responded to the pressing need for climate-friendly infrastructure while creating jobs. [Source: Sifted]

💡A New Report Sheds Light on Central Asian Venture Ecosystem

A recently published report on the venture ecosystem in Central Asia and the Caucasus, jointly released by BGlobal Ventures, RISE Research, and EA Group Holding, highlights the region’s potential with over 90 million people and nearly $500 billion in GDP. Despite a 5.5x increase in VC funding since 2018, the region’s VC funding per capita ($2.5) remains notably lower than other comparable regions like CEE ($20), MENA (+$30), and LATAM (+$70), showcasing significant room for growth. [Source: LinkedIn]


💎AI Startup Raised $940K in Investment

Beholder, an AI-driven mineral and energy exploration platform, raised $940,000 led by InnoEnergy, with Rockstart and STRT Ventures participating. Founded in 2021, Beholder uses machine learning to predict mineral deposits crucial for green energy and aids in sustainable mining practices. The startup plans to expand globally and develop B2C and B2B products, aiming to increase capitalization and onboard new clients by 2024. [Source:]

⚔️ Anti-electronic Warfare Developer Raised $525K

Ukrainian-founded startup Himera Radios, specializing in radios resistant to Russian electronic warfare, secured $525,000 in investments. The startup plans to utilize the funds to enhance production and launch new, higher-quality versions of their products, with over 2,500 radios already in use. The investment round attracted notable investors such as Ivan Dmitrasevich, Alexander Remenny, and Andrey Sambor, reflecting strong interest in the startup’s defense tech. [Source: InVenture]

🌐 Diia App Becomes an Open Source

The Ukrainian Government has made the Diia e-government application’s base code open-source, enabling other countries to replicate its success in digitalization. This move enhanced Diia’s transparency and reliability, facilitating its export to other nations. Diia integrates a mobile app with digital document access and a single portal for public services, which has over 21.7 million users and access to 70 government services. [Source:]


💶 Metaplant Fund Invested in Blockchain Startup

Estonian fund Metaplanet recently invested in Paris-based blockchain startup Zama, which secured around $72.6 million (€66.7 million) round led by Multicoin Capital and Protocol Labs. They valued the startup at over $398.4 million (€365.9 million). Founded in 2020, Zama develops fully homomorphic encryption (FHE) technology for blockchain and AI applications, enabling data processing without decryption. The startup plans to expand its team and further develop its technology, aiming to revolutionize preventative medicine and facial recognition industries. [Source: BalticVC]

🚘 Car Subscription Startup Secured $16.3M in Funding

Planet42, an Estonian car subscription startup, has secured around $16.3 million (€15 million) in South African Standard Bank Group funding. Planet42 purchases used cars from a dealer network and links them with customers through a subscription model, eliminating the necessity for physical inspection or in-person interaction. With a presence in South Africa, which has distributed over 12,000 cars, and Mexico, Planet42 seeks to optimize operational efficiency with the newly secured funds. It plans to raise additional investment as a loan in 2024, building on previous investments from Baltic investors and global venture capitalists. [Source: BalticVC]

☀️ Founders of Estonian Solar Roofing Company Sold Their Shares

Solarstone, an Estonian solar roofing company, has seen its founders sell their shares to existing investor Biofuel, making Biofuel a major shareholder. Since 2015, Solarstone has specialized in building-integrated photovoltaic solutions, having installed over 1,000 solar roofs and expanding into new markets with recent investments.[Source: BalticVC]

🖼️ Tech Scanning Startup Raised $3.2M

Tallinn-based GScan recently secured around $3.2 million (€3 million) in funding from investor Bolt CEO Martin Villig, Japanese corporate venture funds, and existing angel investors. Founded in 2018, GScan specializes in utilizing muon tomography technology to create 3D images, enabling assessment of infrastructure integrity and potential applications in defense, healthcare, and security sectors. [Source: BalticVC]

🤖 Cloud-based Software Solution Raised $13M in Series A 

Estonian startup BotGuard raises around $13 million (€12 million) in A series led by London’s MMC Ventures, with existing investors Tera Ventures and Polish Expeditions Fund and new investor Swedish angel Stefan Lindeberg. Founded in 2019, BotGuard’s AI-powered software protects websites from bots and aids traffic control and asset protection. The company plans to use the funding for technology development and global expansion. [Source: BalticVC]

