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Messages - Asif Iqbal

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31
World Economic Forum’s 'Virtual Davos 2021' kick started with a focus on rebuilding trust. As part of the overarching theme of the Davos agenda, on day 1 the focus is on designing a cohesive sustainable resilient economic system.

Why is this important? On account of the COVID-19 pandemic, the inequities of the world have only widened. In fact, the World Bank estimates that over 420 million additional people will be pushed into poverty. The world’s vaccine rollout as well continues to be patchy through 2021.

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship has put its response to try and see what can be done to use these collaborations to try and mitigate the impact of the pandemic, but importantly chart out an action agenda on what a post pandemic world would look like.

CNBC-TV18’s Shereen Bhan spoke to Cheryl Dorsey, President of Echoing Green; Corinne Bazina, VP of Danone Communities Fund; and Alicia Barcena, Executive Secretary of UN Economic Commission and discussed about the power of social entrepreneurship and what can be done to unleash social entrepreneurship and integrate it with the mainstream.

Ref: https://www.cnbctv18.com/videos/world/davos-2021-experts-discuss-need-for-unlocking-social-entrepreneurship-8105151.htm

32
Industrial Waste / Recovering precious metals from industrial waste
« on: January 27, 2021, 10:16:22 PM »
AN inexpensive, non-toxic method has been developed to recover silver and palladium from industrial waste.

Precious metals such as silver and palladium are used in many industries. For example, silver is used in nanomedicine and electronics, and palladium is important as a catalyst. Demand for these metals is increasing as natural resources are depleted, so recovering them from waste is an ideal solution. Recycling the metals also reduces pollution, as silver and palladium ions are toxic to living organisms.

Extracting precious metals from waste is challenging because base metals are often contained with the waste, which are difficult to separate. Conventional methods include electrolysis, solvent extraction, and membrane filtration. These methods are complex, have low selectivity, are costly, and generate secondary waste.

Researchers in Japan from Kanazawa University, Fukushima University, and Daicel Corporation have developed a new method that uses adsorption to capture the silver and palladium. Adsorption has the advantage of being easy to implement, is low cost, and doesn’t leave any waste residue. Biomass-based adsorbents for the extraction of silver and palladium have previously been developed but these can have a low adsorption capacity. The team used a cellulose adsorbent – dithiocarbamate-modified cellulose (DMC) – to recover the metals.

They used the DMC to adsorb the metal ions. The DMC also partially adsorbed copper and lead base metals, but these could be removed by washing the DMC with nitric acid, leaving only the precious metal ions. The DNC was then incinerated at 500oC and 850oC for silver and palladium respectively to produce elemental metal powder.

"The adsorbent selectively chelated the soft acid silver and palladium cations," said study lead author Foni Biswas, a PhD candidate at Kanazawa University. "Of the 11 competing base metals we tested, only copper and lead cations were also adsorbed, but we removed them with ease."

The powder could then be converted into metal pellets by further heating to 950oC and 1,600oC for silver and palladium respectively. The yield for recovery of both metals as pellets is around 99%, showing that the DMC has a high selectivity for silver and palladium. As well as recovering pure metals, the method also has the advantage that cellulose is being cost-effective and highly combustible. It also doesn’t require toxic eluents or any reductants to retrieve the metals in elemental form.

The process was also tested on real industrial waste. "We removed nearly all of the silver and palladium from real industrial waste samples," said Biswas. "Obtaining pure and elemental metals proceeded as smoothly as in our trial runs."

Ref: https://www.thechemicalengineer.com/news/recovering-precious-metals-from-industrial-waste/

33
Industrial Waste / What Is Industrial Waste?
« on: January 27, 2021, 10:13:12 PM »
Industrial waste is an all-encompassing term used to describe material considered to be no longer of use after a manufacturing process has been completed.

There are many sectors of industrial manufacturing that produce waste, including:

Various types of factories
Mining
Textile mills
Food manufacturing
Consumer goods
Industrial chemicals
Printing and publishing
Below we’ll explore different types of industrial waste, as well as what you should know about properly disposing of it to ensure you meet all federal and state regulations.

 

Types of Industrial Waste
 

Industrial waste can be hazardous or non-hazardous. Both, however, can cause substantial damage to the environment if not properly managed. Below are some common types of industrial waste that can be hazardous to human life and the environment.

 

Solid Waste
what is industrial wasteThough the term “industrial waste” includes several different types, one of the most common is industrial solid waste. Each year, American industries generate and dispose of about 7.6 billion tons of industrial solid waste.

According to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, solid waste can be generated by manufacturing processes such as:

Electric power generation
The use of agricultural chemicals and inorganic chemicals
Iron and steel manufacturing
Water treatment
Plastics and resins manufacturing
Many of the other manufacturing processes outlined above
 

Toxic Waste
Industrial waste can also be toxic or hazardous waste. If not managed properly, this type of industrial waste can cause harm to humans, animals and the environment by contaminating waterways, such as rivers and lakes.

This type of industrial waste is generally a byproduct of other materials generated at factories, hospitals and manufacturing facilities.

It’s important to note that waste laws can vary from state to state. For example, in many states, asbestos is not considered a hazardous waste. However, in California, it is. If the waste weighs more than 50 pounds in total, transportation by a certified hazardous waste disposal company is required.

If your company’s manufacturing process produces and transports less than 50 pounds of asbestos to a disposal facility, you are not required to follow the same procedures as you would if you accumulated more than 50 pounds. These include manifest requirements.

 

Chemical Waste
Chemical waste mostly contains harmful chemicals. This does not mean, however, that it is classified as hazardous.

For it to be considered hazardous, it must have an ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity or toxicity characteristic, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

 

Secondary Waste
The EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management effort also has placed an emphasis on reusing secondary materials that are considered to be non-hazardous, such as scraps and residuals that result from the production process.

Examples of secondary types of waste include:

Coal combustion
Spent foundry sand
Construction materials when infrastructure is demolished
 

How To Dispose Of Industrial Waste
 

what is industrial wasteImproperly handling industrial waste can have harmful consequences to both your company and the community. If not properly disposed of, harmful waste can be released into the air, soil and water.

