Tag Archives: funding

Investments in data storage vendors topped $2B in 2019

Data storage vendors received $2.1 billion in private funding in 2019, according to SearchStorage.com analysis of data from websites that track venture funding. Not surprisingly, startups in cloud backup, data management and ultrafast scale-out flash continue to attract the greater interest from private investors.

Six private data storage vendors closed funding rounds over more than $100 million in 2019, all in the backup/cloud sector. It’s a stretch to call most of these startups — all but one of the companies have been selling products for years.

A few vendors with disruptive storage hardware also got decent chunks of money to build out arrays and storage systems, although these rounds were much smaller than the data protection vendors received.

According to a recent report by PwC/ CB Insights MoneyTree, 213 U.S.-based companies closed funding rounds of at least $100 million last year. The report pegged overall funding for U.S. companies at nearly $108 billion, down 9% year on year but well above the $79 billion total from 2017.

Despite talk of a slowing global economy, data growth is expected to accelerate for years to come. And as companies mine new intelligence from older data, data centers need more storage and better management than ever. The funding is flowing more to vendors that manage that data than to systems that store it.

“Investors don’t lead innovation; they follow innovation. They see a hot area that looks like it’s taking off, and that’s when they pour money into it,” said Marc Staimer, president of Dragon Slayer Consulting in Beaverton, Ore.

Here is a glance at the largest funding rounds by storage companies in 2019, starting with software vendors:

Kaseya Limited, $500 million: Investment firm TPG will help Kaseya further diversify the IT services it can offer to manage cloud providers. Kaseya has expanded into backup in recent years, adding web-monitoring software ID Agent last year. That deal followed earlier pickups of Cloud Spanning Apps and Unitrends.

Veeam Software, $500 million: Veeam pioneered backup of virtual machines and serves many Fortune 500 companies. Insight Partners invested half of a billion dollars in Veeam in January 2019, and followed up by buying Veeam outright in January 2020 for a $5 billion valuation. That may lead to an IPO. Veeam headquarters are shifting to the U.S. from Switzerland, and Insight plans to focus on landing more U.S. customers.

Rubrik, $261 million: The converged storage vendor has amassed $553 million since launching in 2014. The latest round of Bain Capital investment reportedly pushed Rubrik’s valuation north of $3 billion. Flush with investment, Rubrik said it’s not for sale — but is shopping to acquire hot technologies, including AI, data analytics and machine learning.

Clumio, $175 million: Sutter Hill Ventures provided $40 million in April, on top of an $11 million 2017 round. It then came back for another $135 million bite in November, joined by Altimeter Capital. Clumio is using the money to add cybersecurity to its backup as a service in Amazon Web Services.

Acronis, $147 million: Acronis was founded in 2003, so it’s halfway into its second decade. But the veteran data storage vendor has a new focus of backup blended with cybersecurity and privacy, similar to Clumio. The Goldman Sachs-led funding helped Acronis acquire 5nine to manage data across hybrid Microsoft clouds.

Druva, $130 million: Viking Global Investors led a six-participant round that brought Druva money to expand its AWS-native backup and disaster recovery beyond North America to international markets. Druva since has added low-cost tiering to Amazon Glacier, and CEO Jaspreet Singh has hinted Druva may pursue an IPO.

Notable 2019 storage funding rounds

Data storage startups in hardware

Innovations in storage hardware underscore the ascendance of flash in enterprise data centers. Although fewer in number, the following storage startups are advancing fabrics-connected devices for high-performance workloads.

Over time, these data storage startups may mature to be able to deliver hardware that blends low latency, high IOPS and manageable cost, emerging as competitors to leading array vendors. For now, these products will have limited market to companies that needs petabytes (PB) (or more) of storage, but the technologies bear watching due to their speed, density and performance potential.

Lightbits Labs, $50 million: The Israel-based startup created the SuperSSD array for NVMe flash. The Lightbits software stack converts generic in-the-box TCP/IP into a switched Ethernet fabric, presenting all storage as a single giant SSD. SuperSSD starts at 64 PB before data reduction. Dell EMC led Lightbits’ funding, with contributions from Cisco and Micron Technology.

