Israeli JOY Ventures launches US$50 million neuro-wellness fund

JOY Ventures, a new Israeli investment firm, has recently initiated a US$50 million vehicle centered on the emerging field of neuro-wellness, in addition to the inauguration of its office in Herzliya Pituach.

Founded by the Israeli-Japanese Corundum Open Innovation Fund, JOY Ventures will invest in developments offering scientifically validated technologies offering anti-stress and mood alteration solutions in addition to neuro wellness solutions, that can be turned into marketable products.

Additionally, the new fund will be headed by Avi Yaron, a serial entrepreneur, Founder of Visionsense and the inventor of a state-of-the-art instrument for complex brain surgery along with Beer-Sheva-based Incubit Technology Ventures’ Idan Katz.

Speaking on the vehicle, Yaron said, “Originally developed to make things easier for human beings, technology actually intensifies the tension we live in. For this reason, we decided to invest in neuro wellness by leveraging the large body of research and neuro developments in Israel.”

JOY Ventures will adopt a two-track approach, funding research grants of at least US$1.2 million per annum to academic research in the emerging field, startup companies, and technological incubators for entrepreneurs.

“We’re establishing a new ecosystem in the new industry of neuro-wellness,” Yaron said. “Our emphasis will be on the development of scientifically-proven products whose goal will be to help people manage and overcome chronic conditions.”

“Many years of being involved in the development of brain surgery technologies, made me realise the human need for joyful and relaxed moments and how critical they are for our health,” Yaron explains. “Many neuro researches show that the modern life intensity contributes to prolonged hostile emotions of sadness, anger, anxiety, guilt and more. These emotions, in turn, generate stress and collect a heavy toll from our health.”

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Chinese gay dating app Blued raises eight-digit RMB funding from The Beijing News

Blued, a popular gay dating app in China, has raised another strategic investment amounting to an eight-digit RMB funding from China’s state-run media – The Beijing News.

Specifically, the investor was Shan Shui Cong Rong Media Investment Co., an investment arm sponsored and founded by the mainstream Chinese newspaper, The Beijing News, and its president Dai Zigeng who cocurrently serves as the chairman of the media investment arm.

This also makes the Chinese gay social app’s third fundraising within 12 months and its sixth fundraising since its inception, following a previous round of US$30 million in 2015 which has valued Blued at US$300 million.

“The current financing round is more of strategic meaning given that the company is booking profits now,” said Geng Le, the CEO of Blued.

Founded in August 2010, Blued specializes in gay social media related businesses. According to Geng Le, the company had posted hundreds of millions of yuan of operating income from live streaming and mobile marketing operations in 2016, driving its domestic businesses into the black.

Besides, its male members have reached 27 million, of which 7 million log in daily, exceeding the number of daily logins in Grindr, its counterpart from the West which is banned by China’s censors.

Additionally, the gay dating app also supports 13 languages, having offices based in Vietnam, Thailand, and U.K. The firm also plans to extend into the Latin American and North American lucrative gay market in the future.

Having signed a strategic cooperation agreement last December with Hornet, Blued will also have access to Hornet’s 15 million users and three million monthly active users all around the globe.

“A further increase in operating income is expected for the live streaming business in 2017, and value-added membership services, games, and healthcare services will be further developed as a new revenue growth drivers,” Geng further adds.

Born out of LGBT NGO, Chinese for “light blue”, Blued has been active in improving the living status of the LGBT group.

“In the past, people wouldn’t even talk about homosexuality because they thought it was dirty, it was filthy,” Geng said. “The internet can help support gay lifestyles, to make people know they are not alone and that their feelings are genuine.”

“Moreover, the homosexual minority is still a highly controversial group, we need a proper channel to talk with the government and the public, letting them know what we are doing and what problems we can solve for society,” he further adds.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media