Tech News May 6: Meet ‘Victoria’, Ukraine’s AI Foreign Ministry Spokesperson


Bolt Bolsters War Chest, Gearing Up for Public Debut with $237M Credit Line

Buckle up: Bolt, the Estonian ride sharing and food delivery unicorn, secured a hefty $237 million (€220M) revolving credit facility from a slew of top international lenders, including Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citi and JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, banks LHV Pank and Estonian Luminor. This move fortifies the company’s financial position, and also sets the stage for an iIPO. Founder and CEO Markus Villig said the credit facility was an important milestone and a step towards being “IPO-ready,” according to

[Sources: BalticVC,]

Tera Ventures and Founder Norris Koppel Buy Out Monese Retail Banking Business 

Tera Ventures, alongside fintech company founder Norris Koppel, reached a deal to acquire Monese’s retail banking arm. This move follows the exit of major investors, including Kinnevik, PayPal, International Airlines Group, Augmentum Fintech, and HSBC. Earlier this year, the fintech startup said that one of its main investors, Swedish VC Kinnevik, lost confidence in the company and wrote  off its previous investment.

[Source: BalticVC]

Karma Ventures Backs BforeAI’s Cybersecurity Expansion with Follow-Up Investment

Estonian investment firm Karma Ventures doubles down on its support for BforeAI, a French-American cybersecurity startup. Joining forces with lead investor SYN Ventures and a consortium of backers including Karista, Addendum Capital, and the Partnership for New York City, Karma Ventures injects fresh capital into BforeAI’s $15M (€13.9M) Series A funding round. BforeAI aims to help clients against a spectrum of cyber threats, enabling “security teams to stop attacks before they are executed.”

[Source: BalticVC]


Stapes Secures $54K from Latvian Accelerator for Stress-Reducing Beds

Riga-based innovator Stapes receives a $54K (€50K) injection from Latvian accelerator Buildit, the next step in its journey to alleviate stress through vibroacoustic beds. Founded in 2022 by Janis Siders and Kristaps Stikuts, Stapes’ cutting-edge technology combines sound frequencies with virtualization to induce endorphin release and stress reduction in quick, 10-15 minute sessions. With a subscription model catering to both office and home users, Stapes wants to make relaxation accessible anytime, anywhere. [Source: BalticVC]

Payall Payment Systems Acquires Latvian Fintech Startup Huntli 

US-based Payall Payment Systems bolstered its international payment infrastructure by acquiring Latvian startup Huntli, including its team and source code. Founded in 2021 by Lev Bass, Huntli specializes in combating financial fraud through streamlined user profile management and real-time risk detection. With Payall’s sights set on offering enhanced capabilities to financial institutions, this acquisition underscores its commitment to innovation and security in the global payments landscape. [Source: BalticVC]


HeavyFinance Expands Regenerative Farming Initiative in Ukraine

Last week, European climate technology startup HeavyFinance said it secured 300,000 hectares of farmland in western and central Ukraine for its carbon farming program, focusing on regenerative agriculture. Teaming up with Ukrainian agricultural company Agsolco and Carbon Credit Ukraine, HeavyFinance is pioneering on-field soil carbon measurement, with over 3,000 samples set to be taken in July. With plans to enroll half a million hectares by the end of 2024, this initiative aims to combat soil degradation while harnessing Ukraine’s status as Europe’s breadbasket. [Source:]


Kazakhstan Created an AI Committee Within Its IT Ministry

The country’s prime minister has amended the legislative provision governing AI, allowing for governance, oversight and development of regulatory framework around AI, as of April 27. The latest additions include creation of an AI-focused committee.


Silkway Accelerator to Launch its Fifth Cohort Open to Central Asian Startups

Astana Hub’s Silkway Accelerator, a startup initiative in partnership with Google for Startups, is seeking startups for its fifth cohort, according to the Astana Hub International Technology Park. They’re looking for “PMF and scale stage” companies from Central Asia, including Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, KyrgyzstanAzerbaijan, Georgia, and Mongolia. The program offers a three-month remote program for entrepreneurs. Enrollment is open until May 24.

[Source: Astana Hub, Startup Central Eurasia]

DOMiNO Ventures Selected Four Startups from Kazakhstan 

Amsterdam-based DOMiNO Ventures has selected 10 startups for its Central Asia-focused accelerator program BetterFuture AI. This latest cohort includes four companies from ZebraEye, Aldente AI, Pleep and Kale. Startups from Georgia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan will also participate in the program. [Source:]


EBRD Commits More Funding to Support Tajikistan’s Infrastructure

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) pledged funds to “upgrade key infrastructure and develop sustainable transportation solutions for Tajikistan’s capital,” according to Anton Usov, EBRD’s chief spokesperson for Central Asia and Mongolia. He noted the €28.45 million loan marks the project as a part of the Dushanbe Green City Action Plan. The funds are meant to assist “construction of dedicated bus and trolleybus lanes, as well as purpose-built facilities for walking, cycling and electric mobility.” [Source: EBRD]


Meet ‘Victoria’, Ukraine’s AI-Powered Foreign Ministry Spokesperson 

Ukraine has certainly introduced an innovative approach to diplomatic communication by unveiling Victoria, an AI-generated spokesperson designed to deliver official statements on behalf of the country’s foreign ministry. Victoria, presented in a sleek dark suit and named Victoria Shi, marks a significant departure from traditional counterparts. While the statements will still be crafted by humans, Victoria’s visuals and delivery are generated by AI. As Ukraine’s military is experiencing an acute shortage of personnel, who will be replaced by AI next? [Source: The Guardian]


Procter & Gamble to Support Uzbekistan’s Sports Development

The multinational company signed an MOU with the General Secretary of the National Olympic Committee (NOC), according to the agency’s statement on May 1. While the size of the company’s financial commitment has not been disclosed, Procter & Gamble plans “to actively engage in significant sports initiatives across the nation.”

[Source: Daryo]

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