The fresh capital will be used to expand Ajaib’s technology infrastructure, recruit engineering talent, and deepen its product offerings.
You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening. Fudging itIt took him a week to find his conscience, but Lord Keen finally decided he couldn’t live with breaking international law. Having been hung out to dry by cabinet minister Brandon Lewis (whose political street fighting skills made Keen look like a rank amateur), in the end he really had little option but to quit.For shadow attorney general Charlie Falconer (another political bruiser), the only thing that was surprising was that it took him so long. And in many ways, this was Falconer’s scalp (and that of Labour’s savvy Lords operation), having yesterday roughed up the Advocate General with a mix of cold anger and ridicule.His jibe at Keen on Tuesday - “The key characteristic for law officers is not brains – they can get all the advice they want from the English bar of lawyers – it is backbone” - clearly stung his fellow QC in the Lords. Goaded by Falconer’s heckling, Keen then effectively signed his own political suicide note by suggesting Lewis had misspoken.It’s perfectly possible that Keen had also worked out that even the new ‘compromise’ between No.10 and Tory rebels still involved breaking international law. The PM has indeed been forced to accept Bob Neill’s argument that MPs, rather than ministers, should get the first say over triggering such a nuclear option. But an option it remains, written in statue.The resignation of a fellow law officer certainly puts pressure on attorney general Suella Braverman (who has been incredibly silent in public on this whole affair) and justice secretary Robert Buckland.Few MPs expect Braverman to do anything other than blindly back No10. But Buckland has been wobbling. His line to Sky News today - that he would resign if the government broke international law in “a way that cannot be fudged” - made clear that fudging was now his own justification for staying on.Still, Buckland’s political capital among like-minded liberal lawyers like Neill seems to have been enough to help avoid a showdown next week. Levelling with the rebels, about what was politically possible and their mutual interest on the issue, paid off.So, with a resignation and yet another climbdown in the face of a backbench rebellion, has the PM ended today weaker? Not according to one minister I talked to today. “It’s like that old Michael Caine saying, ‘I’ve been poor and unhappy and I’ve been rich and unhappy. And believe me, rich is better!’” they said. “We had a difficult time governing with no majority, and how we have a difficult time governing with a majority of 80. And believe me, a majority of 80 is better!”Both No.10 and Labour realise that the spats about the Internal Market Bill pale in comparison to public unease over coronavirus spikes and testing failures. On an impressive debut at PMQs, Angela Rayner never lost sight of that bigger picture. And Johnson made clear at the Liaison Committee that the rising infections would “lead to mortality...that is the reality”.That sounded like an echo of his warning way back in early March, before the virus took off and before the lockdown: “It is going to spread further and I must level with you, I must level with the British public: many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.” Today, however, he didn’t level with us, as he had no real explanations for the bottleneck in testing.The short-term solution will be “prioritisation” of tests, with possibly schools added to the hierarchy of hospitals and care homes, when Matt Hancock unveils the rationing programme in coming days.The PM notably didn’t rule out a second national lockdown today. If big areas like the north east, Leeds and Birmingham join the north west in local curbs, England will feel like it’s already in a new national lockdown anyway.That’s why perhaps Johnson does need to ‘level’ with us all more. “We just need to be a bit more honest with people,” one minister says. The PM did today admit capacity was inadequate for demand, but daily testing capacity numbers are no longer available, just when more transparency is needed.Tomorrow’s weekly test and trace stats need to get better too.Fudging breaking international law is one thing, fudging coronavirus’s spread is altogether more dangerous.Quote Of The day“We don’t have enough testing capacity now”– Boris JohnsonWednesday Cheat SheetNearly 4,000 people in the UK were confirmed as having Covid-19, the highest since early May.No10 agreed a compromise over the Internal Market Bill. But it added an extra amendment that critics said made judicial review of its sweeping powers even harder.Joe Biden tweeted a warning about the UK breaking international law. “We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit.”Former transport secretary Chris Grayling, who once gave a no-deal Brexit ferry contract to a company with no ships, is to be paid £100,000 a year to advise a leading ports company (which is owned by Beijing-friendly Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing).What I’m ReadingThe Billionaire Who Wanted To Die Broke Is Now Broke - ForbesRelated...
