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Hong Kong Startup News Roundup - 23 February 2020


Crypto firm Amber nets $28m in Series A

Hong Kong-based crypto finance startup Amber Group has raised $28 million in a Series A round of financing led by Paradigm and Pantera Capital, a blockchain investment fund, according to a company statement on Monday. Polychain Capital, Blockchain.com, Coinbase Ventures and Fenbushi Capital also participated in the latest round, while the existing investor Dragonfly Capital was also on board.  

Amber, set up in 2015, serves diversified crypto finance solutions for enterprises. Its clients include exchanges, mining companies and pools, wallets and hedge funds. It also offers clients services, such as crypto-based electronic market making, automated over-the-counter trading and collateralized lending.  Amber said that the investment funds will be used to expand its operations to meet client demand and add new features to its platform.

TechChill Announces ‘Fifty Founders Battle’ Pitch Competition Semifinalists

The TechChill conference celebrates the best of the Baltic startup community by bringing together over 2,000 attendees, and hosts the Fifty Founders Battle startup competition where 50 startups compete for a €10,000 prize. 

This year, TechChill received a record number of applications with 261 applications in total, many coming from countries far outside the Baltic region. The participating startups were divided into 5 verticals: MedTech, GreenTech, FinTech, B2B, and B2C. The Longenesis Limited – 6P from the vertical of MedTech, is the only Hong Kong startup on The 2020 Fifty Founders Battle semifinalists. Only one from each vertical will be chosen to the second round, evaluated by the 3-minute pitches on stage. For the final pitch, founders are given the chance to pitch their idea to international investors, business angels, accelerators, media, and an audience of 2,000 attendees while previous winners have gone on to raise millions in funding from the regions leading investors.

4 Hong Kong startups in Entrepreneur First's sixth cohort

London-based Entrepreneur First (EF) has unveiled its latest cohort of 19 deep-tech companies from Singapore, Bangalore, and Hong Kong. In early 2019, the company raised US$115 million in the first close of its new global fund to invest in more than 2,200 individuals across the globe over the next three years. Since its entry into Asia in 2016, EF said it has helped over 600 co-founders build more than 120 companies across the region.

19 companies are forming the EF’s Asia 6 cohort. Besides, 4 of them are Hong Kong startups including Open, PixHat, RC Labs and Spidfier. Open empowers banks in developing Asia; PixHat reduces the barriers to 3D animation and content creation with an image-only motion capture technology; RC Labs designs and manufactures adaptive, chemistry-agnostic IoT battery management systems; Spidfier leverages DNA sequencing technology to combat fish fraud through identification, origin detection, and other metrics.

Hong Kong billionaires invest in Agtech startup Semios

Vancouver-based Semios, which has developed a platform for crop data and pest control management, has raised $100 million CAD ($75 million USD) in private equity funding. The financing was led by Morningside Group, a Boston-based private equity and venture capital firm led by Hong Kong billionaires Gerald and Ronnie Chan. The Vancouver-based cleantech startup has been continuously named to the Global Cleantech 100 in the past three years, an annual list of the most innovative cleantech companies around the world.

Semios claims to have raised a total of $152 million CAD ($115 million USD) in external capital since it was founded in 2010. The startup has developed a precision farming platform, collecting sensory data on “near real-time” of a farm, to help farmers manage complex biosystems in orchards while optimizing sustainability and profitability. Semios stated the latest funding allows the company to potentially accelerate research, development, partnerships, or acquisitions, to help reduce chemical pest control around the world, improve water management, and increase crop outcomes.

Bitcoin Lender BlockFi Raises $30M in Series B Led by Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures 

Fresh on the heels of an $18.3 million Series A funding round in August, crypto lending startup BlockFi has secured a $30 million Series B. The Series B was led by Peter Thiel's Valar Ventures with participation from repeat investors Morgan Creek Digital, PJC, Akuna Capital, CMT Digital, Winklevoss Capital and Avon Ventures. New investors included Castle Island Ventures, Purple Arch Ventures, Kenetic Capital, Arrington XRP Capital and HashKey Capital. Having Hong Kong-based HashKey as an investor will help BlockFi expand into Singapore later this year, BlockFi CEO Zac Prince said.

Announced the new funding will help the firm expand both its product offering and geographic footprint. In the first quarter of this year, the startup also plans to develop a mobile app and the ability to send fiat wire transfers. In Q2 2020, BlockFi plans to offer Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments and expects to double the size of its 75-person team by the end of 2020, Prince said.

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