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Novena Global Lifecare completes US$350 million merger with China’s Xingkeduo to expand the NOVU and Xingkeduo brands in China and beyond

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Novena Global Lifecare (the “Company”), one of the world’s largest integrated medical healthcare and aesthetic companies with over 100 clinics in 20 cities mainly in the Asia Pacific region, has completed its US$350 million (S$476 million[1]) merger with Xingkeduoan express haircut business with nearly 100 stores in high foot-traffic prime locations in China’s first- and second-tier cities and a China-wide e-commerce platform.

The merger provides Singapore-owned Novena Global Lifecare with access to Xingkeduo’s internet technology and physical network of nearly 100 stores, which will now be complemented by the Company’s medical aesthetic expertise through its NOVU Aesthetics (NOVU) brand. This merger will also see an accelerated expansion of NOVU and Xingkeduo brands in China, as plans are underway for the creation of a one-of-a-kind hybrid store format offering complementary medtech-based aesthetic and hairdressing solutions driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI), as well as generate cross-selling opportunities for both brands.

The new company‘s English name will remain as “Novena Global Lifecare”. Evolve Capital Asia and InsightX Capitalare the financial advisers for Novena Global Lifecare and Xingkeduo, respectively, for this merger funded by cash and shares in Novena Global Lifecare. In addition, the merged entity will manage the expansion of the NOVU and Xingkeduo brands in China and in the Asia Pacific region.

Following the merger, DORR Group and Novena Global Lifecare’s Executive Chairman and co-founder Nelson Loh will serve as Novena Global Lifecare’schairman, while DORR Group and Novena Global Lifecare’s CEO and co-founder Terence Loh and Xingkeduo’s founder Willy Chuangwill be appointed co-CEOs of Novena Global Lifecare.

AI-based Beauty OS platform to drive growth

Founded in Beijing in 2015, Xingkeduo is the first company in China that combines hairdressing with online-to-offline commerce using Internet technology for online order, queue reservations in the cloud, with the actual hairdressing services provided in the shop. To date, Xingkeduo has served more than 3 million customers, with over 6 million sales made online, and maintained a 99.54% positive rating online.

Xingkeduo’s founder Willy Chuang said: “China has the most developed and active e-commerce retail system in the world. With our proprietary AI-based Beauty OS system, Xingkeduo has been able to evolve and scale up from a hair salon offering express haircuts to one offering its own brand of professional scalp care and hair styling products to target customers’ needs, not only in stores but also on e-commerce platforms. With Novena Global Lifecare’s participation, we are confident that we can grow our combined business exponentially in China and beyond.”

Mr Chuang added: “We analysed the prospects of the service industries and the healthcare sector, and we believe that the future unicorns will be multi-brand matrices, and the customer experience will not be limited to the store, but consist of a seamless online-to-offline experience, covering a full range of on-demand products and services, including customised aesthetic and medical solutions.”

As part of the business integration, Xingkeduo plans to implement version 3.0 of its growth plans and expand into the provision of medical care services, such as scalp management and hair transplants. This builds on Xingkeduo’s successful transformation from version 1.0 (purely haircut services) into the current version 2.0, through the integration of offline and online services in a short span of just three years.

Growing footprint in China

Novena Global Lifecare is one of the successful portfolio companies in DORR Group, which is a privately held investment holding company managing over US$4 billion of assets across various industries from consumer, healthcare, technology and media. The DORR Group is also in the process of setting up a new US$150 million Sino-Singapore Healthcare Fund for the tri-party of Novena Global Lifecare, Sinopharm Capital and Cedarlake Capital to invest in a portfolio of companies involved in Southeast Asia’s medical services, biomedical projects, mature drugs and precision medicine sectors.

DORR Group’s Nelson Loh said: “Through this merger, Novena Global Lifecarewill immediately reinforce our leading presence in the aesthetics beauty and wellness industry in Asia Pacific. More significantly, it would further improve our retail and service quality, and disrupt the current industry model and cost structure. We strongly believe that in the future, whether in SingaporeChina, or even in Asia and Latin America, we can use this model to empower customers to have more customised products and services.”

“As an investor in the medical industry, and with our experience in operating a global chain of aesthetic healthcare stores, both data and intuitive experience tell me that this industry is a field where consumers need more affordable and convenient services, and has very broad growth prospects. With the experience of Xingkeduo in China’s beauty market, the resources of the company’s shareholders and the Beauty OS system built for the company’s business, we are confident that we will continue to be a trailblazer in China’s medical beauty and medical care markets, bringing more choices for Chinese consumers,” Mr Nelson Loh added.

Moving forward, Novena Global Lifecarewill continue to provide consumers with convenient, efficient and cost-effective products and services, based on both parties’ common vision and consistent development goals for the lifecare and medical industries.

The Company will also accelerate the development of both brands, NOVU and Xingkeduo, and launch the development of multi-stores in China and Asia Pacific, as well as introduce NOVU’s skincare technology to consumers in China and leverage on the Beauty OS system to accelerate the service upgrade of NOVU stores around the world.

