Startup news and updates: daily roundup (April 29, 2021)
UN agencies procuring 7,000 oxygen concentrators, COVID-19 testing machines, PPEs for India: UN spokesperson
The UN team in India is supporting the country's authorities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by providing critical supplies, and its agencies are procuring thousands of oxygen concentrators, oxygen generating plants, and other essential equipment as well as helping set up mobile hospital units, a spokesperson for the UN chief said. I know you've been asking about our support to India during the current surge in COVID-19 cases," Deputy Spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Farhan Haq told reporters at the daily press briefing on Wednesday.
Reliance Foundation on Wednesday said it is setting up a 1,000-bed COVID-19 care facility with oxygen supply in Jamnagar, Gujarat, where all services will be provided free of cost. A 400-bed COVID care facility will be up and running at Government Dental College & Hospital in Jamnagar within a week. Thereafter, another 600-bed facility will be made operational at another location in Jamnagar within the next two weeks, the foundation said in a statement.
B2B ecommerce firm Indiamart on Wednesday acquired stake in two companies, Shipway Technology and Truckhall, for about Rs 20 crore to strengthen its technology offering in logistics management, according to a regulatory filing. The company has acquired a 26 percent stake in software company Shipway Technology for up to Rs 18.2 crore, and an additional 3.02 percent stake in Truckhall for Rs 1.33 crore. According to the filing, Indiamart Intermesh, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Tradezeal Online will acquire 100 equity shares and 4,088 compulsorily convertible preference shares (CCPS) of Shipway Technologies.
The Finance Ministry has waived permissions required from any government departments for customs clearance of COVID-related relief material imported by the Indian Red Cross Society. In instruction to field offices, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) said in the wake of the extraordinary situation arising out of the COVID pandemic, the issue of providing seamless clearance to such relief material received from foreign governments and imported by the Indian Red Cross Society was discussed in a meeting chaired by the Cabinet Secretary on April 27.
RattanIndia Enterprises said it has acquired a substantial stake in EV two-wheeler maker Revolt Intellicorp for Rs 150 crore to foray into the fast-expanding electric vehicle business. RattanIndia Enterprises has invested Rs 150 crore and will have a 50 percent board presence in the Gurugram-headquartered Revolt Intellicorp Pvt Ltd, with Rajiv Rattan heading the company's board as its chairman.
Music streaming platform Spotify on Wednesday said its monthly active user (MAU) base has seen healthy double-digit growth in the March 2021 quarter over the year-ago period with "meaningful contributions" from markets such as the US, Russia, and India. The total monthly active users (MAU) for the platform grew 24 percent year on year to 356 million in the quarter.
Government think tank NITI Aayog has said the government should provide incentives on electric vehicle (EV) purchase over and above the existing subsidy under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and EV (FAME-II) scheme. The NITI Aayog in its status quo analysis of electric mobility in India also said the government should include EVs and associated businesses in the priority sector lending category.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) on Wednesday has approved the Tata Group’s acquisition of a majority stake in online grocery delivery company – Bigbasket. Tata Digital is the subsidiary of Tata Sons, while Supermarket Grocery Supplies Pvt Ltd is the holding company of Bigbasket. Bengaluru-based online grocery startup Bigbasket was founded in December 2011.
The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the issue of the digital divide and recast the world's view of digital access as a critical component to an equitable society, according to Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad. Addressing the high-level event virtually on Tuesday, Prasad said the pandemic "has not only laid threadbare the issue of the digital divide but more importantly recast our view of digital access as a critical component to an equitable society".
Union Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad
The US has advised its citizens not to travel to India or leave as soon as it is safe to do so as access to all types of medical care is becoming severely limited in the country amidst a massive surge in COVID-19 cases. The US has put India on Level 4 Travel Advisory — the highest-level issued by the Department of State.
Global financial services giant Goldman Sachs on Thursday announced an additional $10 million in support to help India fight the second surge in COVID-19 infections and deaths. The US-headquartered firm will provide support for frontline health facilities in cities such as Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and New Delhi, including ongoing vaccination efforts through the help, an official statement said.
Fintech unicorn Zerodha announced plans to provide ambulances and a step-down hospital. The fully equipped ambulance will be available in the cities of Mumbai and Bengaluru. According to Zerodha, each ambulance is equipped with a ventilator, critical care equipment, medication, a nurse, and a paramedic. It said half of them will have a doctor on board and the other half will have remote doctors. Also, five ambulances are equipped with freezing capabilities.
ICICI Bank announced the launch of its digital banking services platform called ‘Merchant Stack’, which will serve retail merchants including grocers, supermarkets, large retail store chains, online businesses, and large ecommerce firms. This platform will help small and medium business owners to meet their banking requirements seamlessly so that they can continue to serve their customers even in the current challenging times.
BYJU'S is raising $150M from UBS (Funding)
BYJU'S is raising about $150 million from UBS Group AG that will value the edtech major at about $16.5 billion, according to sources. UBS could also infuse additional funding into BYJU'S, which has seen significant growth in the past few quarters on the back of strong uptake of online education, the sources close to the development said.
Byju Raveendran, Founder and CEO, BYJU'S
As part of the CSR initiative, the country's largest lender State Bank of India has decided to set up makeshift hospitals with ICU facilities for COVID-19 patients in some of the worst-affected states. The bank has already earmarked Rs 30 crore and is engaging with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and hospital management for setting up medical facilities on an emergency basis for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, SBI Chairman Dinesh Kumar Khara told PTI.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Thursday said the city "does not have vaccines" for the inoculation of persons in the 18-44 age group, and purchase orders have been placed with manufacturers for the same. The minister, however, said preparations to give jabs to this category have been completed. "At present, we don't have vaccines. We have requested the companies to provide it," Jain told reporters when asked if there were enough vaccines available for the 18-44 age group.
Lululemon Athletica, a performance apparel brand, has announced the launch of India Technology Hub, a development centre, in Bengaluru. It is the first such centre for the company outside of North America. According to the company, the India centre will help expand its technology capabilities and infrastructure to enable and support global growth. Lululemon expects to hire about 250 technologists for the centre by 2022, while it is expected to launch operations by August 2021.