Vast Data, $40 million: Vast’s Universal Storage platform is not for everyone. Minimum configuration starts at 1 PB. Storage class memory and low-cost NAND are combined for unified block, file and object storage. Norwest Venture Partners led the round, with participation from Dell Technologies Capital and Goldman Sachs.

Honorable mentions in hardware include Pavilion Data Systems and Liqid. Pavilion is one of the last remaining NVMe all-flash startups, picking up $25 million in a round led by Taiwania Capital and RPS Ventures to flesh out its Hyperparallel Flash Array.

Liqid is trying to break into composable infrastructure, a term coined by Hewlett Packard Enterprise to signify the ability for data centers to temporarily lease capacity and hardware by the rack. Panorama Point Partners provided $28 million to help the startup flesh out its Liqid CI software platform.

Go to Original Article
Author:

Startup Sisu’s data analytics tool aims to answer, ‘Why?’

Armed with $66.7 million in venture capital funding, startup vendor Sisu recently emerged from stealth and introduced the Sisu data analytics platform.

Sisu, founded in 2018 by Stanford professor Peter Bailis and based in San Francisco, revealed on Oct. 16 that it secured $52.5 million in Series B funding, led by New Enterprise Associates, a venture capital firm with more than $20 billion in assets under management. Previously, Sisu secured $14.2 million in funding, led by Andreessen Horowitz, which also participated in the Series B round.

On the same date it revealed the new infusion of capital, the startup rolled out the Sisu data analytics tool for general use, with electronics and IT giant Samsung already listed as one of its customers.

Essentially an automated system for monitoring changes in data sets, Sisu enters a competitive market featuring not only proven vendors but also recent startups such as ThoughtSpot and Looker, which have been able to differentiate themselves enough from other BI vendors to gain a foothold and survive — Looker agreed to be acquired by Google for $2.7 billion in June while ThoughtSpot remains independent.

“Startups have to stand out,” said Doug Henschen, an analyst at Constellation Research. “They can’t present me-too versions of capabilities that are already out there. They can’t be too broad and they also can’t expect companies to risk ripping out and replacing existing systems of mission-critical importance. The sweet spot is focused solutions that complement or extend existing capabilities or that take on new or emerging use cases or challenges.”

The Sisu data analytics platform is just that — highly focused — and not attempting to do anything other than track data.

A sample Sisu dashboard displays an organization's customer conversion rate data.
An organization’s customer conversion rate data is displayed on a Sisu dashboard.

It relies on machine learning and statistical analysis to monitor, recognize and explain changes to a given organization’s key performance indicators.

And it’s in that final stage — the explanation — where Sisu wants to differentiate from existing diagnostic tools. Others, according to Bailis, monitor data sets and are automated to send push notifications when changes happen, but don’t necessarily explain why those changes occurred.

Startups have to stand out. They can’t present me-too versions of capabilities that are already out there.
Doug HenschenAnalyst, Constellation Research

“We’re designed to answer one key question, and be the best at it,” said Bailis, who is on leave from Stanford. “We want to be faster, and we want to be better. There’s intense pressure to build everything into a platform, but I’m a firm believer that doing any one thing well is a company in itself. I’d rather be great at diagnosing than do a bunch of things just OK.”

The speed Bailis referred to comes from the architecture of the Sisu data analytics tool. Sisu is cloud native, which gives it more computing power than an on-premises platform, and its algorithms are built on augmented intelligence.

That speed is indeed a meaningful differentiator, according to Henschen.

“The sweet spot for Sisu is quickly diagnosing what’s changing in critical areas of a business and why,” he said. “It’s appealing to high-level business execs, not the analyst class or IT. The tech is compatible with, and doesn’t try to replace, existing investments in data visualization capabilities.”

Moving forward, Bailis said the Sisu data analytics platform will stay focused on data workflows, but that there’s room to grow even within that focused space.

“Long term, there is a really interesting opportunity for additional workflow operations,” he said. “There’s value because it leads to actions, and we want to own more and more of the action space. You can take action directly from the platform.”

Meanwhile, though survival is a challenge for any startup and many begin with the end goal of being acquired, Bailis said Sisu plans to take on the challenge of independence and compete against established vendors for market share. The recent funding, he said, will enable Sisu to continue to grow its capabilities to take advantage of what he sees as “an insane opportunity.”

Henschen, meanwhile, cautioned that unless Sisu does in fact grow its capabilities, it likely will be more of an acquisition target than a vendor with the potential for long-term survival.

“Sometimes startups come up with innovative technology, but [Sisu] strikes me as an IP [intellectual property] for a feature or set of features likely to be acquired by a larger, broader vendor,” he said. “That might be a good path for Sisu, but it’s early days for the company. I think it would have to evolve and develop broader capabilities in order to go [public] and continue as an independent company.”

Sisu is a Finnish word that translates loosely to tenacity or resilience, and is used by Finns to express their national character.

Go to Original Article
Author:

Clumio extends support to AWS EBS with $135M funding bump

Clumio plans to use its $135M Series C funding to expand its data protection scope.

The backup-as-a-service startup came out of stealth in August with protection for VMware on premises, VMware Cloud on AWS and native AWS services. Clumio this week disclosed its latest funding round. Clumio’s Series A and B rounds raised $11M and $40M, respectively, so the latest $135M injection marks a substantial funding boost for the company. Sutter Hill Ventures and Altimeter Capital led the new funding round.

Clumio CEO Poojan Kumar said the data protection vendor will build out its services platform eventually to cover every data source, starting with Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS). The Amazon EBS support was rolled out in beta this week, and Clumio is working on support for Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

Clumio’s Amazon EBS support is expected to become generally available before the end of 2019.

Clumio’s mission statement is to do with backup what Salesforce has done with customer relationship management (CRM) by delivering backup as a service entirely through the cloud. All processes involved with backup such as deduplication, access management, encryption, backup scheduling and resource allotment would be handled through the service.

Kumar said as customers’ infrastructures expand beyond their data centers, keeping their data protected has grown more complicated. Clumio is targeting customers who don’t want to devote IT resources to keeping up with that complexity.

“Customers are saying, ‘I want to stop the business of doing this myself,'” Kumar said.

Kumar said this is especially true with cloud-native data. He said customers have told him that data generated from a cloud application shouldn’t then be replicated to a data center in order to back it up. He said most customers want to lower or remove their data center footprint.

screenshot of Clumio EBS backup
Clumio now protects AWS EBS data in addition to VMware Cloud on AWS.

Investor interest in backup

This has been a banner year for funding for backup vendors, with four vendors alone pulling in more than $1 billion. Veeam received $500 million and Rubrik pulled in $261M in January, and Druva rose $130M in June.  

Christophe Bertrand, senior analyst at IT analysis firm Enterprise Strategy Group, said Clumio nearly tripled its previous funding, although it competes in a crowded backup market, because of its “born-in-the-cloud-ness.” Cloud-native service offerings, subscription pricing and the lack of on-premises investment are all seen as the direction of where backup is currently headed, so investors are buying in now.

“Investors are looking at this as where the market is going,” Bertrand said. “Winning Best of Show at VMworld probably helped, too.”

Bertrand was quick to note that Clumio faces a tough competitive field, however.  Druva and Carbonite — now  part of OpenText — have provided cloud-based backup for years, and long-time backup vendor Commvault added its Metallic SaaS backup service in October. Most of the other large backup vendors can also protect data in the cloud.

Bertrand expects Clumio to invest in extending its geographical reach and bolstering its partner ecosystem. As for product development, he expects Clumio to support more applications, hypervisors besides VMware vSphere and even use cases beyond backup.

Kumar said the Clumio roadmap calls for adding features such as security, container support, customer access keys and bandwidth throttling. He said Clumio will also develop support for new workloads, expand its channel strategy and add to its engineering team.

“They have to do these things quickly to gain traction,” Bertrand said. “It’s going to become a very contested space.”

Go to Original Article
Author:

Acquia cloud CMS on AWS, Vista cash flow raise user expectations

NEW ORLEANS — Flush with funding from the recent majority stake investment from Vista Equity Partners, Acquia has newfound resources to integrate marketing automation and personalization tools with its digital experience platform running on AWS.

As Acquia cloud tools expand beyond its established web content management base into marketing automation and the company sharpens its AWS chops, customers expect performance improvements. 

Partners said they’re looking forward to easier application setup and integration resources.

Earlier this year, the company earned AWS Digital Customer Experience Competency status for Content Management, a certification of its infrastructure optimization.

U.S. securities market auditor FINRA uses Acquia Drupal for its public-facing websites as part of a massive AWS footprint that catalogs seven years’ worth of transactions on behalf of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

FINRA is also evaluating the potential for Mautic, the Acquia cloud marketing automation app, said senior director of technology Michael Scheidt. Acquia’s ongoing work to make Drupal sites run better in the AWS environment is more important, he said.

“We want Acquia to develop its platform to take advantage of all the amazing innovation that’s been happening on the AWS platform,” Scheidt said. That can include performance improvement and monitoring, improving databases, application containerization and down the road, serverless versions.

Workfront, an enterprise work management platform encompassing processes such as employee collaboration and project management, uses Acquia cloud tools to host large public-facing sites in five languages.

Michael Scheidt, FINRA senior director of technology, and Josh Hofmann, Amazon Web Services GM and global leader for ISV Partner Ecosystem.
Michael Scheidt, FINRA senior director of technology, presents at Acquia Engage 2019 while co-presenter Josh Hofmann, Amazon Web Services GM and global leader for ISV Partner Ecosystem, looks on.

To support coming content initiatives and its mixed-vendor CX stack that includes Salesforce CRM and Marketo marketing automation, Workfront CMO Heidi Melin said Acquia should continue to invest in content accessibility and improving speed of mobile content services.

“I need them to keep up, from a technology standpoint,” Melin said. “Because they’re part of our stack, and because our own SaaS software is part of the stack, our site has to behave like the most modern out there. People assume there’s a connection between the web platform we use for the public website and our own product.”

Partners want Acquia cloud services to remain open

Acquia’s partners deploying Drupal sites said the company needs to stay the course with its open source, open-data approach, and continue developing microservices and containerization models for its applications.

That’s Acquia’s major differentiator among its closed-platform competitors, said Doug Ruhl of CI&T, a customer experience firm that maps digital strategy for companies in many verticals including financial, consumer packaged goods and life sciences.

“It’s where we see most of our clients wanting to go,” Ruhl said. “That may be because we believe in [open systems], but very few of them are looking for a walled garden approach.”

Accenture Interactive’s open source program lead Jacob Redding echoed those sentiments. Mautic, he said, will find a place among heavy competition if Acquia can solve the problems endemic to all marketing automation platforms: complicated set up and the high number of people required to keep it running.

“There’s a huge market out there for digital experience platforms,” Redding said. “Getting [the applications] to integrate and creating a really good experience platform — that’s a challenge.”

Glenn Hilton, CEO of ImageX, a Drupal agency that sets up media sites for customers, said his clients value the open source structure and community-developed features and capabilities that end up in Acquia applications.

Acquia’s Mautic move is a welcome diversification of its application lineup, Hilton said. Now it’s the partners’ turn to pivot from Acquia cloud web hosting to full digital experience companies.

“Acquia is looking to its partners to also shift,” Hilton said, adding that his company is investigating how to add martech into its services mix and diversify its business model. “A decade ago, CMS was the hot topic, but now you go to conferences and you hardly ever hear it. CMS upgrades are a necessary evil, but people are looking for other things to spend their budgets on.”

