Beauty queen brands. Robots that collaborate. Canadian AI.

Robot arms


Real disruptive innovation is actually a much rarer phenomenon than startup pitches and demo days would have you believe. 

But real disruption is happening right now in the robotics market.

Robotics for manufacturing, warehouses, maintenance, etc. is estimated to be a $105B market by 2025, according to CB Insights’ market sizings data

Much of the growth is being driven by ”cobots,” or collaborative robots that can work alongside humans. These are smaller and cheaper, too — think a small robot arm vs. huge robotic machinery, which is what we often imagine when we think of robots "on the job." 

One company riding this trend is Teradyne, which acquired early cobot maker Universal Robotics in 2015 (Universal Robotics, which reports results separately, saw revenue growth of 72% in 2017). 

Another player in cobots is still-private Rethink Robotics

Some examples of cobot use: 

  • Banking. Cobots are being used to count and sort banknotes, which is an area that has long been sensitive to human error.
  • Auto. They are being used to vacuum out cars at the end of the assembly process. 
  • Retail/hospitality. They are flipping burgers in robotic restaurants and sorting items at distribution centers for large apparel brands.
  • Cosmetics. Cobots are allowing for more personalized products produced in smaller factories at L’Oreal.

For more applications and industries, read our deep dive here

Of course, as recently as 5 years ago, cobots were often viewed skeptically. They would not be precise enough, they would require too much on-site programming, or they would not be fast/powerful enough. 

Now all the large industrial robotics incumbents are racing to make and market cobots.

They may have waited too long.

(Canadian) dolla dolla bills

Investment in Canadian AI companies jumped to $169M in Q2'18 — a 104% increase over Q1'18. The sector had 13 deals last quarter.

For more on Canada's venture capital scene, check out PwC and CBI's new Canadian MoneyTree Report.

But you're, like, really pretty

The beauty business is booming. The number of startups in the space is skyrocketing, but the market still belongs to a handful of companies that own most household personal care brands.

From P&G to Estee Lauder to Unilever, we mapped out the 8 beauty brands that dominate the cosmetics aisles.

Clients — want more on beauty and wellness? We recently wrote about these female-focused shaving startups that are shaking up the male-dominated grooming space. Also check out why ingredient transparency is the newest beauty trend

Have a great rest of the week.


P.S. On July 31, we'll be diving into AI in financial services. Sign up for the briefing here.

This week in data:

  • -$120B: Facebook’s stock is taking a beating. After yesterday’s earnings call, which revealed lowest daily active user growth since at least early 2011, Facebook stock has dropped 19%, losing $120B in value. The drop marks the worst one-day slump for a public company in stock market history. We recently analyzed 40 quarters of earnings calls by Facebook and other tech giants (Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Apple). What companies talk most about the competition? Who’s focusing the most on tech like AI, machine learning, and voice? We answer these questions and more in the full report here.

  • $12B: The Trump administration wants to distribute up to $12B in emergency aid to farmers who have been hurt by the ongoing trade war. The “temporary relief” will come in the form of direct assistance (for soybean, cotton, dairy, corn, and hog farmers), a food purchase program where the government will buy surpluses, and a trade promotion program. We recently dug into the winners and losers of tit-for-tat tariffs, looking at which CEOs were discussing tariffs most on earnings calls. Check it out.

  • 1 day old: There’s now a baby on the blockchain. Irish medical aid project AID:Tech recently partnered with Dutch PharmAccess to accurately track vulnerable women’s medical information. The collaboration uses blockchain technology to deliver aid and share data. Yesterday, a baby born in Tanzania was added to the ledger — a first for the blockchain. With blockchain technology creeping into more and more facets of our lives, we rounded up 42 non-banking industries — from 3D printing, to libraries, to fishing — being shaken up by the technology. See them all here.
  • $35M: Fintech startup Divvy raised its second round of funding in 3 months, a $35M Series B from Insight Venture Partners. The startup provides a B2B payments & expense platform and issues virtual & physical corporate credit cards via Mastercard. Employers can then "divvy" up allocations to the cards. We highlighted Divvy, among other startups, in our recent Q2 2018 Global Fintech Report.

  • 1 million percent: According to the International Monetary Fund, inflation in Venezuela could reach a whopping 1,000,000% by the end of the year — a figure drawing comparisons to Germany after WWI and Zimbabwe at the beginning of the last decade. If the prediction comes true, Venezuela’s economy will have shrunk 50% over the last five years.
  • 12.5 miles: A lake of liquid water has been detected on Mars, according to research published by the Italian Space Agency earlier this week. The lake is located beneath the planet’s southern polar ice cap. It is 12.5 miles across and looks similar to underwater lakes in Greenland and the Antarctic. Wondering if this lake will be a sightseeing location of the future? Check out our briefing on the current state of space tech, from on-the-ground VR experiences to space tourism. Read more.

  • 275 books: The 13 novels on the Man Booker Prize 2018 longlist were announced this week, including the first graphic novel to make it onto the list. IBM recently used AI technology to dig into the 275 works shortlisted over the history of the prize, specifically looking at gender bias. The analysis found that the top occupations for men in shortlisted books were (in order) doctor, professor/scientist, business, and clergy, while the top occupations for female characters were teacher, nurse, prostitute, and child bride.
  • 3 interns: Today is National Intern Day. Shoutout to our current cohort of interns, who are happy, helpful, hungry, & humble. And shoutout to our interns past, who have worked on projects related to everything from underwater military drones to VR for mental health. Last summer, our 3 Intelligence Unit interns used CB Insights’ platform to dig into key emerging tech trends across real estate tech, tools for retailers, blockchain, AI, and more. Check out their presentation here.
One more thing...

If you're on the hunt for a new trendy workout, try plogging — which is picking up litter while you're jogging.

Plogging started in Scandinavia (the word is a combination of "plocka upp," which means "pick up" in Swedish, and "jogging"), and it's gaining popularity in the US.

Digital health startup Lifesum recently launched a feature that lets users track their plogging. Some companies, like marketing and design firm Wicked+, are even starting their own plogging groups.

Not only does this workout burn calories and benefit the environment, it helps you reap the benefits of spending time in nature. Studies have shown that time outside improves heart rate, blood pressure, cortisol, and immune functioning.

Plog on.
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