🌡️ Smart Thermostat Maker Raised $1.4M in Funding

Themo, an Estonian smart thermostat maker, raised around $1.4 million (€1.3 million) from lead investor Sunly, Finnish Indie Investments, and Finnish angels Henry Nielert and Ali Omar. Founded in 2014 in Tallinn, Themo’s technology optimizes electric heating based on stock prices, helping users save energy with its product Themo DIN, an electric heating controller attached to a home’s switchboard. [Source: BalticVC]


💣 Mine Detection Startup Raised $100K in Investment

Broswarm, a Lithuanian mine detection startup, secured $100,000 in funding led by ScaleWolf, a Lithuanian fund. Founded in Vilnius in 2023, the company utilizes multisensor fusion and machine learning technology on drones to enhance mine detection efficiency, particularly in adverse weather conditions. The startup plans to further develop and patent its multi-sensor array technology and conduct testing in Ukraine this year. [Source: BalticVC]


🧭 Fleet Management Provider Raised $3.2M for European Expansion

Mapon, a Riga-based fleet management solution provider, secured $3.2 million (€3 million) in funding from investors to fuel company acquisitions and expand operations across Europe. Mapon offers comprehensive fleet management and asset-tracking solutions, boasting a turnover of around $18.8 million (€17.3 million) in 2023. The company plans to strengthen its market position, open new European branches, and maintain a 30% annual growth rate. [Source:]


🔬Family Office ZAKA VC Invested in US Biotech Company

Czech family office ZAKA VC invested in Eigen Therapeutics, an American biotech startup redefining precision cancer treatment. The exact amount is undisclosed. Founded in 2021, the startup aims to enhance existing cancer therapies’ effectiveness by addressing precision gaps, garnering recognition for its collaboration with top Silicon Valley funds. [Source:]


📚EdTech Startup Raised $1.5M in Pre-seed Round

Smartschool, a San Francisco-based edtech startup, raised $1.5 million in a pre-seed round from Inovo VC, The Explorer Fund, and angel investors to expand its US market presence and enhance product development. Co-founded by Matt Maslowski, Paul Burzynski, and Agata Mroczkowska, Smartschool offers Yoko, an AI assistant for SAT prep, catering to over 1,000 students globally. The startup aims to address educational inequalities and combat declining academic performance in the US. [Source:]


🚗 Car Fleet Platform Raised $7M in Series A Round

Necture, a Vienna-based startup formerly Ubiq, raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Smart Energy Innovationsfonds, with participation from Verbund X Ventures, Speedinvest, and smartworks innovation. Necture’s platform helps fleet managers optimize tasks like rebalancing and charging, serving clients across 20 cities worldwide. With the investment, Necture plans to expand its services to corporate fleets and grow its market presence globally. [Source:]


🔥 CelebraiAI Won Startup Competition in Saudi Arabia

Kazakh startup CerebraAI, which builds automated patient charting and monitoring systems, won the “AI awards” category at the Rocket Fuel Startup Pitch Competition in Riyadh, securing a $150,000 prize. Organized by the Saudi National Technology Development Program, the competition featured 100 startups judged on creativity, scalability, and societal impact as part of the LEAP 2024 technology exhibition. [Source: DigitalBusiness]

⭐ Kazakhstan the Leader in VC Deals in Central Asia and the Caucasus

Venture capital funding in Kazakhstan surged in 2023, with the country leading in total venture transactions exceeding $80 million, according to a study by RISE Research. The majority of deals occurred in pre-seed and seed rounds, predominantly in industries like fintech, AI, healthtech, and proptech, indicating growth potential in the startup ecosystem. [Source: DigitalBusiness]


📈 Growth Rate of IT Park Residents Doubled in February

The number of resident companies in the technology park nearly doubled in February, with 134 new additions bringing the total to 1,828 enterprises. More than 40 of those new additions are foreign companies. Educational companies led the newcomers, followed by software development firms, with Uzbekistan being the primary source of new residents, although 14 foreign companies from various countries also joined.[Source: Spot]


🚘 inDrive Raise $150M from General Catalyst VC

Ride-hailing company inDrive raised an additional $150 million from General Catalyst, bringing their total funding to $300 million. The funding will support product improvements, safety features, service expansion, and market expansion as the company aims to maintain its strong growth trajectory. [Source: DigitalBusiness]


🤝 Sumsub is Looking for a Media Production Coordinator

Sumsub’s Communications team is seeking a new member who is passionate about video production to join Mila Varavina and contribute to various production streams. If you’re interested in marketing and production roles, apply to join the team. [Source: LinkedIn]

Add comment