Tesla moves, virtual reality and a wave of new investment

3 May 2017

Image: Mnimage/Shutterstock

Tesla’s latest move into recycling, mid-air haptic tech and mobile gaming saw significant funding into various start-ups this week.

What will Tesla do next? That’s a question many people are asking as the tipping point of electric cars from niche to mainstream edges nearer.

If reports in the US are to be believed, recycling high-end pieces of technology could be the company’s follow-up album.

Early entry

TechCrunch reports that a $2m investment in a “months-old” start-up called Redwood Materials has Tesla fingerprints all over it.

Based in California, the company’s executive officers include Tesla co-founder and CTO, JB Straubel, as well as Tesla head of special projects, Andrew Stevenson.

Redwood is working on “advanced technology and process development for materials recycling, remanufacturing, and reuse”.

Platform fighter

Staying in California, Wavedash Games raised $6m in series A funding this week, with March Capital Partners, Lowercase Capital, Advancit Capital, CourtsideVC, Machine Shop Ventures, Luma Labs and Cherrytree VC all involved.

The company is developing a ‘platform fighter’ game, where the idea is (naturally) to knock someone off a platform to win a fight.

“The platform fighter community is one of the most vibrant in gaming,” said Matt Fairchild, Wavedash’s CEO and co-founder.

“But it has yet to reach its full potential. We’re following the trail blazed by Riot Games and Valve by bringing community passion together with world-class developer talent.”

Haptic happenings

In the UK, Ultrahaptics, the company developing mid-air haptics technology, raised £17.9m ($23m) in a series B round.

Cornes and Dolby Family Ventures are new investors in the company, joining the likes of IP Group plc and Woodford Investment Management.

Ultrahaptics said it is working on allowing users to “touch virtual objects in mid-air”, one of the many aspects of developing virtual reality into a truly commercial field.

“We have supported Ultrahaptics from the very beginning and have been impressed with its substantial growth and ambition,” said Mark Reilly, head of technology at IP Group.

“I am particularly excited about the prospect of the company bringing its technology to virtual reality, where it has the potential to be truly disruptive, and where the market pull has been significant.”

Keep on trucking

In India, trucking logistics start-up Fortigo raised $10m in a series A round, with existing investors Accel Partners and Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani involved.

The company has plans to up its trucking numbers to 50,000 next year (it currently has 6,500), but it’s the technology it’s working on that most appeals to investors.

“We expect the Fortigo network to play a significant role in transforming the unorganised and fragmented transport industry,” said Subrata Mitra, partner at Accel Partners India.

“As India’s only freight exchange enabled with transactions, Fortigo also provides unique value-adds, including electronic payments at primary as well as secondary levels.”

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic