Tech News May 20: Vitalik Buterin invests in crypto-based market prediction platform


Latest VC Report for Central and Eastern Europe: Survival of the Fittest

Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) startups are not immune to the global funding drought, which sank to its second-lowest level since 2018. But while the road ahead might be bumpy, there are plenty of opportunities for CEE startups to shine.

CEE startups are still scoring big in sectors like AI, fintech, and healthcare, even though there’s less foreign investment and public funds aren’t flowing like they used to. In fact,  there was nearly a 50% decrease in the number of funding rounds in Q1 2024 compared to a year before.

Still, it’s not all doom and gloom. In Q1 2024, CEE startups still managed to raise over €640 million in funding, with Estonia, Poland, and Czech Republic leading the charge. 

Plus, there is a slew of new VC players in the region: OTB Ventures closed its second €185 million deeptech fund, while Practica Capital launched its third fund at €80 million. [Source: Vestbee]


Vitalik Buterin, Peter Thiel Among Investors in Polymarket’s $45M Funding Round

Polymarket, a New York-based cryptocurrency-based prediction market platform that positions itself as an alternative news source, has secured $45 million in a series B funding round, led by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and joined by Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin, among others. This significant investment, combined with earlier rounds, pushes Polymarket’s total funding beyond $70 million. The platform’s success comes amid heightened activity in the lead-up to the U.S. presidential election, showcasing growing interest in crypto-based prediction markets. “We’re in a misinformation pandemic, and Polymarket presents a novel information format that is driven by financial incentives for truth, rather than engagement baiting,” said CEO Shayne Coplan in a LinkedIn post. [Source: Coindesk]


Budapest-Based DiffuseDrive Secures Funds for Data Generation Tools

DiffuseDrive, a Budapest-founded startup, has successfully secured undisclosed funding to advance its innovative approach to computer vision data generation. Co-founded by Balint Pasztor and Roland Pinter, DiffuseDrive offers a prompt-based tool that empowers developers to create custom synthetic data, annotate it comprehensively, and leverage user data for enhanced model performance. With a strategic presence in both San Francisco and Europe, the company is poised to address the critical challenge of data scarcity in AI-driven computer vision development, attracting investment from 500 Emerging Europe and three angel investors. This investment coincides with a growing trend of Central and Eastern European talent tackling global tech challenges, positioning DiffuseDrive for significant global impact and adoption among enterprise customers, including Fortune 500 companies. [Source:]


Polish Startup 4Semantics Secures Funding from Full Speed Ventures for Expansion

Bialystok-based startup 4Semantics, specializing in cognitive automation solutions and productivity tools, has secured investment to fuel its expansion into new markets and further develop its technology. Led by Luxembourg-based venture capital firm Full Speed Ventures, this investment marks the first round from a €50 million fund raised in February, focusing on tech startups from Central and Eastern Europe. With solutions like SensID Cognitive Automation and Cognitive Hand, 4Semantics aims to streamline document processing and enhance productivity across various industries, including finance, e-commerce, and logistics. This funding will support the company’s operational growth and the enhancement of its AI-based SensID platform to meet increasing client demands. [Source: Vestbee]

Quantia Boosts E-commerce Analytics with $1.2M Round

Polish e-commerce powerhouse Quantia secured $1.2 million led by Inovo VC and Team X. This cash injection is set to boost their analytics platform, designed to give brand managers real-time insights and AI-driven sales strategies. With this cash infusion, they’re planning to expand their platform in Europe, targeting markets like the U.K., Nordics, Spain, and Germany. [Source: Vestbee]


Lithuanian Pixevia Secures €1.5M Funding to Expand in Central Europe

Pixevia, an AI retail technology firm based in Vilnius, has raised €1.5 million in funding, with contributions from notable investors such as Coinvest Capital, Omni Commerce Ventures and Iron Wolf Capital. Renowned for its AI-driven cashier-less checkout technology and real-time receipt system, Pixevia plans to utilize the funds to scale its operations across the U.S. and Europe, with a particular focus on the DACH region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland). The company aims to integrate its innovative technology into diverse venues, including sports arenas, university campuses and airports. [Source: Arctic Startup]


Prague-based Behavio Secures €2.25M for EU and US Expansion

Behavio, a Prague-based brand management solution, has recently closed a €2.25 million late-seed funding round led by Airbridge Equity Partners. With a focus on integrating advanced AI features into its product and expanding operations across EU and US markets, Behavio aims to enhance its brand tracking and ad testing tool. Founded by a group of high school classmates and marketing experts in 2022 and 2023, Behavio has already garnered trust from over 400 consumer brands and agencies, including industry giants like T-Mobile and LEGO. [Source: Vestbee]


Fintech Startup S1lkPay Partners with ByBit to Launch Crypto Payment Cards

Kazakh fintech startup S1lkPay became the first company in Kazakhstan to introduce crypto payment cards with mutual settlements in stablecoins, thanks to a collaboration with international crypto exchange Bybit. Backed by key investor Erik Aubakirov, S1lkPay’s move represents a significant milestone at the intersection of traditional finance and crypto transactions. [Source:]


EBRD Commits $4M in Support of Youth and Female Entrepreneurs in Tajikistan

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced a financial package aimed at fostering inclusive lending and entrepreneurship in remote areas of Tajikistan. With a focus on youth and women entrepreneurs, EBRD is set to provide $4 million to MDO HUMO, one of the country’s leading microlenders. Under initiatives like the Youth in Business and Women in Business programs, HUMO will receive up to $2 million and $1 million, respectively, to bolster access to finance and offer relevant training to young and female entrepreneurs in Central Asia. Additionally, a $1 million loan will stimulate the growth of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Tajikistan, as part of a broader $5 million financing package to invigorate entrepreneurial endeavors in the country. [Source:]

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