Hiya raises $18M to build business search and spam blocking into native smartphone dialer app

Credit: Geekwire, Taylor Soper

Nearly every major smartphone app built over the last several years has gone through countless improvements and iterations. But the native phone dialer is an exception — and now a Seattle startup is looking to change that.

Hiya today announced its first outside investment with an $18 million round led by top European firm Balderton Capital; Nautilus Venture Partners and Lumia Capital also participated. Balderton partner Lars Fjeldsoe-Nielsen, an early executive at Uber and Dropbox, will join Hiya’s board.


Portland, OR startup, Torch 3D, raises $3.5M

Credit: Geekwire, Taylor Soper

Designing 3D concepts for virtual and augmented reality apps and programs can be a time-consuming process. Now two former Magic Leap engineers have come up with a way to help.

Paul Reynolds. Photo via Torch 3D.

Portland-based Torch 3D today announced a $3.5 million seed round led by The Venture Reality Fund and Silicon Valley Data Capital. Additional investors include Seven Peaks Ventures, GVR Fund, Presence Capital, Antipodean Ventures, Jerome Capital, and TWB Investment Partnership.

Torch 3D builds software that helps users design 3D prototypes in virtual and augmented reality. It also provides a way to manage assets and facilitate feedback amongst team members. Files can be accessed on any platform or device in real time.

The idea is to make 3D prototyping fast and simple, even for those who aren’t technically advanced with VR and AR software development.


Microsoft Ventures launches global AI startup competition with top VC firms

Credit: Geekwire, Taylor Soper

In the latest sign of Microsoft’s continued investment in artificial intelligence, Microsoft Ventures announced today that it is teaming up with three venture capital firms from Seattle, London, and Israel to host a global competition for startups building AI-related technology.

Called Innovate.AI, the new competition invites companies to compete for $1 million in venture funding and $500,000 in Microsoft Azure credits that will go to each regional winner from North America, Europe, and Israel. A fourth “AI for Good” prize that includes $500,000 in funding and $500,000 in Azure credits will go to another startup.



Cascade Angels invests in call-center software

Credit: Bend Bulletin, Bulletin Staff Report

Cascade Angels announced Thursday an investment in call-center analytics software Topbox.

The sum of the investment, made by Cascade Angels Fund 2017 LLC, was not disclosed, but the Bend-based fund typically invests $100,000 to $250,000 per company.

Topbox, which has an office in Portland, says its software “reveals the source of friction points” in customer and buyer experiences.

Cascade Angels has invested in three other firms this year and will likely invest in one or two more before the end of 2017, spokeswoman Natalie Dent said. The Bend-based angel fund has invested a total of $2.5 million in 17 companies since 2014.

What would it take for Tacoma to become a hub for high-paying tech jobs?

Credit: Tacoma News Tribune, Kate Martin

Amazon has raised the hopes of just about every city in the country, including Tacoma, when it said it’s looking for a suitable site for a second headquarters.

Don’t break out the champagne and balloons, Tacoma.

Tacoma likely won’t land the $5 billion building, and attracting even small tech firms can be a long shot.

The City of Destiny has things going for it — reasonable home prices and a well-educated workforce.


Vancouver, BC startup, UrbanLogiq takes home $10k city innovation prize from BCIC New Ventures competition.

Credit: Vancouver Economic Development Commission and Leah Hanvey, UrbanLogiq

VANCOUVER, BC – New Ventures BC last night awarded Vancouver-based UrbanLogiq with the $10,000 City Innovation Prize sponsored by the Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC) as part of the BCIC-New Ventures Competition. Our company uses the power of city data, which is usually sitting untapped within bureaucratized silos, to make urban planning faster, cheaper, and more efficient. We do this by aggregating government data from across departments, adding external information sources, and applying machine learning analytics to automate city workflows and provide actionable urban intelligence.

For young companies like UrbanLogiq, which is barely one year old, market, product and vision validation from a highly-reputable third-party is welcome. This is especially true for entrepreneurs who venture into the challenging government technology space. The fact that the VEC has both a reward and a program dedicated to supporting this burgeoning sector is demonstrative to us, as it should to other aspiring entrepreneurs, that government is willing and waiting to adopt innovation. You just need the right support, foresight, and encouragement from your community.

That is why we are so humble and grateful for this award from the VEC. Since we moved our headquarters to our office space in Gastown, after first opening our doors in Surrey, BC, in 2016, and then graduating from 500 Startups in San Francisco earlier this year, we have been surrounded by such a welcoming Vancouver startup community. It has been an experience unlike any other. As we continue to live through the amazing journey of growing a startup firsthand, we know for a fact that Vancouver is a deserving and competitive member of the global upper echelon of startup communities.

