Google Announces 4 New Indian Startups for Fresh ‘Launchpad Accelerator’ Batch

Google Announces 4 New Indian Startups for Fresh 'Launchpad Accelerator' Batch

Google on Friday announced the four shortlisted Indian startups for its hands-on mentorship programme ‘Launchpad Accelerator’. With this batch, a total of 30 Indian startups have so far joined the class.

The shortlisted startups – BabyChakra, m.Paani, NIRAMAI and SocialCops – will join a group of startups shortlisted from all over the world at the Google Developers’ Launchpad Space in San Francisco in the US.

Class 5 of the mentorship will kick off on January 29 and will include two weeks of all-expenses paid training, as part of the the full six-month programme.

“These startups have been shortlisted based on their unique value proposition and use of latest technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence,” Roy Glasberg, Global Lead, Google Developers Launchpad, said in a statement.

BabyChakra is a trusted care companion to Indian parents, from pregnancy to parenting.

m.Paani powers real-time, direct to consumer engagement, marketing, loyalty and insights for mass market consumers and retailers.

NIRAMAI is a healthtech startup that has developed a novel breast cancer screening solution while SocialCops empowers organisations to make better decisions through data.

Launchpad Accelerator is Google’s six-month programme that includes an intensive two-week boot camp in San Francisco and mentoring from over 30 teams across Google and expert mentors from top technology companies in Silicon Valley and globally.

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SpaceX Rocket Explodes on Launchpad With Facebook’s Internet Satellite on Board

SpaceX Rocket Explodes on Launchpad With Facebook's Internet Satellite on Board

SpaceX Rocket Explodes on Launchpad With Facebook’s Internet Satellite on Board
HIGHLIGHTS
The explosion destroyed the Israeli communications satellite
Mark Zuckerberg disapointed over SpaceX’s launch failure
The accident is the second of its kind since SpaceX was founded in 2002
An unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded on the launch pad during a test in Florida on Thursday, destroying a satellite that Facebook planned to use to beam high-speed internet to Africa.

The blast at Cape Canaveral – though it caused no injuries – marks a setback for the California-based private space firm and its founder, internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, who wants to revolutionize the launch industry by making rocket components reusable.

“Loss of Falcon vehicle today during propellant fill operation,” Musk tweeted. “Originated around upper stage oxygen tank. Cause still unknown. More soon.”

Dramatic footage broadcast by ABC News showed the rocket burst into a roaring ball of flame amid what appeared to be a succession of blasts – sending its payload tumbling to the ground as a dense plume of black smoke filled the air.

“At approximately 9:07am ET (13:07 GMT), during a standard pre-launch static fire test for the Amos-6 mission, there was an anomaly at SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 40 resulting in loss of the vehicle,” the firm said.

“Per standard operating procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries.”
But the explosion destroyed the Israeli communications satellite that the Falcon 9 was due to deliver into orbit on Saturday — drawing a dismayed reaction from Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg.

“As I’m here in Africa, I’m deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite that would have provided connectivity to so many entrepreneurs and everyone else across the continent,” Zuckerberg said on his Facebook page.

Facebook was contracted to use the Amos-6 to provide broadband internet coverage for large parts of sub-Saharan Africa and other remote parts of the world as part of the social media giant’s Internet.org initiative.

“Fortunately, we have developed other technologies like Aquila that will connect people as well,” Zuckerberg said, referring to the solar-powered plane being developed by Facebook to make the internet available in remote areas.

“We will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided.”

European satellite operator Eutelsat – Facebook’s partner in the project – said in a statement it was committed to expanding broadband access in Africa despite the loss of the Amos-6.

Heaviest payload
A Nasa spokeswoman told AFP that emergency services at the nearby Kennedy Space Center were monitoring the situation and conducting air quality tests to ensure there is no threat to the health of staff.

Officials at the center advised workers to remain inside until further notice, but Brevard County Emergency Management said there was no threat to the public from the incident.

The Amos-6 was the heaviest payload to date for a SpaceX rocket, with an estimated value of between $200-300 million (roughly Rs. 1,337 crores to Rs. 2,004 crores), according to John Logsdon, former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University.

The accident – the second of its kind since SpaceX was founded in 2002 – comes just over a year after a Falcon 9 rocket failed after liftoff on June 28 2015, destroying a Dragon cargo capsule bound for the International Space Station (ISS).

Before that, SpaceX had logged 18 successful launches of the Falcon 9 – including six of 12 planned supply missions to the ISS carried out as part of a $1.6 billion (roughly Rs. 10,696 crores) contract with Nasa.

It had carried out another eight successful launches since June 2015, including last month when a Falcon 9 successfully placed a Japanese communications satellite in orbit, and then landed intact on a floating drone ship.