DORR Group’s co-founder Terence Loh said, “Asia has become the capital of the world’s beauty industry, with China and Southeast Asia recording the fastest development and the most promising market for Asian beauty and medical care. China is a huge market and we believe we are well positioned to seize opportunities especially in its highly fragmented aesthetic healthcare market. There’s definitely room for a well-run, well-funded integrated practice that provides affordable and accessible healthcare and medical aesthetics services to the mass market.”

 

SOURCE Novena Global Lifecare

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Wirex Launches Enhanced Cryptoback™

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Today, payments platform Wirex launched a supercharged update of their revolutionary Cryptoback™ rewards programme. Customers can now earn up to 1.5% back in Bitcoin on Wirex Visa card purchases.

Released in 2018, Cryptoback™ was the world’s first rewards programme that paid out 0.5% in cryptocurrency for all in-store spending with the Wirex Visa card. Thanks to the recent launch of the Wirex Token (WXT), customers can now triple the amount of BTC they earn – making investing in cryptocurrency easier than ever before.

Depending on the amount of WXT held, in-store Wirex card purchases now generate up to 1.5% in Bitcoin. There are three levels of crypto rewards available:

  • 500,000 WXT = 1.5% Cryptoback™
  • 100,000 WXT = 1.0% Cryptoback™
  • 50,000 WXT = 0.75% Cryptoback™

Wirex have calculated that the average UK consumer stands to earn more than £300 in Cryptoback™ every year, just by using their Wirex Visa card for day-to-day spending. Unlike many other cashback programmes, Wirex doesn’t impose restrictions on what customers can do with their rewards. Cryptoback™ can be redeemed instantly into their Bitcoin accounts, or quickly and easily exchanged into fiat for spending.

Enhanced Cryptoback™ is just one of the ways that holding Wirex Tokens allows customers to get even more out of their account. They can also enjoy heavily discounted fees based on the same structure, with access to premium products, merchant offers and airport lounges coming soon. As Wirex co-founder Pavel Matveev explains:

“We created the Wirex Token to be something that provides tangible value and benefits for holders beyond its market trajectory. Enhanced Cryptoback™ is the perfect example of this, as it allows customers to earn and invest in digital currency with a minimum of fuss. We’re looking forward to introducing even more benefits for WXT holders soon.”

 

SOURCE Wirex

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MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab Convenes Top Researchers for Second Annual AI Research Week

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The MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab (NYSE: IBM) is hosting its second annual AI Research WeekSeptember 16-20, in Cambridge, MA. The five-day conference will explore leading themes in today’s field of AI including neurosymbolic computing and semantic reasoning in machine learning, AI security and safety, inclusive design of AI for all communities, trustworthy and explainable AI, and industry applications of AI.

The MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab is a joint research effort to drive fundamental advances in artificial intelligence. Since its founding in 2017, the lab has become an integral component of IBM’s AI Research strategy and is spearheading 48 AI-related research projects.

WHO:
Dario Gil (Director, IBM Research), joined by top AI researchers:

  • Yoshua Bengio (A.M. Turing Award Winner and Pioneer of AI and Deep Learning)
  • Josh Tenenbaum (Professor, Dept. of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT)
  • Laura Shulz (Dept. of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, Primary Investigator of the MIT Early Childhood Cognition Lab)
  • Roger Levy (Associate Professor, Dept. of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, Director of the Computational Psycholinguistics Laboratory)

Additional discussions will feature David Cox (IBM Director, MIT-IBM AI Watson Lab), Lisa Amini (Director, IBM Research Cambridge), and Antonio Torralba (MIT Director, MIT-IBM AI Watson Lab), addressing key topics including: progress of the MIT-IBM AI Watson Lab to date and future goals; transitioning AI research to industry; and self-supervised learning of AI.

The conference will also showcase research and thought leadership from scientists and students affiliated with Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the University of California, San Diego; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; the University of Illinois, Urbana-ChampaignBoston UniversityRensselaer Polytechnic Institute; the University of Montreal; the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and the Cambridge and Boston community.

WHAT:
AI Research Week is a technical conference featuring top AI thought leaders from around the world sharing the latest insights on the field of AI. The five-day gathering will also consist of panels, workshops, networking and mentorship all geared towards forging new ideas and discussion around advancements in AI.

WHEN & WHERE: 
September 16-20, 2019, times for events vary. AI Research Week events will be held at MIT and IBM in Cambridge, MA. While many events will occur at the MIT Samberg Conference Center, 50 Memorial Dr, Cambridge, MA 02142, it is best to check the schedule for specific event locations and times.

Conference highlights:

Monday, September 16: Kick-off the week with a poster and networking session where researchers from the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab and IBM’s AI Horizons Network of university collaborators will showcase projects underway that are shaping the future of AI.

