A|I: The AI Times – Why Midjourney’s founder rejects venture capital

Plus: Rockwell Automation to acquire Clearpath Robotics.

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Rockwell Automation signs agreement to acquire Waterloo-based Clearpath Robotics (BETAKIT)

Milwaukee, Wis.-based Rockwell Automation has signed an agreement to acquire Waterloo-based robotics development company Clearpath Robotics, including its industrial division, OTTO Motors.

Founded in 2009 by a quartet of graduates from University of Waterloo’s mechatronics engineering program, Clearpath Robotics’ mission statement is to automate “the world’s dullest, dirtiest, and deadliest jobs.”

‘He Doesn’t Need VC in His Life’: How Midjourney’s Founder Built an AI Winner While Rejecting Venture Capital (THE INFORMATION)

Ever since David Holz founded AI-image generator Midjourney in mid-2021, venture capitalists have been practically begging him to take their money.

By adamantly (if politely) rejecting the advances of venture capitalists, Holz has bucked the tide among artificial intelligence startups, the top tier of which has raised more than $17 billion in fresh capital in recent years.

Space-tech startup Mission Control shoots for the Moon (and Mars) with funding from GreenSky (BETAKIT)

Ottawa-based software startup Mission Control wants to make it easier for other players to explore scientific and commercial opportunities on the Earth, Moon, Mars, and beyond. Now it has $2.4 million of a $3.25 million target in seed funding to start.

Mission Control's products include its Spacefarer platform, which streamlines operations of space-based robotics and advanced payloads, and its AI platform, which the company has tested on missions but hasn't yet begun licensing.

Addressing Canada’s talent gap in the tech industry boils down to removing the barriers for equity-deserving groups.

The Advanced Digital and Professional Training (ADaPT) program is a cost-free digital and professional skills development initiative that bridges the employment gap. It equips students in their final semester and post-secondary graduates with in-demand skills for entry-level tech roles.

ADaPT supports a diverse group of talent from varied educational backgrounds, with 81% of participants identifying as belonging to at least one equity-deserving group. Backed by 70+ hours of intensive training, the program exposes participants to tech career pathways.    

The ADaPT program is funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre and led by Toronto Metropolitan University’s Diversity Institute in collaboration with TECHNATION Canada. 

To support future talent in thriving tech careers within Canada’s changing job market and become an ADaPT employer, find out more here.

Apple Boosts Spending to Develop Conversational AI

Apple has been expanding its computing budget for building artificial intelligence to millions of dollars a day. One of its goals is to develop features such as one that allows iPhone customers to use simple voice commands to automate tasks involving multiple steps, according to people familiar with the effort.

CiteRight and fellow Canadian legaltech startup Jurisage ink deal to merge (BETAKIT)

Toronto-based CiteRight and Ottawa-based Jurisage AI have reached an agreement to combine under the name Jurisage.

CiteRight’s software helps lawyers organize and assemble litigation materials, while Jurisage has developed artificial intelligence (AI) technology for analyzing case law. Together, the two Canadian legaltech startups hope to deliver a comprehensive, integrated legal research and drafting solution.

SoftBank Backs Autonomous Trucking Firm Started by Ex-Ford Self-Driving Executives (BNN BLOOMBERG)

The founders of the former self-driving unit of Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG, Argo AI, are launching a new autonomous trucking startup called Stack AV with backing said to be more than $1 billion from Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp.

Ford and VW grew impatient with Argo after investing a combined $3.6 billion in the startup and closed it last year as sentiment was souring on self-driving technology.

Future workforce: where Gen Z wants to work and how startups can support them (BETAKIT)

The Work-Learn Institute (WxL) at the University of Waterloo asked Gen Z what they look for in a company or career path and recently released a full data report on its findings.

Speaking with BetaKit, Ross Johnston, Executive Director for the University of Waterloo’s Co-operative Education, shared his thoughts on WxL’s data and how startups can support and cultivate Gen Z talent.

AI Research Lab Imbue Nabs $200 Million For Speculative Bet To Build AI ‘Agents’ (FORBES)

While OpenAI and rivals from Anthropic to Google battle to build massive AI foundation models like GPT-4, Imbue has nabbed $200 million to focus on its AI “agent”: a type of computing system that can simulate human decision-making to complete complex tasks.

Chatbots like ChatGPT receive a user’s query and generate a near-instant response. Imbue’s agents would act more like a virtual research assistant that can crunch analysis, recommend follow-on experiments and even set them up, all unsupervised.

Nulogy CFO offers tips for fundraising in a chaotic environment (BETAKIT)

Founders looking for growth capital are having a harder time than ever amidst record lows in VC funding. However, trading equity for VC cash is not the only path forward.

Nulogy is taking advantage of different financing paths, and its CFO, Sanjay Dhawan, shared details about his company’s $20 million raise in March 2023 while offering advice for founders fundraising in turbulent times.

Palmer Luckey's defense tech startup Anduril buys autonomous aircraft maker (REUTERS)

Defense technology startup Anduril Industries, founded by entrepreneur Palmer Luckey, said on Thursday it acquired autonomous aircraft maker Blue Force Technologies, as it looks to strengthen its autonomous fleet and software capabilities.

The deal, whose terms were not disclosed, comes as aerospace companies ramp up their spending on artificial intelligence and autonomous aircraft amid geopolitical uncertainties.

Attabotics, Urbx settle litigation over robotic storage patents (BETAKIT)

In 2021, Calgary-based robotics startup Attabotics alleged that Urbx, a Boston, Mass.-based fulfillment automation company, infringed on two of its patents. Since a US judge partially rejected a motion to dismiss in June, the pair recently announced an amicable resolution to the litigation between them.

VentureLab appoints semiconductor industry leader Hugh Chow as CEO (BETAKIT)

Following the departures of Melissa Chee and Matt Skynner this summer, hardware and semiconductor-focused Markham, Ont. tech hub VentureLab has found its next leader in Hugh Chow.

Pentagon Plans Vast AI Fleet to Counter China Threat

The Pentagon intends to field a vast network of AI-powered technology, drones and autonomous systems within the next two years to counter threats from China and other adversaries.

Kathleen Hicks, the deputy secretary of defense, provided new details in a speech Wednesday about the department’s plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to produce an array of thousands of air-, land- and sea-based artificial-intelligence systems that are intended to be “small, smart, cheap.”

Immervision lands $5.7 million CAD government contract to make military imaging systems (BETAKIT)

Montreal-based advanced vision startup Immervision has landed a $5.7-million CAD contract from Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC). The money is for the design and development of panoramic imaging components and systems.

Currently Immervision has more than 20 employees, including optical designers, camera system engineers, and computer vision and AI scientists.

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl is a staff writer and newsletter curator at BetaKit with a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University. He's interested in tech, gaming, and sports. You can find out more about him at alexriehl.com or @RiehlAlex99 on Twitter.

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