Silicon Round-up: Delivery wars heat up as Hungry House owner raises £214 million

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Last week we reported that freelance takeaway start-up Deliveroo has raised £16 million to expand its operations.

Now Delivery Hero, which owns Just Eat-rival Hungry House, has raised €287 million (£214.5 million) from German start-up incubator Rocket Internet, which helped create the business.

What’s this got to do with technology you might think?

Delivery Hero has explicitly said this new cash injection will be put towards building out its technology platform.

In this increasingly crowded market efficiency can give you the edge and software that can maximise efficiency and minimise delivery times could be crucial. This is in part why Uber has been so successful.

Another London-based food delivery company EatFirst, which is also backed by Rocket, told the Standard this week that its average delivery time is just 15 minutes, although it currently only covers central and East London.

EatFirst’s USP is that it cooks all of its own dishes and makes them healthy, but founder Rahul Parekh is also proud of its speed.

Parekh said: “I used to order from Just Eat and just got tired of waiting for an hour and a half for a greasy takeaway.”

The war is on.

Boris Heads to the States to bang the drum for FinTech

Boris Johnson is next week leading a trade mission to the states to promote London’s booming financial technology sector.

It follows a similar junket to Singapore and a trip taken by David Cameron to Washington, on which several cyber security start-ups accompanied him.

Among those accompanying the Mayor on his visits to New York and Boston is Claire Crockerton, head of private trade body Innovate Finance, which launched last year.The organisation has 85 members, with 60 in the process of signing up.

Crockerton said: “We set out to advance the FinTech sector in the UK and to create a recognisable brand.

“We want to showcase to international investors and big corporates the incredible investment opportunities in British FinTech and to showcase the ecosystem that is flourishing here.”

Among the 20 or so businesses on the trip include peer-to-peer lender Zopa, international payment business Azimo and bitcoin storage specialist Elliptic.

London comes out on top as Tech City casts its eye over digital economy

Government-backed technology promotion body TechCityUK has this week published what it claims to be the first ever full report into the UK’s digital economy.

The Tech Nation report found that London the biggest digital employer in the country, with 251,590 people working for technology businesses based in the capital.

The next biggest cluster is Bristol and Bath, where digital businesses employ just over 61,000 people.

Unsurprisingly for those who follow the tech sector the report found one of London’s biggest strengths is FinTech and Gerard Grech, chief executive of TechCityUK, singled out TransferWise and GoCardless as two of the UK’s most promising technology businesses.

However, 74% of the UK’s digital technology businesses were based outside of inner London and the report found Bournemouth and Liverpool’s digital industries were found to be growing at a faster rate than London’s sector.

Grech said London was not in danger of losing its crown as the UK’s tech hub, saying: “You’ve got to look at this in context – Bournemouth is growing faster because it’s starting from a smaller base.

“The investment in London last year was twice was it was the year before and forty times what it was five years ago. These are very strong indicators of the growth of the London digital sector.”

Accel bets on Bitcoin technology

The London office of technology venture capital firm Accel Partners has been busy investing this week.

Accel, which was an early backer of Facebook, has invested $15 million in Swedish bitcoin mining company KnCMiner and £8 million in Bristol-based ClusterHQ, a start-up in the technologically dense area of computing known as ‘containers’.

The KnCMiner investment is the most eye-catching. For those unfamiliar with Bitcoin mining, the practice involves computers solving increasingly complex mathematical problems which are then rewarded with Bitcoins.

The process is crucial to how bitcoin’s work, with a limited supply doled out by the central programme.

The investment comes at a choppy time for Bitcoin, with Juniper research predicting the value of Bitcoin transactions will more than half this year from $71 billion to $30 billion.

But Accel’s investment should be seen as a bet on the technology behind the mining rather than a fiat for bitcoin itself.

Alongside the funding announcement KnCMiner announce a deal that will see it release one of the most efficient microchips on the market.

Accel’s Michiel Kotting said: “We strongly believe in the long-term potential of Bitcoin technology and see large scale miners like KnCMiner playing a crucial role.”

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February 6, 2015 |
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