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From ‘micro-factories’ to urban farming: These innovative firms are shaping the future

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The World Economic Forum today unveils its 2019 Technology Pioneers: tech firms from around the world, shaping their industry and their region in new and exciting ways. The 2019 cohort was selected by a committee of 59 leading technology experts, investors and entrepreneurs.

“Our new tech pioneers are at the cutting edge of many industries, using their innovations to address serious issues around the world,” says Fulvia Montresor, Head of Technology Pioneers at the Forum. “This year’s pioneers know that technology is about more than innovation – it is also about application. This is why we believe they’ll shape the future.”

As part of their selection, all Technology Pioneers can participate in a two-year programme with the Forum, when they have the opportunity to collaborate with their emerging tech peers, engage with industry leaders and work with public and private experts around the world. The 2019 cohort is invited to participate at the Forum’s upcoming meeting, the 13th Annual Meeting of the New Champions, Dalian, People’s Republic of China, 1-3 July.

Of the 56 firms selected, 25% of them are female-led and they are drawn from a pool that stretches beyond the traditional tech hubs like Silicon Valley. This year’s group includes, among others: healthcare app DabaDoc from Morocco; Via Verde from Mexico facilitating vertical gardening; manufacturing-focused DataProphet from South Africa; and the first Technology Pioneer from Saudi Arabia, trucking and logistics innovator Homoola.

Countries represented are: China, Finland, Germany, Israel, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Technology Pioneers are at the cutting edge of a wide range of industries that span agtech, smart cities, cleantech, supply chain, manufacturing, cybersecurity, autonomous vehicles, drones and others.

China’s Dorabot uses robots to create seamless delivery and logistics services. Also based in China, Alesca Life creates cloud-connected farms and farm digitization software to improve the efficiency of food production so that hotels, restaurants or even private homes can produce food in automated “cabinet farms” that use up to 25 times less water and land than traditional methods.

Another Technology Pioneer aiming to address food shortages, US-based Inari Agriculture,uses CRISPR gene-editing technology to produce healthier crops that require much less land and have a significantly lower impact on the environment. Using green technology in another way is Mexico’s Via Verde. This pioneercreates, installs and maintains vertical gardens to transform urban infrastructure into green spaces that generate oxygen, improve air quality, reduce urban heat islands and provide other social and psychological benefits to highly populated cities.

Leading the way in autonomous vehicles is the US company Perceptive Automata. They are combining behavioural science, neuroscience and computer vision for autonomous vehicles to understand how pedestrians, bikes and drivers communicate on the road beyond codified traffic laws. At the cutting edge of manufacturing, DataProphet in South Africauses AI to improve quality and yield.

Other Technology Pioneers are leveraging technology to address social issues. One example is Israeli TIPA,a clean-tech innovator addressing the global plastics crisis with compostable plastics packaging. US-established Marinus Analytics addresses human trafficking by leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence to empower law enforcement and government agencies to protect vulnerable communities.

The 2019 cohort of Technology Pioneers:

Africa

  • DataProphet (South Africa) – artificial intelligence for manufacturing

Asia

  • Alesca Life (China) – data-driven, indoor vertical farming and crop management solutions
  • Coeo Labs (India) – meeting clinical needs in critical care
  • Dorabot (China) – artificial intelligence-powered robotic solutions for logistics and beyond
  • Eureka (Singapore) – an artificial intelligence platform for mobile operator and enterprise partnerships
  • Guangzhishu Technology (China) – providing blockchain-based privacy-preserving computation solutions
  • Holmusk (Singapore) – leveraging real-world data to address mental health issues globally
  • Sky Labs (Korea) – developing a cardio tracker to identify arrhythmia, which is difficult to diagnose
  • Tookitaki (Singapore) – artificial intelligence-powered regulatory compliance solutions for financial institutions

Europe

  • Bitfury (the Netherlands) – developing and delivering cutting-edge blockchain hardware and software solutions
  • Black Bear Carbon (the Netherlands) – bringing the circular economy to tires
  • Callsign (UK) – revolutionizing how people digitally identify themselves
  • Garrison (UK) – a unique technology providing secure internet access
  • ICEYE (Finland) – satellite imaging for every square metre on Earth, every hour
  • Luminance Technologies (UK) – an artificial intelligence platform for lawyers
  • Open Mineral (Switzerland) – disrupting how base metal commodities are traded
  • Photanol (the Netherlands) – making biodegradable plastic from CO2, which is only the beginning
  • Volocopter (Germany) – certified multicopter offering urban air mobility services

Latin America

  • Via Verde (Mexico) – creating resilient urban environments using vertical green gardens

MENA

  • DabaDoc (Morocco) – transforming the patient-doctor relationship through networked care
  • Homoola (Saudi Arabia) – bringing rideshare to the trucking industry
  • MeMed Diagnostics (Israel) – translating immune system signals into simple diagnostic insights
  • QED-it (Israel) – enterprise solutions for data privacy using zero-knowledge proofs
  • TIPA (Israel) – developing and producing compostable flexible packaging

North America

  • 7 Cups (USA) – technology to scale compassion, solving mental health challenges
  • Airobotics (USA) – pioneers in autonomous robotics with aerial insights and analytics
  • Airtable (USA) – empowering human creativity by democratizing software creation
  • Arcadia Power (USA) – making clean energy an easy choice, for everyone
  • BigID (USA) – helping organizations know their customers by knowing their data
  • Bright Machines (USA) – bringing intelligence and automation to manufacturing
  • CyberCube (USA) – cyber-risk analytics to grow insurance in a connected world
  • Descartes Labs (USA) – building a cloud-based platform to digitize the physical world
  • Drishti (USA) – extending human potential in increasingly automated factories
  • Full Harvest (USA) – the first B2B marketplace for imperfect and surplus produce
  • GHGSat (Canada) – satellite monitoring of emissions from industrial facilities
  • goTenna (USA) – a leading mobile mesh networking platform
  • ImpactVision (USA) – real-time food quality and safety decisions
  • Inari Agriculture (USA) – from nature’s diversity to better seeds
  • LunaPBC (USA) – people-driven health discovery platform
  • Marinus Analytics (USA) – artificial intelligence-based tools to help the vulnerable in the digital world
  • Microvi (USA) – safe water, sustainable chemicals and a clean environment for all
  • One Concern (USA) – artificial intelligence for natural disaster resilience
  • Onshape (USA) – a cloud design platform that speeds up product development
  • Openwater (USA) – changing the way people read and write their bodies and brains
  • Perceptive Automata (USA) – human intuition for machines
  • Quantela (USA) – providing a digital platform for smarter urban infrastructure decisions
  • Relativity Space (USA) – 3D-printed rockets to build the future of humanity in space
  • Remitly (USA) – digital remittance services helping immigrants send money overseas
  • Rigetti Computing (USA) – on a mission to build the world’s most powerful computers
  • Shape Security (USA) – protecting the Global 2000 from bot attacks
  • Skuchain (USA) – empowering enterprises to grow their global trade with blockchain
  • Spring Health (USA) – a comprehensive mental health solution for employers
  • Starsky Robotics (USA) – bringing driverless trucks to the market
  • Trackonomy (USA) – powering end-to-end visibility and control across global supply chains
  • Truepic (USA) – restoring trust to digital photos and videos
  • Vineti (USA) – creating essential software for personalized therapies

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900 suspects detained with the help of Moscow Metro’s face recognition system

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Photo: Vladimir Gerdo / TASS

Since the beginning of September, about 900 suspects have been detained in Moscow with the help of face recognition, said the Head of Moscow Metro’s Security Service Andrei Kichigin in an interview with Lenta.ru. The arrested people were suspected of committing serious crimes, including those related to drug trafficking, theft, causing grievous bodily harm and other violations.

Mr. Kichigin underlined that the face recognition system does not include any personal data. “The face recognition system does not know neither names nor other personal data. Only wanted people are checked, if they are in the law enforcement services’ database. If a person is not in the base, there is nothing to compare to”– says Andrei Kichigin.

According to Moscow Metro, cameras also help to find lost child renor elderly people. Since September 2020, the facial recognition system has helped find 25 children and minors. Another way to use the technology is to evaluate the work of metro employees and remotely monitor the quality of the cleaning service: for example, the quality of cleaning in cars and at stations. The cameras will also help improve the work of the service for assessing the load of cars.

In general, all our actions are aimed at improving the passenger experience of using transport. This is the main goal of all the changes: the installation of CCTV cameras, face recognition and new digital services. We need to make sure we use efficient tools to ensure a safe and comfortable metro environment, – says Andrei Kichigin.

Finally, Mr. Kichigin noted that face recognition will enable the launch of the FacePay service, which will allow paying for travel by “face” at turnstiles and at cash desks. The system is being tested and will be available to passengers throughout the metro by the end of 2021. Andrey Kichigin notes that a similar identity verification system for purchases using Face ID has long been used by smartphone owners.

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Antivirus and Firewall “Security” Measures are OBSOLETE in 2021 – and it’s getting worse

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“Just Because You’re Paranoid Doesn’t Mean Someone Isn’t Trying to Hack You.”

Last year was “perhaps the most active year in memory” with regard to cyberattacks, according to Sunnyvale, California-based cybersecurity technology company CrowdStrike, a respected firm providing cyberattack response services, threat intelligence, and an annual Global Threat Report (paywall) on the state of web security. The world went through hell with Covid in 2020, but for web miscreants, the year was awesome as they preyed on our misery, pretending to offer information, and impersonating important global pandemic responders such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Malicious actors had a phishing field day in 2020 – which, naturally, works best when there an emotional connection. How many times have we heard of someone losing money to fraud after getting an email from a “friend in distress”?

Of course, it’s a good bet that CloudStrike’s 2022 report will list ’21 as the “most active year” since…well, the year before. Moore’s Law and all the fun math of exponentiality doesn’t only apply to things we enjoy such as Apple’s M1 processor, but also to the malware, cyberattacks, and security breaches that come with technological advances. Nearly every, if not every, electronic device that has an internet connection can be hacked; and can often be hacked when it’s either on or offline.

Many are switching to safe browsers such as Firefox Focus or Qustodio Free. Experts, however, are recommending adding even more layers of protection to your digital life by installing a safe browsing app that works with all the big browsers. Safe browsing apps – many of which are free to download – double-check that the site you’re visiting is legit, vet and scan apps and files in real-time, protect your Wi-Fi network, offer anti-phishing protection, and allow you to build a “blacklist” of sites you want blocked – keeping your kids safe from “adult content.” Using a safe browser app is proactive – stopping things before they happen, not catching them after the fact.

So-called “malicious actors” (simply put: bad guys) have and are stepping up their game. CloudStrike’s report noted that in 2020, there was a significant increase in extortion and blackmail techniques all nicely bundled into ransomware operations. The security firm warns that 2021 will likely see more of what it terms, “big game hunting” – e-criminals going after larger firms as the potential return is larger. Also of interest was a note on malicious actors forming alliances; working in tandem to level up and coordinate their attacks.

However, even if you don’t happen to be the CEO of a large corporation with data that would be worth ransoming, cybersecurity gurus are warning anyone with a computer to start realizing that “the good old days” of flying under the radar with half-baked security measures are gone for good – you might not even be the target but could end up being used by identity thieves to cause serious harm to a friend or acquaintance. You don’t need to be “someone” or even have valuable data to be targeted, and to think otherwise is to fundamentally misunderstand how wild the web of the 2020s has become. Think back to the last time a friend of yours told a tale of their account being hacked. Weren’t you somewhat surprised as they aren’t famous or rich? – When was the last time you gave serious thought to the safety of your personal data? If your company hired a “white hat” to stress test your firm’s web security, how well do you think it would hold up? The question ‘Is this website safe?’ is getting harder to answer.

