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Verily raises $1 billion, Alphabet CFO joins board

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ruth poratAlphabet Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat will join Verily’s board.Google

  • Enigmatic life science company Verily has raised a mega funding round of $1 billion led by technology investment firm Silver Lake.
  • Formerly called Google Life Sciences, Verily aims to develop tools that help collect and organize health data. Current projects include a continuous glucose monitor for diabetes and better contact lenses.
  • As part of the investment, Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat will join Verily’s board.

Verily, the enigmatic life science company formerly called Google Life Sciences, has raised $1 billion from investors, the second time the company has taken outside funds.

The company announced the mammoth round on Thursday but did not include details of what the funds would be used for. Technology investment firm Silver Lake is the leading new investor, and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan also joins on as a first-time backer.

“We are taking external funding to increase flexibility and optionality as we expand on our core strategic focus areas,” Andrew Conrad, Verily’s CEO, said in a statement.

A sub-group of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, Verily aims to develop tools that help collect and organize health data. Its current list of semi-public projects include work on a miniaturized continuous glucose monitor with partner organization Dexcom; contact lenses for people with age-related farsightedness and for sight improvement after cataract surgery; and a watch that lets researchers collect data for clinical studies. 

Read more: A little-known technology that Fitbit and Apple are exploring could be the answer to healthy eating and peak performance

Verily researchers had also been working on a contact lens equipped with sensors to measure glucose levels for people with diabetes, but announced in November that they were pausing work on the initiative, which began in 2014 as a partnership with Alcon, the eye-care division of drug giant Novartis.

As part of the new funding, Ruth Porat, Alphabet’s chief financial officer, will be nominated to join Verily’s operating board. Egon Durban, the managing partner and managing director of Silver Lake, will also be nominated to join the board.

“Verily’s unique capabilities, world-class partnerships and bold vision are enabling the company to tackle the most significant problems impacting global healthcare,” Durban said in the statement.

While more details about what the funds will be used for were scant, the round marks only the second time Verily has ever raised outside funds. The first, almost exactly two years ago, was an $800 million round led by Singaporean investment firm Temasek.

Read more: Alphabet’s life sciences company Verily takes $800 million from Singapore investment company

“We look forward to working with Andy and the entire Verily team in their mission to use cutting-edge science and technology to change the paradigm of care delivery and improve clinical outcomes,” said Durban.


Business Insider Intelligence Exclusive FREE Report: The 5 Ways AI Will Change U.S. Healthcare


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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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