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Get the latest on coronavirus. Sign up to the Daily Brief for news, explainers, how-tos, opinion and more.The first case of a person being reinfected with coronavirus has been reported by researchers in Hong Kong.The findings could have significant implications for the development of vaccines and what is known about natural immunity against Covid-19.Researchers at the University of Hong Kong’s (HKU) department of microbiology said that an “apparently young and healthy patient had a second episode of Covid-19 infection which was diagnosed 4.5 months after the first episode”.They added that the case shows reinfection can occur a few months after recovery from the first infection – casting further doubt over theories about immunity.The man had no symptoms and was asymptomatic during the second infection, which was picked up by screening tests on returning passengers at Hong Kong airport.Genetic sequencing of the virus showed he had been infected twice by different strains of Covid-19, the researchers said.They added that the findings suggest SARS-CoV-2 may persist in the global human population as is the case for other human coronaviruses such as the common cold, even if patients have acquired immunity via natural infection.It means people with previous Covid-19 infection should comply with control measures like wearing face coverings and social distancing.One of the researchers, Dr Kelvin Kai-Wang To, clinical associate professor, Department of Microbiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, HKU, said: “This case shows that patients recovered from Covid-19 can get reinfected.“Therefore, the immunity against Covid-19 is not lifelong.”He added: “Reinfection is likely occurring elsewhere. Our case was asymptomatic and was diagnosed because of screening at the airport.”In a statement the university said: “Since the immunity can be short lasting after natural infection, vaccination should also be considered for those with one episode of infection.”The study has been accepted by medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, but the full research is yet to be published.Experts in the UK say it is too early to say what it may mean on a global scale.Brendan Wren, professor of microbial pathogenesis, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “With over three million cases of Covid-19 worldwide, the first reported case of a potential reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 needs to be taken into context.“It appears that the young and healthy adult has been reinfected with a slight SARS-CoV-2 variant from the initial infection three months previously.“It is to be expected that the virus will naturally mutate over time. This is a very rare example of reinfection and it should not negate the global drive to develop Covid-19 vaccines.”Dr Jeffrey Barrett, senior scientific consultant for Covid-19 Genome Project, Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “This is certainly stronger evidence of reinfection than some of the previous reports because it uses the genome sequence of the virus to separate the two infections.“It seems much more likely that this patient has two distinct infections than a single infection followed by a relapse.”But he added that it is “very hard” to make any strong inference from a single observation, and that seeing one case of reinfection is not that surprising.“This may be very rare, and it may be that second infections, when they do occur, are not serious,” said BarrettDr Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for Covid-19, said: “What I think is really important is that we put this into context. There has been more than 24m cases reported to date and we need to look at something like this on a population level.”She added: “But I don’t want people to be afraid, we need to ensure that people understand that when they are infected, even if they have a mild infection, they do develop an immune response.“In this particular case, it’s very important that we look, and I haven’t read the studies so I don’t have an answer to this yet, to see if this individual developed a neutralising antibody response, which is what will protect from reinfection.” Related...
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A study led by researchers from St. Michael's Hospital of Unity Health Toronto and ICES found that people living in neighbourhoods considered to be the least walkable were up to 33 per cent more likely to have a high predicted 10-year cardiovascular risk compared to individuals living in the most walkable neighbourhoods.The study, publishing on Oct. 31, 2019 in the Journal of the American Heart Association, is the first of its kind to analyze overall predicted risk over 10 years.In addition to a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, researchers also found that individuals living in the least walkable neighbourhoods had significantly higher blood pressure and higher odds of a prior diabetes diagnosis."The findings demonstrate that walkability is associated with clinically relevant differences in cardiovascular disease risk," said Dr. Nicholas Howell, first author of the study and a PhD graduate in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael's."From a public policy perspective, the findings support the idea that the benefits of walkable neighbourhoods could be significant enough to move the dial for individual health."Dr. Gillian Booth, lead author of the study and a scientist at St. Michael's Hospital's MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, said previous research has also shown that the way cities and communities are designed can have a profound impact on our health.
The chief executive officer of Demetrix studied yeast genetics and biochemistry in school and was an early employee at Amyris Biotechnologies, a technology company that was using fermentation to make biofuels back in the early days of the first clean technology boom back in 2008.Now, the same technology that Ubersax and Jay Keasling, the celebrated professor from the University of California at Berkeley who co-founded Amyris and Demetrix, used to make biofuels is being applied to the production of cannabis.The company launched with an $11 million seed round led by Horizons Ventures, a Hong Kong-based investment fund backed by the multi-billionaire real estate mogul Li Ka-shing, to begin commercializing the technology that Keasling had been researching in his lab.The goal was to refine a process that would enable yeasts to make a range of cannabinoids that are found in the marijuana plant which could be used to develop new pharmaceuticals, additives and supplements for use in clinical and consumer applications.The technology works much the same way as brewing beer.Except instead of fermenting to produce alcohol, the fermentation process produces cannabinoids from genetically modified yeast cells.
With skyrocketing demand for consumer products and renewed research into its medicinal value, cannabis is having a moment.The quasi-legalization of marijuana created a gold rush for into the industry and startups like Demetrix are reaping the benefits.The company, founded by the famed U.C.Berkeley researcher Jay Keasling and helmed by former Amyris executive Jeff Ubersax, just raised $50 million in a new round of financing to continue its pursuit of isolating and brewing cannabinoids, the active chemical ingredients in the marijuana plant.The money came from previous investor Horizons Ventures, the Hong Kong-based firm backed by real estate billionaire Li Kashing, and Tuatara Capital, a fund which invests in the legal cannabis industry.The idea of using yeast to brew cannabinoids isn’t a new one and there are several companies active in the space.
Li is the 28th-richest person in the world and has an estimated net worth of $30.3 billion, according to Forbes.Often called "Superman," he has an incredible "rags-to-riches" story that saw him go from being impoverished in southern China to building a conglomerate that spans across 50 countries and 323,000 employees.Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.Li now focuses on his charitable foundation, the Li Ka Shing Foundation, and has pledged one-third of his wealth to philanthropy.While he is no longer the richest man in Asia, the 91-year-old still ranks as the 28th-richest person in the world and has a current estimated net worth of $30.3 billion.He went from dropping out of school as a child to support his family to becoming the first person of Chinese origin to buy one of the British-built Hong Kong companies that dominated the city since its colonial days.
A Californian probiotics developer backed by tycoons Li Ka-shing and Bill Gates will launch a dietary product it claims can strengthen infants’ immune system in Hong Kong and Singapore on Tuesday.Evivo, an activated form of the intestinal bacteria Bifidobacterium infantis, has been mixed with breast milk and fed to “tens of thousands” of babies in the US it was launched two years ago, according to Evolve CEO Timothy Brown.The company has chosen the two cities – among the richest in Asia – as the regional launchpads for its first foray outside its home market.It aims to address the autoimmune health challenges that have arisen in the region in the past few decades, such as eczema and allergies, which have coincided with the rise of formula feeding, C-section deliveries and excessive use of antibiotics.“By restructuring the microbiome, we can reestablish a proper immune system.”Evolve raised US$40 million of private equity funding last summer led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Horizons Ventures, the investment arm of the Li Ka Shing Foundation.
Beijing has issued a new policy to encourage entrepreneurship, but it will comes with some pretty major strings attached.Over the past few months there have been repeated cries in China, ostensibly from some parts of the academia and media, to relegate the private sector further to a second-class role in the economy, to play only a supporting part to the state-owned enterprises (SOEs), despite the former contributing 60% of China’s GDP and creating 80% of the jobs.But at the beginning of this month Chinese President Xi Jinping hosted a high-profile meeting with 50 leading private companies to reassure the private sector that “you belong to our family”.Promises were made to help alleviate the private sector’s tax burdens, make their access to the financial and capital markets easier, do away with more restriction on competing with SOEs, as well as protect their private property rights.Mr Xi, who has assumed supreme power and has steered the country more and more towards a Mao-style governance, has not been the biggest fan of market economy and has not shied from saying so.Private sector confidence in the economy has hit a historic low, and many businesses have opted to sell and pull out of the country.
“The most important enjoyment for me,” Li once said, “is to work hard and make more profit.”Here’s how the Hong Kong industrialist built his empire and then made a beeline for the tech industry, including early investments in Facebook, Spotify, and Slack.Aged 12, Li started work at an uncle’s plastic watch-strap company, soon dropping out of school so that his income can support the family.After rising from a salesman to become manager of one of his uncle’s factories, Li used everything he’d learned in the past decade about plastics to start manufacturing plastic toys, before shifting to artificial flowers.Hong Kong in the 1950s was roiled by riots amid a huge influx of refugees from China’s civil war, compounding already terrible, cramped conditions in the British colony.Li leapt on the chance to snap up commercial real estate on the cheap, giving birth to his real estate empire.
A German digital bank backed by Tencent, Li Ka-shing and Peter Thiel will launch in the UK today with the aim of taking on the big high street banks and adding to the fierce competition among British app-only banks.N26, which already counts 1.5m customers across 17 European countries, has started rolling out its banking services to around 50,000 UK subscribers, with a full public launch planned for next month.It had previously talked of plans to launch in 2017.Giant German insurer Allianz and Thiel’s Valar Ventures are among the investors in the Berlin-based fintech, which has raised $215m (£165m) in capital.Competitors in the digital-only banking services space include Starling, Revolut, Monzo, Atom and Tandem, all of which are racing to build up user numbers.Valentin Stalf, the founder and chief executive, told City A.M. he thinks the bank has a “a fair shot to also be the number one in the UK in terms of growth.” However, he added that there is a large enough user base in the UK which has stuck with traditional banks for all of the digital challengers to continue to grow.
The money came from Horizons Ventures, the private investment arm of Hong Kong business magnate Li Ka-shing.Genvid CEO Jacob Navok said in an interview with GamesBeat that the company will use the funds to try to triple the company’s growth in the next couple of years.Advertisers can also show unique ads to the viewers based on the viewers’ likes.Furthermore, the company will continue its international and vertical expansions, moving beyond esports into mobile, arcade and VR gaming across the U.S., European Union, Japan and China, as well as new opportunities in real sports and the wider media.“Customer interest in our solutions is growing every day,” Navok said.And we are thrilled to bring on Horizons Ventures, whose tremendous track record among investments includes Facebook, Siri, Zoom, Waze, Spotify and now Genvid.”
Crypto lush HTC claims gizmo will be an 'agent of decentralization'Strategy Boutique So it wasn't a joke.HTC confirmed overnight that the Exodus smartphone will ship in its third quarter – meaning some time before the end of September – without releasing specifications.It's the brainchild of VC Phil Chen, who as well as managing Li Ka-shing's money at Horizons Ventures*, has returned to mastermind the initiative at HTC, rejoicing in the job title "Decentralized Chief Officer".HTC is giddy about the possibilities of putting a crypto wallet in a mobe, and makes an impressive bid to walk off with the Strategy Boutique trophy 2018.The aspirational statements leap out at us like salmon trying to get home.
TORONTO, April 27, 2018 - The deadly yellow fever virus has the potential to spread into cities around the world where it previously hasn't been seen, according to a new study led by St. Michael's Hospital.Researchers led by Dr. Kamran Khan of St. Michael's have mapped the worldwide pathways through which yellow fever virus could spread by analyzing global patterns of airline travellers, the environmental conditions needed to enable transmission of the virus within a city, and countries' requirements for travellers to provide proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry."Imagine a yellow fever outbreak as a fire," said Dr. Khan, who is a scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael's Hospital.According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 15 per cent of people who get yellow fever develop serious illness that can be fatal."CDC urges anyone traveling to a country where yellow fever is circulating to be vaccinated against yellow fever.Yellow fever vaccine is available at a limited number of clinics in the U.S., and people with some medical conditions shouldn't be vaccinated, so travellers should plan ahead."