Too many downplay the risks of a data breach. “Why would anyone want my ‘boring’ info?” people ask. Well, there are serious reasons such as identity theft, fraud, or phishing attempts, but there’s also a lot of money to made in collecting information. Harvesting data is big business. They’ll take info on everything from the language you use, your screen resolution, operating system, time zone, active plugins, browser type…you name it. By breaking down you – and the millions of others like you – into data points that can be categorized, you are now a target for precision missile advertising strikes. Being tracked keystroke by keystroke as you shop, bank, email, and enjoy online entertainment isn’t just creepy; it’s potentially dangerous. Predators prey on the weak. Why allow yourself to be a target?

There are some scary stats out there: 300,000 new pieces of malware are reportedly created every day. Cybercrime is more profitable than the illegal drug trade! Over 60 percent of businesses that get hacked say they aren’t sure they’ll ever fully recover. Anti-virus software or firewalls are as effective as a sieve, etc. It’s human nature to overestimate one’s web knowledge. Sure, you don’t click on links that look fishy and, heck, you might have even ponied up for a VPN (Virtual Private Network). A VPN, however, only conceals your location, data-in-transit, and IP address. VPNs are not the fortresses we think they are, however. Via browser fingerprinting (look that term up if you’ve never heard of it) a leak that shows your online identity is still a possibility. You need multiple layers of protection, and you need them now. To paraphrase a famous quote, “You Might Be Paranoid, but that Doesn’t Mean Someone Isn’t Trying to Hack You.”

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Moscow innovation ecosystem became prize-winner of Quality Innovation Award 2020

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The Moscow Innovation Ecosystem program dedicated to testing innovative solutions became a prize-winner of the international Quality Innovation Award Forum in the Public Sector Innovations category.

The program lets designers test their technologies at the city and business sites. Over 50 draft solutions were tested in the course of the program existence.

The program makes it possible for designers to test their technologies at the city and business sites before being released to the market, and for the authorities and potential contractors — to analyze the effectiveness of those technologies.

‘The project makes it possible to study Russian and international practices in the field of smart cities and state management, analyze impact of different technologies on the quality of life in the city. Piloting of projects helps evaluate the practical use of new solutions for citizens,’ remarked Eduard Lysenko, Minister of the Moscow Government, Head of the Moscow Department of Information Technologies.

Among those tested projects are a self-driving taxi, a hand exoskeleton, a spatial reasoning system for persons with sight disability, VR-technologies in education, an application for museum visitors that allows uploading information about exhibits to a smartphone.

‘The jury of the competition underlined the unique conditions that Moscow created for the authors of high-tech solutions. The prize-winner program gives designers a chance to test the viability of their solutions and get comprehensive feedback from the target audience. Last year, we got over 600 requests from entrepreneurs for testing various products,’ Natalya Sergunina, Deputy Mayor of Moscow said.

The framework of the program lets the dedicated specialists choose the most promising and urgent projects. Once the project is chosen, a testing site shall be determined.

‘Thanks to the Moscow innovation ecosystem, the capital of Russia is one of the most active cities in terms of innovations that undergo testing. Today, over 100 state and business sites participate in the program. Banks, retail chains, communication services providers, production enterprises, medical institutions, high schools, IT corporations and other companies are among them,’ added Alexey Fursin, Head of the Moscow Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovative Development.

While testing, the designers get the expert support, access to the infrastructure in order to test the solution practically with many potential users and recommendations for adapting the product for certain clients.

The Quality Innovation Award has been held since 2007 by Finnish Association for Quality in cooperation with partner companies from Russia, China, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden and other countries. Over 400 innovations were submitted for awarding in 2020, 25 of them were prized.

The Moscow Agency of Innovations is the operator of the pilot innovation testing program. It unites representatives of the authorities and business society with technological companies so that they could jointly create, testing implement innovative solutions.

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