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VC investment in Europe surged 26.9% in 2017, thanks to U.K. startups’ mega-rounds

Venture capital investment in Europe posted a strong recovery in 2017, led by late-stage U.K. startups, following a sharp drop in 2016.

According to the Dow Jones VentureSource’s 4Q’17 Europe Venture Capital released today, European startups raised $17.52 billion in 2017, up from $13.81 billion in 2016. The previous year had seen a 20.5 percent drop from the $17.38 billion raised in 2015.

Even with Brexit looming, the U.K. remains far and away Europe’s leading venture capital magnet. In the last three months of 2017, U.K. startups accounted for almost half of the $4.27 billion raised by all European startups.

In fact, the top 5 venture deals in the quarter were all done by U.K. companies: Truphone, $353.68 million; TransferWise $294.36 million; Acorn $213.59 million; Orchard Therapeutics $113.33 million; and Monzo Bank $82.38 million.

After the U.K., French startups ranked second by number of deals with 75 and third in amount raised with $410.06 million. Germany was second in total amount raised with $724.52 million but third in deals with 62.

Sweden was fourth in deals and amount: $273.96 million for 52 deals. Fighting for fifth place was Switzerland, with $129.24 million in 12 deals, and the Netherlands with $125.54 million in 18 deals.

Meanwhile, European venture capital funds raised $11.14 billion, down just slightly from $11.24 billion in 2016.

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Existing EV batteries could be recharged five times faster

Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick