report | Material Matters: the new world of novel substances

— the report —

Dear readers,

Today’s novel materials are crafted in modern labs, with innovations in molecule-level engineering. As our knowledge of nature’s fundamentals grows, and our tools get better — scientists are able to reach deep into the atoms of everyday matter and transform it into something new.

We’re exploring the atomic frontier. Researchers split-up and combine basic molecules to make ever-more complex substances: coatings, fibers, fabrics, plastics, silicon, liquids, gels, crystals, metals, organics, synthetics. They make super-substances and building blocks: with futuristic performance, durability, flexibility, miniaturization, and strength. But along with the benefits, these new materials — that aren’t found in nature — pose risks or challenges to the environment, the economy, and the planet’s ability to sustain its delicate ecology.

Sometimes materials are designed with a goal: fixing a mechanical problem, improving a product, solving a weakness. But sometimes amazing and surprising material capabilities evolve out of exploration research — opening doors to an advanced world of power-over-matter.

Leading think tank Green Alliance follows developments in technology progress, to ensure the best possible future for social and environmental wellness. In this report, they study impacts of breakthrough materials: on economy, on factories, on lifestyle, on nature. Green Alliance is focused on the safe handling of serious substances: their practical use, organized disposal, and beneficial re-use + re-cycling.

We picked this report for readers with an interest in what’s happening at the forefront of materials discovery, with a special focus on manufacturing, products, and our sustainable future. This report may be especially helpful to readers concerned with business processes or studying environmental protection.

managing editor

report title: Getting It Right — from the start
deck: Developing a circular economy for novel materials.

organization: Green Alliance org.
date: February 2017

file: full report
format: Adobe

on the web | pages

Green Alliance | home
Green Alliance | publications
Green Alliance | blog: Inside Track
Green Alliance | YouTube channel

report | introduction

Getting It Right — from the start
Developing a circular economy for novel materials.

A new generation of products from novel materials.

Novel materials go hand-in-hand with improving technologies. For example:

  • carbon fiber enables lighter weight, more fuel efficient vehicles
  • bio-plastics promise to be superior to fossil fuel derived plastics
  • additive manufacturing will be at the heart of the next generation of industry

But these new materials and techniques can make it harder to recover value from products that have been thrown away. Just as we are developing a circular economy, where more and more waste is converted back into useful raw materials, these novel materials risk disrupting the system — and creating a new generation of products destined for landfill.

With strategy and incentives, the ability for novel materials to be re-used and re-cycled can be designed-in at the beginning. The business models that make it possible to recover value from discarded products, can help this process. We examine 3 examples of novel materials and techniques: carbon fiber composites, bio-plastics, and additive manufacturing — and show the challenges and opportunities for a circular economy.

We explore opportunities through a combination of public + private sector action: research and development, funding for scaling-up and the development of new supply chains. We illustrate a good fit between material innovation and the circular economy.

The fabric of civilization is materials science.

Humanity’s success in material science is written into our history. Our early progression, from the Stone Age through the Bronze Age to the Iron Age, demonstrates the relentless development of novel materials: stronger, lighter or more versatile than those that came before. But such has been our success that we are long past an age that could be summed up by a single element. The range of materials used by industry has become ever-more complex — not just in terms of their variety, but also in their scale and how they are used together.

The development of many novel materials has led to improved environmental outcomes, such as lighter materials that enable more fuel efficient transport. But there are downsides too, as increased complexity makes it harder to recover value from products when they are thrown away. Resource recovery systems have evolved to handle materials that have been used at a large scale for years. This has made it possible to keep valuable products or materials out of landfill and process them for re-sale.

But novel materials may have qualities that require new waste management infra-structure:

  • first to identify +separate them
  • then to re-use, re-manufacture, or re-cycle them

Unless they can be dealt with effectively in the waste stream: novel materials will be discarded as residual waste (at best) — or will contaminate existing value recovery systems (at worst). Given the growing concerns about environmental impacts and resource limits, this is environmentally + economically unsustainable.

However, if these factors are considered early enough in the development of a new material, potential problems can be avoided. Ways to capture environmental + economic value for future use can be designed-in from the start. And, by increasing resource productivity, this approach will be important to improving the international competitiveness of manufacturers.

What are novel materials?

The definition of “novel materials” is: materials that are (in some way) new to the industrial system. Recent examples include nano-particles, graphene and the rare earth elements, such as neodymium and dysprosium. While nano-particles and graphene are relatively recent discoveries, the first rare earth elements were identified at the beginning of the 19th century, demonstrating that what matters — in the context of novel materials — isn’t their existence but their entry into the industrial system at commercial scale.

These examples highlight another distinction of novel materials: the elements involved can be familiar, but when arranged in a new way they can have significantly different functionality. For example: graphene is made from carbon, and nano-particles of silver have anti-microbial properties that make them useful for medicine.

One rapidly emerging source of novelty is materials based on combinations of other materials, referred to as composites. Many of these incorporate established materials, for example: paper, plastic, aluminum. But their combination either:

  • enables the same functionality — at lower cost than using them individually
  • or enables a different functionality — that none of them can achieve alone

Thinking ahead for the future.

It’s necessary to think ahead. There’s a clear need for collaboration across the supply chain: manufacturers talking to end-of-life processors, developing markets for recovered products, and consumers engaged in the right collection options. Effective recovery can be designed-in during the planning stage for all novel materials — so that:

  • new technologies produce goods — fit for a circular economy
  • we can prevent new materials burdening a resource supply system — that’s struggling to keep sustainable limits
  • we can provide manufacturers with new sources of materials — from more diverse supply chains

Better resource efficiency + environmental impact.

What is the circular economy? Better systems for resource efficiency and security. The economy is largely linear: we dig things out of the ground, turn them into products that last from between a few minutes to a few years at most — and then we stick them back into the ground as landfill. This waste of resources and money also harms the environment through extraction and disposal.

We can minimize the use of resources, but raw materials are still needed to make products. In this report, we promote the concept of the circular economy to:

  • avoid environmental impact
  • reduce exposure to volatile + rising commodity prices
  • retain valuable materials in the system

The circular economy captures and retains materials in the system, so today’s goods are re-manufactured or re-used to become tomorrow’s goods, rather than sent to landfill. We are looking at how to make it work, to understand how business models can be developed that keep companies profitable, and how policy can help to stimulate the changes needed.

note: full report is available here


about | Green Alliance org.

Green Alliance is a charity and independent think tank focused on achieving ambitious leadership for the environment. Since 1979, we have been growing a network of influential leaders in business, non-government organizations, and politics to:

  • foster new thinking + dialogue on environmental policy
  • increase political activity + support for environmental solutions

Our projects involve in-depth research and advocacy by our experts, often in partnership with other organisations and interests. Our high profile events and specialist seminars provide opportunities for dialogue with key decision makers.

We host the blog Inside Track as a home for debate on environmental policy and politics. As well as providing our own views, this is a popular platform for perspectives from other leading commentators.


— notes —

for reading skills level  |  kids · youth · mature
for background knowledge level  |  basic · middle · high

[ story file ]

story title: report | material matters: the new world of novel substances
deck: Planning for the disruption + benefits of modern materials.
year: 2018
posted: by managing editor
section: the digest

event | World Data Summit

event title: World Data Summit

season: autumn
when: November 15 — 16
year: 2018
where: Barcelona, Spain

on web: event website

Artificial Intelligence (AI), mobile, social and Internet of Things (IoT) are driving data complexity, new forms and sources of data. More and more organisations rely on data analytics when it comes to their growth strategy.

These days almost each company generate large amounts of data, BUT

  • How should it be managed?
  • How to get accurate results and bring value to your business?
  • How to protect your data?
  • How to set up your data architecture?
  • How to predict market demand and use of dynamic analytics?

fashion forward: the world’s first digital super-models + virtual tools

image | above
Portrait of the virtual fashion model + web celebrity Miquela.

photo: Brud co.

— the story —

Some of the most eye-catching and spontaneously interesting fashion models popular today have a secret — they may not be human at all. Advances in computer illustration and photography have made virtual high fashion models a super trend. Can you tell them apart from people?

Avant-garde stylists are exploring this creative intersection of life + art. These digital personalities are rising in the fashion world’s spotlight.

Virtual software from Clo co. makes modeling fabrics and textures fast and efficient, with life-like effects rendering images that are indistinguishable from actual surfaces like garments and skin.

Meanwhile, fashion industry think tank Looklet co. has breakthrough software that helps designers photograph and digital create modular sections of garments, then mix + match them virtually.

on the web | pages

Instagram | Shudu
Instagram | Miquela
Instagram | Perl

Miquela | YouTube channel

video 1. | Virtual super-model Shudu photo shoot
Styling fashion’s first digital muse.

Shudu is the world’s first digital super-model. She may not be able to talk or predict your favorite new product, but don’t under-estimate her power. In this video Shudu’s creator photographer Cameron-James Wilson shows us how he created the first digital super-model.

description: by WWD

video 2. | Miquela + Shudu: the rise of digital fashion models
Trendy virtual brand ambassadors.

There are an increasing number of digital fashion models. Some have millions of Instagram followers — and brands and retailers are starting to show interest. A look at this growing trend.

Miquela — by Brud co.
Shudu — by the Diigitals co.

description: by cNBC

video 3. | Will robots take over Instagram
Millions of followers are fans of virtual characters.

This is Miquela: she’s a 19 year old model and singer. But she’s not real. She’s computer generated, created by mysterious start-up called Brud co. Their team of story-tellers dictate her every move. She has 1.2 million followers and she collaborates with major artists, brands — and is popping up everywhere. She’s released her own songs with auto-tune and lyrics videos.

description: by Colin + Samir

image | above
Portrait of the virtual fashion model Shudu.

photo: by the Diigitals co.

about | Clo
Amazing virtual garment software.

Innovating the way we communicate fashion.

Clo virtual fashion is committed to innovating the way we communicate fashion through our true-to-life 3D garment simulation software. Our virtual garment solutions and services connect all teams involved in the digital product life-cycle, enabling more direct collaboration and reduced lead time — but maintaining the details of garment design. Our garment simulation and visualization tech creates virtual garments — along with a platform of valuable data about garments, designs, and trends.

3D garment visualization + design.

We create cutting-edge 3D garment visualization technologies that cultivate a more creative and sustainable landscape for the fashion and apparel industries — to consistently solve obstacles in your product life-cycle. With over 15 years of extensive research and development, and multiple successful enterprise-wide adoptions, we provide the best-in-class solutions for brands and vendors of all sizes.

Clo brings together expert engineers and fashion-industry veterans to build a user experience that focuses on the most essential element of your process: you. Explore how you can revolutionize your design process.

on the web | pages

Clo | home
Clo | YouTube channel

about | Looklet
A high-tech software + hardware solution for fashion imaging.

Looklet works towards developing the future of fashion production photography. Our technology is new and revolutionary. Our hardware / software re-thinks traditional image production and offers the most modern, scalable, and industrialized workflow for fashion e-commerce players globally.

Our technology helps fashion brands and retailers transform the way they capture and market fashion by presenting a hardware / software solution for the entire photo process — from the actual photo shoot to the point where an image is ready to publish. Looklet, better content for the digital fashion world. We think mathemathically, we imagine the problem and how to automate it.

on the web | pages

Looklet | home
Looklet | video: Look Creator
Looklet | video: re-imagine fashion imagery
Looklet | video: life at our studio
Looklet | YouTube channel

on the web | reading

Vogue | Numerous questions around the rise of CGI models and influencers
deck: The virtual reality model debate.

Vogue | How artificial intelligence will influence the future of fashion
deck: In the post-material world.

the Washington Post  | Soon the most beautiful people in the world may no longer be human
deck: title

Pen | Who is the mysterious Japanese artificial Instagrammer hanging out with French rapper Orelsan?
deck: Perl is a model and virtual influencer.

Cosmopolitan | Those crazy-realistic robot models taking over your Instagram feed — here’s why they look so human
deck: An exclusive glimpse at how digital influencers get made.

Harper’s Bazaar | People can’t tell if this Fenty model is real or fake
deck: Shudu is the science fiction creation of photographer Cameron-James Wilson

Time | list: the 25 most influential people on the internet
deck: no. 22 — Miquela

WWD | Shudu: fashion’s first avatar super-model
deck: She can’t talk or predict your favorite new product, but don’t under-estimate her power.

the Cut  | Body con job
deck: Miquela Sousa has over 1 million followers, but she isn’t real.

Wired | The rise of computer generated celebrities
deck: A new generation is selling out concerts, starring in commercials, and amassing huge followings.


on the web | pages

Allegorithmic | home
Allegorithmic | YouTube channel


* WWD is Women’s Wear Daily magazine
* CGI is computer generated image
* cNBC is the cable television business news channel of the National Broadcasting co.

Miso Robotics: automated chefs in the kitchen

— the story —

Miso Robotics co. creates automated technology that assists + empowers chefs to make food consistently and perfectly — plus at prices everyone can afford. Set of videos below illustrates Flippy’s surprising capabilities, a view of the future in action.

about | Flippy

Flippy is the world’s first autonomous robotic kitchen assistant that can learn from its surroundings and acquire new skills over time. Flippy is portable, collaborative, adaptable + designed for working kitchens. Flippy is designed to operate in an existing commercial kitchen layout and serve along with kitchen staff to safely and efficiently complete cooking tasks.

  • cooks perfectly and consistently every time
  • automatic spatula switching + grill cleaning
  • recognizes + monitors items on the grill
  • safety compliant with OSHA
  • works collaboratively with kitchen staff
  • fully wash-down compatible
  • 150 — 300 hamburger patties per hour, depending on kitchen staff
  • can be used in any commercial kitchen
  • cloud based monitoring + learning
  • reliable food-safe robot
  • 100,000 hour of continuous up-time

safety sensors | Flippy has OSHA compliant laser sensors, so staff collaborate safely.
vision | Flippy has 3D + thermal scanners for eyes.
artificial intelligence | Flippy has cloud connected, artificial intelligence software for a brain called Miso AI.
point-of-sale + kitchen | orders are integrated with point-of-sale and Flippy.
better dining | more customers served faster with consistency and fresher, tasty food.
efficient | less waste from errors.

* OSHA is the Occupational Safety + Health Administration, under the US Department of Labor

image | above
Portrait of chef with Flippy the robotic kitchen assistant flipping burger patties.

photo: Miso Robotics co.

about | Miso AI

Miso AI is a cooking artificial intelligence software that assists with grilling, frying, prepping, plating. The Flippy robotic arm is operated with specially designed software that is smart — and capable of handling orders and movement in real-time.

The Miso AI software combines 3D, thermal and regular vision to automatically detect when raw burger patties are placed on the grill — and monitors each patty in real-time throughout the cooking process. As the patties cook, Miso AI displays the cooking time on a screen that also alerts kitchen staff when to place cheese on top or when to dress a burger.

The Miso AI software also enables Flippy to switch from using a spatula for raw meat and one for cooked meat. In addition, Flippy has the ability to clean spatulas while cooking and to wipe the surface of the grill with a scraper.

kitchen assistant:

  • trained to handle the restaurant’s menu
  • trained to handle today’s commercial kitchens
  • handles robotic motion, safety, and scheduling

food service:

  • sees in 3D, thermal + computer vision
  • recognizes and manages items in real-time
  • manages food service at the point-of-sale


  • learns and upgrades skills
  • monitors live remote food service
  • alerts and reports
  • prevents + responds

video 1. | Miso Robotics
Flippy the kitchen assistant robot: part a

video 2. | Miso Robotics
Flippy the kitchen assistant robot: part b

video 3. | Miso Robotics
The future of food starts here.

video 4. | Miso Robotics
Flippy’s point-of-view.

on the web | pages

Miso Robotics | home
Miso Robotics | press
Miso Robotics | Vimeo channel

on the web | learning

Encyclopedia Britannica | tech • artificial intelligence
Encyclopedia Britannica | tech • computer
Encyclopedia Britannica | tech • computer vision
Encyclopedia Britannica | tech • cloud computing
Encyclopedia Britannica | tech • robot
Encyclopedia Britannica | tech • robotics
Encyclopedia Britannica
| tech • software

Encyclopedia Britannica | tech • computer science: home
Encyclopedia Britannica | tech • computer science: real-time

image | below
Photo of a commercial kitchen layout.

— notes —

* OSHA is the Occupational Safety + Health Administration, under the US Department of Labor

[ story file ]

story title: Miso Robotics: automated chefs in the kitchen
deck: Flippy the intelligent cooking assistant.
year: 2018
posted by: managing editor

section: the digest

the Helm: this fresh concept fund is investing in female innovators

— the story —

Modern investment fostering projects created by women.

The Helm is a new financial investment fund — plus a support community — helping start-ups founded by women. Female entrepreneurs get less help when they reach out to raise money for their projects and companies, compared to start-ups founded by men. Numbers show that women also get less money from small business bank loans, compared to men.

So both in credit and capital, women owned businesses need help. But women are also thriving — today, more female inspired ideas, projects, shops, services, solutions and applications are making waves in the marketplace and in our everyday lives. One reason is: sprouting communities by-and-for women entrepreneurs. Another valuable help is today’s mainstream web. The web connects, unifies, and offers new ways of doing business.

The female founders at the Helm are doing both: financially investing in women’s projects, and using digital tools to nurture a community that supports women’s start-ups — helping bring their dreams to life: with mentorship, counseling, practical know-how and encouragement.

The Helm is getting attention from well known publications and broadcasters, and showcases a new model to level-out the lack of equality for women in society. The group’s investments are smart, organized, and highlight best business practices. They offer a magazine style newsletter called Women at the Helm with advice, inspiration, practical stories, plus a product collection. A novel approach to investment, the Helm is focused on well-being — with financial success + personal success braided as 2 parts of a whole business. The group invests in early stage projects, with a tech focus, and managed by a female CEO.

continue reading below:

  • materials from the Helm
  • numbers on the gender equality gap in business investing
  • resources for start-ups + female entrepreneurs

on the web | pages

the Helm | main
the Helm | newsletter: Women at the Helm

on the web | learning

Wikipedia | entrepreneurship
Wikipedia | start-up company
Wikipedia | business loan
Wikipedia | angel investor
Wikipedia | investment fund
Wikipedia | venture capital
Wikipedia | maker culture

— 1. | the numbers —

institution: University of New Hampshire
center: Center for Venture Research
report: the angel market in year 2017

  • in 2017 — Women owned ventures totaled almost 30 % of all entrepreneurs asking for angel capital investment.
  • in 2017 — And 23.4 % of the women entrepreneurs received an angel investment.

note: the Center for Venture Research is under the College of Business + Economics.

— 2. | the numbers —

government: US Census Bureau
report: women owned businesses

note | According to the most current — and now out-dated — numbers from the US Census Bureau — 35.8 % of US businesses are owned by women. And that number is growing. They need investment and loans to: get started, maintain a healthy business, grow and stabilize.

Many new kinds of businesses are emerging — now that almost every company uses the web for advertising, design, outreach, sales or to support its customers. That means traditional businesses like restaurants, retail stores, personal care products and services all have burgeoning opportunities now that the web is fully mainstream. On every laptop and smart-phone businesses are bustling. New entertainment companies are also evolving — as well as new digital and web-connected products that play a key role in modern services and home goods.

In the enterprise markets, we’ve entered a new age of software-as-a-service and customized business applications — all based on the web. Today women have better access to higher education — for example: web schools, digital learning materials, new communities that support women’s progress — and women are fully participating in the computer era with business ideas of their own.

Easy-to-use web publishing toolkits are now available to everyone — at any skill level. In weeks or months a product, concept, or publication can be designed and posted to the web with print-quality craftsmanship. Turn-around time for reaching customers, and logging sales is fast and efficient. Accounting software for home office makes owning and operating a business streamlined.

This means that modern software plus municipal web access help all businesses prosper, and help new ideas seed + grow. Today’s web is democratic, offering amazing opportunities that — especially women — have not had in the past. It makes sense that our new era will be a time for equality, for women in business to flourish.

on the web | learning

Wikipedia | enterprise software
Wikipedia | software-as-a-service
Wikipedia | mobile app

note: the US Census Bureau is under the US Economics + Statistics Admin. — under the US Dept. of Commerce umbrella.

— 3. | the numbers —

research firm: Pitchbook

Pitchbook | When it comes to closing the gender funding gap — there’s no silver bullet
chart: female founded start-ups raise only a small portion of overall VC investment

Fortune | Female founders got 2 % of venture capital dollars in 2017

  • with chart by Pitchbook: total value of VC deals by gender
  • with chart by Pitchbook: total number of VC deals by gender
  • with chart by Pitchbook: female founded companies as percent of total VC deals / dollars

note: Pitchbook is a financial data + software co. — under Morningstar co.

— 4. | the numbers —

government: US Small Business Admin.
story: US Small Business Administration micro-loan program celebrates 25 years in business

  • small businesses unable to access capital elsewhere, benefit from $50,000 loans at low interest rates
  • small businesses can use the loans to grow their business, create or keep jobs
  • 48 % of businesses getting micro-loans are owned by women
  • 41 % of businesses getting micro-loans are start-ups
  • by comparison — less than 20% of conventional bank loans are made to women

note: the US Small Business Admin. gives support to entrepreneurs + small businesses.

— 5. | the numbers —

government: US Senate Committee on Small Business + Entrepreneurship
report: 21st century barriers to women’s entrepreneurship

The most current — and now out-dated — report from the US Senate said:

  • women entrepreneurs get 4 % of the total dollar value of all small business loans
  • women entrepreneurs get 7 % of venture funds
  • We need updated data to track the persistent lack of equality for women business owners — to fix the gap.

note: the US Senate Committee on Small Business + Entrepreneurship researches + investigates problems.

on the web | resources

ReThink Impact | main

about | ReThink Impact is the largest US impact venture capital firm with a gender lens that invests in female leaders using technology to solve the world’s biggest problems.

ReThink Impact believes that the next generation of extraordinary companies — in health care, environmental sustainability, education, and economic opportunity — will find success through their relentless pursuit of mission, for the benefit of all communities.

Through our extensive network of entrepreneurs, mentors, and decision makers, we’re changing the way people look at social impact. Our diverse community of committed investors from across the country stands with women. We are a conduit for their values and desire for change. Change in how business gets done and how the investing industry works. 100 % of our portfolio of investments: women on the executive team.

Together, we believe the next generation of the world’s best businesses will succeed through their relentless pursuit of positive impact and a commitment to diversity that starts at the top. ReThink Impact is a female focused venture capital firm. We raised $112 million to put towards these ideas. We’re investing to change the game — for people + planet.

description: by ReThink Impact

on the web | resources

US Small Business Admin. | main
US Small Business Admin. | your business guide — plan, launch, manage, grow

on the web | resources

American Express | Where are the resources for women owned businesses?
deck: Women-owned businesses run into a funding + financing gap that can impede their success.
deck: Thankfully, there are quite a few resources available to them.

on the web | reading

Forbes | How new venture capital fund the Helm is supporting female founders
Forbes | How women entrepreneurs are closing the venture capital gap

Fortune | Can experience investing help female entrepreneurs?
Re-Code | A group of women are launching a fund that plans to only invest in other women
Entrepreneur | Why investing in women led start-ups is the right move
CIO | How the Helm is shaking up the VC world

on the web | research

the Boston Consulting Group | report: Why women owned start-ups are a better bet

special section: profile
description: by the Helm

a. | the Helm — INVESTED in WOMEN

The Helm makes it easy to invest in women. We bring you the latest female founded products and companies, tell you why they matter, and connect you with ways to support them directly. And when we say we are invested in women, we mean it. The Helm’s venture fund invests in female founded start-ups, putting capital behind the next generation of leaders in technology and innovation.

The Helm is a community and a venture fund that re-thinks how people invest in female entrepreneurs — a segment of the financial sector that received only 2.5% of all venture capital in 2016 despite consistently outperforming all-male teams. An alternative to philanthropy, the Helm was founded on the idea that additional value can be created for investors — both female and male — by allowing them to see their money drive change first-hand through:

  • bespoke experiences
  • venture education
  • exclusive content
  • behind-the-scenes tours
  • behind-the-scenes series

b. | the Helm — OUR MISSION

We are on a mission to make venture investing truly equitable. And we’re changing the equation on both sides. If you’re a female founder who needs to raise capital, the odds are stacked against you. Of the $58.8 billion dollars invested by US based venture capitalists in 2015 alone, only 7 % of that funding went to female entrepreneurs. And for women of color, that percentage drops to 0.2 %. In 2016, despite the enormous amount of attention on this issue, the amount of capital invested in female founders actually dropped to only 2.5 %.

We’re on a mission to make venture investing truly equitable, tackling the goal from two sides. First, we’re expanding women’s access to capital. Our fund invests in female founded companies with female CEOs. We’re putting resources behind the woman who are the technology + innovation sector, at the helm of companies that will change our culture.

Despite being under-estimated and under-funded, there’s an increasing amount of data that says female founders out-perform their male counterparts consistently. Venture-backed start-ups with female founders have been shown to drive a 35 % higher return-on-investment — and female teams tend to generate 12 % more revenue on average. And this out-performance continues once companies go public.

We’re also up-ending the system by changing who is invited to do the investing. Typically, men with wealth are invited to invest their money and amass more wealth. Women? They’re invited to give away their money philanthropically. Who receives capital and who’s asked to invest it is biased by gender. Philanthropy can’t be the only way we’re investing in equality — and it can’t be the only place where women are invited to write checks.

That’s why we’re re-imagining the experience of investing to create value beyond the term sheet. In addition to investing in female companies: the Helm members get access to exclusive events + content, customized perks, and empowerment through education.

c. | the Helm — text

d. | the Helm — OUR FUND

We believe that innovation is not gender specific, so we do not accept that 97.5 % of the most valuable capital supporting innovation should go to male founders only. It’s imperative that female voices have a role in creating the companies, tech, and systems that will shape our future. This is a problem that needs to be solved. It’s also an opportunity to drive out-sized returns by investing risk-taking capital into the next generation of female innovation.

Our fund invests in early-stage, high-growth technology companies with women at the helm. We invest in 8-12 deals per year, most at the seed stage, and provide strategic support to our founders to help their companies grow. We drive value for our portfolio investments and our member community.

e. | the Helm — WHY VENTURE

We’re focused on venture capital — impact through access to capital — one of the most valuable resource available for entrepreneurs looking to achieve world-changing scale. Venture is the risk-taking financial support that helps new ideas while they become businesses. It’s a fuel for companies looking to grow. And right now, it’s not accessible to women.

Venture investing is one of the most unfair forms of capital. Of the $58.8 billion dollars invested by US based venture capitalists in 2015 alone, only 7 % of that funding went to female entrepreneurs. In 2016, that number dropped to 2.5 %, despite the cultural spotlight on this problem.

Access to venture capital is plagued by an enormous amount of gender discrimination. Investors evaluate men on vision and promise. Women, however, are judged on proven history. We see the enormous challenges female entrepreneurs face when they try to raise capital — especially at the seed stage. Every day we see brilliant, tenacious women creating innovative, necessary companies but struggling to get them funded. It’s not uncommon to take 6 months + 100 meetings to close their seed rounds — or be forced to take alternative forms of funding that lock them out of the networks they need to grow.

So if we want the future to include companies that consider women, are led by women, and create wealth for women, we need to invest in them now. Because we also know that when women do break-through and get access to capital, they out-perform their male peers. This creates a new avenue for impact: investing directly in the female founders who are going to become the leaders in innovation and investment of tomorrow.


Our unique investing philosophy. We believe there’s a huge financial opportunity to invest capital into incredible founders, and provide the structural support they need for their vision. At The Helm, we invest in female innovation. To qualify as a potential investment for The Helm, you must be an early stage, tech enabled company — helmed by a female CEO.

What we look for in potential investments:

problem-driven businesses — Having a large addressable market is important for any venture-scale business, but the companies we get most excited about are the ones that have a unique insight into a pervasive, challenging customer problem. We invest in solutions centered around promoting resource efficiencies, leveraging technology to increase accessibility, creating products for underserved consumers, and enriching ecosystem infrastructures.

experienced founders — At the seed stage especially: the composition, experience, and character of the founding team will carry strong weight in our investment decisions. Founders’ unique vision and professional + personal backgrounds tell us why a founding team is in the best position to solve the problem they’re tackling.

tangible product — We consider ourselves seed investors. To us, that means that we won’t be writing a check into a company before there’s a tangible MVP and feedback from customer testing. Our expectations for traction change depending on the industry — but regardless of sector, we look for data points that indicate a passionate group of early users.

We’re active supporters of and partners to the companies in our portfolio. Community is the primary driver of our platform, and once The Helm is invested, we leverage our network of members, advisors, and mentors to provide ongoing strategic support to our founders as they scale their companies. Our community is a diverse mix of people — enthusiastic about driving access to resources for female founders. Their experiences range across industries: leaders in media and tech, successful founders, artists and activists. Collectively, our community is an influential and sophisticated focus group.

We like to meet with founders as early as possible. We want to get to know you! And give you the opportunity to get to know us. We meet with founders when they’re still in the idea stage, and we’re happy playing the role of sounding board + friend — before we play the role of investor.

[ story file ]

story title: the Helm: this fresh concept fund is investing in female innovators
deck: Modern venture group growing the next generation.
year: 2018
posted by: managing editor

section: digest
theme: innovation + entrepreneurship

future food: growing meat in the laboratory

— the story —

Meat so tasty and authentic — you can’t tell it was lab grown.

Memphis Meats is a food technology research + development company. Their team grows sustainable animal meat in a lab — that tastes as good as farmed meats from livestock. Details below on their meatball and poultry dishes that have gotten the attention of major press and investors looking toward the future of food.

Their lab crafted meat is nutritious, hygienic, plus cruelty free. The company made headlines with its historic taste test videos of the world’s first lab grown, chef prepared: fried chicken meat, duck meat, and beef meatballs. The lab grown meat is biologically exactly the same as the meat that comes from a farm animal.

videos | Memphis Meats
Making lab grown, clean meat from chicken, duck, beef.

The story behind our history-making clean poultry and beef tasting. Featuring the world’s first, chef prepared clean beef meatball dish. Next, a clean chicken — presented as a battered, lightly fried dish. And a quick peek at the first clean beef fajita steak. All the meats produced while preserving the lives of the tissue donor animals.

— video no. 1 —

— video no. 2 —

description: by Memphis Meats co.

on the web | pages

Memphis Meats | home
Memphis Meats | YouTube channel

The founding of Memphis Meats.

The company was founded by 3 research scientists: Uma Valeti MD, Will Clem PhD, and Nicholas Genovese MD.

Valeti is a cardiologist and medical professor. Clem is a specialist in bio-medical engineering with a background in food manufacturing, and tissue engineering. Genovese is a stem cell biologist, who believes the best way to improve our international food system is:

  • innovate clean meat technologies
  • use lab techniques to make the same animal meat we enjoy today
  • but without negative impact on our planet + civilization

Before he co-founded Memphis Meats: Genovese raised poultry on his family’s farm, and says he has a special affection for chickens. He completed his university graduate research in biology — and pioneered a new approach for livestock stem cell cultivation. He championed cultured meat in publications, scientific conferences, and press interviews. For Genovese, the goal is to engineer new, better ways to produce foods — that sustain the health and happiness of humans + animals.

on the web | learning

Wikipedia | biology
Wikipedia | bio-medical engineering
Wikipedia | stem cell

image | below
lab grown meat: fried chicken by Memphis Meats

image | below
lab grown meat: beef meatball by Memphis Meats

Cultured meats from livestock.

Livestock are domestic animals raised on farms to become food: like chickens, sheep, lamb, duck, goats, rabbits, pigs and cattle. Farmed meat is a large and important part of the world economy, and an essential plate in most healthy diets. The modern idea is to craft meat that can pass for the naturally grown meat of animals from farms.

It’s also called clean meat, because it’s safe for people and animals — it doesn’t slaughter the livestock. Lab grown meat could become an abundant opportunity to cure world hunger. Important philanthropists are looking at companies like Memphis Meats, thinking about strategies to bring basic health to developing countries where access to good food is limited.

on the web | learning

Wikipedia | cultured meat
Wikipedia | cellular agriculture
Wikipedia | livestock
Wikipedia | micro-biology culture
Wikipedia | bio-reactor

videos | foods by Memphis Meats

Memphis Meats plans to produce various meat products — using laboratory techniques to make livestock stem cells turn into muscle tissue, and to manufacture the meat products in bio-reactors.

  • video | In 2016 Memphis Meats published a video of a lab crafted meatball, grown from cultured animal cells.
  • video | In 2017 Memphis Meats published a video of cultured chicken meat + duck meat dishes.

videos | all about lab grown meat

  • video | New Harvest — cultured meat: harmless, helpful, bountiful
  • video | Memphis Meats — quick peek at a clean beef fajita
  • video | Memphis Meats — how to make clean meat
  • video | Mosa Meat — how is cultured beef made exactly
  • video | Mosa Meat — why we need to change how we make meat
  • video | Just — clean meat: a vision of the future
  • video | Just — just for all

— steps in the lab grown meat process —

example: hamburger

  1. start — tissue is taken from the muscle of a living cow
  2. note — the procedure doesn’t hurt or harm the animal
  3. next — starter cells are extracted from the tissue *
  4. next — the starter cells, such as stem cells, are grown into muscle fibers in the lab
  5. note — the muscle fibers are grown for 6 weeks under tension, to bulk them up
  6. note — to grow 3D volumes of meat, the cells are grown on a scaffold
  7. next — 20,000 muscle fibers are colored, minced, mixed w. fats
  8. note — it takes about 20,000 small strands of cultured beef: to make 1 hamburger
  9. next — the meat is shaped into burgers
  10. end — the burger patty is ready to be cooked

* science of this technique: to learn more about starter cells, what they are and how they function — and how they’re used to seed the growth of meat tissue fibers — take a look at the Wikipedia primer articles.

The word “culture” is a laboratory term: it means to take a small cell cluster or life-form that can reproduce itself, nurture it in a small glass container with a good growing environment + nutrients, so that it can multiply in the dish — then it can be examined, experimented with, or used.

Entrepreneurs and food industry giants see the future.

Who’s supporting the world future of technologically created meats? Some of the greatest and most well known tech entrepreneurs of this century are making an effort to bring cruelty free, nutritious, lab grown meats to everyday life. In 2017 Memphis Meats raised $17 million, with investments from major food companies + multi-millionaire business celebrities:

investors: business people

investors: corporations

  • Cargill co.— global titan of farming, meat + staple foods
  • Tyson Foods co. — world’s 2nd largest processor + marketer of chicken, beef, pork

investors: firms

Atomico and Draper, Fisher, Jurvertson — both wealthy investment firms that developed many well known start-ups — also believe in Memphis Meats. This level of top support from industry insiders predicts that cultured meats will have a place at our kitchen table soon.

For example, Atomico is distinguished for its team members’ pedigree as successful entrepreneurs. The company focuses on new consumer + enterprise digital technology — with potential to transform markets, and with strong management.

Production cost of the cultured beef was $18,000 per pound. Production cost of the cultured poultry was $9,000 per pound. But Memphis Meats engineered a way to make it cheaper: the company reduced production cost to below $2,400 per pound. They’re planning on deeper cost reductions and making the product available to the public and food industry — by year 2021.

This significant movement toward lab crafted meat could be our first look at daily life in the 2020s. With this science fiction style food just around the corner, mainstream writers and scientists are saying we’re finally on the cusp of understanding mysterious biological abilities: like tissue regeneration, healing, anti-aging, and the development of embryos. Eating synthetically crafted meat is also a step toward better animal welfare around the world, and activists believe that civilization is maturing to take on a more custodial role with our planet and its life.

Atomico | firm news: our investment in Memphis Meats
deck: Using technology to solve one of the world’s greatest problems.

w. descriptions from: Wikipedia
w. descriptions from: Inhabitat

about | Memphis Meats

our mission:

Better Meats, Better World. At Memphis Meats, our mission is to bring delicious and healthy meat to your table by harvesting it from cells instead of animals. You can enjoy the meat you love today and feel good about how it’s made because we strive to make it better for you — and for the world.

1. food from the ground up:

Biological cells are building blocks of all food we consume and at Memphis Meats they are the foundation of our approach to creating lab grown animal meats. We make food by sourcing high quality cells from animals and cultivating them into meat: think of a farm at a tiny scale. We cut some steps from the current process (like raising and processing animals) and bring nutritious, tasty meat to your table.

3. better for you:

By producing meat from the cell level up, we can ensure the highest level of quality at every stage. We aim to keep the benefits of conventional meat while making our products healthier, more nutritious and safer. We want you to enjoy the best of both worlds. It is like having your steak and eating it, too.

4. better for the world:

We’re making meat that is better for animals and that at scale uses significantly less land, water, energy and food inputs. Our process will produce less waste and dramatically fewer greenhouse gas emissions. We believe that the planet will be the ultimate beneficiary of our product..

5. recipes perfected by award winning chefs

Memphis Meats is creating a new kind of farming to transform the way meat is made. We love meat, but we also recognize significant problems with modern animal agriculture:

  • the use of strong chemicals
  • health issues
  • environmental destruction

Our solution is to develop advanced tech to produce real meat without the animals — by farming animal cells instead of animals. Finally, we prepare our cultured meat with recipes perfected over 50 years by award winning chefs. The result is real meat that is better for the body and the planet.

description: by Memphis Meats co.

on the web | resources

the Good Food Institute | main

Mosa Meat co. | main
Mosa Meat co. | YouTube channel

Just co. | main
Just co. | YouTube channel

on the web  | research

Maastricht Univ. | cultured meat
Maastricht Univ. | YouTube channel: cultured beef
Maastricht Univ. | video: tour of Mosa Meat co.

on the web | watch

video | Wired — inside the quest: to make lab grown meat
video | the Economist — meat makers: the artificial beef revolution
video | the Wall Street Journal — clean chicken: never born or slaughtered
video | Reason — lab grown meat is coming to your super-market: ranchers are fighting back

video | ABC — fake meat: the growth in popularity of artificial meat
video | BBC — would you eat lab grown meat

on the web | reading

the Spoon | Food Tech Innovators
deck: Search for meat alternatives to save people and the planet.

Forbes | Tyson invests in lab grown protein start-up Memphis Meats
deck: Joining Bill Gates + Richard Branson.

Futurism | Lab Grown Meat: it’s healthier, it’s cheaper, it’s the future
deck: We’re 5 years away from lab grown meat hitting the shelves.

Diamandis | tech blog: the Tech Future of Food

— notes —

* ABC is the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
* BBC is the British Broadcasting Corp.

[ story file ]

story title: Future Food: growing meat in the laboratory
deck: Memphis Meats is cooking up tomorrow’s dinner.
year: 2018
posted by: managing editor

section: the digest

Plant-e: roots, shoots, leaves — electricity from living plants

— the story —

Plants could soon provide our electricity. In a small way they already are doing that in research labs and greenhouses at project Plant-e — a university and commercially sponsored research group at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

The Plant Microbial Fuel Cell from Plant-e can generate electricity from the natural interaction between plant roots and soil bacteria. It works by taking advantage of the up to 70 percent of organic material produced by a plant’s photo-synthesis process that cannot be used by the plant — and is excreted through the roots.

As natural occurring bacteria around the roots break down this organic residue, electrons are released as a waste product. By placing an electrode close to the bacteria to absorb these electrons, the research team — led by Marjolein Helder PhD — is able to generate electricity.