The afternoon will feature a round robin event designed to help match various student communities in the Boston area with a mentor, specifically those in Latinx, BlackinAI, Women in Machine Learning, and LGBTQ. This session will include 15 tables, each with a different topic, and mentors from IBM, as well as other speakers from AI Research Week, designed to connect students with a mentor.

Tuesday, September 17: Yoshua Bengio, full professor and head of the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA), University of Montreal, and Dario Gil, Director of IBM Research, begin the AI Horizons Colloquium with a Welcome Address, followed by a full day of talks and discussion featuring AI experts from academia and industry.

NOTE: The Colloquium (all day) will be livestreamed here.

Other Colloquium speakers include:

  • Saska Mojsilovic, head of AI Foundations, IBM Research and Co-Director of IBM Science for Social Good, will discuss how people can begin to trust AI.
  • Collin Stult, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Institute for Medical Engineering and Science and MIT faculty at Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology Cardiologist, will discuss whether useful machine learning will be used clinically in the near future.

Wednesday, September 18: The NASA ISS Program Science Office and the ISS U.S. National Laboratory, along with IBM Research, will launch a unique opportunity to learn about the International Space Station. Guests will be able to speak with representatives and researchers about the future of AI intersecting with the future of research in space. The event also includes a competition and special session where researchers and students can pitch “ISS meets AI” project ideas to a panel of space experts from NASA, the ISS, IBM, and MIT.

 

SOURCE IBM

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AI Operations Leader, ThroughPut.AI, chosen to present at the esteemed Plug and Play Japan Summit for IOT and Mobility in Tokyo on September 19th, 2019

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ThroughPut Inc., the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Supply Chain pioneer that enables operations to increase output, quality, throughput, profitability and safety through automated bottleneck elimination, today announced their presentation and participation of their COO and CTO at the Plug and Play Japan IoT and Mobility Summit and EXPO in Tokyo, Japan on September 19, 2019. As a Plug and Play portfolio company, ThroughPut has been one of the most active global members of the Plug and Play ecosystem, being awarded to participate in multiple cohorts and events at Plug and Play Sunnyvale, BerlinMilanFrankfurtClevelandJapan, and elsewhere, spanning diverse topics including application of AI, Data and Analytics to Industrial Manufacturing, Operations, Supply Chain, Logistics, Transportation, Mobility, Industry 4.0, Oil and Gas, Food and Agriculture, and more.

“As the leading AI platform for Operations using existing data systems, ThroughPut is honored to be an active contributor to the Plug and Play Japan Mobility Batch 3 cohort,” noted Ali Raza, CEO of ThroughPut. “Our executive team is excited to present to over 1,500 Japanese corporate executives, resellers and partnership leaders at the IoT and Mobility Summit next week in Tokyo on September 19th, as well as consequent meetings that week.”

Plug and Play runs 15 industry themes across more than 50 accelerator programs a year in cities across the world. Plug and Play’s Japanese arm has accelerated four leading-edge industry programs,  and awarded participation to 69 pioneering technology start-ups and 31 corporate leaders, including MUFG, Tokyu Land, Sompo, Nissan, Hitachi, Panasonic, Fujitsu, Fujikura, DENSO, NipponLife, Dentsu, ADK, Nittsu, Norinchukin Bank, Orix, Macnica, Sumitomo, J-Power, Suzuki, SMFG, NEC Solution Innovators, Aflac, Asahi HD, Coca Cola Japan, AISIN, Kyocera MKI, Tanabe, Toshiba Tec, JXTG Energy and Shimadzu. This year’s Summer / Fall Summit is expected to receive an even greater response from startups and corporations across JapanAsia and even further overseas.

“We are very excited to continue building upon our strong client and partner relationships in Japan“, responded Seth Page, COO of ThroughPut and eight-time entrepreneur, while adding, “Plug and Play has opened up unique opportunities for collaboration with corporate partners, clients and investors around the world, bringing together the brightest minds in the industry on a single business platform. In Japan, we are showcasing our unique capabilities to a host of reputed industrial and global corporate titans, while also acquiring valuable insights from other fellow global thought leaders through participation in the Japense Mobility program and event. We look forward to continuing business discussions with market leaders in Japan next week and especially at the IOT and Mobility Summit in Tokyo on September 19th, as well as the Smart EXPO in Nagoya on September 18th.”

Bhaskar Ballapragada, CTO of ThroughPut, commented as well, “The time is ripe for industries to leverage the value of Artificial Intelligence on top of the decades of disaggregated data they’ve been collecting in-house. ThroughPut’s ELI Kaizen-AI product gives unprecedented power to a firm’s own operations managers. AI-enabled, data-driven analysis and executable insights to eliminate bottlenecks in real-time now enable the management of seamless operations across their end-to-end supply chains. In our mission to eliminate the $10 Trillion dollars of annual global industrial waste, we are reaching out to as many industries and companies to test for themselves our ELI product and enable them to experience firsthand the power of their own data with AI, and realize the quick ROI that comes with freeing-up working capital from operations by investing in ThroughPut’s ELI.”

 

SOURCE ThroughPut Inc.

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