Startup news and updates: daily roundup (Aug 20, 2021)

YourStory presents this daily roundup of the latest startup news and updates from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Friday, August 20, 2021.
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Facebook launches virtual reality work app, takes a step towards 'metaverse'

Facebook is trying to pull in workplace users with a new virtual reality app called Horizon Workrooms. Workrooms lets people meet remotely in a virtual space populated by avatars. It's an app for Facebook's headset, which costs at least $300 and weighs a pound. People without a headset can join with a video call. Up to 50 people can be on the call, but only 16 can be in the VR space with avatars.

Emcure Pharma testing mRNA COVID-19 vaccine "comparable to Pfizer and Moderna"

Pune-based Emcure Pharmaceuticals is bullish about scientific innovation and its next big bet is mRNA vaccines for COVID-19, the company's Founder and MD Satish Mehta told YourStory.

“We are working on it (mRNA vaccines), and it will be absolutely comparable to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines,” Emcure MD Satish Mehta told YourStory Founder Shradha Sharma in an interview.

Digital mortgage platform, LoanKuber raises $1.25M as part of its ongoing Pre-Series A round (Funding)

LoanKuber, a digital mortgage platform for micro-SMEs, on Friday announced that it has raised $1.25 million as part of its ongoing Pre-Series A round. The current round saw participation from LetsVenture, AngelList India and Accolade.

It aims to use the funds towards building and expanding the team, enhancing the existing tech stack and rapidly growing its Assets Under Management to Rs 75 crore in the next 12 months.

India looks to work with US on market access issues: Goyal

India will look at working with the US on market access issues to promote bilateral trade as Washington has indicated that it is not looking for a new trade agreement as of now, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on Thursday.

LocoNav earmarks $3M for ESOP and equity buyback

LocoNav, a fleet-tech startup, on Thursday said it has earmarked $3 million (about Rs 22.3 crore) for its maiden first-ever ESOP and equity buyback scheme.

The development comes a month after LocoNav raised $37 million in Series B funding from Quiet Capital, Anthemis Group, Sequoia Capital India, Foundamental, and others.

CRED forays into P2P lending with new product Mint

CRED launched a new P2P lending product called CRED Mint to enable its members to earn more interest on idle money they have in their savings account by lending it to other members.

Members who sign up to lend on CRED Mint can earn up to 9 percent interest per annum, higher than returns given by savings accounts and other traditional instruments.

MSME Ministry sets target to enhance GDP contribution up to 50Pc by 2025

Science and Technology Minister Jitendra Singh on Thursday said new business enterprises are heavily dependent on scientific, technology and scientific temper and that attitude will be essential for entrepreneurs to succeed.

He also said that the MSME ministry has set a target to enhance its contribution to the GDP up to 50 percent by 2025 as India becomes a $5 trillion economy.

Govt will support establishing semiconductor industry in India: Goyal

The government is committed to supporting establishing the semiconductor industry in the country which will also help in reducing foreign exchange outflows, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said on Thursday.

The Commerce and Industry Minister's remarks come days after Tata Group announced its intention to enter the semiconductor segment, amid significant shortage of semiconductors worldwide that has also started impacting various industries.

India ranks second in the world in crypto adoption: Chainalysis report

report by blockchain data platform Chainalysis ranked India second in terms of global crypto adoption in 2021, amidst global crypto adoption rising over 880 percent in the last year.

In the report titled 'The 2021 Global Crypto Adoption Index', Chainalysis ranked India just behind Vietnam, which took first place out of 154 countries surveyed.

Facebook, Indifi partner to provide easy, collateral-free loans to small businesses

Facebook India on Friday said it launched a ‘Small Business Loans Initiative’ programme, where it has partnered with fintech lending startup Indifi to help small and medium businesses (SMBs) avail of easy, collateral-free loans.

Through this partnership, SMBs that advertise with Facebook can get loans at a predefined interest rate of 17-20 percent per annum without collateral through a quick online application. First launched in India, the initiative is open to businesses registered across 200 towns and cities.

Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy meets FM Nirmala Sitharaman

Flipkart chief executive Kalyan Krishnamurthy on Thursday met Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

While details of the meeting were not shared, sources said the top executive informed the minister of the company's engagement with sellers, especially micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Intel India joins hands with IIT Bombay to launch Plugin Alliance for acceleration of Industry 4.0

Intel India, in collaboration with Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE)-IIT Bombay, has launched the Plugin Alliance, in what it says is a first-of-its-kind industry-technology alliance with a focus on accelerating Industry 4.0 transformation in India.

A statement from Intel India said the Alliance brings together members representing large enterprises, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), technology solution providers, systems integrators, startups, the startup ecosystem including funding partners, relevant incubators, government, and industry bodies.

IPO-bound OYO raises $5M from Microsoft at a valuation of $9.6B (Funding)

Tech giant Microsoft has invested $5 million in the Gurugram-based hospitality major Oyo, according to the filings with the Registrar of Companies (RoC). The transaction is a part of the Series F2 round of the company and puts OYO's valuation at $9.6 billion, confirmed YourStory's sources.

The deal comes at the backdrop of OYO's preparation to launch an Initial Public Offering (IPO).

Indian online doctor consultation market expected to reach $836M by 2024: Report

The Indian online doctor consultation market is expected to reach $836 million by FY24, growing at 72 percent CAGR, according to a recently published report titled “Outpatient Healthcare Market in India” by Praxis Global Alliance.

The report revealed the market already reached $163 million in March 2021.

Ex-Googler Caesar Sengupta launches fintech startup with former colleagues

Caesar Sengupta, who stepped down from Google in March after 15 years, has launched his fintech startup within four months of exiting the search giant.

The new venture, Arbo Works, is the handiwork of Caesar and former Googlers David ShapiroFelix Lin, and Zelidrag Hornung — all of whom held leadership positions at Google's Payments, Engineering, and Next Billion Users (NBU) divisions.

Indian startups raise $16.9B VC funding in 2021, next only to China

Indian startups got $16.9 billion of venture capital funding in 2021, next only to Chinese counterparts in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) countries, GlobalData said Friday.

An analysis of GlobalData's financial deals database reveals that a total of 828 VC funding deals were announced in India during January-July 2021, while the total disclosed funding value of these deals stood at $16.9 billion.

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