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Robots Now Being "Hired" to Sell Coffee Machines

The use of groundbreaking technologies that have the promise to reshape markets was the topic of the 2nd Private Innovation Circle, to which Credit Suisse invited around 50 select Private Banking clients and opinion leaders. 

Representatives of eight innovative companies presented revolutionary technologies that have the promise to shake up their respective industries. These eight firms have all passed the "proof of concept" stage and are potential targets for private investment, the host of the event, Eric Varvel, Chairman Asia Pacific and Middle East at Credit Suisse, told the audience of the bank's 2nd Private Innovation Circle held in Tokyo. The technologies behind their successes range from a simple app connecting drivers to free vans, to much more complex processes using bacteria to produce fuel or the thorough analysis of highly-sensitive data from large software systems to combat cyber criminality.

Fighting Cyber Attacks

The CEO of Darktrace, Nicole Eagan, explained how the UK-based IT security firm's new approach helps to protect against serious cyber threats. The company's revolutionary technology mimics the human immune system to identify cyber attacks. Darktrace's technology, called Enterprise Immune System, creates models of "normal" behavior by analyzing subtle information, which can be used to identify serious IT security threats, either from within the company or from outside the company.

California-based Norse operates in the same sector. The company has been producing cyber-security solutions for more than a decade, helping clients to block attacks, uncover hidden security breaches and track threats, said Cameron McEarchern, VP of business development at Norse. Threats are collected as big data, analyzed and "fingerprinted," allowing the "bad guys" to be tracked, even if they attempt to hide by changing address, he said.

Using Bioorganisms to Produce Fuel

Using cyanobacteria, aquatic bioorganisms, to produce fuel from CO2 gases is now a reality. These microscopic live organisms only need sunlight, non-arable land and non-potable water in addition to a concentrated CO2 source to produce fuel, explained Tom Jensen, Executive VP who heads corporate development at the US-based company Joule. The patented organisms are tailored so that they cannot reproduce, thereby enhancing their fuel-producing capacity as "industrialized photosynthesis biocatalysts," he said. Joule has successfully tested its pilot-platform for more than two years, initiated demonstration-scale operations and currently works on laying the groundwork for the commercial deployment of its pioneering technology.

Producing Crops on Marginal Farmland

In Australia, Sundrop Farms, a developer, owner and operator of high-tech greenhouse facilities, only uses the sun and the sea to produce high-value crops in marginal lands. Sundrop Farms aims to reduce volatility in the production of crops, said John Phinney, its Managing Director for Australia. Even though the firm definitely is a "green" company, combining a number of different technologies to attain environmental sustainability, the achievement of economic sustainability is an equally important goal for the company, he added.

Trading on the Correlations Between Weather and Energy Asset Prices

The energy commodities trading platform developed by Meteo-Logic over the past 12 years, makes correlations between the weather and energy asset prices, based on big data and machine learning technologies. The financial algorithm developed by Meteo-Logic produces highly accurate price predictions based on millions of records. "It gives us an unfair advantage when trading," said Moshe Levin, chairman of the Israeli company, adding that the company is getting 100 percent returns.

Striving for High-Resolution, Real-Time Satellite Pictures

Obtaining an almost real-time high-resolution satellite picture from any place on our planet may soon be possible thanks to Satellogic. The California-based company currently offers a desired image within 3 days, but it strives to provide almost real-time, high-resolution imaging of any place on earth, the company's CEO Emiliano Kargieman said. Satellogic strives to bring down this time to only five minutes by putting up constellations of low-cost satellites. The firm is currently building its own machines at a cost that makes it reasonable to launch around 300 satellites.

Selling Coffee Machines Through a Robot

SoftBank Robotics from Japan markets the world's first emotional humanoid robot. The robot, named Pepper, only speaks Japanese at the moment. It is being used to sell coffee machines in appliance stores, explained Kenichi Yoshida, the company's VP for Business Development. Plans are afoot to sell the robot in other areas, including home use, and to take it to wider markets, including an "app store" to allow Pepper a wider range of actions and functions.

Connecting Drivers to Vans

The technology behind the success of GoGoVan – a peer-to-peer (p2p) platform for vans – is simple. It matches vans and drivers to customers through a mobile application, the founder of the Hong Kong-based on-demand logistics service company, Steven Lam, noted. After less than two years, GoGoVan already manages more than 50,000 vehicles and has expanded to Taiwan, Korea, Singapore and China. Markets outside Asia have already expressed their interest in this business model, Lam concluded.

The entrepreneurs present at the Private Innovation Circle were able to meet a select group of Credit Suisse's clients within the framework of the bank's Credit Suisse Salon. The managers could this way meet with potential clients as well as potential investors or partners outside of their usual markets – a great network opportunity for both parties.