There’s a new world of lab-grown replacements coming for everything from the meat department in your grocery store to a department store near you.Lab-made leather replacements will soon join vegetable-based meat replacements on store shelves thanks to startups like Bolt Threads, which today announced that it would join companies like Modern Meadow in the quest to bring vegetable-based replacements for animal hides to market.Earlier this year, the Silicon Valley-based Bolt Threads raised a $123 million financing to expand its business beyond the manufacture of spider silk which had brought the company acclaim — and an initial slate of products.The announcement today of its new product, Mylo, is the first step on that path.Working with established partner, Stella McCartney, and using technology licensed from the biomaterials company Ecovative Design, Bolt is bringing Mylo’s mushroom-based leather replacement to the world in a debut of one of McCartney’s Falabella bag designs made from the mushroom material.The first bag will be available at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Fashioned from Nature exhibit, open to the public on April 21st in London.
Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing waves goodbye to journalists after announcing his retirement as chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd at a news conference in Hong Kong, China March 16, 2018.REUTERS/Bobby YipHong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing announced his retirement on Friday, at 89 years old.Li is the 23rd richest person in the world with a estimated net worth of $35.4 billionOften called "Superman," he has an incredible "rags-to-riches" story that saw him go from impoverished in southern China to building a conglomerate that spans across 50 countries and 323,000 employees.Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing announced on Friday that he would be retiring from running CK Hutchison Holdings and CK Asset Holdings, the two massive conglomerates that he built in Asia's most famous rags-to-riches story.He has said he plans to work on his charitable foundation, the Li Ka Shing Foundation, and has pledged one third of his wealth to philanthropy.
A significant changing of the guard is underway in the world of telecoms and tech out of Asia.CK Hutchison, a Hong Kong conglomerate that owns the European mobile carrier 3 among other mobile and tech holdings, has announced that Li Ka-Shing is stepping down as the company’s chairman and executive director, after 46 years at the helm and 68 years since founding Cheung Kong (CK), effective May 10.Li is Hong Kong’s richest man, and he also controls Horizons Ventures, one of the bigger and more influential VC firms not just in Asia but globally.He will be succeeded by Li Tzar Kuoi, known as Victor Li, who is his son and the brother of Richard Li.We have contacted Horizons to ask how and if the firm or Li Ka-Shing’s involvement is impacted as well and will update this post as we learn more.Li, pictured here, stepping down marks the end of an era of Hutchison building up a conglomerate that includes shipping and port services, energy, retail and more alongside telecoms.
Horizons Ventures, the VC firm founded by Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-Shing, has made a rare early-stage investment after it backed AI startup Fano Labs.Horizons has invested in the likes of Facebook, Razer, Slack, Improbable, Spotify and more, and now it is putting undisclosed money into Fano Labs, which recently graduated AI accelerator program Zeroth.This deal also marks the firm’s first investment in a Hong Kong-based company.Founded by academics, Fano Labs uses speech recognition and natural language processing to help out at call centers.As anyone who ever called a center knows, “your call may be recorded” and that’s because it is checked over to ensure the agent has performed within the boundaries of the law (particularly around financial services) while recordings are used to evaluate staff, check on customer feedback and train new joiners.Call center managers don’t have the time to check through them all, and that’s where Fano Labs steps in.
The news (extracted from Reuters):Razer, backed by Intel and Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka Shing, has priced its initial public offering (IPO) at HK$3.88, which would raise HK$4.12 billion (US$528 million) for the company.The gaming hardware firm earlier said it was offering 1.063 billion primary shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in an indicative range of HK$2.93 to HK$4.00 each.Razer is based in California and Singapore, and founded by Singaporean Min-Liang Tan – which means its IPO journey is being closely watched by Southeast Asia’s tech startup ecosystem.The public debut comes just a few weeks after Singaporean unicorn Sea’s US$884 million US IPO.Razer’s IPO performance will be an indicator of how bullish investors are toward the company’s prospects.