This carelessness can also pose a threat to your company’s reputation and bottom line, and expose you to costly fines and publicity that your company may struggle to recover from for years to come.

Southern California is home to several facilities where you can drop off your industrial waste. Before you go, however, it’s important to check what materials the facility accepts, since not every facility accepts every type of industrial waste. Very few accept hazardous waste, while others only accept certain kinds of solid waste.

Hazardous waste disposal companies offer a safer and more convenient option, and they can help with the process of disposing of  industrial waste.

Regulations for industrial waste vary. For example, hazardous industrial waste dictates a “cradle to grave” regulation. This means if you generator hazardous waste, you are legally and financially responsible for it from the time it is created to the time it is disposed of, whether it is on your property or not.

This is why many industrial waste generators work with a reputable disposal company to help them manage this process and alleviate any issues that may arise from the transportation and disposal of their waste - especially once it leaves your facility.

If your company produces industrial wastewater, several counties including Los Angeles County require that you obtain an industrial waste disposal permit.

You can read more about the importance of knowing what to look for in a waste disposal company in our article, How Industrial Waste Disposal Is Managed.

 

Final Note
 

Industrial waste is defined as unwanted or residual materials that result from industrial operations. There are several types of industrial waste, and while some is considered non-hazardous, some types are classified as hazardous.

No matter, all types of industrial waste have the potential to be harmful if improperly managed.

That’s why if you generate industrial waste, it is imperative that you understand your responsibility when it comes to management and disposal. A certified waste disposal company can assist you with declassifying your industrial waste through proper sampling so you can ensure you follow proper procedures for handling the waste.

Ref: https://blog.idrenvironmental.com/what-is-industrial-waste

34
Construction Waste / Global construction waste to almost double by 2025
« on: January 27, 2021, 10:04:46 PM »
The volume of construction waste generated worldwide every year will nearly double to 2.2 billion tons by 2025, according to a report by Transparency Market Research.

The study says “reduce, reuse and recycle” policies are necessary to control the amount of construction waste. To date, such policies have been hampered by insufficient resources, lack of standardization, slim profit margins, policy apathy, and lack of education regarding the issues.

Construction waste is already causing safety and environmental concerns around the globe. In December 2015, a pile of construction debris caused a landslide in Shenzhen, China, that killed more than 70 people.

Texas has been burdened by waste created by Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area last year. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has waived some solid waste disposal regulations to hasten the clean-up. In Minnesota, construction debris is affecting groundwater, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is pushing for tougher standards for demolition landfills that have no barrier between waste and groundwater.

Ref: https://www.bdcnetwork.com/global-construction-waste-almost-double-2025

35
Bangladesh-based renewable energy start-up SOLshare has been awarded a $120,000 cash prize along with a $364,000 fund for investment by EIT InnoEnergy, the world's largest sustainable energy engine, to support expansion of SOLshare's pioneering peer-to-peer solar trading platform.

The latest investment takes SOLshare's most recent fundraising efforts to the $1.46 million mark, against a target of $2.75 million, according to a release issued today.

The $120,000 cash prize was awarded to SOLshare as part of EIT InnoEnergy's annual sustainable energy competition, a global call for start-ups that seeks to reward and develop the most innovative ideas in sustainable energy from around the globe.

Among 1,098 applicants from 83 countries, five start-ups -- Graphenix Development Inc, Spottitt Ltd, SOLshare, SABELLA, and Volytica Diagnostics GmbH -- made it to the final round and  pitched to a jury in the opening session of EIT InnoEnergy's inaugural online event TBB.Connect, with the winner, SOLshare, being announced shortly after.

Judges opined that SOLshare's submission stood out because its value proposition has the potential to transform rural power markets with a large market globally. Its solution not only creates a transformative experience for end users but also represents a rather profitable business proposition for SOLShare itself, the jury said, adding that they saw a rather rare match between impact and profitability.

"This investment and award are a milestone moment for SOLshare," said Sebastian Groh, managing director of SOLshare.

"Our technology contributes to several of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, including energy for all, gender equality and climate action and every step towards our funding goal means that we can brighten even more lives," he added.

SOLshare's platform creates solar microgrids allowing household solar panel owners to buy and sell electricity according to their needs, while also providing their neighbours with access to electricity, often for the first time.

SOLshare has ambitious plans to bring its technology to 350,000 householders and small businesses across Bangladesh, India, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific islands over the next five years.

In addition to expanding to new customers, SOLshare also aims to develop the platform for providing additional internet-based services.

In a recent impact assessment, it was calculated that every $972,000 invested in SOLshare generates $4.74 million in social capital.

Congratulating SOLshare on the award, EIT InnoEnergy CEO Diego Pavia said, "SOLshare has the potential to lift thousands of families out of energy poverty in a sustainable way by simply utilising existing infrastructure in a smarter way. Alongside our investment, we are delighted to award SOLshare this cash prize and look forward to working collaboratively to deepen their impact."

SOLshare currently has 34 grids across Bangladesh and India, helping to lift nearly 5,000 people out of energy poverty.

Ref: https://www.thedailystar.net/business/start-ups/news/bangladesh-based-renewable-energy-start-solshare-closes-146m-financing-round-2011337

36
Medical Waste / Can Bangladesh cope with covid-19 medical waste?
« on: January 26, 2021, 10:11:34 PM »
There are now almost three million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, and over 200,000 deaths have been reported. Covid-19 is a dangerously contagious disease that has spread in 207 countries across the world at lightning speed. Social distancing has been the principal prevention for the virus; yet, it has already spread into 57 districts in Bangladesh. Patients are being treated in hospitals designated for Covid-19 treatment, and others are being quarantined at home and in designated centres.

Covid-19 is also producing large quantities of hazardous medical waste, with personal protective equipment (PPE) used in hospitals being the main component. World Health Organization (WHO) standard PPE are one time use—every set of PPE becomes hazardous medical waste after being used for a single time. Besides PPE, there are other types of hazardous waste like facial tissue, gauze pieces, masks, oxygen masks, test tubes of nasopharyngeal swabs, saline bags, disposable syringes, needles etc that are being used to treat patients.

As of April 24, the government has distributed 12,50,000 PPE sets to hospitals. These sets, when used, will produce approximately 18,70,000 kilograms of hazardous medical waste. More use of PPE will produce more medical waste, and health care workers are also using PPE that are not part of government supplies. PPE comprises of cover-all (the gown for covering the body), long foot cover, face mask, a pair of hand gloves, mask, goggles and face shield. All these components are one time use, except the goggles and face shield, which experts opine may be reused following standard disinfecting procedure. However, the other components of PPE have no scope of reuse, and they have to be discarded according to standard protocols to ensure the safety of physicians, nurses and technicians. For example, if a physician has attended Covid-19 patients for a couple of hours and goes off duty, the PPE he is wearing shall be discarded in the "doffing" room under strictly controlled procedure. As he enters the doffing room, disinfection of protective gear is to be done first, followed by removal of protective components in sequential order. Then, all these components are to be stored in sealed boxes or biosafety bags. Putting on PPE components is called "donning". It is done in a separate room following the reverse procedure of doffing.

The issues that we should now be focusing on are in-house storage, transportation and final disposal of hazardous waste generated from Covid-19 treatment. Frankly speaking, visits to health care establishments (HCE) in my former capacity as Chief Waste Management Officer of Dhaka North City Corporation portrayed a grim picture about in-house storage arrangements of hazardous medical waste. It has been confirmed from concerned people that these healthcare establishments are not equipped to manage the highly contagious waste generated from Covid-19 treatment. But whatever the state of the HCE, the waste must be disposed. So where can they do that?

One NGO in Dhaka has stepped up to this job. They collect medical waste from hospitals and clinics in open drums and transport them to disposal sites in covered vans. Medical waste is then treated in a plant in Matuail Landfill in Dhaka South City Corporation. The facility, although not modern, is the only option for the people of Dhaka—located 27 km from Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital in Uttara. However, unsealed collection and transportation of Covid-19 waste over such long distances is certainly dangerous, and medical waste workers are also unwilling to handle this waste. If the workers do not collect, how can the hospitals designated for Covid-19 treatment dispose of their waste? We found that some hospitals that have a backyard are putting their waste into a ditch and burning it. Ideally, medical waste must be burnt under controlled environments at more than 700 degree Celsius, and the flue gas should be released into the environment after filtering harmful particles. But since we have not cared to develop our medical waste management systems up to this point, we have to accept the medical waste management during the pandemic is in emergency mode, and our hospital waste management in the capital is making do with whatever limited resources they have. A better situation cannot be expected in other hospitals down the ladder in the upazilas.

But our problems of waste management are not limited to effective waste disposal only; identifying that waste can be as much of a problem as well. Take the issue of cover-alls. There are a lot of look-alike cover-alls found in medicine stores and shops. These look-alikes are used by people not engaged in treating patients. If they are disposed of in the municipal dustbins or dumped on the road side, surely no one can confirm its source. Besides cover-alls, hand gloves and face masks are also regularly found in the municipal bins that eventually go into the landfill. Uncontrolled disposal of medical waste such as this carries direct health hazards, both to society and those who handle it.

Disposal of patient's personal clothing is also another arena that we need to focus on. Who has the responsibility to dispose this—the hospital, or the patient's family? What protocol will they follow? Policy making authorities need to immediately issue advisory guidelines regarding this in the interest of public health safety.

Most importantly, we must learn from this lesson and make a firm commitment to develop state of the art hazardous medical waste management systems. City corporations and municipalities should lead this hazardous medical waste management system with technical advice from the Directorate General of Health Services. Finally, city corporations and municipalities should develop respective organisational capacity to lead waste management systems effectively and efficiently.

Ref: https://www.thedailystar.net/opinion/news/can-bangladesh-cope-covid-19-medical-waste-1897327

37
Food has been an ever-present touchpoint in the world of startups, and I don’t mean the free catered lunches, or expansive canteens that you get in bigger places, to keep startup workers sustained but also focused on building, without leaving the building.

There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of enterprises spun out of the idea of making it easier and faster (but maybe not cheaper) for you to get the food you want to eat or cook; and there are also hundreds of business ideas hatched out of the idea of using tech to create new kinds of foods ways to eat it, ways to prepare it.

Too Good To Go is a different kind of bird. It’s a food startup that’s actually about trying to find a landing place for food that no one seemingly wanted in the first instance, and the lower toll it takes on your conscience is matched by prices that put less pressure on your wallet.

Mette Lykke, the CEO of the startup, sat down with us at Disrupt this year to talk about the company’s mission, the state of play today, and also about the wider opportunities of building startups around big ideas and social good.

Her track record gives her a great perspective. Before taking the helm at Too Good To Go, she was one of the co-founders of Endomondo, the fitness tracking app, which was eventually acquired by Under Armour, part of a bigger move from the fitness apparel company to fill out a bigger strategy around quantified self, and what you do once you put on your fitness gear.

Exercise, staying healthy, saving money, and eating better are all things that have been on a lot of people’s minds of late. We’re living through a global health pandemic that’s impacted us in a lot of different ways, but for many of us, one of the good things that has come out of it has been a set of  salient takeaways about staying in shape, how best to use the time that we have, eating better and generally looking after ourselves and our planet in a more conscientious way.

One-third of food produced today is either lost or wasted, Mette tells us, providing a ripe opportunity to create a way to tap into some of that waste to reduce its financial and environmental impact, and that is what Too Good To Go has set out to do.

Its business is set up as a two-sided marketplace where food “providers” (eg restaurants and producers) contribute surplus food items that “buyers” (eg, consumers) can then browse, purchase and then pick up at cut-down prices — a service that’s now live in 10 countries, she said.

Yet as you might expect, TGTG has definitely seen a major impact from the pandemic, when the basic business model took a huge hit as people were ordered to stay at home, and many restaurants and others simply shut down because staying open to service just a few customers who were venturing out for take-out food simply didn’t make sense. The company saw a 62% drop in revenue as a result.

Over time, though, it started to come up with ways of working with the suppliers, even providing a way for some of them to connect with customers in cases where they had no other means to do so.

That has included working with more suppliers, whose customers (often restaurants) were disappearing; and providing temporary takeaway services for restaurants that didn’t have these in place already, to help get food to people. It also worked “pro bono”, foregoing its commission, for customers just to help keep them afloat and working with TGTG.

It’s not completely back to business as usual now — it is probably still too early to tell how many enterprises will come out of Covid-19 intact, and in the meantime they may get a lot more nervous about the idea of cannibalising their businesses with cut-price goods.

Still, there is hope. Too Good To Go is finding that there is still definitely an appetite (no pun intended) for buying food at lower prices that serves a good purpose: fighting food waste at a time when many are more concerned about how their basic consumer choices can make a difference for the better, or worse.

While fighting food waste and staying in shape (and getting fighting fit) do not seem to have a huge amount in common — besides, of course, pivoting on the role of eating as something that impacts both — there is actually an interesting thread that connects them: they are both focused on activities that consumers can do to improve and feel better about themselves.

There was a time when these kinds of premises might not have held much sway with financiers as solid business ideas: idealism (if it was ever there to begin with) quickly gives way to the bottom line a lot of the time.  But Mette’s success, as a female entrepreneur in Europe no less, is a sign of how things are evolving.

“There are a lot of things starting to happen,” she said both of social goodstartups and their prospects with VCs, an interesting insight also considering that she herself is an occasional investor as well. “I’d love to see more social good businesses getting to scale [even if] we’re still probably in the early days.”

Ref: https://techcrunch.com/2020/09/15/mette-lykke-on-food-waste-and-building-a-big-startup-on-a-big-idea/

38
AMP Robotics, the recycling robotics technology developer backed by investors including Sequoia Capital and Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, is close to closing on as much as $70 million in new financing, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the company’s plans.

The new financing speaks to AMP Robotics’ continued success in pilot projects and with new partnerships that are exponentially expanding the company’s deployments.

Earlier this month the company announced a new deal that represented its largest purchase order for its trash-sorting and recycling robots.

That order, for 24 machine learning-enabled robotic recycling systems with the waste-handling company Waste Connections, was a showcase for the efficacy of the company’s recycling technology.

That comes on the back of a pilot program earlier in the year with one Toronto apartment complex, where the complex’s tenants were able to opt into a program that would share with the building’s renters recycling habits monitored by AMP Robotics in an effort to improve their recycling behavior.

The potential benefits of AMP Robotic’s machine learning-enabled robots are undeniable. The company’s technology can sort waste streams in ways that traditional systems never could and at a cost that’s far lower than most waste-handling facilities.

As TechCrunch reported earlier, the tech can tell the difference between high-density polyethylene and polyethylene terephthalate, low-density polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene. The robots can also sort for color, clarity, opacity and shapes like lids, tubs, clamshells and cups — the robots can even identify the brands on packaging.

AMP’s robots already have been deployed in North America, Asia and Europe, with recent installations in Spain and across the U.S. in California, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

At the beginning of the year, AMP Robotics worked with its investor, Sidewalk Labs, on a pilot program that provided residents of a single apartment building representing 250 units in Toronto with detailed information about their recycling habits. Sidewalk Labs is transporting the waste to a Canada Fibers material recovery facility where trash is sorted by both Canada Fibers employees and AMP Robotics.

Once the waste is categorized, sorted and recorded, Sidewalk communicates with residents of the building about how they’re doing in their recycling efforts.

It was only last November that the Denver-based AMP Robotics raised a $16 million round from Sequoia Capital and others to finance the early commercialization of its technology.



As TechCrunch reported at the time, recycling businesses used to be able to rely on China to buy up any waste stream (no matter the quality of the material). However, about two years ago, China decided it would no longer serve as the world’s garbage dump and put strict standards in place for the kinds of raw materials it would be willing to receive from other countries.

The result has been higher costs at recycling facilities, which actually are now required to sort their garbage more effectively. At the time, unemployment rates put the squeeze on labor availability at facilities where trash was sorted. Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has put even more pressure on those recycling and waste-handling facilities, despite their identification as “essential workers”.

Given the economic reality, recyclers are turning to AMP’s technology — a combination of computer vision, machine learning and robotic automation to improve efficiencies at their facilities.

And, the power of AMP’s technology to identify waste products in a stream has other benefits, according to chief executive Matanya Horowitz.

“We can identify… whether it’s a Coke or Pepsi can or a Starbucks cup,” Horowitz told TechCrunch last year. “So that people can help design their product for circularity… we’re building out our reporting capabilities and that, to them, is something that is of high interest.”

Ref: https://techcrunch.com/2020/11/23/recycling-robotics-company-amp-robotics-could-raise-up-to-70-million-sources-say/

39
London-based Greyparrot, which uses computer vision AI to scale efficient processing of recycling, has bagged £1.825 million (~$2.2M) in seed funding, topping up the $1.2M in pre-seed funding it had raised previously. The latest round is led by early stage European industrial tech investor Speedinvest, with participation from UK-based early stage b2b investor, Force Over Mass.

The 2019 founded startup — and TechCrunch Disrupt SF battlefield alum — has trained a series of machine learning models to recognize different types of waste, such as glass, paper, cardboard, newspapers, cans and different types of plastics, in order to make sorting recycling more efficient, applying digitization and automation to the waste management industry.

Greyparrot points out that some 60% of the 2BN tonnes of solid waste produced globally each year ends up in open dumps and landfill, causing major environmental impact. While global recycling rates are just 14% — a consequence of inefficient recycling systems, rising labour costs, and strict quality requirements imposed on recycled material. Hence the major opportunity the team has lit on for applying waste recognition software to boost recycling efficiency, reduce impurities and support scalability.

