Italian H-Farm signs €101 mln agreement to launch H-Campus

H-Farm is a digital platform launched in 2005 to support young entrepreneurs start new initiatives and help in digitalization of Italian firms. So far they have invested in 86 innovative small enterprises and their total amount invested over the last 11 years is €24 mln.

Their latest project, H-Campus, has a goal to be the European most important innovation hub. The latest €101 million contract was set up by launching a real estate fund managed by Finint Investments SGR and will operate after the buildability approval is received. It will be undersigned by Cattolica Assicurazioni, which will have 56% of shares, with help of the FIA2 Fund “Smart housing, Smart working, Education & Innovation” managed by CDP Investimenti SGR, which holds 40% of shares, and Ca’ Tron Real Estate which holds 4% of shares. The €101 million fund has current assets, acquired by Ca’ Tron Real Estate (their value is €32 million) and assets which belong to by Cattolica (their value is €10 million), plus €59 million of liquidity to be spent on the project’s development.

H-CAMPUS is supposed to serve over 3,000 students, young startuppers, professors, entrepreneurs and managers. Sharing the same place caused exchange of ideas, experiences and best practices as inspiration and examples. It may also establish new opportunities. The real estate project implies extension of the area absorbed by H-FARM from 14,000 m2 of built space and 12ha of park to 31ha of land, with 26,000m2 of new buildings. Everything costs €69 million. The whole complex is under a 30-year lease.

At a normative level, H-CAMPUS was identified as a “project of strategic interest” by the Veneto Region and is a subject to Regional Law 35/20, art. 32, now in its final authorization stage.

UMER, a Russian ‘Uber’ for the deceased

Umer is a new app coming from Russia and made by Dmitriy Geranin whose purpose is to support people organize funerals for their loved ones. It is as convenient as transportation application Uber, but it assists you in organizing funerals, not rides.

A user selects the search key parameters by choosing the ritual and all the needed funeral accessories such as coffin and wreaths. Additionally the application helps to become familiar with current prices and a broad scale of funeral market. The application’s name is a play on “Uber”, shifting just a single letter to convert it into the Russian word for “Died”. There had been a few longer versions of the name, like “Kto-to umer” (“Someone has died”). Finally the creators decided to have a shorter and more brief and clear “umer” (“died”). The app is easy in use: there are a couple of fields to enter, providing information on who died and when, his or her religious confession and contact details. Then it presents the final price for services, which will be determined after the user agrees with the terms.

Umer isn’t yet up and running. It is still in development, however it has already made notable interest online. There exist some similar apps in the world, yet they are not introduced in such a truculent manner. And also there are in Europe many websites providing funeral arrangements.

Such application will rather not be downloaded without a special need. Yet, its creator has no doubts that people will recall Umer when they need it. The app is not a rival for funeral houses, cemeteries, nor other local services. It will rather bring them to clients, just like another distribution channel for them.

The creator is already negotiating franchise possibilities with Belarus and Estonia. If they succeed in Russian market, they plan to actively penetrate international market.

MegaFon secures credit-line financing for Mail.ru Group stake buy

Russian mobile services provider MegaFon and Sberbank have concluded a contract to launch a $592m credit line that expires in 2024 to finance a stake take over in Mail.ru Group. The money will enable the takeover of 15.2% of shares in the authorized capital of Mail.ru Group (63.8% of voting shares).

The deal will amount to $640 million, containing $540 million to be disposed when the transaction is closed and another $100 million to be given after one year. The shares will be sold by: New Media and Technology Investment LP, New Media Technologies Capital Partners Limited and Ardoe Finance Limited. These companies belong to the USM, a holding company ruled by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov. Yet, when the deal is sealed, Usmanov will still hold an indirect interest in Mail.Ru Group, because USM owns over 56% of MegaFon.

MegaFon’s partnership with Sberbank enables it to purchase the Mail.ru shares on alluring conditions. The contract also modificated the terms of three going credit lines which amount to $1.64bn, and which were given to MegaFon in 2012 and 2016. The new terms have lower interest rates and reconsidered early payoff terms.

The takeover plan arises as both companies are expanding cooperation to jointly develop new products and synergies. For example, the two companies have decided to start a special deal for Vkontakte’s mobile users. The new service, called ‘VK Mobile’, will profit from the infrastructure of Megafon and its affiliate Scartel. Mail.Ru Group and MegaFon have also decoded to jointly create predictive data analysis instruments to rationalize user segmentation.

Turkish startup ecosystem

In development of modern economies, one of the key roles is played by startups. A well-developed ecosystem of startups creates favorable conditions for development of innovative solutions and products that can sometimes revolutionize the market. Turkish startups are still far away from the leading in innovation California’s ‘Silicon Valley’, but the local ecosystem is slowly starting to shape solid foundations. Turkish startups receive support from government institutions such as TUBITAK or TEPAV.

One of the sectors, which pulls the Turkish economy forward, are information and telecommunication technologies. The sector’s development is conducive to the demographic structure of Turkey and the government’s policy. Compared to Western Europe, the Turks are very young people. One-fourth of the citizens did not exceed 15 years of age, and half of the population are people who are under thirty. This is potentially a very large group of consumers of mobile services and portable electronic devices.

TUBITAK provides grants and funding, supporting primarily research and development. TEPAV in turn, is a think-tank on issues of cost, which is involved in the Global Entrepreneurship Program organized by the US government. It is a bridge between Turkish businessmen and American investors. Within the frame of ‘Techno-entrepreneur’ program, the Turkish Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology promotes technological parks and provides their federated startups seed capital in the amount of USD 55 thousand.

The greatest achievements, among public institutions, in the field of startups support has TTGV – Technology Development Foundation of Turkey, which was founded in 1991 with a loan granted by the World Bank Ankara. TTGV mainly supports the most innovative technology projects. To date, the foundation has supported 950 projects in the amount of USD 300 million. The Foundation also had a sizable contribution to creation of two companies supporting startups: Is Girisim and Turkven, which created foundations for investing based on venture capital principles. Since 2000, the two institutions have co-financed entrepreneurs in the amount of more than USD 3.5 billion.

In Turkey, they are also present non-profit organizations with a global reach. One of them is Endeavor, an organization supporting entrepreneurs from around the world which have potentially ‘high firepower’. The organization was founded 1997 in Argentina and Chile. Its purpose is to search for promising entrepreneurs in emerging markets countries. In 2006 it opened a branch in Istanbul. Endeavor looks after, among others, as promising startups from wireless technologies industry as: Pozitron and AirTies. Here also was raised Yemeksepeti – an e-commerce platform through which so successfully is sold fast food served by brands such as: McDonald’s, Burger King or KFC – with delivery to the customer.

Some other notable startups of Turkish startup ecosystem include Onedio, called also “BuzzFeed of Turkey”, social gaming company Peak Games, the largest classified site sahibinden,  huge shopping platforms like hepsiburada.com, n11.comgittigidiyor (which is part of eBay) and Trendyol,  marketing tool Insider,  fintech platform iyzico, taxi-booking app BiTaksi, delivery startup under 1h from nearby places called KapGel etc. We will soon cover the most important startups from Turkey in much more details. Stay tuned!

The Europeans will travel throughout the EU without roaming charges

Representatives of the European Parliament and EU member states reached an agreement on wholesale rates for operators in international calls settlements. This means that, in accordance with the plans, since mid-June 2017 in the European Union there will disappear roaming charges.

Negotiations on the maximum rates in settlements between operators were the last stage of work on legislation abolishing charges for international calls between EU countries. Wholesale roaming rates will be 90% lower than today, which will allow operators to offer roaming services without charging extra fees. On June 15th the maximum rate of wholesale charges for roaming phone calls will drop from €0.05 per minute to €0.032. SMS rates will be reduced from €0.02 to €0.01. The ceiling for wholesale charges for data transmission will be gradually reduced. Since  June 15th 2017 to fall €7.7 per gigabyte (currently the rate is around €50 per GB), since January 1st 2018 the maximum fee is expected to be €6 per GB and it will be dropping by €0.5 every year till the beginning of 2022 and the amount of €2.5 per GB. The European Commission’s initial proposal on the limits of wholesale rates for data roaming amounted to €8.5 per GB.

Every two years the European Commission will report on functioning of those provisions and, if necessary, will propose new ones. Operators will still be able to compete in providing the most attractive offers on their domestic markets.

In practice this means that, when traveling within the EU, consumers will be able to call, send text messages or browse the web on their mobile phones for the same price which they pay in their home countries. Consumers will be able to use their national subscription fees when traveling abroad. If you exceed roaming limits set out in their subscription, any additional charges will not be higher than wholesale roaming rates adopted by the European Parliament.

The European Commission will conduct a review of the wholesale rates market by the end of 2019 and will provide the mid-term evaluation by December 15th 2018. The European Parliament and the Council must now formally approve the reached agreement. New wholesale roaming prices will come into force with effect from 15 June 2017, at an appropriate time to allow operators to take all the necessary steps to implement “roam-like-at-home”.