New U.K. Immigration Plan could boost the U.K. Tech Sector
London, England: The UK Government has released its White Paper on its post-Brexit immigration policy, signaling the biggest shake-up in U.K. immigration rules in 40 years.
The plans would remove the automatic right of low-skilled workers from EU countries to work in the UK after Brexit, with a move instead, towards a new skilled based immigration policy.
However, the never-achieved and politically burdensome, “specific targets” for reducing U.K. immigration will disappear and be replaced by “sustainable levels” of net migration.
The new skills-based approach could prove advantageous for the U.K. tech sector eagerly seeking to attract global talent into the country.
The document also proposes a new minimum salary threshold of GBP 30,000 (USD 38,400) for EU migrants. While this threshold is already in place for non-EU workers entering the U.K., the new plan is subject to a 12 month consultation period and may well have to be lowered, on the back of likely pressure from the UK business community to do so.
The White Paper also introduces a new visa route for skilled migrants from both Europe and beyond, where there is currently a cap of 20,700 ‘high-skilled’ “Tier 2” visas.
In terms of timing, the white paper shows the government wants to enact the new rules at the end of the Brexit transition period, which is currently set for January 2021. If so, a visa scheme will be opened in the Q4 2020 to allow would-be migrants to apply.
However, in a no-deal Brexit scenario, the new system could come into effect as early as April 2019.
UK Data Compliance Firm Raises USD 40 Million
London, England: Egress, a UK based provider of data privacy and compliance software, designed to secure unstructured data, has raised $40m in a Series C financing round led by FTV Capital, with continued participation from existing backer AlbionVC.
Egress will use this investment to build on its ongoing rapid growth in Europe and North America, as well as accelerate development of new technology across its data security platform.
The company’s AI-powered platform enables users to control and secure the data they share in line with evolving compliance regulations, including GDPR, the NYDFS Cybersecurity Regulation (23 NYCRR 500), and the recently-passed California Consumer Privacy Act.
The company was founded in London in 2007 by Tony Pepper and Neil Larkins and currently has 125 employees based across London, Boston and Toronto.
Since raising $3.6m in Series A funding in February 2014, Egress has grown ARR by 9x, acquired over 2,000 customers supports more than 5 million users globally and generated 2017 revenues of GBP9.4 million (USD 12 million).
Austin-based Upland Software UK Acquisition
Oxford, England: Upland Software, Inc., a provider of cloud-based Enterprise Work Management software, has acquired U.K. based Adestra Ltd – a provider of enterprise-grade email marketing, transaction and automation software.
Adestra’s cloud solution enables leading brands to understand and engage individual customers with relevant, timely, and effective communications.
Adestra will now be combined with Upland’s mobile messaging, customer engagement, and knowledge management solutions to create a product suite serving the $5.9 billion CXM market which according to MarketsandMarkets, is forecast to grow 23% per year to $16.9 billion by 2022.
The purchase price paid for Adestra was $56.0 million in cash at closing, net of cash acquired, and a $4.2 million cash holdback payable in 12 months.
Upland expects the acquisition to generate annual revenue of approximately $18 million, of which approximately $16.7 million is recurring.
Adestra is Uplands second U.K. acquisition this year, following its purchase of mobile marketing firm Rant & Rave, in October, in a deal valued at USD 65 million.
Founded in 2004 by Henry Hyder-Smith, Adestra has 130 employees and offices in Oxford, England & Dallas, Texas.
UK AI Chipmaker Graphcore reaches $1.7Bn valuation with $200M Series D
AI chipmaker, Graphcore, has concluded a new $200 million funding round, valuing the company at $1.7 billion.
BMW i Ventures and Microsoft have joined the round alongside new and existing investors including Atomico, Merian Chrysalis Investment Company Limited, Sequoia and Sofina.
The new funding brings the total capital raised by Graphcore to date to over $300M from leading venture capital, financial and strategic investors that also include Robert Bosch, Dell Technologies and Samsung Electronics.
Graphcore has developed a new kind of processor and software for AI and machine intelligence. Its Intelligence Processor Unit (IPU) PCIe processor cards are the first to be designed specifically for machine intelligence training and inference, with an increase in speed of 10x to 100x compared to today’s hardware.
The company is in rapid global growth, tripling the size of its team and opened offices in London, Palo Alto and Beijing in 2018.
This latest round of funding will go towards product roadmap as well as expansion of the company’s global footprint.
Graphcore was founded in Bristol, England in 2016 by two semiconductor industry stalwarts, Nigel Toon and Simon Knowles.
Collapse of U.K. AR ‘Unicorn’ Blippar
London, England: Augmented reality start-up Blippar, once heralded at a value of $1.5 billion, has folded.
The company went “into administration” this week which effectively means, it has ceased trading.
A dispute over continued funding is believed to be have been the basis for the collapse.
One major shareholder, Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional, blocked an emergency USD 5 million round of funding for the start-up.
The funding round would have diluted Khazanah’s share in the Blippar which
reported a USD 35 million (USD 44 million) in 2017.
The company had just raised GBP 28 million (USD 37 Million) in September of this year.
Blippar was founded in 2011 by Ambarish Mitra and Omar Tayeb. At one point, it employed more than 300 people, although that number is believed to have dipped closer to 75 by the time of its collapse.
German Cloud Pricing Software Raises USD 29 Million
Munich, Germany; Price f(x), a price company software firm has raised €25 million (USD 28.75 million) in a Series B funding round.
The company intends to use the funds to further expand its existing platform capabilities and introduce a new product offering for the SME market segment.
Leading the round is European B2B technology growth investor, Digital + Partners, and consulting firm Bain & Company. Prague-based Credo Ventures and London-based Talis Capital, which both backed Price f(x) at Series A, have also participated in this new round.
Founded in 2011 and led by Marcin Cichon, CEO, the company provides a modular SaaS solution for Price Optimization, Management (PO&M) and Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) for enterprises of any size, based on the latest in native cloud architecture.
Meanwhile, Price f(x) is in the midst of litigation with U.S. competitor Vendavo over a number of patent disputes. In December 2017, Vendavo launched a lawsuit against Price f(x), which the German company refutes.