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Max Q: Acronyms rule everything around me

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Hello and welcome back to Max Q. In this issue: NASA sees a future for nuclear energy on the moon Epsilon3 closes funding for space industry OS News from AWS, SpaceX and more Don’t forget to sign up to get the free newsletter version of Max Q delivered to your inbox. NASA taps three companies to design nuclear power plants for the moon In a rather cool bit of news, NASA said that it’s contracting three suppliers for nuclear fission energy system concept designs for use on the lunar surface. Lockheed Martin, Westinghouse and IX (a joint venture from Intuitive Machine and X-Energy) were the three winning bidders. Each will work with partners to develop “initial concepts,” and will receive around $5 million for that work, which is expected to take around 12 months. NASA is aptly partnering with the Department of Energy (DOE) on this project, and the specs include a 40-kilowatt power-generation capability, capable of generating that for at least a decade. That’s about what a full

Incredibuild powers up with $35M to boost its distributed, faster approach to games and software development

Incredibuild , an Israeli startup that has picked up a lot of traction in the worlds of gaming and software development for a platform that drastically speeds up (and reduces the cost of) the shipment of code and related collateral during building and testing — has raised some capital to speed up its own development. The company has picked up $35 million in a Series B round of funding — money that it will be using for product development, as well as to strengthen its ecosystem with more investment into community, developer relations and cloud programs across more markets. This all-equity round is being led by Hiro Capital, with past backer Insight Partners also participating. We understand from sources close to the startup that the money is coming with a doubling of its valuation: when Incredibuild last raised funds — $140 million in March 2021 led by Insight, which took a big stake in the company at the time — it was at a valuation of $300 to $400 million. The company has doubled it

UK’s Magical Mushroom Company uses Mycelium to replace plastic packaging

Global plastic waste has more than doubled , and 40 percent of that waste comes from packaging. Luckily there are no shortage of sustainable packaging startups in Europe. Just take a look: Circleback (Germany), Recup (Germany), Sourceful (UK), one • five (Germany), Shellworks (UK), Woola (Estonia), Papkot (France), Biotic (Israel), FunCell (France) and Traceless (Germany). The latest to join those ranks is Magical Mushroom Company (MMC). It’s now raised a £3m Seed round led by Ecovative Design LLC with participation by Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity – a green energy company in the UK; Robert Del Naja (activist); and Marcus Watson, co-founder of Adoreum Partners, who brought 30 other investors. The investment will be used to fund the opening of its first raw material production plant. MMC’s solution is a direct replacement for plastic-based packaging such as polystyrene and cardboard. It does this by combining agricultural waste with mycelium – the root structure of a mushroom. T

TLcom Capital appoints Eloho Omame as partner to back more pre-seed and female-led startups

Africa-focused venture capital firm TLcom Capital has appointed Eloho Omame as a partner six months after announcing the first close of TIDE Africa Fund II, its $150 million second fund (it expects to reach a second close later this year, according to its partners). appoints TLcom Capital is known for investing from seed to Series B. Some of the deals from its portfolio in this category include uLesson, Ajua, Ilara Health, Kobo360 and Twiga. However, the venture capital firm has been flexible with its deal-making processes, registering a few later stages deals in Andela’s Series C and much earlier stages like Autochek’s  pre-seed deal. Taking a more proactive approach, the firm, which has offices in Lagos, London and Nairobi, intends to place more emphasis on the pre-seed stage and Omame’s appointment is critical to this objective. She is the co-founder and general partner of FirstCheck Africa, an early-stage firm that invests in pre-seed and seed-stage startups with at least one

LG Electronics is moving into the EV charging business

LG Electronics has acquired AppleMango, a South Korean electric vehicle battery charger developer, as the race to produce everything related to EVs ramps up globally. The acquisition, which was made jointly with GS Energy, an EV charging station operator, and GS Neotek, an IT provider, will allow LG to take advantage of future business opportunities, the company said . “The EV charging market is expected to grow rapidly due to the surging demand for more eco-friendly vehicles,” said Paik Ki-mun, senior vice president of LG Electronics in a statement. “Leveraging our know-how and experience in the B2B sector, we will offer customized, integrated vehicle charging solutions for diverse customers, enhancing the competitiveness of our existing and ensuring our readiness for future opportunities.” LG Electronics acquired a 60% stake while GS Energy and GS Neotek took over 34% and 6%, respectively, in AppleMango, which will become a subsidiary of LG Electronics following the deal. The compa

Deliveree is smoothing Southeast Asia’s bumpy logistics landscape

Logistics in much of Southeast Asia is not only complicated, but also expensive. Deliveree wants to solve that problem with a platform that not only lets clients book trucks, but also uses algorithms to determine the best route based on location, trucking loads and even the weather. The company announced today that it has raised a $70 million Series C led by Gobi Partners and SPIL Ventures, with participation from returning investor Inspire Ventures. This brings the company’s total raised so far to $109 million since it was founded in 2015. The high cost of logistics means consumers end up paying higher prices, said founder and CEO Tom Kim. “The way we see the market is that number one, the inefficiency in trucking and cargo shipping has driven up costs materially. Imagine you’re in California, Los Angeles, and buying a pair of Nike shoes. What portion of that sales cost is spent on logistics and transportation and warehousing? The answer is very well-documented. It’s about 8%. If yo

Backstage Capital cuts majority of staff after pausing net new investments

Backstage Capital has downsized its staff from 12 to three people, managing partner and founder Arlan Hamilton said during her “Your First Million” podcast that was published Sunday. The layoff comes nearly three months after Backstage Capital narrowed its investment strategy to only participate in follow-on rounds of existing portfolios. This workforce reduction further underscores that the venture capital firm is struggling to grow, both externally and internally. “It’s not that I feel like there’s any sort of failure on the fund side, on the firm’s side, on Backstage’s side, it’s that this could have been avoided if systems were different if the system we work within were different,” Hamilton said during the podcast. Hamilton did not respond to TechCrunch’s request via email for further comment. Backstage announced in March it was pivoting to fund only existing portfolio companies and would no longer make new investments. At the time, Hamilton said that “there will be peopl

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