(Also see: SpaceX Propels Cargo to Space Station, Lands Rocket)

Before then the firm lost several rockets as it attempted to land them upright on an ocean platform at the end of a flight — a crucial part of its strategy for reusable spacecraft.

‘Valuable experience’
While the blast is likely to disrupt SpaceX plans for six more launches between now and January 2017, experts made clear that such incidents are a normal part of the space learning curve.

“It’s clearly a setback, but how great the setback is and how long the delay, it’s impossible to know until there is more information available,” said Logsdon.

He noted that the launch pad damaged on Thursday was distinct from the one that will serve to launch SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, intended to ferry astronauts to the ISS starting in late 2017.

Nasa said in a tweet that Thursday’s SpaceX explosion “reminds us that spaceflight is challenging. Our partners learn from each success & setback.”

Loizos Heracleous, a professor of strategy at Warwick Business School, said such setbacks were par for the course – and would not affect SpaceX’s stated long-term goals of slashing the cost of space flight through the use of reusable rockets, and eventually colonizing Mars.

“SpaceX is gathering valuable experience, and each accident brings lessons on how to enhance the integrity of the craft for future missions,” he said.

“Given that SpaceX is working to provide Nasa with a way to transport not just cargo, but also astronauts to the International Space Station, it is especially crucial that such learning takes place before that happens.”

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Tags: SpaceX, Falcon 9, Elon Musk, Facebook, Science, Internet

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Cisco Unveils LaunchPad Accelerator Under Startup India Initiative

Cisco Unveils LaunchPad Accelerator Under Startup India Initiative

In a fillip to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Startup India’ campaign, US-based global technology company Cisco on Wednesday unveiled ‘LaunchPad’, an open innovation initiative to accelerate startups and support growth among India’s young developer community.

‘LaunchPad’ will help startups, their authorised channel partners and developers scale their solutions, address new markets and build digital businesses in the world’s youngest startup nation and second biggest developer community.

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to digitise the next three billion people in one-third the time it took to connect the first three billion. Through ‘LaunchPad’, we want to unleash the next generation of disruptive ideas and help turn the entrepreneurs of today into the business leaders of tomorrow,” Amit Phadnis, President, Engineering and India Site Leader, told reporters at Cisco campus in Bengaluru.

“We would wish to take this initiative to state governments as before we digitise the next three billion, connecting the few millions in our country with our strong go to market capabilities is the first challenge,” Phadnis told IANS.

As pat of the project, Cisco teams will mentor startups and developers on how to help create digital solutions to enable enterprise customers, service providers and other enablers in the public and private sphere.

The move will help connect the people and 50 billion devices through digitisation, matching appealing ideas with business expertise and connecting engineering talent with investors and customers.

For this, Cisco will provide a space at its Bangalore campus with access to a suite of Cisco technologies and free grants to startups chosen to work at its campus.

“Innovation and investment are the key drivers of the Indian economy, leading to jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. India is a hotbed of entrepreneurial talent and Cisco LaunchPad will be a tremendous accelerator for startups to develop digital solutions that reach a global market,” added KS Vishwanathan, Vice President, Nasscom, Indian IT industry trade body.

India is the youngest startup and developer nation in the world and is projected to have the world’s largest number of developers by 2018.

Through ‘LaunchPad’, the startups will get an opportunity to work on solving business relevant problems by catering to use cases that are identified and validated by Cisco go-to-market teams.

The initiative will initially focus on manufacturing, retail, transportation, education and healthcare sector.

As part of the initiative, Cisco and Tech Mahindra Limited announced a collaboration to develop digital solutions for the Indian electric utilities.

They will work with select startups and developers to bring together Cisco technologies, startup Community and accelerate digitization of the power sector and transform the way electricity is delivered to and used by people, the company announced.

“Cisco LaunchPad is an excellent platform for Tech Mahindra to help solve some of the complex emerging market problems like the energy management, healthcare access and intelligent manufacturing,” noted L. Ravichandran, President and COO, Tech Mahindra.

The US networking major earlier this year announced a planned series of strategic investments in India that will total over $100 million (roughly Rs. 675 crores) including $40 million (roughly Rs. 270 crores) to fund early-stage and growth-stage companies in the country and train 250,000 students in India by 2020.

Cisco recently launched a Global Delivery Center in Pune which will lead to its headcount in the country getting doubled over the next two years.

With the new Pune centre, India will be the only country in the world where Cisco will have two global delivery centres, the other one being in Bangalore. The centre will help to proactively explore potential service growth opportunities, especially in Maharashtra.

Apart from contributing significantly towards ‘Digital India’ initiative, Cisco has also collaborated with several state governments to accelerate the “Smart Cities” project.

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Tags: Apps, Cisco, Digital India, India, Internet, LaunchPad, Nasscom, Startups
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