FS Fives: Wednesday September 14

Soon you can have burritos delivered by drone, but first …

Arria NLG, a big data spin-out from Aberdeen University, has signed a partnership with California-based earthquake forecaster GeoCosmo. GeoCosmo is developing forecasting services that will be able to detect major earthquakes days and weeks ahead of their occurrence. GeoCosmo’s new technology leverages semiconductor physics, satellites and big data algorithms to pick up detectable precursory signals from Earth’s tectonic plates, and identify disasters before they happen. Arria NLG’s specialty lies in communicating complex data sets in natural language that reads as if written by a human. Using this technology, GeoCosmo is hoping to bridge the data distance between semiconductor physics and plain language. Arria’s technology will be used to automate the analysis of seismic event data and report on large data sets in real time.

Administrate, the software-as-a-service firm used by training companies and departments, has opened a Middle East and North Africa (MENA) office in Beirut. Based in the city’s digital district, already home to a growing cohort of international tech startups, Administrate is the first Scottish startup to open a regional office in Lebanon. As the company’s MENA headquarters, it is the second international office opened by Administrate this year, following the US in April. It is in response to increased client activity in the region and as part of the expansion an Arabic site was launched earlier this year. Administrate’s software is used across the region by companies such as consultants PwC and training company Morgan International. They use it to “define, manage, report on and sustain” employee education and training.

August was a good month for UK tech as investment into the sector topped $385 million (£294m), reports the Tech City News Investment Tracker. While the bulk of companies were London-based, two rounds were raised by firms based in Edinburgh. Sensewhere, the indoor positioning firm, raised $1.83m and TVSquared, a firm that provides performance insights into the efficiency of TV advertising. Anna Boffetta, investor with Balderton Capital, said that the impact of Brexit had not been as severe as many had feared. “The volume of companies raising investment for the first time is down compared the same period in 2015, but this is not cause for panic. The response has been minor, measured and proportionate; and the best companies will continue to raise money,” she added.

Centric App is a video discovery and sharing platform that matches video content from social platforms with local audiences. It grabs Twitter, YouTube and Periscope streams and sorts them by location to show what’s happening around you. In an article on startups.co.uk, founder Vincent Gibson describes his journey from a Glasgow Gumtree listing to launching the Centric App, and how he travelled to New York to raise money after failing to get Scottish Enterprise interested. “Want to know what’s going on right now all over London? Or see what you’re missing around you during a festival at Glastonbury? Open the app, wherever you are, and you will see the latest and nearest videos uploaded across the three networks. Some are live; some have just been recorded.”

And finally… The future holds… burrito-delivering drones?