If you’re a telecoms or online firm that’s been itching to invest in China, now’s your chance – as long as you’re happy to set up shop in the new Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ), a kind of sandbox lab for Chinese market liberalization. On Tuesday state-owned outlets CRI and Xinhua reported that foreign investors will be able to own up to 55 percent of the e-commerce operations of “data-processing companies”, and as much as they like of app store, home internet access and “multi-party communications” companies. Most services can be offered country-wide, though foreign-owned ISPs will only be allowed to operate in the FTZ for now.
An Oakland-based startup called Omicia has raised a $6.8 million series A round of venture capital, led by Artis Ventures, for a cloud service that lets doctors analyze whole human genomes in order to identify the presence of diseases. The basic service is free (while more-advanced analyses and capabilities cost $99), and the whole process takes less than 3 hours for a whole genome (or less than 1 hour for an exome). Advances in sequencing, algorithms, data storage and cloud computing have been rapidly driving down the cost of genomic analysis over the past few years, leading to an uptick of of startup activity in the space.
The NSA is trying to build a quantum computer in order to break today’s digital encryption and create new types of encryption, the Washington Post has used documents leaked by Edward Snowden to reveal. Quantum computers can theoretically compute much faster than today’s “classical” bit-based systems, which would help them break encryption by brute force, a.k.a. high-speed guesswork – most encryption today relies on the fact that cracking it by brute force would take unfeasibly long. However, though some firms such as D-Wave claim to have built small-scale, early-stage versions, no-one has managed to build a large-scale quantum computer yet.
Two new platforms for storing and analyzing genomic data have raised venture capital recently, with Curoverse announcing $1.5 million in seed funding in mid-December and Tute Genomics announcing $1.5 million in seed funding on Dec. 31. Curoverse is a specialized private-cloud system, while Tute Genomics is a pure cloud service. Both are riding the waves of cheaper gene-sequencing costs, data storage and computing power, assuming it will result in a deluge of demand for genomic analysis over the next few years. They’re not alone: We’ve covered numerous startups trying to do the same thing, including DNAnexus, Bina Technologies, Spiral Genetics and Appistry.
People Pattern, an Austin, Texas-based startup focused on targeted marketing, has raised a $4.5 million series A round of venture capital from Mohr Davidow and a collection of private investors. It’s hardly the first company to think about applying new big data and data science techniques in the name of better understanding customers — that’s arguably the most popular use for these techniques — but People Pattern’s approach is noteworthy. It lets users mine both their internal data stores (e.g., Salesforce.com) and external sources (e.g., social media) to predict the highest-value users and the best ways to target them.