Go to Original Article
Author:

Expert questions funds for interoperability challenges in healthcare

One expert says the $2 million in funding ONC is offering developers to address interoperability challenges in healthcare — although commendable — may not be enough.

“I applaud ONC for recognizing this challenge and making funds available for development of interoperability platforms and solutions,” said John McDaniel, senior vice president of innovation and technology for health IT consulting firm The HCI Group. “However, based on the work we have done with vendors that offer interoperability solutions, I don’t believe $2 million will address the issue.”

ONC funding offered in two areas

ONC will provide up to $2 million in funding to two recipients focused on developing innovative and breakthrough advances in two areas: expanding the scope of population-level data-focused application programming interfaces (APIs) and advancing clinical knowledge at the point of care, according to ONC.

For expanding the scale of APIs, ONC wants to see projects that reduce provider burdens associated with reporting through API technology, as well as assessing trade-offs associated with various big data formats and challenges to the scope of FHIR-based APIs.

As for advancing clinical knowledge at the point of care, ONC hopes to see “emerging innovations” in clinical medicine, as well as data-driven medicine infrastructure and legal and policy implications for innovative approaches, according to the ONC news release.

Additional funding may be available

ONC will fund up to $1 million per area of interest by 2019. After the funds are awarded, there will be a two-year project and budget period, but applicants are encouraged to submit responses based on a five-year project and budget period because additional funding for three to five years could be provided based on the availability of funds and “meaningful progress.”

Based on the work we have done with vendors that offer interoperability solutions, I don’t believe $2 million will address the issue.
John McDanielsenior vice president of innovation and technology, The HCI Group

The funding opportunity will be open for three years, allowing for the possibility that ONC will issue additional awards to other eligible applicants for future “priority areas of interest.”  

ONC expects the funding to “further a new generation of health IT development and inform the innovative implementation and refinement of standards, methods and techniques for overcoming major barriers and challenges as they are identified.” Though he questions whether $2 million will be enough to address interoperability challenges in healthcare, McDaniel said he has seen ONC be successful with similar initiatives in the past, such as establishing incentives to motivate healthcare organizations to implement EHRs, which enabled the digitization of patient care documentation.

The full scope of interoperability challenges in healthcare

Now, McDaniel said, the challenge is to enable full interoperability to not only digitize retrospective patient data, but to “capture and use real-time patient information coupled with cognitive computing to assist care providers with decision-making and best practices given the full view of all relevant patient data.”

“Developing interoperability between EHR’s is a good start, but since only a percentage of relevant retrospective patient data is maintained in those systems, we need to establish interoperability standards for dynamic exchange of data from all source systems, including IoT, EHR’s medical devices, personal health devices, etc., to enable precision and predictive care models,” McDaniel said.

M12 announces $4 million global competition for women entrepreneurs – Stories

Microsoft’s venture fund, M12, partners with EQT Ventures and SVB Financial Group to accelerate funding for women leaders

REDMOND, Wash. — July 26, 2018 M12, Microsoft Corp.’s venture fund, in collaboration with the EQT Ventures fund and SVB Financial Group, on Thursday announced the Female Founders Competition, seeking to accelerate funding for top women-led startups focused on enterprise technology solutions. Two winners will share $4 million in venture funding, as well as access to technology resources, mentoring and more.

Women entrepreneurs receive a disproportionately small amount of venture funding, with only 2.2 percent of the total invested in 2017 going to women-founded startups. Studies have shown that investing in companies founded by women delivers significantly higher returns than the market average. By shining a light on this highly talented, but underfunded group of entrepreneurs, M12 and its partners seek to not only fund innovative female entrepreneurs, but to spotlight the funding gap that exists and the benefits of more equitable distribution of capital.

“We formed M12 to make smart bets on innovative people and their ideas, and the Female Founders Competition is an extension of that mandate,” said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of Business Development at Microsoft. “This isn’t about checking a box; it’s an opportunity to remind the VC community that investing in women is more than just good values, it’s good business.”

“The EQT Ventures team is all about backing founders with the ambition, drive and vision to build a global success story,” said Alastair Mitchell, partner and investment advisor at EQT Ventures. “This competition reflects this and offers women entrepreneurs a great platform from which to launch their business, providing them with access to capital and mentorship. It also raises awareness of the funding gap between male and female founders, and the EQT Ventures team wants to play an active role in bridging that gap.”

Submissions will be accepted from July 26, 2018, to Sept. 30, 2018, and open across three regions: Europe, Israel, and North America (U.S., Canada and Mexico). Companies will be eligible to apply if they have at least one woman founder, have raised less than $4 million in combined equity funding and/or loans at day of application, and offer or intend to release a product, service or platform that addresses a critical business problem.

“At SVB, we strive to help innovative companies succeed,” said Tracy Isacke, head of Corporate Venture at Silicon Valley Bank. “Research tells us diverse teams are more successful. We believe this is true for our business, our clients’ businesses and the innovation economy at large. Our partnership with Microsoft has created a great opportunity for SVB to engage in this competition and is one of the many ways we are supporting diverse representation in the global innovation ecosystem.”

Up to 10 finalists will pitch in person for the chance to be one of the two startups that earn a $2 million investment as well as access to technology resources, mentoring and additional support. The competition also seeks to drive greater awareness for both finalists and winners, with the potential for future funding from the broader VC community. Full guidelines and contest information can be found on M12’s application page.

About EQT Ventures

EQT Ventures is a European VC fund with commitments of just over €566 million. The fund is based in Luxembourg and has investment advisors stationed in Stockholm, Amsterdam, London, San Francisco and Berlin. Fueled by some of Europe’s most experienced company builders, EQT Ventures helps the next generation of entrepreneurs with capital and hands on support. EQT Ventures is part of EQT, a leading investment firm with approximately EUR 50 billion in raised capital across 27 funds. EQT funds have portfolio companies in Europe, Asia and the US with total sales of more than EUR 19 billion and approximately 110,000 employees.

About SVB Financial Group

For 35 years, SVB Financial Group (NASDAQ: SIVB) and its subsidiaries have helped innovative companies and their investors move bold ideas forward, fast. SVB Financial Group’s businesses, including Silicon Valley Bank, offer commercial and private banking, asset management, private wealth management, brokerage and investment services and funds management services to companies in the technology, life science and healthcare, private equity and venture capital, and premium wine industries. Headquartered in Santa Clara, California, SVB Financial Group operates in centers of innovation around the world. Learn more at svb.com.

About M12

As the corporate venture arm for Microsoft, M12 (formerly Microsoft Ventures) invests in enterprise software companies in the Series A through C funding stage. As part of its value-add to portfolio companies, M12 offers unique access to strategic go-to-market resources and relationships globally. Visit https://m12.vc/ to learn more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, [email protected]

Lucy Wimmer, PR for EQT Ventures, +44(0) (755) 128-9177, [email protected]

Julia Thompson, PR for Silicon Valley Bank, (415) 764-4707, [email protected]

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

Jefferson College of Population Health gets $2M endowment from vendor

In a move that is the first of its kind in the country, a for-profit, private health IT company is funding a new, $2 million professorship of population health at a university.

Navvis Healthcare in St. Louis announced the endowment today for the chair at Jefferson College of Population Health, part of Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University.

“This is the first private-sector-sponsored endowed chair anywhere” for a population health school, said David Nash, M.D., founding dean of Jefferson College of Population Health. “Navvis is a national leader just by virtue of putting money where its mouth is.” A person will likely be named to the endowed chair in early 2019.

Navvis sells a population health platform. The school faces zero pressure from Navvis about what academic research the new professorship will conduct, Nash said.

Nash expected Jefferson College of Population Health to further examine how poverty influences population health trends. “Unfortunately in our country, the biggest driver of lack of health is poverty,” he said, adding that poorer people are more vulnerable to disease and illness because they may not be able to afford care at critical times.

“ZIP code is more important than your genetic code in predicting your life span,” a dilemma that no other Western nation faces as much as the U.S., Nash said.

More population health info desired, company says

From Navvis’ point of view, the endowment stems partly from the desire to be a good corporate citizen and also because the company sees a commercial need in the area of more in-depth population health studies, said Chuck Eberl, Navvis’ chief marketing officer.

David Nash, M.D., dean of the Jefferson College of Population HealthDavid Nash, M.D.

“There’s this proliferation of [population health] tools and technologies … and there are a lot of bright spots all over the industry,” Eberl said. However, as medical costs continue to rise, payers and providers are not clear whether population health management might be able to lower some of the costs, he added.

“We’re moving from a world of volume to value,” Nash said. “It’s going to be a bumpy road. … If the country can’t get healthcare onto a value-based platform, then it risks the entire economy.” Nash said healthcare makes up 18% of the U.S. gross domestic product, a measure of the amount of goods and services sold in the country.

Business relationship spawned endowment

The endowment for Jefferson College of Population Health came about after Nash had met Navvis CEO Mike Farris when both served on a separate, external advisory board.

ZIP code is more important than your genetic code in predicting your life span.
David Nash, M.D.dean, Jefferson College of Population Health

Farris later contacted Nash for advice on whether he knew who to talk to about establishing a population health endowment somewhere in the U.S., and Nash responded, “Well yeah, talk to me.” A dozen conversations later, the endowment agreement was in place for the college, Nash said.

“Will one professorship change the world? Probably not, but it sends a clear signal,” Nash said. “Other CEOs will call Mike Farris and say, ‘How the hell did you do that?'”

Under the brand name Coreo, Navvis’ products use analytics and data visualization to run a population health platform that connects patients, caregivers, insurance payers and data analysts to the same information across subsets of patients.

Eberl declined to provide the revenue of Navvis, which will employee about 200 people by the end of the year.

Generation at risk of falling behind in tech skills unless computing education funding improves, report finds

A tenfold increase in computing education funding is needed or the UK risks seeing an entire generation fail to have the technology skills needed for the future, a new report has found.

The Royal Society study, which was co-funded by Microsoft, found that more than half of schools in England do not offer a GCSE in Computer Science, leaving many young people without critical experience in coding and programming.

It is estimated that around 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet, and these will require skills in areas such as robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

In order to prepare the next generation for advances in technology, the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of sciences, said more than £60 million needed to be injected into computing education over the next five years – a tenfold increase from current levels. This would give the area the same support as maths and physics.

School provision of GCSE Computing in 2015-16

Cindy Rose, Chief Executive of Microsoft UK, said: “Microsoft is dramatically scaling up its digital skills programme in the UK and we believe now is the time for the Government to do the same. The risk, if we don’t make these investments now, is that too many young people struggle to access new opportunities, and the UK loses its advantage in a world being transformed by technology.”

The report (below), which was also part-funded by Google and led by world-famous engineer Steve Furber, found that:

  • 54% of English schools do not offer Computer Science GCSE
  • 30% of English GCSE pupils attend a school that does not offer Computer Science GCSE – the equivalent of 175,000 pupils each year, almost a third of the total number in England
  • Bournemouth leads England with the highest uptake of Computer Science GCSE (23% of all pupils), with Kensington & Chelsea, Blackburn and City of London coming last
  • England meets only 68% of its recruitment target for entries into computing teacher training courses, lower than Physics and Classics
  • Only one-in-five Computer Science GCSE pupils is female

Only 11% of Key Stage 4 students took GCSE Computer Science (62,703 out of a total of 588,000) in 2017. The report also found that more than half of schools in England (2,703 out of a total of 5,135) do not offer Computer Science GCSE at all.

At local authority level, Bournemouth leads England with the highest uptake of GCSE Computer Science (23% of all pupils at Key Stage 4), followed by Central Bedfordshire (22%), Hartlepool (22%), Knowsley (20%) and Slough (20%). The City of London has the lowest uptake (4%) followed by Blackburn (5%), Kensington & Chelsea (5%), Carderdale (5%) and Rutland (5%).

The report also found that two-in-three schools in Hackney do not offer Computer Science at GCSE level, despite being located near the Silicon Roundabout, London’s tech hub. Nearby Islington only had six out of 14 schools offering the subject.

The Isles of Scilly (100%), Hartlepool (71%), Harrow (67%) and Bracknell Forest (67%) are the local authorities with the highest proportion of schools offering Computer Science GCSE, while Kensington & Chelsea (18%) sits at the bottom of the list, followed by Tower Hamlets (27%), Shropshire (27%), Rutland (29%) and Greenwich (29%).

The report, which was based on a survey, in-depth meetings with teachers and Government data, suggests that part of the problem with computing education is a lack of knowledge about the fast-paced technology sector among staff. One-in-four secondary school teachers surveyed took no professional development activities to enhance their knowledge of computing. The Government allocates just £1.2 million a year to training existing computing teachers, and the Royal Society called on the government to provide enough funding to train 8,000 secondary school computing teachers.

The Royal Society also found that just 20% of GCSE Computer Science candidates were female, falling to 10% at A-level
The Royal Society also found that just 20% of GCSE Computer Science candidates were female, falling to 10% at A-level

“For pupils to thrive, we need knowledgeable, highly skilled teachers,” Furber said. “The report paints a bleak picture in England, which meets only 68% of its computing teacher recruitment targets and where, as a result, one-in-two schools doesn’t offer Computer Science at GCSE, a crucial stage of young people’s education.”

Teachers told the Royal Society they are most confident with parts of the computing curriculum inherited from previous Information and Communications Technology courses, and 44% feel more confident in delivering the earlier stages of the curriculum.

Computing teachers are also in short supply, with the government meeting only 68% of its recruitment target for entrants to computing teacher training courses in England between 2012 and 2017. In Scotland, the number of computer science teachers has fallen by 25% in the past 10 years. There is also a shortage of trainees with enough specialist knowledge to teach a technical subject. While there are 65 Physics and 93 Maths teacher conversion courses available, none exists for computing. The Royal Society is calling for government funding on top of the £60 million to set up conversion courses so there is no personal cost to teachers and schools.

Student uptake of GCSE Computing in 2015-16

Reinforcing previous reports on the gender divide in computing lessons, the Royal Society also found that just 20% of GCSE Computer Science candidates were female, falling to 10% at A-level. There is a similar picture in Scotland, with a 20% female uptake at National 5. Chinese pupils and those from other Asian backgrounds are significantly more likely than white pupils and black pupils to study GCSE Computer Science (12.7% vs 7.5%, 5.5% and 4.1% respectively).

“The rate at which technology is transforming the workplace means that we live in a world where many primary schoolchildren will work in technology-based roles that do not yet exist, so it is essential that future generations can apply digital skills with confidence,” Furber added.

“Overhauling the fragile state of our computing education will require an ambitious, multipronged approach. We need to invest significantly more to support and train 8,000 secondary school computing teachers to ensure pupils have the skills and knowledge needed for the future.”

Girls work in school lab, with laptop on table showing science website
The Royal Society wants support for Computer Science to be on a par with maths and physics

Microsoft President Brad Smith told the CBI Annual Conference earlier this week that technology skills were in demand in the UK, and companies and that people of all ages needed to acquire the right knowledge and experience.

“It’s clear that 90% of jobs will need new digital skills; and it’s clear that employees don’t have the skills that employers require,” he told hundreds of business leaders at the event in London.

“That starts with bringing new skills into schools, bringing new initiatives like Computing at School, a programme we have been proud to support. It’s a programme that does what needs to be done – create a new curriculum to teach a new subject and provide professional development.”

Microsoft has also launched a programme to teach digital skills to people across the UK, to ensure the country remains one of the global leaders in next-generation technologies.