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Sofi invested in Apex after failing to acquire it

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Lending startup SoFi was in late-stage talks to acquire a fintech backing some of the industry’s top robo advisors in an attempt to grow its digital wealth platform, Business Insider has learned.

The $4 billion San Francisco-based fintech firm held discussions in recent months to buy Apex Clearing, a custody and clearing firm that services fintechs like Betterment and Stash, but deal talks fell through, according to people familiar with the matter. Acquiring Apex would have helped SoFi continue to grow beyond its lending roots to become a personal finance hub for managing people’s money across the board.

SoFi’s wealth management platform would be able to recognize cost savings through buying Apex, according to one source, as it could handle its clearing and custody needs in-house.

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Apex, which already offers clearing and custody services for SoFi, wanted more than $600 million for an acquisition, according to a source. But the two sides couldn’t agree on price and SoFi is now taking a minority stake in the fintech, which is owned by Chicago investment firm Peak6. The investment involves buying out another minority owner, two of the people said.

A representative for SoFi declined to comment, while a representative for Apex could not be reached for comment.

Read more: A fintech firm backing hot robo advisors like Betterment and Stash is planning to launch crypto custody services within the next few months

Apex holds an important position amongst digital wealth management platforms. Fintech startups have limited choices when it comes to custody and clearing. BNY Mellon’s Pershing is one option although it typically works with larger asset managers.

Still, some startups have chosen to bring clearing in-house. In October 2018, Robinhood, which had been a client of Apex, announced it would self-clear and self-custody.

SoFi is primarily known for its student loan refinancing business, but the company has worked in recent years to broaden out its focus by adding on additional banking services, such as home equity, brokerage, checking and savings accounts, and crypto.

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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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