By embedding their hardware agnostic software into industrial recycling processes Greyparrot says it can offer real-time analysis on all waste flows, thereby increasing efficiency while enabling a facility to provide quality guarantee to buyers, mitigating against risk.

Currently less than 1% of waste is monitored and audited, per the startup, given the expensive involved in doing those tasks manually. So this is an application of AI that’s not so much taking over a human job as doing something humans essentially don’t bother with, to the detriment of the environment and its resources.

Greyparrot’s first product is an Automated Waste Monitoring System which is currently deployed on moving conveyor belts in sorting facilities to measure large waste flows — automating the identification of different types of waste, as well as providing composition information and analytics to help facilities increase recycling rates.

It partnered with ACI, the largest recycling system integrator in South Korea, to work on early product-market fit. It says the new funding will be used to further develop its product and scale across global markets. It’s also collaborating with suppliers of next-gen systems such as smart bins and sorting robots to integrate its software.

“One of the key problems we are solving is the lack of data,” said Mikela Druckman, co-founder & CEO of Greyparrot in a statement. “We see increasing demand from consumers, brands, governments and waste managers for better insights to transition to a more circular economy. There is an urgent opportunity to optimise waste management with further digitisation and automation using deep learning.”

“Waste is not only a massive market — it builds up to a global crisis. With an increase in both world population and per capita consumption, waste management is critical to sustaining our way of living. Greyparrot’s solution has proven to bring down recycling costs and help plants recover more waste. Ultimately it unlocks the value of waste and creates a measurable impact for the environment,” added Marie-Hélène Ametsreiter, lead partner at Speedinvest Industry, in another statement.

Greyparrot is sitting pretty in another aspect — aligning with several strategic areas of focus for the European Union, which has made digitization of legacy industries, industrial data sharing, investment in AI, plus a green transition to a circular economy core planks of its policy plan for the next five+ years. Just yesterday the Commission announced a €750BN pan-EU support proposal to feed such transitions as part of a wider coronavirus recovery plan for the trading bloc.

Ref: https://techcrunch.com/2020/05/28/greyparrot-bags-2-2m-seed-to-scale-its-ai-for-waste-management/

40

Image Credits: https://techcrunch.com/ | The four founders of Unfolded.ai. Via Unfolded.ai.

Years ago, Uber had a problem. With millions of users and tens of thousands of drivers scattered across a widening expanse of the globe, the fast-growing mobility startup wanted to display more accurate maps to users about where their ride was coming from and where it was intending to go to reach its destination. The challenge is that geospatial datasets can easily reach into the petabytes, so how do you transmit and visualize such data — particularly on mobile?

“We were tasked with this massive planetary dataset,” Sina Kashuk explained about the purpose of Uber’s data visualization team, and “if money wasn’t an object, how would you architect this so that it would have the best performance?” That was the active problem that confronted a quad of engineers and data scientists tasked with solving the problem. Kashuk, Shan He, Isaac Brodsky and Ib Green collectively spent about 16 years at Uber, and they and their teammates at Uber built up what is today Uber’s extensive geospatial data visualization system. He, Brodsky and Green had joined Uber around 2014 and 2015, while Kashuk joined later in 2017.

Thankfully, the code they developed wasn’t locked inside the Uber app — core elements of their engineering were open-sourced into two libraries: Kepler.gl, a web application that can take geospatial datasets and visualize them, and Deck.gl, which offers an extensible application framework for processing geospatial datasets and preparing them for visualization. According to Kashuk, Green was one of the leaders in the development of Deck.gl, and He developed Kepler.gl a year later using Deck.gl as a base. Both libraries remain in active development on GitHub and through Uber’s Visualization team.

Eventually, the quad realized that they could offer services on top of these libraries to other businesses, given some of the interest they were seeing with the open-source projects. “What we realized is that [these libraries] are all mature and they are ready to go to the market [and] there is opportunity beyond usage at Uber, and we thought that we can take these technologies to the next level,“ Kashuk said. The four departed Uber and eventually came together to create Unfolded.ai in late 2019.

The startup’s main product is called Unfolded Studio, which acts as a backend-as-a-service for applications built on top of Kepler.gl (which is only a frontend library itself) handling components like data management and server communications. In particular, the product is designed to bring different geospatial datasets together and allow them all to interact with each other in one unified view.

The team first funded their operations with some consulting projects, including with Google Earth, but now it has raised a seed round to further expand the team and its ambitions. To date according to Kashuk, Unfolded has raised a bit more than $6 million, with a seed round that closed last week led by Shvet Jain at S28 Capital with participation from other firms including Fontinalis Ventures. Auren Hoffman wrote the first personal check into the company, and the first institutional VC was IA Ventures.

Some of the first customers of the Unfolded platform have been in agtech, including a company called Indigo Agriculture, which focuses on helping farmers grow crops and livestock sustainably. Unfolded sees potential in many markets where location data intersects business, but for now, remains mostly heads down building out its platform and readying itself for more customers.

Ref: https://techcrunch.com/2021/01/26/ex-uber-team-raises-6m-seed-for-geospatial-analytics-platform-unfolded-ai/

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Image Credits: https://techcrunch.com/ | The four founders of Unfolded.ai. Via Unfolded.ai.

Years ago, Uber had a problem. With millions of users and tens of thousands of drivers scattered across a widening expanse of the globe, the fast-growing mobility startup wanted to display more accurate maps to users about where their ride was coming from and where it was intending to go to reach its destination. The challenge is that geospatial datasets can easily reach into the petabytes, so how do you transmit and visualize such data — particularly on mobile?

“We were tasked with this massive planetary dataset,” Sina Kashuk explained about the purpose of Uber’s data visualization team, and “if money wasn’t an object, how would you architect this so that it would have the best performance?” That was the active problem that confronted a quad of engineers and data scientists tasked with solving the problem. Kashuk, Shan He, Isaac Brodsky and Ib Green collectively spent about 16 years at Uber, and they and their teammates at Uber built up what is today Uber’s extensive geospatial data visualization system. He, Brodsky and Green had joined Uber around 2014 and 2015, while Kashuk joined later in 2017.

Thankfully, the code they developed wasn’t locked inside the Uber app — core elements of their engineering were open-sourced into two libraries: Kepler.gl, a web application that can take geospatial datasets and visualize them, and Deck.gl, which offers an extensible application framework for processing geospatial datasets and preparing them for visualization. According to Kashuk, Green was one of the leaders in the development of Deck.gl, and He developed Kepler.gl a year later using Deck.gl as a base. Both libraries remain in active development on GitHub and through Uber’s Visualization team.

Eventually, the quad realized that they could offer services on top of these libraries to other businesses, given some of the interest they were seeing with the open-source projects. “What we realized is that [these libraries] are all mature and they are ready to go to the market [and] there is opportunity beyond usage at Uber, and we thought that we can take these technologies to the next level,“ Kashuk said. The four departed Uber and eventually came together to create Unfolded.ai in late 2019.

The startup’s main product is called Unfolded Studio, which acts as a backend-as-a-service for applications built on top of Kepler.gl (which is only a frontend library itself) handling components like data management and server communications. In particular, the product is designed to bring different geospatial datasets together and allow them all to interact with each other in one unified view.

The team first funded their operations with some consulting projects, including with Google Earth, but now it has raised a seed round to further expand the team and its ambitions. To date according to Kashuk, Unfolded has raised a bit more than $6 million, with a seed round that closed last week led by Shvet Jain at S28 Capital with participation from other firms including Fontinalis Ventures. Auren Hoffman wrote the first personal check into the company, and the first institutional VC was IA Ventures.

Some of the first customers of the Unfolded platform have been in agtech, including a company called Indigo Agriculture, which focuses on helping farmers grow crops and livestock sustainably. Unfolded sees potential in many markets where location data intersects business, but for now, remains mostly heads down building out its platform and readying itself for more customers.

Ref: https://techcrunch.com/2021/01/26/ex-uber-team-raises-6m-seed-for-geospatial-analytics-platform-unfolded-ai/

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Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to award nearly $40 million in grants for biotech developments further bolsters an industry that had a record-setting 2020.

De Blasio’s latest funding pledge for the industry, released at the end of last week, includes $9 million to Columbia University’s Therapeutic Validation Center for early state research, $13 million to help launch the Einstein-Montefiore Biotechnology Accelerated Research Center in Morris Park, $6.5 million to expand the New York Stem Cell Foundation research center in Midtown and $9 million to launch a commercial life sciences incubator at Rockefeller University.

The investments are part of LifeSci NYC, a 10-year, $500 million initiative launched in 2017 to boost jobs in the life sciences, using a mix of tax incentives and public investment in incubators.

Venture-capital investors pumped $27 billion into American biotech startups last year, up from $17 billion in 2019, according to a report from the National Venture Capital Association and Pitchbook. There were 57 initial public offerings in the sector, raising $10 billion for the companies.

New York has long trailed both Silicon Valley and the Boston region in attracting life sciences companies, in part for the city’s lack of lab space and affordable office rents in general.

Ref: https://www.crainsnewyork.com/health-care/citys-40m-biotech-investment-pledge-follows-banner-year-sector

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Environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing is a strategy you can use to invest in companies that strive to make the world a better place. ESG investing relies on independent ratings that help you assess a company’s behavior and policies when it comes to environmental, social and governance issues.

“At its core, ESG investing is about influencing positive changes in society by being a better investor,” says Hank Smith, Head of Investment Strategy at The Haverford Trust Company.

How Does ESG Investing Work?
ESG investing is investing in companies that score highly on environmental and societal responsibility scales as determined by third-party, independent companies and research groups.

“The underlying premise is that there are certain environmental, social and corporate governance factors that actually impact business,” says Smith. “Considering those factors gives investors a more holistic view of companies, which can help mitigate risk and identify opportunities.”

The criteria used to evaluate companies for ESG investing fall into three categories— environmental, social and governance. Here’s a closer look at what each term means:

Environment. What kind of impact does a company have on the environment? This can include a company’s carbon footprint, toxic chemicals involved in its manufacturing processes and sustainability efforts that make up its supply chain.
Social. How does the company improve its social impact, both within the company and in the broader community? Social factors include everything from LGBTQ+ equality, racial diversity in both the executive suite and staff overall, and inclusion programs and hiring practices. It even looks at how a company advocates for social good in the wider world, beyond its limited sphere of business.
Governance. How does the company’s board and management drive positive change? Governance includes everything from issues surrounding executive pay to diversity in leadership as well as how well that leadership responds to and interacts with shareholders.
For many people, ESG investing goes beyond a three-letter acronym to address how a company serves all its stakeholders: workers, communities, customers, shareholders and the environment.

“Identifying the impact, positive or negative, on these five stakeholders is what should become the measuring stick for quality ESG investing,” says Mike Walters, CEO of USA Financial. “This is important for the obvious impactful reasons relating to each stakeholder, but it also can be used to identify the strength and sustainability of the company itself.”

Walters says that companies that put in the work to balance the benefits for each of their five stakeholders simply become well-run companies. And well-run companies become good stocks to own.

How Are ESG Scores Calculated?
ESG research firms produce scores for a wide range of companies, providing a clear and handy metric for comparing different investments.

“ESG scores represent ratings that research firms assign to individual companies,” says Linda Zhang, Senior Advisor at SoFi and CEO of Purview Investments. “The rating firms tend to rely on multiple criteria to evaluate each of the individual E, S and G components.”

Bloomberg, S&P Dow Jones Indices, JUST Capital, MSCI and Refinitiv are a few of the most well-regarded ESG research companies. Scores generally follow a 100-point scale: The higher the score, the better a company performs in fulfilling different ESG criteria. Scores may vary among firms, which may employ different metrics and weighting schemes.

While the specific factors assessed vary by company, ESG rating firms commonly review things like annual reports, corporate sustainability measures, resource/employee/financial management, board structure and compensation and even controversial weapons screenings.

Why Should You Choose ESG Investing?
Ensuring that your investment choices are aligned with your priorities is one reason to pursue ESG investing

“Many clients are very concerned about environmental and social problems, such as climate change leading to more and severe climate crises, gender and racial inequality, data security and privacy,” says Zhang of SoFi and Purview Investments. “They want to make sure that they don’t invest in firms that exacerbate or contribute to these problems and would rather invest in those that are champions in leading ESG movements.”

But aside from helping to fight climate change and social injustice, an ESG investing strategy can offer higher returns as well.

Take JUST Capital’s JUST U.S. Large Cap Diversified Index (JULCD), an index that tracks the performance of large, public companies with high ESG scores. It includes 50% of the large-cap public companies in the Russell 1000 index but excludes companies that lack a demonstrated commitment to things like the well-being of their employees, beneficial products, positive environment performance and strong communities.

If you invested in an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that contained stocks of the same companies in the JULCD index, like the Goldman Sachs JUST U.S. Large Cap Equity ETF (JUST), you’d be putting your money to work in companies with strong ESG scores as well as earning a decent return on your investment.

“There’s a misconception out there that you need to be willing to give up returns in order to invest responsibly but a growing body of research shows that ESG actually helps mitigate risk,” says Smith of The Haverford Trust Company.

It should be noted, though, that while many ESG indexes and index funds have recently outperformed broad indexes, like the Russell 1000 or S&P 500, they’ve done this in part because of the greater percentage of tech companies they contain. It’s important to have a mix of sectors represented in your investments to decrease the risk that poor performance in one tanks your investment dollars, so you may wish to speak with a financial advisor about how you can balance out any risks these funds introduce by overly concentrating in particular sectors.

How Can You Find ESG Funds?
If you’re ready to put your money to work in an ESG strategy, there are multiple ways to identify investments that fit the bill, including do-it-yourself research, robo-advisors and financial advisors.

Do Your Own ESG Research
For investors looking for individual stocks, various outlets publish “best of” lists of the top ESG-rated stocks each year. You can start with these lists to identify potential investments that might align with your goals and then build a diversified portfolio with an asset allocation strategy that fits your investment horizon.

You don’t have to hunt for just individual ESG stocks, though. You can also opt for funds, just as you can with non-ESG investing. This saves you the hassle of picking individual companies by letting a fund manager or index make the choices for you. Research for ESG ETFs and mutual funds may also be a bit easier online.

You can find highly rated ESG-centric ETFs and mutual funds from a variety of brokerages and fund families using screening tools like Morningstar’s and “ESG” as a keyword.

“For more granular info, As You Sow is a great resource that breaks out exposure to companies involved in things like fossil fuels and deforestation in both ESG and non-ESG funds,” says Walters of USA Financial.

Walters says investors should take note of expense ratios for ESG funds. “ESG characteristics are important, but so are more traditional metrics like cost,” he says. “Expense ratios for ESG funds have decreased over the years, but they are still higher than other funds on average.”

This means you may be paying a slight premium to invest in funds that are targeting ESG criteria. You may be OK with paying a small surcharge to invest your values, but it’s important to keep in mind nevertheless. Higher expense ratios that aren’t associated with at least slightly higher performance may reduce your long-term returns.

ESG-Savvy Robo-advisors
For investors who want to blend a DIY approach with some guidance, robo-advisors that offer ESG-conscious portfolios could be a smart place to start.

While guidelines as to what qualifies an investment as ESG may vary between robo-advisors, those known to operate with an eye toward ESG include Betterment, Ellevest, Wealthsimple, Sustainfolio, Earthfolio and OpenInvest.

Fees with a robo-advisor may be higher than a do-it-yourself approach and you may end up in many ETFs you could have invested on your own, but you’ll benefit from expert-level investment research and automated investment management.

ESG Financial Advisors
There are plenty of good reasons to work with a financial advisor, and help with ESG investing strategies is one of them. Another is that financial advisors aim to get a high-level view of your entire financial life, including details that robo-advisors can miss, like personal values that could be used to tailor an ESG strategy to your worldview.

If you already have an advisor, they should be able to guide you toward investment choices with high ESG ratings that are aligned with your investment goals. If you’re searching for a financial advisor, ask candidates what kind ESG options they’ve recommended to their clients in the past.

While the costs are higher than self-directed research or robo-advisors, you’re gaining a full-service relationship and a trusted ally to make investments with a positive impact on the world.

Are There Other Ways to Achieve Socially-Responsible Investing?
While ESG offers one strategy for aligning your investments with your values, it’s not the only approach.

Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)
Socially responsible investing (SRI) is a strategy that also helps investors align their choices with their personal values. SRI presents a framework for investing in companies that agree with your social and environmental values.

Whereas ESG investing takes into account how a company’s practices and policies impact profitability and future returns, SRI is more tightly focused on whether an investment is more precisely in line with an individual investor’s values. ESG factors in corporate performance while SRI solely focuses on the investor’s values.

For example, if health and well-being are key values for you, one possible SRI strategy would be to completely avoid investments in companies that make alcoholic beverages or tobacco products. An ESG strategy might be fine with investing in tobacco or alcohol manufacturers so long as the companies social and management policies met high standards, and their environmental record was strong.

Impact Investing
Impact investing is less focused on returns and more focused on intent. With impact investing, investors make investments in market segments dedicated to solving pressing problems around the globe. These sectors could include those making advancements in green and renewable energy, housing equity, healthcare access and affordability and more.

The Global Impact Investing Network (GINN) has four published guidelines for impact investments:

Intentionality. Investments are made with the intention to affect positive social or environmental change.
Investment with return expectations. Of course, investments should generate a return of capital at a minimum.
Range of return expectations and asset classes. Different investment areas should have aligned expectations about returns. Sometimes these returns are below market rate.
Impact measurement. Investments should have an exceptional level of transparency so investors can assess how their dollars help to achieve meaningful change.
Compared to ESG, impact investing may generate lower returns depending on the sector invested in due to concessions investors make to support earlier-stage ventures in less developed markets. However, for investors with a sincere interest in effecting social equity, impact investing offers a more direct approach to affecting change with highly focused investments.

Conscious Capitalism
Created by Raj Sisodia, a marketing professor, and John Mackey, the co-founder of Whole Foods, conscious capitalism is the belief that companies should act with the utmost ethics while they pursue profits.

The four guiding principles of the movement, as defined by Conscious Capitalism, are:

Higher purpose. Profit for these companies is a reward for a well-built conscious company, not the end-all, be-all. They strive toward a higher purpose and larger impact on the world beyond money and market share.
Stakeholder orientation. A company and its leaders should develop an ecosystem that balances the needs of all stakeholders equally, not overweighting shareholder returns at the expense of other stakeholders.
Conscious leadership. Leaders should work towards developing an inclusive culture and weigh equally the interests of all stakeholders in the business—from employees to shareholders to customers.
Conscious culture. Companies should intentionally create a culture within their businesses that promote their values and purpose.
Conscious capitalism is strikingly similar to ESG—with one notable difference. The principles of conscious capitalism are typically embodied by the leader of a company, which often leads to them running a company with a high ESG score. Thus, when investors practice an ESG-guided investment strategy, they’re likely choosing companies that embody conscious capitalism principles.

Ref: https://www.forbes.com/advisor/investing/esg-investing/

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In 2014, Wendy Diamond founded Women’s Entrepreneurship Day with an inaugural event at the United Nations in NYC while hosting simultaneous events in 144 other nations recognizing the day and mission of creating a movement honoring women entrepreneurs. Women’s Entrepreneurship Day since then, has been celebrated annually on November 19th. But, supporting women entrepreneurs isn't something we should do just one day a year. Here are seven practical ways we can celebrate and support female founders year-round.

  • Promote local women-owned small businesses on social media. Tag them when featuring them on your social media posts, comment on their feeds and tag friends that may be interested in learning more about the business.
  • Give a review for your favorite women-owned businesses. Head over to Google, Yelp, Facebook and leave a positive review on their businesses and share all the reasons why others should support the business as well. Leave detailed reasons why you are leaving five stars. It may just be your review that makes the purchasing decision for others contemplating that business.
  • Mentor a woman that is starting a business or looking to uplevel one. Assist and become the facilitator for other women to launch and succeed in business. Donate a few hours a year to mentor, support and directly help a woman owned business expand and level up their brand and outreach.
  • Host a gathering of women entrepreneurs. Whether you host a small coffee chat on a virtual platform or, safely, a more business-centered luncheon or a casual gathering, seek to bring women together with the intention of connecting, collaborating and supporting each other.
  • Join a women’s entrepreneur organization. Hundreds of networking organizations support women in business and female entrepreneurs. Many are funded exclusively by membership dues, and joining them supports their mission.
  • Start your own business. If you’ve been on the sidelines of launching your own side hustle, this may be the perfect time to get your business off the ground.
  • Make purchases from women-owned businesses: For the holiday season, vow to purchase gifts from female entrepreneurs and women owned small businesses. Choosing your gifts with the intention of helping and supporting women will inspire others to do the same.

Ref: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/359695

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Aurela 18k Jewelry is a Mexican company founded by Alejandra Díaz Infante in 2014. It is a gold-plated and rhodium-plated jewelry brand that markets a variety of products such as earrings, rings, necklaces, bracelets and even piercings. In addition, it offers a business opportunity for women who want to undertake.

The quality of its products is something that characterizes the brand, as the pieces do not stain or fade, nor do they cause allergies or irritate the skin. The material that you use in the gold plating, a hypoallergenic material, is considered an inherently antimicrobial metal, which allows bacteria to not survive in it. Even your parts are guaranteed. All these added values are a plus for your clients.

A replicable business model
Aurela 18k Jewelry not only offers quality in its merchandise, it also developed a replicable and profitable business model. The opportunity is for entrepreneurs who want to have a distribution in their city, that is, an Aurela 18k Jewelry showroom.

It is a physical space to serve the brand's wholesalers, a scheme that has already been proven to work in the cities of León and Irapuato, and in Guadalajara. Thus, entrepreneurs contribute to the growth of the wholesale network.

Aurela 18k Jewelry offers three different business models: gold, platinum and diamond. Each one has its own investment and profit scheme.

"At Aurela 18k Jewelry we give you marketing support, human resources support, digital catalogs, a system for managing your inventories, all the know how to operate and our expertise of more than six years in the jewelry industry", says Alejandra, the creator of the brand.

As for the designs, they remain in trend renewing the models very frequently. "This helps our entrepreneurs always have something new to offer their clients, and that their businesses have good growth."


A flexible business
The current trend marks a new way to generate income in the face of Covid-19, and Aurela 18k Jewelry responds to this by promoting a flexible business model for those women who were unemployed or who had a reduction in their salary. Everything, supported by a strong concept and a quality product.

Concerned about its entrepreneurs, the company independently provides opportunities for economic growth. “Each investor is an entrepreneur and has the freedom to seek how to improve the sales of his business to obtain more profit. It is a fairly flexible model ”, explains the founder.

Currently, Aurela 18k Jewelry has four distributors: two in León, Guanajuato, one in Irapuato, Guanajuato and one more in Guadalajara, Jalisco. In addition, it has a national presence thanks to its network of wholesalers.

“It's not about being included, but about creating your own space and then finding people who want to be part of it,” says Sophia Amoruso, founder of NastyGal. "Anything you can imagine, you can achieve," says Oprah Winfrey.

If you want to join this opportunity, you can contact the company on its website . Alejandra invites you to learn more details: "I will gladly assist you personally to answer all your questions and encourage you to undertake with us.

Ref: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/364101

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