Editor’s note: Each Thursday, Talk Business & Politics provides “Startup Talk,” a round-up of startup, technology and entrepreneurial news.
DENSO INVESTS IN TECH STARTUP THAT PROVIDES LASER TECHNOLOGY FOR SELF-DRIVING CARS
Denso International America Inc. said recently that it has invested in TriLumina Corp., an innovative semiconductor laser technology company that focuses on providing light sources for LiDAR and interior illumination products. Denso, which operates a 500-worker auto parts manufacturing plant in Osceola, said it is looking to speed up the adoption of LiDAR and driver monitoring technologies in Advanced Driver Assistance systems, which are key technologies used in autonomous vehicles. This strategic investment enables Albuquerque, N.M.-based TriLumina to gain broader access to the automotive market.
TriLumina has developed eye-safe semiconductor lasers and is looking to accelerate the automotive industry’s adoption of semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles by providing lasers for advanced driver monitoring systems (DMS). Denso said its Silicon Valley office is actively working with startup companies to gain access to new technologies in the areas of autonomous drive, electric vehicles, transportation, batteries, and energy storage while also expanding the Japanese auto parts giant’s overall presence and visibility within entrepreneurial networks. Denso has also invested in startup firms involved in robotics and platooning technology for trucking companies.
PRESIDENT OBAMA HOSTS FINAL WHITE HOUSE SCIENCE FAIR OF HIS TENURE
President Obama on Wednesday (April 13) hosted the sixth and final White House Science Fair of his administration. This year’s exhibits included sisters Kimberly and Rebecca Yeung (ages 9 and 11) from Seattle, Wash., who built a homemade “spacecraft” out of archery arrows and wood scraps, and launched it into the stratosphere via a helium balloon. Nine-year old Jacob Leggette, of Baltimore, who was introduced to 3D printing at a MiniMakers challenge in Maryland, has been experimenting with additive and subtractive manufacturing and the combination of the two to create toys and games. To view a video and learn more about this year’s White House Science Fair, click here.
INVESTMENT IN TENNESSEE STARTUPS SINCE 2012 TOPS $1 BILLION, OFFICIALS SAYS
Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN), the state’s public-private partnership early stage and high-growth startups, recently announced that private investment in early-stage companies based in Tennessee has surpassed $1 billion, well ahead of the 2017 goal the organization set when it was formed in 2012.
The early realization of LaunchTN’s lofty $1 billion goal is indicative of the rapidly accelerating growth Tennessee’s startup scene has experienced and the attention it has received from local, regional and national investors. This total captures all early-stage investment activity of deals totaling $25 million or less. The vast majority of the aggregate $1 billion benchmark was achieved by individual investments of under $5 million, made primarily in early-stage startups by venture capital funds. Full details around LaunchTN’s investment tracking methodology can be found here.
LR TECH PARK STARTING FIRST PHASE OF DOWNTOWN BUSINESS INCUBATOR, WILL COST $6.8 MILLION
The Little Rock Technology Park board of directors unanimously approved a motion on Wednesday that will allow for construction to move forward on the $6.8 million first phase of the downtown village to attract and incubate new startups, and bring hi-tech companies and entrepreneurs to the city.
The unanimous vote by the authority gives project manager East Harding Construction the thumbs up to move forward with the aggressive timetable and schedule to have the Tech Park ready for leasing by the end of this year, according Tech Park Executive Director Brent Birch. During a presentation that provided authority members with a layout of the new multi-office downtown village, Birch said that 26% of the contractors hired to work on the project are minority or women-owned business – a stipulation endorsed by the full board.
PER DIEMS AGAINST POVERTY LOOKS TO TACKLE HUNGER IN AMERICA
Entrepreneurs Brittany Hodak and Jennifer Barker are working to curtail hunger in America through the sports and entertainment industries. The two western Arkansas natives have started Per Diems Against Poverty, a nonprofit that collects unused meal ticket per diems offered to celebrities and professional athletes and donates them to food bank supporter Feeding America. Read more on their profiles here.