The City Innovation Prize recognizes the top-performing venture with a primary market or potential primary market of city departments and/or agencies. UrbanLogiq wants to thank New Ventures BC and the Vancouver Economic Commission for the recognition and award.


Arm accelerates investments in AI, IoT and Cloud with new Seattle office

Credit: ARM Community Blog

Driven by 17+ billion Arm-based processors sold last year and an updated brand, Arm sees Seattle region as key to future of AI.

Arm is pleased to announce the opening of our Seattle office. Recently, we celebrated the one-year mark since Arm officially became part of the Softbank Group. Since then, we’ve delivered new products with an ever-expanding list of partners who, cumulatively, have now shipped more than 100 billion Arm-powered chips. Not to mention, more than 1,000 people have joined Arm and we’re continuing to build the team across the globe.

Just this spring, we announced DynamIQ and the Arm Compute Library which has already opened new doors for the potential of AI applications to be developed on Arm technology. Part of Arm’s great success is due to our focus on side by side collaboration with our customers and partners to drive innovative next generation experiences, which is why we’re pleased to announce the expansion of our presence in the Pacific Northwest with a new office in Bellevue.


Johnson & Johnson acquires Portland startup, Sightbox

Credit: Geekwire, Taylor Soper

Only two months after raising a $2.4 million funding round, Sightbox has been acquired.

The Portland-based startup just sold to healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson and its Vision Care operating company. Terms of the deal were not disclosed; Sightbox will continue operating as a separate business.

Founded in 2015 by CEO Travis Rush, Sightbox sells contact lenses with a membership model that charges users $39 each month for an annual eye appointment and contact lens fitting, along with a 12-month supply of contact lenses of their choice. The monthly membership fee is the same price regardless of what kind of contacts a member orders, or where they get their eye exam. The company also books appointments and fills prescriptions for members.



Microsoft backs Seattle-Vancouver high-speed rail study as Cascadia conference aims to deepen ties between regions

Credit: Geekwire, Nat Levy

Pacific Northwest business and political leaders on both sides of the Canadian border announced today a series of agreements to strengthen relationships between Seattle, Portland, Vancouver B.C. and the surrounding areas.

The new partnerships, made ahead of the second Cascadia Innovation Corridor conference in Seattle this week, focus on technology, economic development, education and transportation. Government officials, universities, companies and research institutions are participating in the effort, which is meant to bring together the regions that have a lot in common but are separated by an international border.

Here is a look at some of the new agreements announced ahead of the conference this week:

  • One of the most intriguing ideas that came out of last year’s conference was a vision to build high-speed trains that would travel between Seattle and Vancouver in less than an hour. That idea is still alive and well. Microsoft kicked in $50,000 to supplement the state of Washington’s $300,000 budget to study the plan.
  • The Global Innovation Exchange, a partnership between the University of Washington Tsinghua University in China, has added a third university to its program: University of British Columbia. The graduate technology school is housed in Bellevue, Wash. and will welcome its first class this fall. Microsoft chipped in $40 million for the school, which will be taught by teachers from UW, Tsinghua and now UBC. Students have the opportunity to spend time at each campus.
  • One of the most complicated parts of building a multi-national innovation partnership is financing. The Seattle-Vancouver Financial Innovation Network, with support from Microsoft and Madrona Venture Group, was formed to overcome those issues. The aim is to bring together investors, tech companies and regulators to establish an “international financial center” that makes it easier for investors on both sides of the border to pour money into tech companies.
  • Lake Washington Institute of Technology, British Columbia Institute of Technology and Oregon Institute of Technology will come together to build common curriculums and expand professional opportunities for students in the STEM fields throughout the corridor.
  • A new startup accelerator program covering Washington, Oregon and British Columbia will include business incubators, accelerators and universities initially with the possibility of adding venture capital firms and other innovation partners.

The inaugural Cascadia conference last year in Vancouver looked at how Seattle and Vancouver could work together to become an innovation hub through sessions on government leadership, education, transportation and investment. This year the scope is broader, including Oregon and representatives of other Northwest institutions. Microsoft has been a driving force in the cooperation between the regions, as well as the Cascadia conference, after opening a big development officein Vancouver last year.


Beaverton, Oregon incubator has far reach

Credit: Pamplin Media Group, Beaverton Valley Times, Mandy Feder-Sawyer

Interest about a Beaverton program was recently noted by a group from the Middle-East that would like to use the program as a model.

The Oregon Technology Business Center Virtual Incubation Program, supported by the city of Beaverton, welcomed a delegation from Saudi Arabia from Aug. 21 to 25. The delegation from the Islamic University in Madinah Saudi Arabia was at the Beaverton-based facility for business incubator training.