Helder said: “Solar panels are making more energy per square meter — but we expect to reduce the costs of our system technology in the future. And our system can be used for a variety of applications.”

Plant Microbial Fuel Cells can be used on many scales. An experimental 15 square meter model can produce enough energy to power a computer notebook. Plant-e is working on a system for large scale electricity production in existing green areas like wetlands and rice paddy fields.

Helder said: “Our technology is making electricity — but also could be used as roof insulation or as a water collector. On a bigger scale it’s possible to produce rice and electricity at the same time, and in that way combine food and energy production.”

A first prototype of a green electricity roof has been installed on one building at Wageningen University and researchers are keeping a close eye on what is growing there. The first field pilots will be started in 2014. The technology was patented in 2007.

After 5 years of lab research: Plant-e is now taking the first steps toward commercializing the technology. In the future, bio-electricity from plants could produce as much as 3.2 watts per square meter of plant growth.

w. descriptions from: EuroNews

on the web | essentials

Plant-e | main
Plant-e | brochure
Plant-e | YouTube channel

video | Plant-e
electricity from plants

watch | videos from Plant-e

Plant-e | video: animation
Plant-e | video: the power of plants
Plant-e | video: the next step in development

on the web | research

Wageningen Univ. | main
Wageningen Univ. | research institutes: plant research
Wageningen Univ. | research institutes: centre for development innovation
Wageningen Univ. | story: Dutch Innovation Award for Plant-e

[ story file ]

story title:
year: 2018
posted: by managing editor

section: the digest

subscribe: for our weekly digest

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Nanomaterials that mimic nerve impulses (spikes) discovered

Nanomaterials that mimic nerve impulses (credit: Osaka University)

A combination of nanomaterials that can mimic nerve impulses (“spikes”) in the brain have been discovered by researchers at Kyushu Institute of Technology and Osaka University in Japan.

Current “neuromorphic” (brain-like) chips (such as IBM’s neurosynaptic TrueNorth) and circuits (such as those based on the NVIDIA GPGPU, or general purpose graphical processing unit) are devices based on complex circuits that emulate only one part of the brain’s mechanisms: the learning ability of synapses (which connect neurons together).

(Left) Schematic of the SWNT/POM complex network, showing single-wall nanotubes and polyoxometalate (POM) molecules, with gold contacts. (Right) Conductive atomic force microscope image of a molecular neuromorphic network device. (Inset) Molecular structure of polyoxometalate (POM) molecules. (credit: Hirofumi Tanaka et al./Nature Communications)

The researchers have now developed a way to simulate a large-scale spiking neural network. They created a complex SWNT/POM molecular neuromorphic device consisting of a dense and complex network of spiking molecules. The new nanomaterial comprises polyoxometalate (POM) molecules that are absorbed by single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs).

Unlike ordinary organic molecules, POM consists of metal atoms and oxygen atoms that form a three-dimensional framework that can store charges in a single molecule. The new nanomaterial emits spikes and can transmit them via synapses to and from other neurons.

The researchers also demonstrated that this molecular model could be used as a component of reservoir computing devices, which are anticipated as next-generation neural network devices.

Ref: Nature Communications (open access). Source: Osaka University

How to predict the side effects of millions of drug combinations

An example graph of polypharmacy side effects derived from genomic and patient population data, protein–protein interactions, drug–protein targets, and drug–drug interactions encoded by 964 different polypharmacy side effects. The graph representation is used to develop Decagon. (credit: Marinka Zitnik et al./Bioinformatics)

Millions of people take up to five or more medications a day, but doctors have no idea what side effects might arise from adding another drug.*

Now, Stanford University computer scientists have developed a deep-learning system (a kind of AI modeled after the brain) called Decagon** that could help doctors make better decisions about which drugs to prescribe. It could also help researchers find better combinations of drugs to treat complex diseases.

The problem is that with so many drugs currently on the U.S. pharmaceutical market, “it’s practically impossible to test a new drug in combination with all other drugs, because just for one drug, that would be five thousand new experiments,” said Marinka Zitnik, a postdoctoral fellow in computer science and lead author of a paper presented July 10 at the 2018 meeting of the International Society for Computational Biology.

With some new drug combinations (“polypharmacy”), she said, “truly we don’t know what will happen.”

How proteins interact and how different drugs affect these proteins

So Zitnik and associates created a network describing how the more than 19,000 proteins in our bodies interact with each other and how different drugs affect these proteins. Using more than 4 million known associations between drugs and side effects, the team then designed a method to identify patterns in how side effects arise, based on how drugs target different proteins, and also to infer patterns about drug-interaction side effects.***

Based on that method, the system could predict the consequences of taking two drugs together.

To evaluate the The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Stanford Data Science Initiative, and the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub. system, the group looked to see if its predictions came true. In many cases, they did. For example, there was no indication in the original data that the combination of atorvastatin (marketed under the trade name Lipitor among others), a cholesterol drug, and amlopidine (Norvasc), a blood-pressure medication, could lead to muscle inflammation. Yet Decagon predicted that it would, and it was right.

In the future, the team members hope to extend their results to include more multiple drug interactions. They also hope to create a more user-friendly tool to give doctors guidance on whether it’s a good idea to prescribe a particular drug to a particular patient, and to help researchers developing drug regimens for complex diseases, with fewer side effects.

Ref.: Bioinformatics (open access). Source: Stanford University.

* More than 23 percent of Americans took three or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days, according to a 2017 CDC estimate. Furthermore, 39 percent over age 65 take five or more, a number that’s increased three-fold in the last several decades. There are about 1,000 known side effects and 5,000 drugs on the market, making for nearly 125 billion possible side effects between all possible pairs of drugs. Most of these have never been prescribed together, let alone systematically studied, according to the Stanford researchers.

** In geometry, a decagon is a ten-sided polygon.

*** The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Stanford Data Science Initiative, and the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub.